oa Scientia Militaria : South African Journal of Military Studies - Extra-territorial African police and soldiers in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) 1897-1965



During the early and mid-twentieth century, the security forces of colonial Southern Rhodesia were dominated by African men from neighbouring territories such as Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa who had entered the regional migrant labour system. This included many with previous military experience. As the British South Africa Police (BSAP) evolved from a paramilitary occupation force into a professional law enforcement organisation, extra-territorial recruits were phased out in favour of local men fluent in local languages with western-style education. Despite this, African police from other territories continued to have a disproportionate impact on the force as many became longserving and accomplished members, who dominated the paramilitary African Police Platoon and served as drill instructors for all recruits. During the First World War, most African soldiers in the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR) were migrant workers recruited directly from Southern Rhodesia's mines. During the Second World War, just under half of the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR) originated from other territories. The recruiting of extra-territorial African soldiers declined further in the 1950s and early 1960s as military conditions of service in their respective homes improved, the Masvingo-Gutu area became a dependable source of local recruits and eventually newly independent black-ruled states came into conflict with white-ruled Rhodesia.


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