Leading from Behind

Women in Community Development in Rhodesia 1973 -1979

Maia Chenaux-Repond



Drawing on communications ‘rescued’ from the shredders in the last days of Rhodesia, enlivened by her photographs and memories – both those of her own and her colleagues – Maia Chenaux-Repond tells the story of her work as the Provincial Community Development Officer (Women) for Mashonaland South in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the 1970s. This section’s invaluable focus on improving the lives and skills of women in the rural areas became progressively more difficult when the civil war intensified from the early 1970 as rural people – and the development workers themselves – were moved into ‘Protected Villages’, and as the Ministry became increasingly militarized.


The narrative relating to the years of more intense warfare shows courageous women continuing in their development work through troubles and dangers, suffering the same upheavals that the people around them were facing, and remaining committed to their work. There are lessons and inspiration for all in these pages. - Michael Bourdillon, University of Zimbabwe


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