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Rhodesia Flag
Anthem: Ishe Komborera Africa, God Bless Africa
and Urban
Official languagesEnglish
Ethnic groupsShona and Ndebele
• Prime Minister
Ian Smith
ISO 3166 codeZW

Rhodesia was a British colony established in Southern Africa which was established in the early 1890s. The colony was christened after Cecil Rhodes who was the founder of the British South Africa Company (BSAC) which effected the colonisation of the Shona and Ndebele communities of Mashonaland and Matabeleland respectively. Rhodesian rule came to an end in April 1980 paving way for Zimbabwe an independent republic.

Brief History

Cecil Rhodes a British born businessman and investor came to Africa in the late 19th Century. He soon established his company called British South Africa Company.[1] Through his company, he acquired a Charter from the queen of England to colonise the territory North of the Limpopo river under the British flagship. Prior to this, Rhodes had signed a number of treaties and agreements with the Ndebele kingdom in which the latter was duped into giving out the whole of Mashonaland to the former.[1]

Soon after securing the much needed charter which legalised the colonisation, Rhodes set up an army of explorers called the Pioneer Column to do the actual colonisation.[2] The column entered the Zimbabwean plateau through Southern Eastern region and established Fort Victoria. Other forts such as Tuli, Charter and Salisbury were soon established symbolising the colonisation of the local communities. Soon after establishing its hegemony and erecting the Union Jack flag at Fort Salisbury, the BSAC began to institute its leadership and administrative structures which included the Native Affairs Department, the Police, an Army and the tax collecting organ.[1]

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Rhodesian Ideology

The First Chimurenga

The First Chimurenga was the first war between the colonisers and the local Shona and Ndebele communities. It was led by indigenous traditional leaders such as Mbuya Nehanda who was an ancestral spirit. The 1890s war resulted in the eventual defeat of the indigenous societies and the establishment of colonial domination.


In 1923, the BSAC rule came to an end paving way for the British settlers to establish their own government. The Settler government began to institute a number of harsh laws against the local Ndebele, Shona and Kalanga societies.[3] These laws had much to do with the economy. These include the Land Apportionment Act of 1929 which parcelled out all the arable land to the white minority leaving the indigenous black population which small tracts of land. Native reserves were created. Taxation was imposed forcing most of the able bodied men to venture into the wage labour economy.[3]

In 1965, the settler government led by Ian Smith came into conflict with its mother country following the calls from the latter to begin preparations for the transition of power to the black majority.[4] In the face of this situation, Ian Smith declared the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of Rhodesia from British influence. The settler government refused to take heed resulting in Britain imposing sanctions on the colony. The colony was also unrecognised by the United Nations due to its isolation from its mother country.

Rhodesian Ideology

The governance of Rhodesia during the colonial period largely revolved around politics of race. The respective governments were all preoccupied with the need to maintain white supremacy against the blacks. Distribution of resources was also based on race; the white given first preference. In addition, blacks were not given their right to vote or assume any influential decision making post. The major spheres of influence which were protected by the Rhodesian government were,

  • White Owned Manufacturing Industries.
  • Commercial Farming
  • Mining

Second Chimurenga in Rhodesia

The Second Chimurenga was the second liberation war which began in the early 1960s between the Rhodesian Front government and the nationalist movements. On the forefront of the nationalists movements was the National Democratic Party (NDP), the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), the African National Congress (ANC) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). The most effective military organs were the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA). They were led by the likes of Solomon Mujuru and Josiah Tongogara.[5]

The liberation war resulted in a number of treaties and negotiations internally. These include the Internal Settlement from around 1978 led by Ndabaningi Sithole and Abel Muzorewa. The internal settlement was rejected with the other nationalist camp resulting in the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979.

Lancaster House Talks

The Lancaster House Agreement were facilitated by a British Congressman Lord Carrington. They took place in London from September to December 1979. They were moderated by Britain, United States of America together with other front line states such as Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Ghana.[6] Some of the nationalist leaders who took part in the negotiations include Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Edgar Tekere, Joseph Msika, Simon Muzenda, Ndabaningi Sithole and Josiah Tongogara.[6] The talks between Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front and the nationalist movements resulted in the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979 which subsequently paved way for majority rule in 1980. The elections of 1980 resulted in ZANU under Robert Mugabe winning with a majority. On the eve of 18 April 1980, the Union Jack flag was brought down at Rufaro Stadium in Salisbury symbolising the end of colonial rule and the end of Rhodesia. The country was renamed Zimbabwe.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 , Cecil Rhodes, "Heritage History", retrieved:21 Jul 2014"
  2. , History, retrieved:21 Jul 2014"
  3. 3.0 3.1 , Rhodesia's War of Independence, "History Today", retrieved:21 Jul 2014"
  4. , 1965: Rhodesia breaks from UK, "BBC", retrieved:21 Jul 2014"
  5. J. Welford, The second Chimurenga Leading to the Independence of Zimbabwe, published:19 Oct 2009,retrieved:21 Jul 2014"
  6. 6.0 6.1 , CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE HELD AT LANCASTER HOUSE, LONDON SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 1979, published:1979,retrieved:21 Jul 2014"

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