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Malawian Migration to Zimbabwe, 1900–1965

Tracing Machona

Palgrave Macmillan

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  • Explores the histories and legacies of migration from Malawi (then Nyasaland) to Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia)

  • Draws on archival research in Malawi, Zimbabwe and the UK, and oral history interviews in four districts of Malawi and several suburbs of Harare

  • Offers new insights into the life histories of Nyasa men and women, challenging the notion of a homogenous African experience of colonialism and labour migration

Part of the book series: Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies (CIPCSS)

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  • ISBN: 978-3-030-54104-0
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Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xvii
  2. Introduction

    • Zoë R. Groves
    Pages 1-20
  3. Labour Migration in Early Colonial Malawi

    • Zoë R. Groves
    Pages 21-53
  4. Gender, Class and Migration

    • Zoë R. Groves
    Pages 55-90
  5. Nyasa Migrant Identities

    • Zoë R. Groves
    Pages 91-116
  6. Community, Leisure and Urban Life

    • Zoë R. Groves
    Pages 117-152
  7. Back Matter

    Pages 215-254

About this book

“Groves provides a carefully researched and compelling history of Malawian contributions to Zimbabwe’s history. Her work illuminates how migrants successfully built a unique migrant culture in Harare. Groves presents a significant and compelling narrative of the key roles of many remarkable trade union and anti-colonial nationalists from Malawi in the establishment of Zimbabwe’s nationalist politics. A welcome revision of, and contribution to, the modern history of Central and Southern Africa.”
Timothy Scarnecchia, Kent State University, USA

"This is the first book-length study of Malawian labour migration focusing on the experiences of those who travelled and those left behind, also unique for its focus on migration between Nyasaland/Malawi and Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (and particularly, Salisbury/Harare), contributing to a story long dominated by Malawi’s ties to South Africa. Groves makes an important contribution to a historiography of African migration often preoccupied with transoceanic movement into the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds."
Joey Power, Ryerson University, Canada 


This book explores the culture of migration that emerged in Malawi in the early twentieth century as the British colony became central to labour migration in southern Africa. Migrants who travelled to Zimbabwe stayed for years or decades, and those who never returned became known as machona – ‘the lost ones’. Through an analysis of colonial archives and oral histories, this book captures a range of migrant experiences during a period of enormous political change, including the rise of nationalist politics, and the creation and demise of the Central African Federation. Following migrants from origin to destination, and in some cases back again, this book explores gender, generation, ethnicity and class, and highlights life beyond the workplace in a racially segregated city. Malawian men and women shaped the culture and politics of urban Zimbabwe in ways that remain visible today. Ultimately, the voluntary movement of Africans within the African continent raises important questions about the history of diaspora communities and the politics of belonging in post-colonial Africa.

Zoë R. Groves is Lecturer in Modern Global, Colonial and Postcolonial History at the University of Leicester, UK, and Research Associate at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Keywords

  • Migrant Labour
  • Southern Africa
  • Nyasaland
  • Southern Rhodesia
  • Salisbury
  • Harare
  • Chinyanja
  • Shona
  • Central African Federation
  • Unilateral Declaration of Independence
  • Women's history
  • Citizenship

Reviews

“Zoë Groves provides a carefully researched and compelling history of Malawian contributions to Zimbabwe’s history. Her work illuminates how migrants transformed their cultural identities to successfully build a unique migrant culture. The narrative weaves between social, cultural, urban, and political histories that are well-grounded in personal and family migration stories. Groves presents a significant and compelling narrative of the key roles of many remarkable trade union and anti-colonial nationalists from Malawi in the establishment of Zimbabwe’s nationalist politics. Groves’ shows how the experiences of Malawian leaders with settler colonialism in Southern Rhodesia helped to solidify an anti-colonial solidarity, especially in the late 1950s. The final chapter covers the post-Independence period and demonstrates the collective pride, and legitimate citizenship claims, of the many former Machona and their descendants living in Zimbabwe today. Groves’ book is a welcome revision of, and contribution to, the modern history of central and southern Africa.” (Timothy Scarnecchia, Kent State University, USA)

“This compelling history of Malawian migration to Zimbabwe makes a major contribution to the growing literature on diasporas within the African continent. Groves’ careful and sensitive research across the region brings alive the political, social and emotional dimensions of the migrant experience and ensures that the story of the Malawian ‘lost ones’ will be remembered.” (Megan Vaughan, UCL, UK)

“This book is not just another study of the factors that led large numbers of Nyasas (Malawians) to seek employment in other parts of Southern Africa, and of the effects of it on their families and communities – issues that have tended to dominate Malawi’s migration historiography. It is about the histories and experiences of these immigrants in their host country, and the lives that they built there. It is an inclusive study in the sense that, unlike earlier analyses of Malawian migration, Zoe Groves pays due attention to the place of women (Malawian and local wives, other relationships, and children of migrants), thus presenting a vivid portrait of individuals and families employed on farms and in urban centers, mainly Salisbury (now Harare). This well researched and very readable book also examines the matter of citizenship and belonging, a subject that has become increasingly important in post-colonial Africa.” (Owen J. M. Kalinga, North Carolina State University, USA)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

    Zoë R. Groves

About the author

Zoë R. Groves is Lecturer in Modern Global, Colonial and Postcolonial History at the University of Leicester, UK, and Research Associate at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg, South Africa.   

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Malawian Migration to Zimbabwe, 1900–1965

  • Book Subtitle: Tracing Machona

  • Authors: Zoë R. Groves

  • Series Title: Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54104-0

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-54103-3

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-54106-4

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-54104-0

  • Series ISSN: 2635-1633

  • Series E-ISSN: 2635-1641

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVII, 254

  • Number of Illustrations: 3 b/w illustrations, 5 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: History of Sub-Saharan Africa, Imperialism and Colonialism, Human Migration, Social History

Buying options

eBook
USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-54104-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)