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Title:'The Natives are Getting Out of Hand': Legislating Manners, Insolence and Contemptuous Behaviour in Southern Rhodesia, c.1910-1963
Author:Shutt, Allison K.
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:colonial administrators
social relations
colonial law
History and Exploration
Ethnic and Race Relations
Politics and Government
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Labor and Employment
Abstract:In Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), as elsewhere in colonial Africa, insolent Africans disrupted the image of natural and just domination that settlers and their government projected. Indeed, Native Commissioners (NCs) argued that they needed judicial power to prosecute insolent Africans, who, if left unpunished, would undermine State and settler authority. The Southern Rhodesia Native Regulations, 1910 (Native Regulations) and the Native Affairs Act, 1927 (NAA) provided NCs with enhanced judicial power precisely because the poor manners of insolent Africans threatened the prestige of government officials. Despite the wide range of acts that constituted 'insolence', such cases reveal a formulaic quality to the evidence base: insolent Africans were men who shouted, threw notes to the ground, made a scene outside government offices, and expressed their anger. In sharp contrast to unruly, provocative and ill-mannered Africans, NCs were routinely portrayed in court records as sober, self-contained and reasonable. Despite this image of the sober law-giver, however, NCs remained committed to the use of coercion in their dealings with Africans. This article also explores how African government workers used the insolence clause of the Native Affairs Act to broadcast their power and protect their honour in their communities. A final section of the article charts middle class critiques of 'insolence' as uniquely African. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]