«CHAPTER TWO PEASANT PRODUCTION AND DIFFERENTIATION: THE SANYATI HINTERLAND (1939 – 1964) INTRODUCTION A cursory look at Sanyati communal lands in ...»
By 1963, when the decade-long experiment with the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland ended, 113 000 people had been forcibly relocated throughout Southern Rhodesia, and immigration to Sanyati faded to a trickle of relatives of those already resettled there. 328 Differentiation among the “immigrant” groups was thus on the basis of affiliation to a particular kinship group. This was not, however, to be the end of immigration to the adjacent district of Gokwe. Further forced relocations of people into Gokwe continued unabated even after independence in 1980. These relocations of people into Gokwe were the consequence of compulsory evictions of people from white ranches.
Although there are interesting overlaps, Gokwe is outside the scope of this study.
In fact, as knowledge of a newly opened area drifted back through networks of kin to the immigrants’ district of origin, land-hungry relatives from the home “reserve” or For more detail on the effects on the dryland farmers of growing crops in a particular season (e.g.
summer) see Gerard J. Gill, Seasonality and Agriculture in the Developing World: A Problem of the Poor and Powerless, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 1, 44-49, 52-59, and 68-73.
M. Bratton, From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe: Beyond Community Development: The Political Economy of Rural Administration in Zimbabwe, (London: Catholic Institute for International Relations/CIIR, 1978), 39.
workmates from town came of their own accord to request land from local Sanyati headmen. However, although Sanyati was small and not as fertile numerous applications for land were lodged with the DC via the applicants’ respective headmen or chiefs. On arrival in Sanyati master farmer “immigrants” imparted their knowledge of agriculture to the “Shangwe” they found there. These new farmers were touted as having better farming skills than the locals and this gave them a sense of difference due to their exposure to the brunt of the disciplinary programme devised by the Native Agriculture Department in the 1920s which emphasised conservation ideals more than anything else. Indeed, it is striking that some of the post-war “immigrants” to Sanyati originated in reserves in the Fort Victoria (Masvingo) region where policies of centralisation and conservation were pursued earliest and with the greatest vigour. At the core of this programme was the replication of what was perceived to be an orderly way of planning settlement (homesteads) in a linear fashion. A cattle kraal was always situated adjacent to the home.
Immediately after the homesteads were arable and then grazing lands. Attempts to “centralise” rural settlement patterns according to this plan began under the direction of the former missionary, E. D. Alvord, 329 as early as 1929 in the Selukwe “reserves” and were soon duplicated in the other “reserves” of Victoria Province (Masvingo) and much later in Sanyati. 330 Only ten years later, “approximately 3,6 million acres had been centralised and over 1 100 villages laid out along ‘improved lines’ by community.” 331 Throughout the country, long before the implementation of the NLHA, many of the eventual “immigrants” to Sanyati had already been exposed to the modernising regime of the Native Department – a regime aimed at sifting out the “forward” from the “backward” “natives”; and many had already adopted new identities within the hierarchy of achievement and practice laid out by Alvord: they became “Co-operators,” then “Plotholders” and, finally, “Master Farmers.” 332 On the whole, the “immigrants” from Rhodesdale were seen by the colonial state as more industrious than the locals. According to the LDO Gatooma’s monthly report for October 1950, “Apart from a few exceptions the old settlers [the Shangwe] in the [Sanyati] reserve … [did] very little in the way of clearing or improving their lands …” 333 The Madherukas, the majority of whom had attained master farmer status, were clearly a cut above the rest in terms of the modernisation expectations of the state and the agricultural sophistication they embodied compared to the “Shangwe.” This in itself signified the existence of differentiation.
Alvord embodied both missionary and agriculturalist identities.
NAZ, S 138/72, Centralization in Selukwe, 1927-1930. See also E. D. Alvord, “The Agricultural Life of Rhodesian Natives,” NADA, 7, 1929 and Palmer, Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia, 220-21.
