The railway histories of colonial Zimbabwe are a fascinating area of research that has received relatively widespread scholarly attention. Studies of the connection between railway development and the African labour force have been engaged with quite substantially, however, there is a historiographical gap concerning African female experiences with railway infrastructure in the colonial setting. As such, this research challenges the androcentrism of the colonial archive of Zimbabwe by using Bulawayo, the city of kings, as a case study to probe into African female experiences with not only the train but the railway compounds, Rhodesia Railways and the British colonial government. African women made use of the train, as both dependent and independent migrants to enter into urban Bulawayo in search of a better life and once there, they constructed new and interesting identities of themselves. One way that this is evident is in their economic ventures within the compounds, both legal and illicit. Their presence in the railway compounds ultimately played a very significant role in African railwaymen choosing to go to strike in 1945. Yet, there has been an almost complete erasure of their stories from the colonial archive, suggesting that they were not important in the unravelling of their own histories. In light of this, this research reads against the grain of the colonial archive to tell some of the stories of these women who were in actuality, a force to be reckoned with.
Dissertation (MSocSci (History))--University of Pretoria, 2019.