Social Organization of the Gwembe Tongo

Social Organization of the Gwembe Tongo

Social Organization of the Gwembe Tongo

Social Organization of the Gwembe Tongo

Excerpt

This book is based on field work carried out during the period October 1956-September 1957. During this period my colleague, Mr. Thayer Scudder, and I were employed by the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute for the first phase of a long-term study of the Valley Tonga of the Gwembe Valley.

If the customs of the Valley Tonga were to be recorded before they underwent abrupt and rapid change, it was essential that it be done at once since the building of Kariba Dam would soon flood much of their old territory and force the removal of over half the population into new areas. During our field work we paid particular attention to the adaptation of the Valley Tonga to the ecological environment within the areas to be flooded. Conditions within the Zambezi Plain, where the majority of the resettled people formerly lived, were probably unique in Central Africa. Because of the rugged character of the hills intervening between the Zambezi and the Rhodesian Plateaux, the region had been relatively remote from other areas of the Rhodesias until very recent years and its people had remained highly dependent upon their own resources. This gave a peculiar interest to our work, for we were dealing with a people still largely content with the old ways of life.

The result of the first stage of what we may call the Kariba Project is a description of the Gwembe Valley and its people as they were in the period immediately preceding the formation of Lake Kariba. This should be of some value in itself if only for its historical interest. At the same time it forms the basis for a longterm study of social change. In 1962 we hope to begin the second stage of the project which will deal with the adjustments made by the people in response to the drastic change in their environment and their general circumstances resulting from the resettlement.

The Collection of Material. During the years 1946-7 and 1948-50, I had worked among the Plateau Tonga of Mazabuka District in Northern Rhodesia and thus was familiar with the Tonga language and the general features of Tonga social organization.

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