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“This Was Being Done Only to Help”: Development and Forced Labor in Barue, Mozambique, 1959–1965*

  • Zachary Kagan Guthrie (a1)

Abstract

This article examines the history of development and forced labor in Barue, a rural district in central Mozambique, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Barue was designated as a labor reserve, whose economic role was to send forced workers into migrant labor elsewhere. This was slated to change in the early 1960s, with the rise of a new developmental discourse in the Portuguese empire. This discourse promised to transform the economic model of Barue and other rural districts, by outlawing forced labor, minimizing migrant labor, and promoting rural agriculture. The Portuguese government, however, lacked the resources and the commitment necessary to actually change Barue's economy. Instead of development transforming Barue's economic model, the economic model transformed development, which was redefined as a series of modest social and economic improvements which neither changed Barue's economy nor reduced its dependence upon migrant labor. Nonetheless, while this narrower definition of “development” did not fulfill the transformative promise of its discursive progenitor, it was compatible with development's broader objective of defending and justifying the Portuguese empire against the threat of decolonization. The ultimate goal of safeguarding Portuguese rule made it possible to reconcile a discourse founded on change with a reality marked by continuity.

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My thanks to Benedetta Rossi, David Morton, Eric Allina, Allen Isaacman, Oliver Dinius, Mikaela Adams, Rebecca Marchiel, Paul Polgar, Joshua Howard, and two anonymous reviewers.

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1. Chief of Post Mandie to Administrator Barue, January 24, 1960, correspondence 30/B/11, Caixa (Cx) 16, Fundo do Concelho de Barue (FCB), Arquivo Histórico de Moçambique (AHM).

2. There are no histories specifically focused on Barue after the 1920s, but there is a rich literature on forced labor in Mozambique, many of which have focused on central Mozambique. The most important recent work is Allina, Eric, Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Colonial Mozambique (Charlottesville, 2012). Other essential works include Penvenne, Jeanne, African Workers and Colonial Racism: Mozambican Strategies and Struggles in Lourenço Marques, 1877–1962 (Portsmouth, 1995); Isaacman, Allen, Cotton is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938–1961 (Portsmouth, 1996); and Vail, Leroy and White, Landeg, Capitalism and Colonialism in Mozambique: A Study of Quelimane District (Minneapolis, 1980).

3. Chief of Post Mandie to Administrator Barue, January 24, 1960, 30/B/11, Cx 16, FCB, AHM.

4. For the foundational study of developmentalism in the British and French empires in East and West Africa, see Cooper, Frederick, Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa (New York, 1996).

5. Michel Cahen, “Indigenato Before Race?” and Jerónimo, Miguel Bandeira, “The ‘Civilization Guild’: Race and Labour in the Third Portuguese Empire, c. 1870–1930,” both in Racism and Ethnic Relations in the Portuguese Speaking World, ed. Bethencourt, Francisco and Pearce, Adrian (Oxford, 2012), 149172 ; Jerónimo, Miguel Bandeira and Monteiro, José Pedro, “Internationalism and the Labours of the Portuguese Colonial Empire (1945–1974),” Portuguese Studies 29 (2013): 142–63; more generally, Jerónimo, Miguel Bandeira, Livros brancos, almas negras: a missão civilizadora do colonialismo português, c.1870–1930 (Lisbon, 2010), 173199 .

6. For early examples, see Harris, Marvin, “Portugal's African Wards: A Firsthand Report on Labor and Education in Mozambique,” Africa Today 5 (1958): 636 ; Davidson, Basil, The African Awakening (London, 1955); Anderson, Perry, “Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism, Part 1,” New Left Review 15 (1962): 83102 ; Anderson, Perry, “Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism, Part 2,” New Left Review 16 (1962), 88123 ; Anderson, Perry, “Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism, Part 3,” New Left Review 17 (1962): 85114 and Bender, Gerald, Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality (Berkeley, 1978). Bender was particularly crucial in dismantling the Portuguese myth of “Luso-Tropicalism,” a supposedly nonracial form of colonial rule; for similar arguments, see Penvenne, African Workers and Colonial Racism, as well as Isaacman, Allen, The Tradition of Resistance in Mozambique: The Zambesi Valley, 1850–1921 (Berkeley, 1976), especially chapter 8.