Phimister, An Economic and Social History of Zimbabwe, 1890-1948: Capital Accumulation and Class Struggle, (London: Longman, 1988), 235-36.
R. W. M. Johnson in his work, “African Agricultural Development in Southern Rhodesia, 1945-1960,” Food Research Institute Studies, 4, (1964), 165-223, gives the following definitions: Co-operator, any farmer who uses manure or fertiliser, carried out some rotation, and plants his crops in rows (other than broadcast crops); Plotholder, a farmer who is under tuition by a demonstrator in order to become a master farmer, and whose cropping programme is recorded; Master Farmer, a plotholder who has reached a certain minimum standard of crops and animal husbandry as laid down by the Agriculture Department.
NAZ, S160/DG/105/2/50, Gatooma district: sub-division: Sanyati Reserve: 1950-1951: LDO’s Monthly Report, October 1950 (LDO Sanyati Reserve, Gatooma to the ANC, Gatooma copied to The PA, Salisbury, 4th November 1950).
When demonstrators were appointed to Sanyati, starting with Lazarus Sithole in 1947, they insisted on strict crop and animal husbandry methods. The farmers were instructed to apply manure regularly (i.e. 30 scotch carts per acre) and plant a five-year rotation, each year putting manure on a different field. After the fifth year, one qualified to be a recipient of a certificate. Nevertheless, obtaining a certificate (Master Farmer Certificate) required not only that one adopt techniques such as crop rotation, manuring and the building of field contours. One had to present evidence of a profound transformation of
the domestic environment as well and specifically to meet a set of stringent criteria:
“They would check you(r) house to see if you had a nice dining room, you had to get two rooms – a living room and dining room. ‘Nice room,’ they might say ‘but you still [had] to plant a [mango or fruit] tree’ in your yard.” 334 Today there is hardly a homestead in Sanyati which does not boast of its own fruit orchard of banana, lemon, orange, mango, guava, peach or paw paw.
Sanyati’s indigenous residents did not know LDOs and agricultural demonstrators before the 1960s. In contrast to the south-eastern reserves, the contour-pegging of fields was undertaken only at the end of the decade when other provisions of the NLHA had long been abandoned. For the indigenous people of Sanyati, the “immigrants” from the southeast – people whom they derogatorily named madheruka after the sound of the Thames Trader and Bedford lorries that brought them – both advocated and embodied the prescriptions and ideals of the development regime. 335 So did the missionaries, doctors, teachers and agricultural demonstrators (madhumeni) who came in their wake. The role played by the Baptist school, hospital, demonstrators and the “immigrants” in promoting differentiation among the people cannot be underestimated. The newcomers arrived espousing not only a set of
principles consonant with mainstream Christian values, but also embodying the complex habits instilled in them: the routines of dress, consumption and hygiene that had been part and parcel of Alvord’s demonstration efforts in areas like Shurugwi for more than three decades. The recognition, indeed the very assertion of their difference, was evident in their disparaging characterisation of the indigenes among whom they had come to live – people whom they called “Shangwe.” The madherukas distinguished themselves from the locals in that they built their houses with bricks and often put up a “latrine” and rubbish pit to conform with the standards of hygiene and cleanliness set by their demonstrators. The opposite is believed to be true of the local “Shangwe” people. Thus, differentiation manifested itself in multifarious forms, including on the agricultural productivity front and in the type of home they possessed and the levels of hygiene they tried to maintain.
In contrast to Nembudziya and Makore wards of Gokwe, Sanyati, like Copper Queen, by virtue of having been settled by “immigrants” from Rhodesdale, Belingwe (Mberengwa), Shabani (Zvishavane), Shurugwi and other areas of Masvingo Province in the southeast, Cited in Worby, “Discipline Without Oppression,” 117.
