The Rise of African Retailers and its Impact on the Colonial Categorisation of Occupations in Singida and Iramba Districts, 1945–1960

Gasiano G.N. Sumbai




This article examines struggles by some peasants in the colonial districts of Singida and Iramba to break away from the colonial racial division of labour that confined Africans to peasantry and seasonal labour migrationbetween 1945 and 1960. Africans’ struggles within the colonial commercial sector in particular and the colonial economy in general resulted in the creation of a new class of African retail traders who, along with Indian, Greek and Arab merchants, sold various items in the rural areas.The rise of African retail traders marked the early phase of the Africanisation of the commercial sector in the two districts and in Tanzania in general. African retail traders facilitated the circulation of money in the rural areas, thereby weakening barter trade. The data used in this article came from colonial archival sources in Singida district, the National Archives in Dar es Salaam, interviews with eye witnesses and from secondary sources.


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