oa Central African Journal of Medicine - African labour conditions and health in the Southern Rhodesian mining industry, 1898-1953 Part II: diet

Volume 22, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0008-9176



Food, like housing discussed in part one of this article, was an obvious target for cost-conscious employers. This target was rendered particularly obvious and necessary by the fact that food was usually expensive for much of the early decades of the territory's colonial history. Both because commercial agriculture was initially neglected by the B.S.A. Company and because the capitalist sector in general was opposed to the encouragement of peasant production, local food supplies were restricted, sometimes uncertain and normally costly. Mining companies and smallworkers thus supplied their black labour force with the cheapest possible diet and, as with accommodation, left workers to make up the deficiencies themselves. Even after the price and supply of food improved with the development of commercial agriculture, minimal expenditure on food remained an important aspect of cost minimisation as a whole for many mines; especially smallworkers.

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