The immigrants all came “bearing the same discourse of progress and development, the same conceit of
living in advance of those they had come to live among”. See Worby, “Maps, Names and Ethnic Games:
The Epistemology and Iconography of Colonial Power in North-western Zimbabwe, Journal of Southern African Studies, 20, (1994), 390 and Nyambara, “A History of Land Acquisition in Gokwe.” was much more advanced. It is hardly surprising that these new comers constituted the readily identifiable target for a novel and regionally specific rural development strategy, one that was rather ironically built around the cultivation of cotton, a cash crop already famous in colonial Africa for its association with brutal state coercion and economic disaster. 336 In Sanyati, this crop was also central to the differentiation process that emerged from the 1960s onwards. Cotton, in the early years, was not necessarily the “Mother of Poverty” but was, in fact, instrumental in enriching some peasants.
Opposition and resistance to settler government measures:-
Aware that the amount of land they had allocated the Africans was insufficient to carry existing stock 337 including upholding all the rules enshrined within the conservationist ethos and partly out of genuine fear of African competition, the settler state instituted cattle destocking measures in Sanyati in 1956. 338 The audacity with which the NC Gatooma’s office directed destocking left a sour taste in the mouth. The culling and destocking process was ruthlessly conducted. Ownership of large herds of cattle which the Madherukas were used to was immediately threatened. This programme was executed with such notoriety by NC Barlow that it earned itself the disparaging name, “Nhimura [muswe] yava Barlow.” 339 To ensure that everyone abided by destocking stipulations, cattle rings (“marin’i/maringi”) were introduced in 1957. 340 However, cases where destocking regulations were flouted were as numerous as the reasons were. Cattle, among other things, symbolised wealth, so rural accumulators resisted any measures designed to reduce their herds.
Destocking was an attempt to adjust the number of cattle rural Africans held in the light of limited land resources and conservationist concerns, but regardless of how ruthlessly it was applied, it could not conceivably alleviate the land shortage. This fact was only A. Isaacman, Cotton is the Mother of Poverty: Peasants, Work and Rural Struggle in Colonial Mozambique, 1938-1961, (London: James Curry, 1995).
The quality of grazing in Sanyati varies from a carrying capacity of between 16 in some parts and 20 acres per beast in others. In terms of Section 8 (2) Act 52/51 the maximum number of animal units to be grazed was fixed at 10 per holder. For more detail on the carrying capacity of the Reserve see the Technical Survey Report: Sanyati Reserve compiled by the LDO for Sanyati, A. R. Vaughan Evans in NAZ (RC) Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158077, Location C19.2.10R, File: LAN 9 Sanyati and Ngezi: 1951-1964, “Technical Survey Report: Sanyati Reserve,” A. R. Vaughan Evans (LDO) to the Director of Native Agriculture, Causeway, 20th July, 1954, 1-9.
NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158086, Location C19.6.7F, File: DC’s File, District Information 1961-1971, Includes Programme of Events 1890 to 1961, Calendar of Events: Sanyati TTL.
Ibid. N.B. Since he was responsible for implementing it, in Shona literally this meant NC Barlow’s destocking. During the implementation of the culling and destocking measures peasant farmers who owned more cattle than the stipulated maximum (of ten) were required to slaughter or sell the excess animals. To ensure that farmers abided by these rules the said cattle’s tails (“miswe” in Shona) would be cut by the dip tank officers as a mark that they were excess to requirements and should be disposed of, hence “nhimura muswe” or “gura muswe.” On the next cattle dipping day if a farmer brought such cattle for dipping then the dip officer was entitled to take legal action against the farmer for refusal to comply with destocking regulations. However, rural accumulators often succeeded to hide the excess animals by either dipping them after the official dipping exercise or registering them in the names of their relatives.
NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158086, Location C19.6.7F, File: DC’s File, District Information 1961-1971, Includes Programme of Events 1890 to 1961, “Calendar of Events: Sanyati TTL.” realised in 1959 when it was decided to embark on another chapter of land allocation. 341 This revision of land allocation, though, was a belated call to correct an anomaly dating back to 1950 when the Rhodesdale evictees were settled in Sanyati. It was rather unpragmatic for the settler government to fail to anticipate an obvious human and animal population explosion by the late 1950s.