Week 9 Blog Post

GS 405 Week 9 Blog

Jordan Petruska

For this week’s lecture we analyzed Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman’s book Dam, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development. Allen and Barbara examine the legacy and the history of one of the largest dams in Africa, the Cahora Bassa in Mozambique in the early 1970s. From chapters 3-7 Allen and Barbara made it clear that the overall theme was the oppression of the citizens of Mozambique. Throughout the construction of the dam, local African workers were constantly being exploited, as work was long, hard, and very dangerous. Workers were underpaid and many reported being beaten and intimidated as part of the Dam’s labour regime. The Dam faced an abundant of obstacles, as funding and an inconsistent workforce were common throughout the construction process. Portuguese colonial leadership were being protested against by local workers as they were fed up with the low wages and malnourishment provided by the strict overseers.


The Cahora Bassa Dam was initially proposed to enhance the economic opportunities for local communities in Mozambique by connecting farmers to markets in surrounding towns. However, the reality was that the Cahora Bassa Dam only benefitted a few while hundreds of families became displaced from their homes in order to be closer to the construction site for a quicker commute. The Cahora Bassa Dam represents the last major construction project in Africa during the decolonization era. It also reminds me of the duration of white colonialists exploiting poor uneducated locals to enhance the development of a region in which would only benefit the colonists as locals could not have access to the Dam and did not receive any of the shares from the revenue that was generated from the completion of the project. In my opinion the Cahora Bassa Dam represents the lasting impression that colonization had on Mozambique involving the country to undergo struggles of economic weakness and underdevelopment while having political obstacles to overcome from translating from a group of ethnic colonies into a united nation.


Discussion Questions:

  • How can local communities find an effective way to resist against Western influence?
  • How can local governments offer stronger protection against exploitation for their citizens?

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