chapter  10
Mining and plantation company towns
Pages 13

Among the many imprints which colonialism left on the landscape of Africa is the company town. Company towns comprise residential structures and related facilities such as convenience stores, canteens, recreational facilities and so on, that are provided for workers of large estates, mining and plantation corporations. These facilities, as Porteous (1970) notes, do not constitute part of the means of production for these corporations. To the extent that this is true, we cannot help pondering why colonial corporations were wont to provide these facilities to their workers. To be sure, colonial corporations developed a considerable number of these facilities. Thus, although often ignored, colonial corporations played a signifi cant role in the housing market of the colonies. Why and how did these corporations get involved in the housing market? The answer to this question can be found by examining the motives of colonial corporations in particular and those of colonialism in general. Colonial corporations, including mining and plantation agriculture companies, were interested in maximizing profi ts and minimizing expenditure. Company towns or employer-provided housing, which houses employees on the mine sites or on the plantations, made this possible. Perhaps more importantly, by directly housing workers, colonial companies were able to better control their workers. This chapter is intended to explore these issues.