Capital, social formation and labour migration: a case study of the Wampoto in Mbinga district 1900-1960

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Dar es Salaam
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the capitalist system and a specific social formation in the labour migration process during the colonial period in Tanganyika. It examines why and how the integration of the Wampoto into the capitalist systems brought about dislocation and disintegration of the Wampoto social formation. The weaknesses within the social formation, particularly the inability of the domestic economy to meet the reproduction needs of the society during the colonial period, and its failure to fully utilize the labour, partly contributed to this disintegration.As a results, it was economically necessary for the junior males among the Wampoto to become migrant laborers, as they were the disadvantaged, non-propertied members, unable to meet their reproduction needs. The study establishes that the political economy of colonialism is not a question of the articulation of modes of production; nor it simply a matter of a “colonial mode of production”. Rather, it is a case of the development of capitalism. It demonstrates that the colonial period initiated a process of transition to capitalism, hence the necessity of analyzing transformations towards the capitalist system during the colonial period in Tanganyika. However, in examining the incorporation and transformation of the pre-capitalist societies, the study shows that there were variations between societies. It is thus significant to examine a specific social formation. The study establishes that the Wampoto social formation was organized in collective clan based units. The economy was characterized by production for use, with the main activities being fishing and agriculture. These structures were undermined by the development of capitalism during the colonial period, giving rise to individualistic tendencies in the form of family based economic units, increasingly responding to cash needs in their productive endeavors. The rise of migrant labour is to be seen in this context.
Available in print form
Migrant labour, Mbinga, Tanzania (district), Mpoto (African tribe)
Mihanjo, E. P. A. N (1989) Capital, social formation and labour migration: a case study of the Wampoto in Mbinga district 1900-1960,Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (