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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Making the Chikunda: Military Slavery and Ethnicity in Southern Africa
Authors:Isaacman, Allen F.ISNI
Peterson, DerekISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic terms:Mozambique
Subjects:ethnic identity
Kunda (Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
colonial conquest
Military, Defense and Arms
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Labor and Employment
Law, Human Rights and Violence
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3559384
Abstract:This article explores how military slaves on Portuguese-run estates ('prazos') along the Zambezi River (in contemporary Mozambique) came to define themselves as sharers of a new social identity, Chikunda ('the conquerors'). Portuguese settlers used the slaves as soldiers, to collect taxes from peasants, patrol the borders, and police the estates. Asked to perform highly dangerous tasks in the service of their owners, slaves developed shared behaviours and beliefs, a patrilineal system of kinship and inheritance, and a rich repertoire of cultural practices (songs, ceremonies, initiation rituals, clothing, facial tattoos) that celebrated their prowess as warriors and hunters. Chikunda identity was in large part the product of slaves' own cultural and political work. Slaves made themselves Chikunda in order to set themselves apart from the local peasantry, gain leverage with owners, and lend meaning and prestige to their lives of danger. After the collapse of the 'prazos' in the nineteenth century and the manumission of the slaves, former soldiers enlarged on their shared history and forged a Chikunda ethnic identity which survives up to the present day. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]