A Most Promising Weed

A History of Tobacco Farming & Labor In Colonial Zimbabwe 1890-1945

Steven C. Rubert



A Most Promising Weed examines the work experience, living conditions, and social relations of thousands of African men, women, and children on European-owned tobacco farms in colonial Zimbabwe from 1890 to 1945. Steven C. Rubert provides evidence that Africans were not passive in their responses to the penetration of European capitalism into Zimbabwe but, on the contrary, helped to shape both the work and living conditions they encountered as they entered wage employment.


Beginning with a brief history of tobacco growing in Zimbabwe, this study focuses on the organization of workers' compounds and on the paid and unpaid labor performed by both women and children on those farms.


Steven C. Rubert was a research associate at the University of Zimbabwe and is currently Associate Professor of History at Oregon State University.