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It can be noted that, the anxieties that gave rise to the NLHA originated in reserves far to the south and east, for example, Selukwe (Shurugwi), Gwelo (Gweru), Fort Victoria (Masvingo), Gutu and Chibi (Chivi), where the centralisation and alignment of African communities in the name of both conservation and of instilling modern farming practices had been underway for some two decades prior to the 1940s. 200 The absence of centralisation in Sanyati can be explained by the fact that the policy could only be implemented where Native Reserves had been created. Some of the tenets of this programme were only effected concurrently with the NLHA because prior to the arrival of the Rhodesdalites, there were no Native Reserves in the area. 201 Worby has observed that a remarkable government document laying out a five-year plan for the implementation of the NLHA illustrates with striking clarity the importance of constructing a coherent explanatory narrative of past failures in these southern and eastern communities. 202 He further says the document’s title: What the Native Land Husbandry Act Means to the Rural African and to Southern Rhodesia: A Five Year Plan that will Revolutionise African Agriculture is indicative of the Native Agriculture “Fletcher Defends Game Shooting to Preserve Agriculture,” 11.

Headman Lozane, Personal Interview.

“Fletcher Defends Game Shooting to Preserve Agriculture,” 11.


For more detail on centralisation see Ranger, Peasant Consciousness; E. Punt, “The Development of African Agriculture in Southern Rhodesia with Particular Reference to the Interwar Years,” MA thesis, Durban, 1979 and M. Nyandoro, “The Colonial State’s Response to the Problem of Overcrowding: A Study of Shurugwi Reserve, 1920-1945, BA Special Honours dissertation, Harare, November 1993, 43-62.

NAZ (RC), Ministry of Internal Affairs, Box 158086, Location C19.6.7F, DC’s File: District Information 1961-1971, Includes Programme of Events 1890 to 1961: Report of the PNC, Turton, Salisbury, on the office of the ANC, Gatooma, to NC, Hartley, 15th August 1947, 2.

Worby, “Discipline Without Oppression,” 108.

Department’s zeal to spearhead a “revolution” in African agrarian practice since the 1920s.

203 “From 1926 onwards,” the document stated:

–  –  –

It was believed that the economic and political stability of the Africans would be restored, with private title to land being the instrument through which individual men (Africans) would become the interested conservators of their land or natural resources in general. Hence,

–  –  –

Although no specific mention of differentiation was made in policy discourse, the full implementation of the NLHA was intended to scuttle this process. African progress was only tolerated in so far as it was subordinated to white settler interests. Notwithstanding this, differentiation on the basis of land ownership, labour, gender and capital accumulation became even more pronounced. Most of the Madherukas (“immigrants”) Ranger, Peasant Consciousness, 60, 70-71, cited in Worby, “Discipline Without Oppression,” 108-109.

Government of Southern Rhodesia, What the Native Land Husbandry Act Means to the Rural African

and to Southern Rhodesia: A Five Year Plan that will Revolutionise African Agriculture, (Salisbury:

Government Printers, 1955), 1.

What the Native Land Husbandry Act Means, 14.

self-allocated themselves land (madiro) 206 and became employers of labour as they furthered their accumulation prospects and established more stabilised rural families (homes).

Thus, a “modernist” type of development envisioned “complete family units” replacing the ragged fragmented pieces of industrialised African social life. As one Native Affairs

official aptly observes:

–  –  –

It was against this backdrop that the Rhodesdalites were received and that the autocratic NLHA was implemented in Sanyati.

