Aspects of African Health in the Mining Industry in Colonial Zambia : A case study of Roan Antelope Mine, 1920 - 1964
Kalusa, Walima T
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The central theme of this study is to highlight the connection between major African health problems on the one hand and, on the other, the conditions under which African miners and their families worked and lived in the mining industry between 1920 and 1964. With specific reference to the Roan Antelope Mine, this study postulates that African ill-health was fundamentally a product of ecologically- determined diseases like malaria and of defective conditions which promoted ailments like pneumonia, dysentery, typhoid and diarrhoea especially in the formative years of the mine (1920-1938).By the Second World War ecologically-induced diseases were brought under effective control. However, diseases linked to poor conditions on the mine persisted and this reflected the mine management's reluctance to incur extra costs on African labour. The Second World War also acted as a catalyst in the deterioration of conditions which engendered disease turning the Roan Antelope Mine into a potential and actual disease environment. At the same time, the war precipitated the emergence of pathological diseases notably silicosis and tuberculosis.In post-war era, the management began to improve labour conditions of the African community on the mine. Great emphasis was, however, put on the amelioration of conditions of the African middle class which emerged as a small fraction of the African population on the mine after the war. The improvement effected in the housing, wages and sanitation for this class largely shielded the middle class from diseases like pneumonia, kwashiorkor and tuberculosis. For the majority of the African population, however,conditions did not change enough to bring about marked improvements on health. The ordinary poorly paid and inadequately fed and housed class of workers and families thus continued to be exposed to diseases from which African middle class families were largely insulated. It is in this vein that this study extends the Marxist argument on the impact of class on health to the Roan Antelope Mine.