Part 1: Zimbabwe - the 19th century
The Shona-Ndebele rebellions were a failure and the heroes Mlimo and Nehanda were assassinated and executed respectively. The influx of white settlers had begun in 1890 and they had withstood the siege of Bulawayo during the war. The territories of Matabeleland and Mashonaland fell under British rule and became known as Rhodesia. Both the Ndebele and Shona people became the subjects of British administration.
In a despicable pattern that was repeated across Africa in countries such as South Africa, Sierra Leone and Uganda, hut tax was introduced. Hut tax really was the great evil of colonialism. Huts were taxed on an individual or per-household basis. These were communities that had survived by means of cattle farming or agriculture and they had no way of actually paying these taxes. When the taxes were introduced across Africa, people often had to sell their land in order to pay for the taxes. They then moved onto smaller or less favourable pieces of land which were often overgrazed by their cattle. Cattle were then sold either to pay for the taxes or because of the overcrowding. Traditional and age old systems of allowing land to lie fallow in off-seasons tended to be disrupted due to the overgrazing and the need to produce higher levels of stock in order to pay for the taxes.
Land became over-farmed and throughout Africa droughts and floods began to have devastating effects. The primary reason for allowing land to lie fallow in off-seasons is to give the top soil a chance to replenish. Healthy soil can withstand a dry season as the soil retains water both in the water table and in roots. A healthy layer of top soil will also help land to withstand flooding and remain intact. Overused soil dries to dust in dry seasons and is simply washed away when heavy rains or floods come.
In time, unable to support themselves on the land and unable to produce goods to barter to pay for hut tax, more and more people were forced to labour under for the colonial powers and to build colonial towns, railways and mines.