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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:History With a Mission: Abraham Kawadza and Narratives of Agrarian Change in Zimbabwe
Author:Leedy, Todd H.
Periodical:History in Africa
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:agricultural development
missionary history
historical sources
History and Exploration
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
About person:Abraham Kawadza
Abstract:In their accounts of agricultural change among African societies, European missionaries frequently attempted to script for themselves the central role as protagonists driving a story of progress. In order to highlight the problematic nature of missionary accounts and their influence on other interpretations, this article examines a variety of historical sources relating to Abraham Kawadza in colonial Zimbabwe. A variety of AMEC (American Methodist Episcopal Church) mission sources recount a common story of how in 1908, persistent missionary encouragement eventually overcame Kawadza's initial reluctance to accept plough-based agriculture. In these accounts Kawadza becomes a conduit for both evangelical and practical messages of mission Christianity. Yet the reality of Kawadza's long-term success does not precisely fit the ideal Methodist missionary model of intensive peasant farming. The article argues that the prominence of agriculture within AMEC discourse cannot be used to conclude that a demonstrably higher proportion of rural entrepreneurs emerged from their mission communities. Kawadza's life experiences support a self-peasantization approach to rural history that challenges any mission-centric interpretation of agrarian change in colonial Zimbabwe. Only a full consideration of family relationships, employment experiences, geographic realities, and individual decisions within a colonial environment will ensure such an approach. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]