Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 01/31/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Giblin, James L.

First Committee Member

Giblin, James L.

Second Committee Member

Miner, Edward A.

Third Committee Member

Gobat, Michel

Fourth Committee Member

Schwalm, Leslie A.

Fifth Committee Member

Cox, Jeffrey L.


This dissertation examines the history of gold mining among the Wanyamongo people of Tarime District from the 1930s to 2009. It argues that the establishment of gold mines in Nyamongo in the early 1930s created intra-community conflicts among the Wanyamongo people. These conflicts divided the community, turning young men against elders and wives against their husbands. This tension rarely reached overt levels during the colonial period, although violent confrontations were not totally absent. However, the conflicts are discernible in the narratives about gold mining. The dissertation argues that these conflictual discourses about gold mining continued into the post-colonial era, although their content changed over time. From the turn of this century these conflicts increasingly became violent. Often characterized as evidence of local communities' opposition to the intrusion of foreign companies I draw on oral sources and Tanzanian archives to argue that such turbulence is best understood by examining the social and economic relations of the residents of such communities. In Nyamongo this violence often pitted unemployed young men against fellow Kuria-speaking men who were employed by the mine as guards and in the Community Relations Department. I also argue that the young men who invaded the mine did not want the mine to close because their very survival was dependent upon the presence of a large company that can bring deeper ore to the surface.

The dissertation also argues that, contrary to common wisdom that recognizes the Second World War as the beginning of the decline of the gold mining sector, in the Lake Province gold production actually continued to increase until the late 1950s. I also argue that when these mines closed in the 1960s and early 1970s it was not because of Julius Nyerere's economic policy, as is commonly believed. When Nyerere's government nationalized the industry in 1973, all of Tanzania's big gold mines had already closed. In the 1970s and 1980s Tanzania experienced an economic crisis marked by high inflation and a shortage of basic commodities. I argue that the miners of Nyamongo escaped this crisis because gold allowed them to engage in a lucrative trade that revolved around the smuggling of gold to Kenya. The dissertation also shows that when the Tanzanian government adopted neo-liberal economic reforms in the mid-1980s, the residents of Nyamongo embraced large-scale foreign investment in the form of an Australian-owned mining company. This embrace challenges the conventional view that depicts foreign mining companies as unwanted intruders in Tanzania's mining communities and the local small-scale miners as victims of neo-liberal economic policies.


Gold, Mining, Moral Economy, Neo-liberal, Nyamongo, Tanzania


ix, 260 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 245-260).


Copyright © 2013 Nathaniel Chimhete

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