Mining Kambove and testing for trypanosomiasis: Migrant labour, tsetse flies, and consumption, the establishment of colonial authority and suzerainty on the Luapula border, Northern Rhodesia Katanga, 1904-1914

This paper examines how for a brief period of time Madona became a nodal point in the interplay of tsetse flies, global capital (financing the Copper mines of the Congo), and the hopes and aspirations of young African men anxious to acquire the products of industrial capital in the form of bicycles, phonographs, safety razors, clothing and so forth. In so doing, this paper contributes to a more nuanced understanding of historical slogans such as “the penetration of capital”, “consumption”, and the like. The paper provides an insight into the manner in which, through making use of tsetse flies and the disease, Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness), which these flies are the vector of, the incipient colonial state in Northern Rhodesia gained suzerainty over the people living in Northern Rhodesia. It indicates how the colonial state, in the absence of an effective actual on the ground presence in Luapula, was able, through a complex interplay of Trypanosomiasis (Tryps), international law, and the desire on the part of Africans for the products of industrial capitalism, to establish and extend its control over Africans to the most intimate and basic level.

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This is ASCL Working Paper 155/2024. See all ASCL Working Papers.


Author(s) / editor(s)

Jan-Bart Gewald

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Jan-Bart Gewald is a socio-cultural historian of southern Africa and Professor of African History at Leiden University.