Transnational Migration and Pan-African Solidarity: the Case of the Central African Federation, 1953-1963

Monday, 12 November, 2012 - 15:00

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The Federation of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland was declared in 1953, linking the three territories of central Africa politically and economically. The decision went against the wishes of the African majority, particularly in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, where Federation was viewed as an opportunity to extend white settler domination north of the Zambezi. The territories had a history of close association prior to 1953, connected by flows of migrant labour to the urban and industrial economies of the south. Anti-federation sentiment served to unite African political interests in central Africa in the 1950s, bringing about a moment of Pan-African solidarity between the African Congress parties that has remained largely unexplored by historians. This paper inquires into transnational political networks and highlights the influence of ‘northern’ nationalists on African politics during the Federation period. This study complicates the nationalist histories of central Africa and contributes to research on Pan-Africanism, African diasporas, and the impact of cross border mobility on central African politics.

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