The immigrant factor: From Rhodesdale to Sanyati and the contradiction of implementation:Chief Wozhele, whose personal name was Munyaka, and his people used to live in Lalapanzi from where they were moved to Rhodesdale in 1925 by the Native Commissioner for Que Que, Hulley – commonly referred to as “Mudzviti 208 Hari” by the locals. Since Rhodesdale was a European ranching area, he was bound to be moved again to a settlement designed for Africans. This would be the culmination of an idea muted prior to the granting of responsible government to Rhodesia in 1923, when the question of allocating separate defined areas in which Europeans and Africans could respectively and exclusively acquire land had arisen in the Rhodesian legislature. Since the 1920s, a number of African applicants were denied permission to buy land by the Director of Land Settlement on the grounds that African ownership would depreciate the value of adjacent European land. 209 The settlers also regarded the relatively small-scale purchases of land by the Africans which had taken place by 1921 as the beginning of a massive influx of advanced Africans into the European area. Hence, the Morris Carter Commission or the Lands Commission of 1925, which was appointed to test opinion on For more detail on madiro (freedom ploughing) see Nyambara, “A History of Land Acquisition in Gokwe.” In state corridors, to underscore the NLHA’s disapproval of this practice, madiro cultivators or peasants who disregarded the Act by overploughing were disparagingly labeled “illegal cultivators.” Cited in Worby, “Discipline Without Oppression.” 110.

“Mudzviti” is a Shona word that is used to refer to the NC, District Commissioner (DC) or the District Administrator (DA).

NAZ, NAS S924/GI/1, Director of Land Settlement, B.S.A.C., July 18, 1921.

the question of land segregation in Rhodesia succinctly enunciated European fear of the “inevitable racial conflict” which would ensue if a policy of land segregation was not adopted then. 210 The Land Apportionment Bill which resulted from the Commission’s report became law in 1930. Although the law (LAA) did not take effect until April 1931, under the terms of the new Act, the rights of the Africans to land ownership anywhere in the colony were rescinded. 211 Africans were only compensated for this loss by being given the exclusive right to purchase land in the so-called Native Purchase Area (NPA) or move outright to what were known as Native Reserves. This partly explains why Wozhele was moved from Lalapanzi. Using the same argument, the Europeans also intended to set aside Rhodesdale for their occupation and push the African population further out of “white enclaves” such as Rhodesdale. However, this imminent move was deferred if not put on hold by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. In the war against Hitler the African population was called upon to make its contribution in support of the Allied cause. As Rhodesian Europeans and Africans fought side by side for the attainment of a common objective, all racial differences seemed to have been swept under the carpet, only to be resurrected at the conclusion of the war.

No sooner had the war ended than the demobilised African soldiers started to be accorded the status of second-rate citizens. Wozhele’s people, in spite of their sacrifice in aid of the Allies, were not spared from the racist slant that was to dominate the post-war years. In 1946, a year after the termination of World War 2, in a less startling move to those familiar with the settler philosophy of the day, the NC for Que Que (now Kwekwe), Nasebet, in tandem with his Provincial Native Commissioner, unashamedly served Chief Wozhele with notification of removal in due course from Rhodesdale to Sanyati Reserve in the north-western part of the country. 212 In the following year, serious famine was allayed by the prompt and expeditious importation of yellow mealie-meal (known in local circles as “Kenya”) from the United States of America (USA). 1947 also marked the installation of boreholes and the construction of new roads in the Sanyati Reserve in preparation for the settlement of Wozhele’s people there. 213 On receiving the news of the impending eviction of Wozhele and his followers, Benjamin Burombo, affectionately known to his mass of supporters simply as B. B., the Organising Secretary of the British African Workers Voice Association 214 (The Voice, in short), stepped into Rhodesdale in 1950 viciously encouraging people to refuse removal. Much H. V. Moyana, The Political Economy of Land in Zimbabwe, (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1984), 58.

Ibid., 68. For more detail on the Act see also S. Moyo The Land Question in Zimbabwe, (Harare:

Sapes, 1995); B. Floyd, “Land Apportionment in Southern Rhodesia”, in R. Prothero (ed.), People and Land in Africa South of the Sahara, (London: Oxford University Press, 1972); R. H. Palmer, Land and Racial Domination in Rhodesia, (London: Heinemann, 1977); L. H. Gann, “The Southern Rhodesian Land Apportionment Act, 1930: An Essay in Trusteeship,” The National Archives of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Occasional Paper, (1), (June 1963) and M. L. Rifkind, “Land Apportionment in Perspective,” Rhodesian History, 3, (1972).

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.


