“Meet interesting people”: Social and spatial mobility in Nshila, a magazine for Africans in colonial Zambia, 1958–1963

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State-sponsored media in colonial Zambia participated in the production of a late colonial discourse which, under the guise of providing affirmation and ‘progressive’ teachings, repackaged long standing ambitions to control Africans’ spatial mobility and to manage their social and spatial mobility aspirations. Nshila (“The Way”), a fortnightly magazine aimed at an African readership, was one such medium that promulgated this discourse. While containing some openings through which educated Africans could comment on aspects of a changing reality and even challenge government messaging, Nshila ultimately strove to reconfigure notions of success, keep political and mobility ambitions in check, and inculcate in its readership ideals of hard work, personal initiative, and self help. Furthermore, it constructed a narrative of social mobility that identified key channels of African advancement but failed to acknowledge how vastly out of reach these opportunities were for the majority of the African population in Northern Rhodesia. Crucially, in this narrative social mobility was ambivalently linked to geographical mobility, certain kinds of which came to stand for achievement and a forward-looking lifestyle, while others were deemed disruptive and were discouraged. This article combines historical contextualisation with content and discourse analysis of about eighty magazine issues from the late colonial era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-78
JournalStichproben: Wiener Zeitschrift für kritische Afrikastudien
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 602001 African studies
  • 601007 Historical regional studies
  • 507030 Mobility research

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