A Colonial Situation, 1904-1918
From the year 1904, Plateau Tonga communities felt the imperial presence in sharply accentuated ways. The North-Western Rhodesian Administration imposed a direct tax on its subjects, signalling a more demanding and effective colonial occupation. A railway line, symbol par excellence of industrial capitalism and (in this period) imperial expansion, was built through the very center of the Plateau. In this artery's wake eventually came more traders and officials, settler farmers, stores, and towns. If before 1904 the imperial economy touched Tonga life only occasionally or from a distance, it now intruded regularly upon most households and neighborhoods, making demands, presenting certain options.
Imposition of mutelo, as the tax came to be known in Citonga, certainly had ample precedent in other parts of the British Empire. All the territories south of the Zambezi had instituted direct taxation by the 1890s, and North-Eastern Rhodesia had begun collecting a "hut tax" of 3s. per year in 1901. 1 In all cases, taxation served a twin purpose: first to provide revenue for administrations which were under pressure to become self-supporting as far and as soon as possible, and second to compel participation in the imperial economy, preferably, in this region, by means of wage labor.
The South African High Commissioner approved a tax for NorthWestern Rhodesia in 1901. Collection was delayed for three full years, however, while negotiations proceeded over the levy between Coryndon and Lewanika. The Lozi King agreed to the tax, but correctly saw that the issue raised the "whole question of his recognition over the outlying peoples." He wanted a large percentage (initially half) of the revenue and a large hand in its collection, even in areas like the Plateau, since "I used to get tribute from them." 2 Coryndon reluctantly agreed to a ten per cent share, and to having Lozi "indunas," particularly Iluyea at