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Masculinity and Organized Resistance in Domestic Service in Colonial Dar es Salaam, 1919–1961

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2015

Robyn Pariser*
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Abstract

This article analyzes the relationship between masculinity and domestic service by exploring how servants resisted the changing culture and realities of their work in colonial Dar es Salaam, the capital of British colonial Tanganyika. Domestic servants formed nearly half the working class in the city, and ninety-seven percent of servants were African men. Considered during the early decades of colonialism to be a well-paid, skilled, and respectable occupation, domestic service transformed in the 1940s and 1950s, due to the World War II economic crisis, soaring urban population, and introduction of new labor regulations. The primary threats to servants’ masculinity during the latter half of the colonial era were the growing limitations the occupation placed on men's abilities to achieve the financial and social capital required to achieve senior status and respect within their families and the African community. In response to rising exploitation and declining wages, servants formed Tanganyika's first African labor union.

Type
Historicizing Domestic Labor: Resistance and Organizing
Copyright
Copyright © International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2015 

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References

NOTES

1. Within East Africa the term “Asian” refers to people from the Indian subcontinent.

2. Tanganyika Territory was renamed Tanzania in 1964. Throughout this article Tanganyika refers to colonial Tanzania.

3. M.J.B. Molohan, 1942 Labour Office Report, Dar es Salaam Township, 61/100/A/II/f.95, Tanzania National Archives (hereafter TNA). Cited in James Brennan, Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania (Athens, OH, 2012), 76.

4. Annual Report of the Labour Department (hereafter LD), 1949, CO736/29, The British National Archives (hereafter PRO).

5. Hansen notes a similar transformation in colonial Zambia. Karen Hansen, Distant Companions: Servants and Employers in Zambia, 1900–1985 (Ithaca, NY, 1989), 173.

6. J.A.K. Leslie, A Survey of Dar es Salaam (New York, 1963), 127.

7. For an overview of the literature on masculinity and domestic service, see Sarti, Raffaella and Scrinzi, Francesca, “Introduction to the Special Issue: Men in a Woman's Job, Male Domestic Workers, International Migration and the Globalization of Care,” Men and Masculinities 13 (2010): 415 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8. Eastman, Carol, “Service, Slavery (‘Utumwa’) and Swahili Social Reality,” Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 37 (1994): 9394 Google Scholar.

9. Saleh Fundi and Lorenzi Mikongoti, The African Cooks Washermen and House Servants Association, January 13, 1948, ACC460 99/1/A/f.16.

10. Boris, Eileen and Nadasen, Premilla, “Domestic Workers Organize!The Journal of Labor and Society 11 (2008): 413Google Scholar.

11. Ibid., 413–14.

12. The notable exception was in South Africa, where servants were mostly women. Jaclyn Cock, Maids and Madams: A Study in the Politics of Exploitation (Johannesburg, 1980); Charles Van Onselen, “The Witches of Suburbia: Domestic Service on the Witwatersrand, 1890–1914,” in Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, 1886–1914, ed. Charles van Onselen (New York, 1982).

13. Hansen, Companions.

14. Margaret Strobel, “Slavery and Reproductive Labor in Mombasa,” in Women and Slavery in Africa, ed. Claire Robertson and Martin Klein (Madison, WI, 1983), 111–29.

15. Janet Bujra, Serving Class: Masculinity and the Feminisation of Domestic Service in Tanzania (Edinburgh, 2000), 77, 176–77.

16. 1922 DSM District Annual Report, TNA; 1924 DSM District Annual Report, TNA.

17. Darrell Bates, The Mango and the Palm (London, 1962), 82. Emphasis in original.

18. For more on servants’ wages, see Robyn Pariser, “Houseboy: Domestic Service and the Making of Colonial Dar es Salaam” (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 2013), 53–55.

19. John Iliffe, Honour in African History (New York, 2005); Elisabeth McMahon, Slavery and Emancipation in Islamic East Africa: From Honor to Respectability (Cambridge, 2013); Lisa Lindsay, Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria (Portsmouth, 2003); Laura Fair, Pastimes and Politics: Culture, Community, and Identity in Post-Abolition Urban Zanzibar, 1890–1945 (Athens, OH, 2001).

