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Sybille Küster
Neither Cultural Imperialism Nor Precious Gift of Civilization
African Education in Colonial Zimbabwe 1890-1962
Reihe: Studien zur Afrikanischen Geschichte
Bd. 8, 1994, 248 S., 24.90 EUR, 24.90 CHF, br., ISBN 3-89473-837-5

This study challenges the explanatory potential of prevailing paradigms for analyzing the history of African schooling in colonial Zimbabwe. By reconsidering the African agency in the process, the author points to the socio-economic, political, gender and age-related interests and aspirations which determined the African response to colonial education. The central argument of the study holds that the expansion of the education system was crucially shaped by the selective acceptance and active pursuit of formal schooling on the part of the African population. Within the context of rural social restrictions on the one hand, and colonialist state policies on the other hand, African men and women came to perceive formal education as a means of enhancing employment opportunities, increasing social mobility, and circumventing the patriarchal control of African chiefs and elders. Due to the diminishing viability of peasant production and the color bar in skilled industrial employment, Africans mainly sought instruction in literary rather than simple practical skills, which contradicted official segregationist policies designed to 'keep the Africans in their place'. With its focus on the colonized people's motivation and rationale in their interaction with colonial structures, this study contributes to the current rewriting of Southern African history as the product of struggle between all societal elements rather than as a design imposed by all-pervasive capitalist or settler interests.

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