Arrivants as weapons of settler colonialism: Kundai Manamere, ‘Remembering Tom the boss boy: the place of black immigrants in the establishment of the southeastern lowveld sugar estates, Zimbabwe, 1906–1972’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2020


Abstract: This article explores the role of black immigrants in the history of settler colonialism by demonstrating the interstitial positioning of boss boys on white owned farms in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Most of these individuals came as part of earlier settlers and they occupied a strategic position in the entrenchment of settler colonialism as they acted as intermediaries between the coloniser and the colonised. This article is about a black immigrant named Tom Dunuza, personal servant, driver and boss boy to Thomas Murray MacDougall, the pioneer of Triangle Sugar Estates in southeastern Zimbabwe. It makes use of archives and oral narratives of his two descendants, former and current estate workers and residents to capture memories of Tom Dunuza’s role in the establishment of the lowveld sugar estates and illuminates our understanding of the complex and ambiguous position that boss boys occupied on early colonial farms. Those whom he supervised remember him as a colonial collaborator. The article demonstrates that through a racialised system of violence and paternalism, the boss boy enforced the oppression and subjugation of workers on early colonial farms. It also shows how changes in farm ownership and management from individual and direct control to corporate and indirect administration influenced the development of a positive image of Dunuza among current workers and residents as new forms of paternalism emerged.

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