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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Blackbirding' at 'Crooks' Corner': Illicit Labour Recruiting in the Northeastern Transvaal, 1910-1940
Author:Murray, Martin J.
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
Subjects:labour recruitment
labour migration
Labor and Employment
History and Exploration
Ethnic and Race Relations
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2637250
Abstract:In the early decades of the 20th century, Africans in search of work were attracted to the wage-paying employment opportunities on the Witwatersrand in the Transvaal (South Africa). These work seekers travelled great distances on foot, battling hunger, disease, and the harsh environment. For those Africans wishing to enter the Transvaal without official permission, the border presented little obstacle. These clandestine migrants easily bypassed police posts, but they experienced greater difficulty in evading predatory labour recruiters. Illicit labour recruiting took place all along the frontier, but assumed special significance at the far corner of the northeastern Transvaal. It was here, where the borders of the Transvaal, southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) met, that labour pirating, or 'blackbirding' as it was sometimes called, careened out of control. This paper investigates the modus operandi of these labour recruiters in order to shed light on wider questions concerning the historical formation of labour markets in southern Africa. It concludes that illicit labour recruiting, along with the violence and coercion that accompanied it, actually facilitated the process of proletarianization by bringing the buyers and sellers of labour power together in the marketplace. Notes, ref., sum.