A history of African entrepreneurship in Southern Rhodesia, 1944 – 1979
Chambwe, Tawanda Valentine
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The thesis examines the development of African entrepreneurship in Southern Rhodesia between 1944 and 1979. Using previously underutilized sources in the study of African entrepreneurship, such as the Native Trade and Production Commission of Inquiry (1944), business site application bundles from the Native Affairs Department and The African Businessman, amongst others, it contends that colonial policy on African commerce was ambiguous and at times contradictory. For the most part, Africans operated in a restrictive legislative environment, but they were able to carve, a niche for themselves within the grey areas of colonial policy ambivalence, albeit in a limited way. In excuse for its failure to open up commercial space for African entrepreneurs, the state often pointed to African business illiteracy. However, this was a mere red herring for deeper colonial legislative and deliberate structural challenges such as limited freehold rights, lack of capital, and a racialised business landscape that restricted African participation. The responses of African traders ranged from litigation to forming business associations. They reveal their resilience and desire for economic independence in a colonial and racist environment. The study begins in 1944 because of the centrality of the Godlonton Commission of 1944 in discussing African entrepreneurship and ends in 1979 at the end of colonial rule. It analyses these stories through critical junctures in colonial Zimbabwe`s past from 1944, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, and the 1970s-armed struggle, up until 1979 on the cusp of Independence.