This article discusses settler identity formation, in the colonial polity known as Rhodesia, using Finnish nationals as a case study. It studies the involvement of Finns in natural resource extraction in Rhodesia at a time when the colonial economy and settler domination were still in their infancy, and examines both Finnish participation in colonial practices and the limitations of Finns as colonialists. White settlers in Rhodesia have typically been categorised as ‘Europeans’ partly because of their sense of representing a generalised idea of Western civilisation and partly in order to underline contrasts between black and white experiences in the history of colonialism. By focusing on the more specific provenance of the settlers (their nationality and country of origin), it is possible to reveal idiosyncrasies through which we can appreciate settler identity formation more precisely. Finnish settlers, in their various capacities as prospectors, soldiers, hunters and planters, adapted ideas and identities that cannot easily be disentangled from those of colonisers.
ߒEriksson, African diary, 8, 10. Finnish seamen deserting ships docking at Cape Colony ports was a phenomenon dating back to at least the early nineteenth-century. For further details see Kuparinen, An African alternative, 118–120.
ߒThompson, A history of South Africa, 115–117. Jameson was a medical doctor and a close friend and admirer of Cecil Rhodes, whose column of irregular mounted infantry attempted to invade the Transvaal in December 1895.
ߒMichael Gelfand, ‘Preface’, in: Gelfand (ed.), ‘Diary of Dr. Richard Watson Middleton’, 5–6. Excepting a prospector called Savage, who died before he reached headquarter camp, and whose death was caused by malaria contracted in North-Eastern Rhodesia. Durham University (du), The Barker Research Library (brl), Grey Estate Records (gre), X/V142, Tanganyika Concessions Ltd. (tanks) Reports on the Discoveries Made by Mr. George Grey’s Expedition in Northern Rhodesia and Congo Free State, and Reports by J. R. Farrell, Mining Engineer, 5 January 1903, 15.
ߒGann and Duignan, White settlers in tropical Africa, 52–53; Quotation from Lord Curzon at ‘A dinner in his honour by the London Society, 6 April, 1906’, in: Desmond M. Chapman-Houston 1915 (ed.), Subjects of the day. Being a selection of speeches and writings by Earl Curzon of Kedleston (London 1915) 33–34. Of course, Curzon thought that such a life was the true calling only for the Anglo-Saxon race. (Loc. cit.).
ߒH. Ylikangas, ‘Major fluctuations in crimes of violence in Finland’, Scandinavian Journal of History1 (1976) 81–103, passim. However, historians disagree about interpretations and explanations of levels of violence in Finland.