Benjamin Burombo came into the political limelight in 1947 when he formed this association in Southern Rhodesia. Its headquarters were in Bulawayo. The association’s chief aim was to unify Africans politically and to fight for their better economic opportunities and social advancement.

as B. B. might not have countenanced it, the whites prevailed upon Chief Wozhele to go on a preliminary inspection of Sanyati Reserve. He was not pleased with what he saw during reconnaissance because the area was tsetse and mosquito infested. It resembled a jungle in that it was characterised by dense forest and was inhabited by dangerous wild animals such as elephants, lions, hyenas and poisonous snakes. There was hardly any decent infrastructure by way of roads, bridges, schools, stores, grinding mills or reliable water sources. Perhaps the most noticeable service that was provided by the government was a rudimentary road infrastructure to facilitate travel by the NC or DC. (See pictures showing the effort to clear bush and build a road linking Kadoma and Sanyati – Appendices I and II). The only distinguishable human inhabitants of the area at that time, the people of Chief Neuso, lived in one line in the middle of this thick bush. In spite of his resistance to go to this inhospitable backwater of the country, the Chief’s trip was immediately followed by the decisive meeting between the NC Gatooma, Finnis, and Que Que’s new NC, Buckley, at Elephant Hill (“Chomureza Hill”). This meeting which was also attended by Wozhele, signalled confirmation of his removal together with his people including Headman Mudzingwa to Sanyati despite Burombo’s influence of “Zuva Ravira.” 215 This term literally signified that the “sun has set”). It was coined to mean that the time had come to fight and resist unjust colonial prescriptions such as the forced removal of Africans from their original homes implemented under the ostracised LAA.

Indeed, the die had been cast as the first wave of “immigrants” was forcibly moved to Sanyati in 1950. This year marked the beginning of repressive fast-track removals of unprecedented magnitude for most of the people living on Alienated and Crown Lands.

In a show of excessive force, the Rhodesdale residents or evictees were loaded into waiting lorries at short notice and transported into the inhospitably hot malarial lowlands of the Sanyati and Sebungwe districts. Most of the early “immigrants” were settled in villages under their own village heads and headmen, but formally under the ultimate jurisdiction of indigenous chiefs. Among the first evictees of Rhodesdale were 470 families under Chief Wozhele and his Headmen Mudzingwa and Lozane who were dumped in the Sanyati Reserve. Another group consisted of 1 000 families under Headmen Myambi and Chirima who were forcibly settled in Gokwe Special Native Area.216 December 11, 1950 was the deadline set by the Native Department for the final evacuation of people residing on the Rhodesdale Estates. 217 Accordingly, at a meeting held by members of the Native Department in September 1950, it was decided that “all families … moved from Rhodesdale would by force of circumstance be accommodated in the areas mentioned even if the size of what was regarded as an economic unit had to be 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.

N.B. Benjamin Burombo’s contribution marked the beginning of full-scale resistance to calculated massive movements of persons to various destinations in the country. For a more elaborate description of Burombo’s influence see Bhebe, B. Burombo, 1-160.

The new areas created from Unassigned Area were designated as “Special Native Areas” to distinguish them from the Native Reserves already provided for in the constitution, but to all intents and purposes the rights to land and methods of production within the special areas were no different. For more detail see M.

Yudelman, Africans on the Land, 75, and P. S. Nyambara, “A History of Land Acquisition in Gokwe,” 75.

Bhebe, B. Burombo, 76.

reduced.” 218 The area set aside for habitation by those families that were relocated to Sanyati comprised very poor sandy soils and received little rainfall. Parts of it were tsetse infested and crop cultivation in such an area was associated with a considerable amount of risk. It was here that the “immigrants” dislodged from Rhodesdale were allocated land under the NLHA of 1951. 219 Just before the second wave of “immigrants” was dispatched to Sanyati in 1951, Chief Munyaka Wozhele died. One informant in Sanyati has narrated a deeply touching story of the pain, agony and anguish that accompanied these forced evictions. Joke Munyaka

Wozhele who alleges that the late Chief was his grandfather, said:

–  –  –

Similarly, a nationalist leader narrated the Rhodesdale evictees’ ordeal as follows:

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