7. See, in particular, Anderson, “Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism.”

8. Keese, Alexander, “‘Proteger os pretos’: havia uma mentalidade reformista na administração portuguesa na África tropical (1926–1961)?Africana Studia 6 (2003): 97125 ; Keese, Alexander, Living with Ambiguity: Integrating an African Elite in French and Portuguese Africa, 1930–61 (Stuttgart, 2007); Castelo, Cláudia, “‘Novos Brasis’ em África: desenvolvimento e colonialismo português tardio,” Varia Historia 30 (2014): 507–32; Castelo, Cláudia, “Developing ‘Portuguese Africa’ in Late Colonialism: Confronting Discourses,” in Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth-Century Colonialism, ed. Hodge, Joseph, Hodl, Gerald, and Kopf, Martina (Manchester, 2014), 6386 ; Jerónimo, Miguel Bandeira and Pinto, António Costa, “A Modernizing Empire? Politics, Culture and Economy in Portuguese Late Colonialism,” in The Ends of European Colonial Empires: Cases and Comparisons, ed. Jerónimo, Miguel Bandeira and Pinto, António Costa (New York, 2015), 5180 ; Moorman, Marissa, Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola from 1945 to Recent Times (Athens, OH, 2008); Isaacman, Allen and Isaacman, Barbara, Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and its Legacies in Central Mozambique, 1965–2007 (Athens, OH, 2013).

9. A number of authors have recently taken up the related question of continuities and changes in development strategies after the end of colonial rule. For examples, see Eckert, Andreas, “Regulating the Social: Social Security, Social Welfare and the State in Late Colonial Tanzania,” Journal of African History 45 (2004): 467–89; Jennings, Michael, “‘A Very Real War’: Popular Participation in Development in Tanzania During the 1950s and 1960s,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 40 (2007): 7195 ; Bowman, Andrew, “Mass Production or Production by the Masses? Tractors, Cooperatives, and the Politics of Rural Development in Post-Independence Zambia,” Journal of African History 52 (2011): 201–21; Aerni-Flessner, John, “Development, Politics, and the Centralization of State Power in Lesotho, 1960–1975,” Journal of African History 55 (2014): 401–21; Moskowitz, Kara, “‘Are You Planting Trees or Are You Planting People?’ Squatter Resistance and International Development in the Making of a Kenyan Postcolonial Political Order (c.1963–1978),” Journal of African History 56 (2015): 99118 ; Rosenthal, Jill, “From ‘Migrants’ to ‘Refugees’: Identity, Aid, and Decolonization in Ngara District, Tanzania,” Journal of African History 56 (2015): 261–79.

10. For comparative examples from southern Africa of colonial developmental ideology as it was put into practice, see Worby, Eric, “‘Discipline Without Oppression’: Sequence, Timing and Marginality in Southern Rhodesia's Postwar Development Regime,” Journal of African History 41 (2000): 101–25; Keese, Alexander, “Developmentalist Attitudes and Old Habits: Portuguese Labour Policy, South African Rivalry, and Flight in Southern Angola, 1945–1974,” Journal of Southern African Studies 41 (2015): 237–53; Green, Erik, “A Lasting Story: Conservation and Agricultural Extension Services in Colonial Malawi,” Journal of African History 50 (2009): 247–67; Tischler, Julia, Light and Power for a Multiracial Nation: The Kariba Dam Scheme in the Central African Federation (New York, 2012).

11. Maintaining food security was key in both the elaboration of colonial science and the broader technocratic vision of state-led development. For local histories, see White, Landeg, Magomero: Portrait of an African Village (Cambridge, 1987), 205–16; Vaughan, Megan, The Story of an African Famine: Gender and Famine in 20th Century Malawi (Cambridge, 1987); Green, “A Lasting Story”; Rossi, Benedetta, From Slavery to Aid: Politics, Labour, and Ecology in the Nigerien Sahel, 1800–2000 (Cambridge, 2015); from the imperial perspective, see Hodge, Joseph, Triumph of the Expert: Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism (Athens, OH, 2007) and Tilley, Helen, Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870–1950 (Chicago, 2011).

