Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we’re going to feature a series of articles discussing drug use in Africa. These articles originally appeared on The Conversation, but we’re republishing them here as well. Today’s article comes from Thembisa Waetjen, Associate Professor of History, University of Johannesburg.
The reach of European empires and of Indian Ocean trade networks drew southern Africa into the global politics of opium around the turn of the twentieth century. Between the late 1880s and early 1920s and there was a shift from economies of supply to regimes of control.
The colonies of Mozambique and South Africa were caught up in these big changes.
In a recent paper I highlight how oﬃcial and unofficial actors shaped and responded to the global politics of opium and, in diﬀerent ways, worked to beneﬁt from these developments.
With a focus on Mozambique and, especially, South Africa, I demonstrate how the changing global politics of drug supply and suppression inﬂuenced local colonial social and political processes.
I also show how these histories inﬂuenced events worldwide, including the first efforts to use the League of Nations to control the international cannabis trade.