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For a short moment in 1960, peace and order reigned in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.1 On 17 May, the Federation celebrated its biggest economic and technical triumph: a ‘gracefully curved mass of concrete’ had been erected to tame the ‘moods of violence’ of the Zambesi River (South African News Agencies 1959: 5). Completed ten months ahead of schedule and below the estimated budget, the Kariba Dam appeared to be a success story for the young Central African state in every respect.2 Newspapers, films and government publications hailed the economic progress that the hydroelectric dam would trigger. The pylons which were being erected ‘all over’ ran even to the ‘most distant parts of our country’. The Federation, it seemed, had crossed the threshold to a brighter future and no one would be left out.3 When the Queen Mother arrived in the semi-colony to formally open its prestige project, her presence symbolised efforts to reconcile the Federation’s future with its past, technology with nature, the white minority with the black majority, and the aspiring ‘multiracial’ nation with the rest of the world. She visited all three territories, admired the Copperbelt’s fast growing mining industry, was paddled along the river in the ‘traditional’ state canoe in Barotseland, picked wild flowers on the Zomba Plateau, and talked to the white establishment as well as to African chiefs and commoners.
KeywordsNational Archive Global History Postcolonial Study Black Majority High Modernism
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