This paper examines how a series of agricultural initiatives forestalled mechanization on the mines of the Companhia de Diamantes de Angola (Diamang) by facilitating the expansion of the company’s African labor force. Unlike other regional mining companies, from its inception in 1917 until Angolan independence from Portugal in 1975, Diamang differed from other regional mining companies by relying on scores of inexpensive, often forced, male and female laborers rather than expending capital for costly mining equipment. This operational approach hinged on the company’s ability to expand its African workforce, which was, itself, contingent upon Diamang’s capacity to feed its workers. Drawing upon company and colonial records, as well as interviews conducted with former mineworkers and company officials, I argue that a range of complementary company and colonial agricultural initiatives generated sufficient nourishment for the African workforce, thereby enabling Diamang to introduce new mining equipment and technology only minimally and fitfully.

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