12. While forced labor was outlawed, it was not eliminated, and it continued in official and unofficial guises even after its abolition, as occurred elsewhere in colonial Africa. For examples, see Isaacman and Isaacman, Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development, 73–77; Tischler, Light and Power for a Multiracial Nation, 180, 183; Keese, Alexander, “Slow Abolition within the Colonial Mind: British and French Debates about ‘Vagrancy,’ ‘African Laziness,’ and Forced Labour in West Central and South Central Africa, 1945–1965,” International Review of Social History 59 (2014): 377407 , and Hunting ‘Wrongdoers’ and ‘Vagrants’: The Long-Term Perspective of Flight, Evasion, and Persecution in Colonial and Postcolonial Congo-Brazzaville, 1920–1980,” African Economic History 44 (2016): 152–80.

13. For more on the white settlement schemes, see Castelo, Cláudia, Passagens para África: o povoamento de Moçambique e Angola com naturais do metropole (19201974) (Porto, 2007), as well as Castelo, Cláudia, “‘O branco do mato de Lisboa’: a colonização agrícola dirigida e os seus fantasmas,” in Os outros da colonização: ensaios sobre o colonialismo tardio em Moçambique, ed. Castelo, Cláudia, Thomaz, Omar Ribeiro, Nascimento, Sebastião, and e Silva, Teresa Cruz (Lisbon, 2012), 2750 ; for more on megaprojects, see Isaacman and Isaacman, Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development.

14. This argument is made very effectively in Allina, Eric, “‘Captive to Civilization’: Law, Labor Mobility, and Violence in Colonial Mozambique,” in Mobility Makes States: Migration and Power in Africa, ed. Vigneswaran, Darshan and Quirk, Joel (Philadelphia, 2015), 5978 .

15. Isaacman, The Tradition of Resistance in Mozambique, especially chapters 2, 3, and 7; Pélissier, René, Naissance du Mozambique: résistance et révoltes anticoloniales (18541918) (Orgeval, 1984).

16. Administrator Barue to Provincial Director of Civil Administration, 1034/B/2, September 6, 1948, Cx 595, Fundo do Governo do Distrito da Beira (FGDB), AHM.

17. Only men could be conscripted into forced labor, and the colonial economic project—in both its conceptualization and its application—was focused upon men; nonetheless, this obscured the deep importance of women to both the colonial economy and the system of forced labor it created. See Sheldon, Kathleen, Pounders of Grain: Women, Work, and Politics in Mozambique (Portsmouth, 2002), chapter 2, and Penvenne, Jeanne, Women, Migration, and the Cashew Economy in Southern Mozambique (Rochester, 2015); for a perceptive critique of labor studies focused exclusively on men, see Rodet, Marie, Les migrantes ignoreés du Haut-Sénégal: 19001946 (Paris, 2009).

18. For more on the specifics of contrato labor, see Guthrie, Zachary Kagan, “Forced Volunteers: The Complexities of Coercion in Central Mozambique,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 49 (2016): 195212 .

19. Spence, C. F., The Portuguese Colony of Moçambique: An Economic Survey (Cape Town, 1951), 85 .

20. For a sample of the ubiquitous violence perpetrated by the white farmers, see the numerous complaints compiled in Cx 300 to Cx 308, Fundo do Concelho de Chimoio (FCCo), AHM.

21. Viagem Ministerial à Africa, Notas-Apontamentos, No. 1, Cx 10, Arquivo Marcelo Caetano, Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo, Lisbon; Administrator Chimoio, June 19, 1946, Cx 64-A, FGDB, AHM.

22. Administrator Barue, August 2, 1948, Cx 217, FGDB, AHM.

23. Administrator Barue to Provincial Director of Civil Administration, 290/A/42, March 3, 1948, Cx 214, FGDB, AHM.

24. In Mozambique, “labor reserves” were a juridical category, but the term is often applied elsewhere in southern Africa—sometimes as an analytical term, influenced by underdevelopment theory, which links the impoverishment of rural areas with the proletarianization of their residents, and sometimes as a descriptive definition applicable to any part of southern Africa where recruitment agencies (most notably the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association or the Rhodesia Native Labour Supply Commission) had the right to recruit migrant laborers.

