The Tribe and Its Successors: An Account of African Traditional Life and European Settlement in Southern Rhodesia

The Tribe and Its Successors: An Account of African Traditional Life and European Settlement in Southern Rhodesia

The Tribe and Its Successors: An Account of African Traditional Life and European Settlement in Southern Rhodesia

The Tribe and Its Successors: An Account of African Traditional Life and European Settlement in Southern Rhodesia

Excerpt

I have tried in this book to show the collision of two cultures, one born out of Bantu Africa, the other derived from Western Europe, and to give some indication of the ways in which they have reacted on each other. The setting is that part of Africa now called Southern Rhodesia.

The book attempts to give a picture of the old life of the Mashona tribes, and to set this picture beside that of the European occupation. In fact, the book is a deliberate hybrid, drawing from anthropology as well as history in the hope that one will illuminate the other. If this juxtaposition affords a new perspective, I shall have achieved what I wanted to do.

I have tried throughout to write for the general reader. This has led me, for example, to avoid using the Mashona plurals of words, which are formed by a change of prefix that I think might have been confusing. This is perhaps also my opportunity to point out that the words 'Mashona' and 'Shona' are used interchangeably: there is no difference of meaning between them.

In one sense, this is the story of what happened to a part of Central Africa as a result of its occupation by white colonists in the final phase of British imperialism. But it also provides an instance of a much more important general process: the transformation of the world by Western industrial culture. The pioneers did not merely take over a tract of land in Central Africa; they imposed their way of life on an existing society which, because of its material poverty, they dismissed as worthless and savage. Thus, the picture presented here, despite its markedly individual nature, may also serve as an example of what is perhaps the most characteristic phenomenon of the modern world.

W.R.

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