20. Hansen, Companions, 161–65.

21. McMahon, Slavery; Fair, Pastimes.

22. Gilchrist Alexander, Tanganyika Memories: A Judge in the Red Kanzu (London, 1936), 152.

23. Bujra, Serving Class, 120.

24. Andrew Burton, African Underclass: Urbanization, Crime, and Colonial Order in Dar es Salaam, 1919–1961 (Athens, OH, 2005), 282.

25. Brennan, Taifa, 118.

26. Burton, Underclass, 90–94; Brennan, Taifa, 92, 100–101.

27. H.H. McCleery, “Report of an Enquiry into Landownership in Dar es Salaam,” Rhodes House Library, Mss.Afr.s.870, 1939. Cited in John Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika (New York, 1979), 386; M.J.B. Molohan, “Report on Unemployment and Wage Rates in Dar es Salaam,” September 27, 1941, 61/443/1, TNA cited in Burton, Underclass, 100.

28. Gerald Sayers, The Handbook of Tanganyika (London, 1930), 470.

29. Alexander, Tanganyika Memories, 153.

30. Women's Service League of Tanganyika, Notes on African Domestic Labour in Dar es Salaam (Dar es Salaam, 1948), 6.

31. 1944 LD Report, CO736/25, PRO.

32. 1942 Labour Office Report; “Report on enquiry into wages and cost of living of low grade African government employees in Dar es Salaam,” September 1942, 30598, TNA.

33. Extract from Official Report on Domestic Servants’ Wages, 20 July 1944, 30136, TNA.

34. 1941 Eastern Province Annual Report, TNA; A.H. Pike, “Report on Native Affairs in Dar es Salaam Township,” June 5, 1939, 18950/II, TNA.

35. Pike, “Report on Native Affairs”; Molohan, “Report on Unemployment”; “Report on enquiry into wages.”

36. Labour Commissioner to Chief Secretary, October 20, 1944, 32744, minute 3, TNA.

37. Section 21 of Master and Native Servants Ordinance. See Issa Shivji, Law, State, and the Working Class in Tanzania (Portsmouth, 1986), 49.

38. Shabani Abdallah and others to A.A. Dodoma, August 14, 1939, 46/A/6/3/I, TNA. Cited in Iliffe, Modern History, 397.

39. Pariser, “Houseboy,” 144.

40. Iliffe, A Modern History, 397.

41. Seleman Pembe to the Chief Secretary, “Supplication of the Servant to their Masters,” March 2, 1945, ACC460 99/1/I/f.9A, TNA.

42. Certificate of Registration, August 28, 1945, ACC460 99/1/A/f.5, TNA.

43. Lowrenzi Mikongoti, “Brief History of the African Cooks, Washermen and House Servants Association, Dar es Salaam,” September 11, 1948, ACC460 99/1/I/f.112, TNA.

44. Report to the Registrar of Trade Unions, March 26, 1946, ACC460 99/1/I/f.52, TNA.

45. Boris and Nadasen, Organize, 418.

46. Letter from Saleh Fundi to Registrar of Trade Unions, March 26, 1946, ACC460 99/1/I/f.52, TNA; Annual Report of the LD 1947, CO736/28.

47. S. Hamilton for Labour Commissioner to African Cooks, Washermen and House Servants Association, April 12, 1949, ACC460 99/1/I/f.150.

48. Report from Intelligence and Security Bureau to Labour Commissioner, “African Cooks, Washermen and House Servants Union,” October 3, 1945, ACC460 99/1/I/f.29A.

49. Report from the Intelligence and Security Bureau, “African Cooks, Washermen and House Servants Union,” October 24, 1945, ACC460 99/1/I/f.32A.

50. Confidential letter from Labour Officer, Lindi to Labour Officer, Dar es Salaam, March 3, 1949, ACC460 9/1/I/f.146.

51. Saleh Fundi, “Letter No.2,” January 15, 1947, ACC460 99/1/I/f.62 and ACC460 99/1/A.

52. Saleh Fundi and Lorenzi Mikongoti to the Registrar General, January 15, 1947, ACC460 99/1/I/f.65–66.

53. Mikongoti, “Brief History.”

54. Saleh Fundi and Lorenzi Mikongoti, “The Cooks, Washermen and House Servants Association,” ACC460 99/1/I/f.19C-D, TNA.

