World War II and the Scramble for Labour in Colonial Zimbabwe 1939-1948

David Johnson



World War II has long been acknowledged as a watershed in modern history of Africa, yet there are few books that examine the years of the war in a particular African country. This book helps to fill this gap by analysing the wartime mobilisation of settlers, soldiers and labourers in colonial Zimbabwe. It examines the sacrifices demanded of ten of thousands of Africans who were coerced into settler production as their contribution to the British war effort. Africans did not remain passive in the face of this onslaught, and the book also addresses their efforts to make their own history, especially on relation to the post-war rebellions of 1945 and 1948.


What is most refreshing about the book is that it examines Zimbabwean labor history outside the shadow of the South African literature, making comparisons and drawing upon theses developed elsewhere in colonial Africa. - Laird Jones,


David Johnson is a historian of Africa.