41 Facts About Rhodesia


Rhodesia, officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa from 1965 to 1979, equivalent in territory to modern Zimbabwe.

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Rhodesia was the de facto successor state to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, which had been self-governing since achieving responsible government in 1923.

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From 1965 to 1979, Rhodesia was one of two independent states on the African continent governed by a white minority of European descent and culture, the other being South Africa.

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In 1923, the company's charter was revoked, and Southern Rhodesia attained self-government and established a legislature.

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The new nation, identified simply as Rhodesia, initially sought recognition as an autonomous realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, but reconstituted itself as a republic in 1970.

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Until after the Second World War, the landlocked British possession of Southern Rhodesia was not developed as an indigenous African territory, but rather as a unique state that reflected its multiracial character.

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Under this constitution, Southern Rhodesia was given the right to elect its own thirty-member legislature, premier, and cabinet—although the British Crown retained a formal veto over measures affecting natives and dominated foreign policy.

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Southern Rhodesia had negated the issue by importing a skilled workforce directly from abroad in the form of its disproportionately large European immigrant and expatriate population.

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However, once Rhodesia had been introduced as a topic for discussion in international bodies, extension of the status quo became a matter of concern to the British government, which perceived the scrutiny as a serious embarrassment to the United Kingdom.

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Smith ruled out acceptance for all five of the British principles as they stood, implying instead that Rhodesia was already legally entitled to independence—a claim that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the predominantly white electorate in a referendum.

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However, given its self-governing status Rhodesia had no longer been within the United Kingdom's direct sphere of influence for some time, and the facade of continued British rule was rendered a constitutional fiction by UDI.

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Rhodesia had effectively been superseded before then; the Smith government stated that if the Queen did not appoint a Governor-General, it would name Dupont as "Officer Administering the Government".

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In September 1968, the Appellate Division of the High Court of Rhodesia ruled that Ian Smith's administration had become the de jure government of the country, not merely the de facto one.

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Years following Rhodesia's UDI saw an unfolding series of economic, military, and political pressures placed on the country that eventually brought about majority rule, a totality of these factors rather than any one the reason for introducing change.

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In 2005, a conference at the London School of Economics that discussed Rhodesia's independence concluded that UDI was sparked by an existing racial conflict complicated by Cold War intrigues.

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In November 1971, Douglas-Home renewed contacts with Salisbury and announced a proposed agreement that would be satisfactory to both sides – it recognised Rhodesia's 1969 constitution as the legal frame of government, while agreeing that gradual legislative representation was an acceptable formula for unhindered advance to majority rule.

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Practical alliances between ZIPRA and MK, and later ZANLA and FRELIMO, prompted Rhodesia to look increasingly towards South Africa and Portugal for active assistance.

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Rhodesia expected far more from South Africa, which possessed far greater military resources and infinitely more diplomatic influence abroad.

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Rhodesia now found itself almost entirely surrounded by hostile states and even South Africa, its only real ally, pressed for a settlement.

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Guerrillas began to launch operations deep inside Rhodesia, attacking roads, railways, economic targets and isolated security force positions, in 1976.

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Rhodesia began to lose vital economic and military support from South Africa, which, while sympathetic to the white minority government, never accorded it diplomatic recognition.

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Rhodesia received the lightest sentence possible, a caution, but he continued to fight his conviction and eventually resigned his commission and left the Army.

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UDI ended, and Rhodesia temporarily reverted to the status of a British colony .

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Voters to be British subjects, male, 21 years of age and older, able to write their address and occupation, and then to fulfil the following financial requirements: ownership of a registered mining claim in Southern Rhodesia, or occupying immovable property worth £75, or receiving wages or salary of £50 per annum in Southern Rhodesia.

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Up until the 1950s, Southern Rhodesia had a vibrant political life with right and left wing parties competing for power.

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Constitution of the short-lived Zimbabwe Rhodesia, which saw a black-led government elected for the first time, reserved 28 of the 100 parliamentary seats for whites.

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Rhodesia had a centralised government and was divided into seven provinces and two cities with provincial status, for administrative purposes.

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Southern Rhodesia had long been distinctive among British dependencies in that it had financed and developed its own security forces and command structure.

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Economically, Southern Rhodesia developed an economy that was narrowly based on the production of a few primary products, notably, chromium and tobacco.

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Many prospective white immigrants in Rhodesia arrived seeking economic opportunities and departed with fluctuations in the security situation as the Bush War intensified.

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Rhodesia claimed that the majority of white immigrants in the late 1960s and early 1970s were unskilled laborers who competed with the country's black African workforce and did not contribute badly needed technical or professional skills to the country, arguing that this was due to government policy aimed at making white immigration as "unselective as possible" and guaranteeing every white immigrant a job.

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The population of Rhodesia boomed during the late 1960s due to immigration and an exceptional rate of natural increase among its black citizens, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa at the time.

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Rhodesia predominantly adhered to Christianity, with Protestantism being the largest denomination.

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Rhodesia received little international recognition during its existence; recognition only occurred after elections in 1980 and a transition to majority rule.

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Rhodesia wished to retain its economic prosperity and feared communist elements in the rebel forces, and thus felt their policy of a gradual progression to black majority rule was justified.

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The governing white minority of Rhodesia, led by Ian Smith, opposed the policy and its implications.

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Until late 1969, Rhodesia still recognised Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, even though it opposed the British government itself for hindering its goals of independence.

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Rhodesia campaigned for international acceptance and invoked the doctrine of non-intervention in internal affairs as justification for rebuking external criticism of its internal policies.

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Rhodesia still allowed Zambia to export and import its goods through its territory to Mozambique ports, despite the Zambian government's official policy of hostility and non-recognition of the post-UDI Smith Administration.

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Since Rhodesia was a former colony of the United Kingdom, all of the sports that were born in the United Kingdom enjoyed considerable popularity in Rhodesia; especially cricket, rugby, football, netball, golf, tennis, lawn bowls, field hockey, etc.

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Just like neighbouring South Africa, Rhodesia was barred from both competing against and participating with Commonwealth member countries.

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