25. For more on the system of internal labor reserves, see Tornimbeni, Corrado and Newitt, Malyn, “Transnational Networks and Internal Divisions in Central Mozambique,” Cahiers d'etudes africaines 192 (2008): 707–40.

26. Chief of Post Mungari, February 5, 1945, Cx 217, FGDB, AHM.

27. As Cláudia Castelo has perceptively observed, the Colonial Act, the foundational document of Portuguese colonial rule passed in 1930, said almost nothing about improving the material conditions of those living in the Portuguese colonies aside from the vague objective of “creating public institutions” that would “benefit the rights of the natives, or for their assistance.” Instead, the Act defined Portugal's colonial mission as “possessing, civilizing, and colonizing overseas dominions,” guided by the highest principles of Christian civilization.Colonial, Acto, Diário do Govêrno 1 (1930): 1308, 1310. See also Castelo, “Novos Brasis,” especially 510–11.

28. Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo and José Pedro Monteiro make the important point that forced labor was not only central to the Portuguese civilizing mission, but civilizational justifications were central to Portuguese defenses of forced labor, especially on the international stage. Jerónimo, “The Civilization Guild” and Jerónimo and Monteiro, “Labours of the Portuguese Empire.”

29. Inspection to Tete District, 1944, Fundo da Inspecção dos Serviços Administrativos e Negócios Indígenas (ISANI), AHM.

30. Circular 566/D/7, May 15, 1947, Cx 659, FGDB, AHM; Report on the Administrators Conference of Manica and Sofala, September 23, 1950, Cx 2483, Fundo do Governo Geral (FGG), AHM; Circular 6436/B/14, 12 September 1950, Cx 639, FGDB, AHM.

31. Quoted in Inspection to Barue District, 1959, Cx 46, ISANI, AHM.

32. The international aspect of Portuguese labor reforms is especially well detailed by Castelo, “Meanings of Development,” 66–68, and “Novos Brasis,” 515–21, and Jerónimo and Monteiro, “Labours of the Portuguese Empire,” especially 154–59.

33. Notícias da Beira (Beira), “A Conferencia da Imprensa com o Governador de Manica e Sofala,” March 25, 1961.

34. Sarmento Rodrigues, “Evolução recente da política africana,” March 17, 1960, Cx 874, FGG, AHM.

35. Jerónimo and Pinto, “A Modernizing Empire,” 51; Cooper, Frederick, Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge, 2002), 62 .

36. Moreira, Adriano, Ensaios (Lisbon, 1960), 161 .

37. Fortuna, Vasco, “Estruturas económicas de Moçambique,” in Moçambique: Curso de Extensão Universitária (Lisbon, 1965), 216 .

38. Report of the Governor of Manica and Sofala, January 1961 to October 1962, A2.050.03/024.00150, ISAU, AHU.

39. Ibid.

40. Circular 7357/B/15, 2 September 1955, Cx 114, FGDB, AHM; Circular 387/B/24, 28 January 1961, Cx 217, Fundo do Concelho de Cheringoma, AHM.

41. Moreira, Ensaios, 160.

42. Report of the Governor of Manica and Sofala, January 1961 to October 1962, A2.050.03/024.00150, ISAU, AHU.

43. Ibid.

44. Moreira, Ensaios, 162.

45. Report of the Governor of Manica and Sofala, January 1961 to October 1962, A2.050.03/024.00150, ISAU, AHU.

46. Moreira, Ensaios, 160.

47. Ibid., 154.

48. Report of the Governor of Manica and Sofala, January 1961 to October 1962, A2.050.03/024.00150, ISAU, AHU.

49. Ibid.

50. Chief of Post Macossa to Administrator Barue, 22/A/30, July 19, 1961, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

