Thursday, 10 February 2011

Rhodesia (pronounced /roʊˈdiːʒə/), officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965. With its government based at the former colonial capital of Salisbury, its territory consisted of the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia. The state was named after Cecil John Rhodes, whose British South Africa Company acquired the land in the 19th century.

The landlocked country bordered South Africa to the south, Botswana (post-1966) to the southwest, Zambia to the northwest and Mozambique (a Portuguese territory until 1975) to the east. The state was governed by a predominantly white minority government until 1979, initially as a self-governing colony then, after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence as a self-proclaimed sovereign Dominion and latterly a Republic.

Throughout its history, Rhodesia continued to be referred to by the British, who did not recognize the state, as "Southern Rhodesia". Before 1964, the name "Rhodesia" had referred to the territory consisting of Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia which formed the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It consisted of modern Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi; however, when the former colony of Northern Rhodesia renamed itself Zambia on independence in 1964, Nyasaland renamed itself Malawi in 1964, and the colony of Southern Rhodesia changed its name to simply "Rhodesia".

However, the change had not yet been officially ratified when Rhodesia declared itself independent, and as a result, the British Government continued to refer to the breakaway colony as "Southern Rhodesia" throughout its existence, a stance it maintained regarding the June–December 1979 successor state of Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Therefore, when Zimbabwe Rhodesia returned to colonial status from December 1979 to April 1980, it was as "Southern Rhodesia", which, according to Britain, it had never ceased to be called. Southern Rhodesia subsequently gained international recognition of its independence in April 1980, when it became the independent Republic of Zimbabwe.


The British government adopted a policy of no independence before majority rule, dictating that colonies with a substantial population of white settlers would not receive independence except under conditions of majority rule. The European minority Rhodesian Front (RF) government, led by Ian Smith, opposed the policy. The British Empire ruled over the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia until negotiations between colonial government and the British government broke down in 1965.

Smith's government declared the country independent from British rule on November 11, 1965 in what became known as UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence). Smith sent a telegram notifying British Prime Minister Harold Wilson at precisely 1 p.m. local time (11 a.m. in London) on 11 November, at the precise moment that the UK started its traditional two minutes of silence to mark the end of World War I and honour its war dead. The not-so-hidden message to "kith and kin," as Smith put it, recalled Southern Rhodesia's assistance and allegiance to the UK in its time of need in World Wars I and II. British High Commissioner John Baines Johnston, who disliked Smith, cleaned out the High Commission building of all official documents and left Rhodesia. Smith gave strict instructions to his government not to harm the High Commission building in any way, much to Johnston's surprise.

The international community condemned the UDI. The United Nations Security Council authorised the use of sanctions, targeting Rhodesia at the behest of Britain, beginning in 1965 and lasting until the restoration of British rule in December 1979. The terms of these sanctions forbade most forms of trade or financial exchange with Rhodesia. However, not all members of the international community adhered to the sanctions. South Africa, Portugal, Israel, Iran and some Arab nations helped Rhodesia in various ways. In the case of the U.S., the 1971 Byrd Amendment allowed the importation of chrome, ferrochrome and nickel from Rhodesia. Rhodesia evaded sanctions in the short term but few outsiders invested in Rhodesia after the sanctions.

Ian Smith signing the Unilateral Declaration of Independence on 11 November 1965 with his cabinet watching

The Rhodesian government struggled to obtain international recognition and the lifting of sanctions. No significant state ever granted recognition to Rhodesia and in 1970 the U.S. government categorically stated that "under no circumstances" would it recognize Rhodesian independence.

Initially, the state maintained its loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II as "Queen of Rhodesia" (a title to which she never consented) but not to her representative, the Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs, whose constitutional duties were exercised by an "Officer Administering the Government", Clifford Dupont. On 2 March 1970, Rhodesia's government formally severed links with the British Crown, declaring Rhodesia a republic with Dupont as President. Dupont, a London solicitor, had immigrated to Rhodesia in 1953. The Rhodesians hoped that the declaration of a Republic would finally prompt sympathetic states to grant recognition. The UK government pressured United States Secretary of State William P. Rogers into closing the U.S. consulate in Salisbury.

Courtesy : WikipediaWikipedia

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