55. Mikongoti, “Brief History.”

56. Lindsay, Working with Gender.

57. Iliffe, Honour, 3; Silberschmidt, Margrethe, “Disempowerment of men in rural and urban East Africa: implications for male identity and sexual behavior,” World development 29: 657–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

58. Petition from S. Fundi, L. Mikongoti, P. Nguvumali, A. Omar, S. Mwenda, and O. Athumani to Colonial Secretary, April 14, 1951, 37681/5/25/f.4, TNA.

59. Iliffe, Honour, 248–52.

60. Petition from Salehe bin Fundi to Colonial Secretary, April 14, 1951, TNA37681/5/25/f.4.

61. This tactic was also used by other unions in Africa. See Frederick Cooper, Decolonization and African Society: The Labour Question in French and British Africa (Cambridge, 1996).

62. S. Fundi, L. Mikongoti, M. Ladi, A. Omar, O. Adhuman, A. Ahomedi, Selemani, Edward, Signature illegible, Fripo, Mauti, Simba, Abbar, Omar Hassani, Signature illegible, Signature illegible, Hasani, O. Hasani to U.N.O. Visiting Commission, September 1, 1951, 37681/5/25/f.4, TNA.

63. Frederick Cooper, “Colonizing Time: Work Rhythms and Labor Conflicts in Colonial Mombasa,” in Colonialism and Culture, ed. Nicholas Dirks (Ann Arbor, MI, 1992), 209.

64. Jill Stanley, personal communication, Dar es Salaam, May 31, 2011; Anonymous interview, Dar es Salaam, May 31, 2011.

65. Pembe, “Supplication.”

66. “Servants Lose Jobs in Housing Dispute,” Sunday News (hereafter SN), November 9, 1958; Labour Officer, Lindi to Labor Commissioner, September 22, 1959, 97/16/f.20, TNA.

67. McMahon, Slavery, 122–29.

68. Fair, Pastimes, 20–27.

69. Pembe, “Supplication.”

70. Saleh Fundi and Lorenzi Mikongoti, “Mapimo ya mishahara watu wekundu kwa watumishi wao waafrica,” January 3, 1947, ACC460 99/1/A, TNA.

71. Iliffe, Honour, Chapters 14 and 16.

72. African Cooks, Washermen's and House Servant's Association, Mbeya and Iringa, 23 October 1947, 99/1/f.76, TNA. For an extensive overview of the correspondence between the ACWHSA and the state see Pariser, “Houseboy,” Chapter 4.

73. Saleh Fundi to the Registrar General, January 15, 1947, ACC460 99/1/I/f.66.

74. Saleh Fundi and Lorenzi Mikongoti, the African Cooks Washermen and House Servants Association, January 13, 1948, ACC460 99/1/A/f.16.

75. S. Hamilton, Labour Officer, DSM, to Labour Officer, Lindi, February 8, 1949, ACC460 99/1/I/f.143, TNA.

76. S. Hamilton for Labour Commissioner to African Cooks, Washermen and House Servants Association, April 12, 1949, ACC460 99/1/I/f.150, TNA.

77. See Cooper, Decolonization.

78. Saleh Fundi, Lawrence [sic] Mikongoti, and Alimasi Omari to Chief Secretary, February 22, 1950, ACC460 99/1/II/f.202A, TNA.

79. S. Fundi, L. Mikongoti, P. Nguvumali, A. Omar, S. Mwendo, O. Athumani to James Griffiths, Colonial Secretary, April 14, 1951, 37681/5/25, TNA.

80. Letter from ACWHSA to The U.N.O. Visiting Commission, DSM, 1 September 1951, 37681/5/25/f.4, TNA.

81. Letter from Tanganyika Government Trade Union [an alias of the ACWHSA] to the Secretary General, United Nations, September 10, 1952, 37681/5/25/f.8, TNA.

