“Drinking too much, they can’t Work”: The Settlers, the Hehe Work Discipline and Environmental Conservation in Mufindi, Tanzania, 1920-1960

Hezron Kangalawe


The colonial state’s relation with the settlers and with plantation owners in Tanganyika was largely precarious. This article uses the Mufindi area to navigate the contrasting views of the settlers and the colonial state on poor response of the black labourers to work and ‘poor environmental management’ amidst increasing number of ‘natives’ between 1920 and 1960. The available data indicates that the colonial state remained a settlers’ broker in securing farming land while acting as the guardian of the natives’ interests of land ownership. As such, state responses exhibited a high degree of pragmatism. In Mufindi area of Iringa district, German settlers specialized in tea farming while British nationals were engaged in wheat production in the Sao Hill. The settlers, despite their numerical inferiority, pressed hard the government to grant them more land and create policies to compel Africans to work on their farms. Building on primary and secondary sources, this article adds to the existing historiography on colonial agriculture by analyzing the settler complaints over labourers’ low work discipline in previously unexplored area of Mufindi.


Mufindi, settler economy, labourers, tea plantations, environmental conservation, Iringa.

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