In the first few decades of the twentieth century Plateau Tonga communities experienced conquest, institutionalized racism, taxation, alienation of land, and forced labor, among other things. Yet the overall position of these communities, compared with so many others in east, central, and southern Africa, was far more positive. Though they had faced their share of ecological setbacks (including rinderpest on the eve of colonization), the Plateau had certainly not gone through the sort of ecological catastrophe--including epidemics, population decline, and expansion of tsetse fly belts--of other areas especially in east-central Africa. 148 Human population expanded steadily. Most communities had succeeded, first, in rebuilding their indigenous economies, a process represented particularly by the re-establishment of cattle herds. Many Tonga had entered the imperial economy as wage workers in order to effect this cattle build-up, but unlike the Pondo of South Africa who did likewise, did not become "locked in" to wage migration in the process. 149 Indeed by the 1930s the Plateau Tonga migration rate was among the very lowest in south central Africa. The indigenous economy was not only rebuilt but transformed in the course of its articulation with the imperial economy. The symbol of this transformation was the oxdrawn plow, used to produce maize not only for food but for sale. A peasantry had emerged. This development carried serious implications for European settlers and the colonial state.