Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Rhodesian Railwaymen

20 June 1945
Rhodesia Railways Royal Train, 1947

From the 1940s onwards, black rail workers in the British colony of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) began to flex muscle. They complained about arbitrary and abusive actions on the part of white workers.  'Carriage cleaner boys' wrote to the Railways General Manager on 20 June 1945 to complain of their supervisor: 'we want to know why we are hit...he treats us very badly last week...came with his stick and hitting us.' In 1952, 300 African railwaymen gathered at a local African Affairs Department office to speak up. They were 'continually  referred to as baboons' by a certain mr Harris, while a mrs Jones 'made a point of walking past them holding her nose.'

Kenneth P. Vickery, Railways and Culture in the Rhodesias' in: The Objects of Life in Central Africa ...(Leiden 2013) 137