51. Chief of Post Mungari, June 1962, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

52. Report of Inspection to Barue District, 1959, Cx 46, ISANI, AHM.

53. Ibid. See also Administrator Barue, July 31, 1950, Cx 217, FGDB, AHM.

54. Report of the Health Inspection Services for the Province of Manica and Sofala, 1950, Cx 2483, FGG, AHM.

55. Inspection to Barue District, 1951, Cx 56, ISANI, AHM.

56. Administrator Barue, January 9, 1961, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

57. Report of Inspection to Barue District, 1960, Cx 46, ISANI, AHM.

58. Chief of Post Mandie, October 14, 1959, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

59. Chief of Post Macossa, February 1963, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

60. Chief of Post Macossa, April 1963, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

61. Administrator Barue to District Secretary, 563/B/15, 29 March 1960, Cx 18, FCB, AHM. For the most in-depth examination of the forced cotton cultivation scheme, see Isaacman, Cotton Is the Mother of Poverty.

62. Chief of Post Mungari, March 1961, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

63. Administrator Barue, October 8, 1952, Cx 217, FGDB, AHM.

64. Chief of Post Macossa, October 1962, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

65. Fortuna, “Estruturas,” 204; Moreira, Ensaios, 154–55.

66. See Castelo, Passagens para Africa, especially 112–24, as well as Michael Madison Walker, “Enclosing the Commons? A Political Ecology of Access to Land and Water in Sussundenga, Mozambique” (Ph.D. diss., Michigan State University, 2010), 118–24.

67. Chief of Post Mungari, February 19, 1962, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM. For more on the Missão do Fomento do Zambeze, see Isaacman and Isaacman, Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development; for more on the broader Portuguese program of (white) rural development schemes, see Castelo, “O branco do mato de Lisboa.”

68. Chief of Post Mungari, November 1961, February 1962, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

69. Chief of Post Mungari, May 1962, February 1962, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

70. Chief of Post Macossa, April 1963, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM

71. A conto was worth 1,000 escudos. Inspection to Barue, 1959, Cx 46, ISANI, AHM.

72. Chief of Post Macossa to District Administrator Barue, 22/A/30, July 19, 1961, Cx 16, FCB, AHM.

73. Chief of Post Mungari, Report on Elevation of Native Population, Second Trimester 1962, Secção Especial, AHM.

74. Chief of Post Mungari, April 4, 1963, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

75. Inspection to Barue, 1959, Cx 46, ISANI, AHM.

76. Chief of Post Macossa, April 13, 1961, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

77. Chief of Post Mungari, February 10, 1961, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

78. Chief of Post Mungari, August 25, 1960, Cx 17, FGDB, AHM.

79. This was not restricted to the Portuguese empire; for an important comparative analysis, see Keese, “Slow Abolition within the Colonial Mind.”

80. Administrator Barue to District Secretary of Civil Administration, 4/B/11, January 18, 1962, Cx 630, FGDB.

81. Circular 387/B/24, January 28, 1961, Cx 217, Fundo do Concelho de Cheringoma, AHM.

82. Administrator Barue, February 24, 1947, Cx 217, FDGB, AHM.

83. Administrator Barue to Provincial Secretary of Manica and Sofala, November 24, 1960, 1825/A/30, Cx 16, FCB, AHM.

84. Chief of Post Mandie to Administrator Barue, March 7, 1960, 56/B/5, Cx 16, FCB, AHM.

85. Administrator Barue to Provincial Secretary of Manica and Sofala, November 24, 1960, 1825/A/30, Cx 16, FCB, AHM.

86. Chief of Post Mandie to Administrator Barue, March 7, 1960, 56/B/5, Cx 16, FCB, AHM.

87. Report of the Governor of Manica and Sofala, January 1961 to October 1962, A2.050.03/024.00150, ISAU, AHU.

* My thanks to Benedetta Rossi, David Morton, Eric Allina, Allen Isaacman, Oliver Dinius, Mikaela Adams, Rebecca Marchiel, Paul Polgar, Joshua Howard, and two anonymous reviewers.

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“This Was Being Done Only to Help”: Development and Forced Labor in Barue, Mozambique, 1959–1965*

  • Zachary Kagan Guthrie (a1)

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