Vale Professor Elizabeth Colson!

Dear Friends, It is with great sorrow that we received the sad news of Professor Elizabeth Colson's (99) passing away on 3rd August at her home near Monze / Zambia.


We have met Elizabeth Colson several times in recent years on our way to or from Sinazongwe on the Northern shore of Lake Kariba where we assist the community radio station Zongwe FM. She was such an amazing woman, with her cultural empathy and wit outstanding. We shared her love for the Tonga people. For sure we will always meet her there in the Gwembe Valley where "she left footprints in the sand of time" and where her spirit and inspiration lives on.  Rest In Peace, Elizabeth.



"She was an outstanding woman and anthropologist in her dedication to the Tonga people and by her contribution to anthropology. She studied for over 60 years Tonga culture and society and is the author of a great many publications a number of which have become classics in anthropology. Her spirit, in good Tonga tradition, shall live on in her students." (Gijsbert Witkamp)



"Colson's contributions to anthropology are clearly linked to her commitment to long-term research. Her work has advanced anthropology's understanding of culture change, and in that respect, culture. Colson understands culture as something that people "fiddle with" as they attempt to adapt or create new situations and institutions for themselves, and her work among the Gwembe Tonga illustrates this at more than a theoretical level. In her years of working with the Tonga, they have developed a "Tonga" identity; been involved in African nationalist
movements; become part of a national community and even competed against each other for state-level political control; they travel to other countries, and are aware of and affected by international events. Colson's ethnographic work details these changes." in:

Read some obituaries AZFA has received via email and facebook: 'May her soul rest in peace.' Richard Simango, Bulawayo / 'This is indeed a sad development and big loss. We will always celebrate her life and treasure her work. R.I.P.' Nervious Siantombo, Panos, Lusaka / 'Schade, das ist sehr traurig.' Mario Friedwagner, Freies Radio Salzkammergut, Bad Ischl / 'Thank you for the information, so sad to hear and loose such a great inspiration.' Kennedy Kein Kambole, ZongweFM, Sinazongwe / 'Sad news indeed. May our baTonga Heroine's soul rest in eternal peace. We will greatly miss her. Thank you for sharing the information.' Rosemary Cumanzala, ZUBO Trust, Harare / 'Oh what sad news. She was a truly great woman and her dedication to the Tonga has brought them such pride and advancement. I will always remember her with fondness and so much respect. May her legacy live on.' Penny Yon, Harare / 'My heart felt condolences, a big loss of an authority on The Tonga people in Zimbabwe and Zambia.' Calvin Dondo, Harare / 'Sorry to hear this. pole sana!' Anna Kuthan + family, Stonetown / 'Thanks Peter for sharing this with us. It is indeed a heavy blow to us all in the Zambezi Valley. But we are also glad that she led the way in defying the colonial thinking of yester years by religiously sticking with and by the marginalised communities of the valley. For this reason, we as the Tonga shall celebrate her life and move to immortalize her great works. May her dear Soul rest in eternal peace.' Frank Mudimba, Basilwizi Trust, Bulawayo / 'My condolences. it's sad that we have lost a highly distinguished Professor, despite her age, we still needed her due to her intellectual capabilities, MHSRP.' Saviour Miyanda, Ndola / 'It is with saddeness that I receive the news of Professor Elizabeth Colson passing on. May her soul rest in eternal peace.' Sengamo Ndlovu, Bulawayo

Vale Elizabeth Colson! When Elizabeth Colson passed last month at the age of 99, anthropology lost one of its preeminent figures. Colson was a unique figure in many ways: She straddled the English and American anthropological traditions, rose to prominent positions of authority at a time when anthropology was still largely a men’s club, and exhibited a devotion to her research that few can match. (...) source:

read more :
watch and listen to her:

Peter Kuthan / Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association, Linz / Austria, 5th August 2016