From at least 1900 on, Africans in Southern Rhodesia, its successor Rhodesia and today's Zimbabwe, have demanded schools and education, leaving behind evidence of their demands in a wide variety of sources: mission records, government reports and the recollections of former students. Even more than demands for land, higher producer prices or higher wages, demands for education were explicit attempts to negotiate not just economic issues, but also a place within Southern Rhodesia's increasingly segregated culture and society. But what, exactly, did students, parents and would-be students want, and were these demands being met? Fathers petitioned for schools for their sons, sons and daughters actively sought or avoided schooling and missions and the administration offered schools as answers to diverse political, social and economic difficulties. This paper will use a close examination of the life of a single ephemeral school at Umchingwe, in the Insiza district of Southern Rhodesia, to explore how senior men sought a school in an effort to rebuild strained ties with young men and restructure their community in Depression-era Southern Rhodesia, and why they failed.

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Copyright © 1997 African Studies Association. This article first appeared in African Studies Review 40:2 (1997), 117-139.

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