Politics in an Urban African Community

Politics in an Urban African Community

Politics in an Urban African Community

Politics in an Urban African Community

Excerpt

The developments that have been taking place in Africa in recent years rank among the most striking events of our age. African peoples over an entire continent have become involved in a process of social upheaval and radical social change. One aspect of this great transformation has been the increasing incorporation of peoples, traditionally rural in their economy and way of life, into the wage-earning economy of the towns.

In Northern Rhodesia the process is particularly well marked. Little more than a generation ago, Northern Rhodesia was a country still largely unknown to the outside world. True, the British South Africa Company had established its administration there just about the turn of the century, and many Africans had already left their tribal homes to seek work in the Belgian Congo, in Southern Rhodesia, and even in the mines of the Witwatersrand in what is now the Union of South Africa. But in the main, tribal life continued to run in its accustomed paths. African men and women still lived out their lives with their kinsmen in small villages dotted about the countryside; they gave allegiance to their tribal chiefs and headmen, and ordered their existence in accordance with time-hallowed customs.

Today this general picture is altered considerably. In the late twenties vast mineral resources were discovered in the area now known as the Copperbelt (see Map I) across the border from the Katanga Province in the Belgian Congo. Since then Northern Rhodesia has become one of the richest copper-mining areas in the world. Where once there was only bush with scattered African villages linked by a network of winding paths, there are now large towns of multi-racial composition, linked with one another, and with the-outside world, by road and rail, telephone and wireless. In his rural village the African was a subsistence cultivator, a hunter and, in some tribes, a herdsman. Now, in the towns, he . . .

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