African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 171


White power, white desire: Miscegenation in Southern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe

  Munyaradzi Mushonga
Department of Historical Studies, National University of Lesotho, P. O. Roma 180, Lesotho, Southern Africa.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 23 November 2012
  •  Published: 31 January 2013



While European patterns of miscegenation in colonial situations tended to be influenced by the demographic composition of the population, and in particular the proportion of non-whites and the ratio of white women to white men, there are other factors that need more emphasis. First, miscegenation was used to control and dominate the colonised peoples, and second miscegenation itself can be looked at as proof of the white man’s desire and sexual appetite for the black woman. In the colonial situation, black women sat at the focal point where two exceptionally powerful and prevalent systems of oppression come together – race and gender. The dynamics between race, sexuality, class and gender cannot be overstated. It is therefore plausible to argue that European men were prone to have sex with black women, not only from a shortage of white women, but also from the need to exercise power and authority as well as to satisfy their sexual desires for black women. The desire for domination and the desire for ‘otherness’, propelled by the sexual attractiveness of black women was at the centre of the white man’s obsession with sexuality, fertility and hybridity. But while European men sexually abused black women, they denied African men access to white women by legal means. This, they did under the guise of patriarchal tenets of ‘ownership’ of women and children and the old insecure feeling that white women might, if granted equality sexually prefer black men. This paper therefore makes two propositions about miscegenation in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). First, European men needed miscegenation to control, dominate and reinforce and sustain white domination and black subordination; and second, miscegenation itself was a testimony to the fact that white men saw black women as sexually desirable and attractive. Using the qualitative descriptive analytical approach, archival and secondary sources are interwoven to bring to the fore the said propositions.


Key words: Miscegenation, matrix of domination, sex, desire, intersectionality, white women, black women, white men, black men, black peril.