University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars > The Permeability of Prison: Maurice Nyagumbo in Rhodesia, 1959-1979

The Permeability of Prison: Maurice Nyagumbo in Rhodesia, 1959-1979

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Maurice Nyagumbo was Rhodesia’s longest serving political prisoner. He was held in a great variety of institutions and spaces (from solitary confinement in maximum security prisons to communal detention with other nationalists in remote rural areas), and under vastly different legal and material conditions over nearly twenty years. His life demonstrates that regimes of confinement were almost always permeable and contestable, if in widely differing ways: Nyagumbo was literally ‘stuck’ but he was nonetheless able to act on and in social and political worlds outside confinement. He used letters, the law, violence, and relationships with warders, fellow nationalists, lawyers, historians, and kin to contest shifting prison regimes, to manage the minutiae of his domestic and economic affairs, and to influence debates over nationalism and the armed struggle.  The paper uses Nyagumbo’s life to explore the work that prisoners were able to do beyond spaces of confinement. It draws on letters, Nyagumbo’s jail memoir, state and legal records, and interviews.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Michaelmas Seminars series.

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