Making our own way women working in Lourenço Marques, 1900 - 1933
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INTRODUCTION: In the course of writing up research on the development of a predominantly male African working class in the colonial capital of Mozambique, I was struck by the seemingly contradictory patterns regarding women which came to my attention through colonial archives, mission archives and interviews. Male informants typically viewed the acquisition of bridewealth, lobolo, as a principal goal in their lives. They left their villages to seek wage labor for many reasons: to acquire cash for lobolo, consumer goods, taxes, and food, and to avoid labor conscription for low wage or unpaid work. Workers and work seekers alike, however, cited the desire to accumulate a full or partial lobolo as the principal motivation for seeking the higher wages paid in the South African mines. Mission and colonial archives similarly emphasize the fundamental role lobolo acquisition and exchange played in Southern Mozambican society. Those same interviews and archives, however, also revealed that men, particularly mine migrants, commonly abandoned one or more wives for whom they had paid a partial or full lobolo. Colonial policy was, to some extent, designed to ensure that labor migrants periodically returned to their rural households, not only to invigorate tax rolls and local commerce with their repatriated wages, but also to reinforce their ties to the women and lands of Mozambique. [TRUNCATED]
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 114
RightsCopyright © 1986, by the author.