82. Hansen, Companions, 165.

83. Labour Commissioner to Chief Secretary, September 15, 1948, 32744/f.55, TNA.

84. Cooper, Decolonization, 453.

85. K.L. Sanders, LD Annual Report 1955, January 31, 1957, CO 736/43, PRO.

86. Pariser, “Houseboy,” 198–99.

87. Labour Officer, “Meeting with Mr. Mpangala, Secretary of the African Commercial Employers Association on 10 September 1955,” 12 September 1955, ACC460 99/1/II/f.282, TNA.

88. Bujra, Serving Class, 159.

89. “Domestic Workers to Strike,” Tanganyika Standard (hereafter TS), November 1, 1956; Sanders, LD Annual Report 1956, CO 736/49.

90. N.T.C. Msumba, “The Tanganyika Hotel and Domestic Workers’ Union: Habari za Ugomaji,” ACC460 724/25/f.27; “Servants to Strike on December 6,” TS, November 29, 1956.

91. Sanders, LD Annual Report 1956; “Tell us, say Police, If Your Servants are Threatened,” SN, November 4, 1956; “You and your Servants,” SN, November 4, 1956.

92. “You and your Servants,” SN, November 4, 1956.

93. “Domestic Servants,” TS, November 6, 1956; Bulldog, “Servants and the Strike,” TS, November 6, 1956; New African, “Domestic Workers’ Strike,” TS, December 3, 1956.

94. N.T.C. Msumba, “The Tanganyika Domestic and Hotel Workers Union: Union of House Workers,” ACC460 724/25/f.1.

95. “Federation of Labour Replied to Government,” TS, December 8, 1956. Emphasis added.

96. “Strike: Employers are Advised by Government,” TS, November 30, 1956.

97. N.T.C. Msumba, “The Tanganyika Hotel and Domestic Workers’ Union: Habari za Ugomaji,” ACC460 724/25/f.27, TNA.

98. “Still Prepared to Talk, Says Servants’ Union,” SN, December 2, 1956.

99. “Industrial Workers to Strike,” TS, December 3, 1956.

100. Bujra, Serving Class, 160–61; Shivji, Working Class, 196–97.

101. N.T.C. Msumba, “The Tanganyika Hotel and Domestic Workers’ Union: Habari za Ugomaji,” ACC460 724/25/f.27 TNA.

102. “Strike Threat,” TS, November 30, 1956.

103. “Who Strikes First?” TS, December 2, 1956.

104. Portia, SN, December 30, 1956. Cited in Bujra, Serving Class, 71.

105. “Many Reports of Threats of Violence: Last Minute Changes Caused Confusion,” TS, December 8, 1956; Sanders, LD Annual Report 1956.

106. Sanders, LD Annual Report 1956, PRO.

107. “‘Strike Ended’ Statement was Premature, Caused Confusion Among Ex-Employees,” TS, December 29, 1956.

108. Bujra, Serving Class, 163.

109. Hansen, Companions.

110. “Threatened Domestic Servants,” Tanganyika Standard, December 15, 1956.

111. See Pariser, “Houseboy,” 217–19.

112. “Annual Return of a Trade Union, Tanganyika Domestic and Hotel Workers Union,” July 15, 1958,” ACC460 98/40/IV/f.11, TNA.

113. Shivji, Working Class, 233.

114. Yeyeye, G. E., “Trade Unions in Tanzania: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?Open University Law Journal 5 (2014): 6974 Google Scholar

115. P. Mosha, “United Republic of Tanzania: A study report on situation of domestic workers and their organisation in Tanzania,” Report commissioned by the IUF and IDWN, 2012.

116. Annamarie Kashaija Kiaga, “Blaming the Other Woman: Rural Housegirls and Urban Employers,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 2007).

117. Bujra, Serving Class, 7; The Labour Force Survey, 1990/91, (Dar es Salaam, 1993), 86; LABORSTA, http://laborsta.ilo.org/STP/guest (accessed October 23, 2013).

118. Pariser, “Houseboy,” 222–25.

119. Bujra, Serving Class, 176.

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