Zimbabwe evolved from the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, a trade state that sold its goods to European and Portuguese explorers up to the twelfth century. The kingdom changed rulers and names several times over the next 600 years, but by the 1880s, the British entered the country via Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company. Rhodes was granted mining rights by the king of the Ndebele people there, and he also went on to earn additional land rights from other tribes in the area. Based on Rhodes’s work to secure a British foothold in the region, the country was named Rhodesia in 1895. Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia were formed from this region. The former would ultimately become the Republic of Zimbabwe, and the latter would become Zambia. Native peoples unsuccessfully attempted to revolt against ensuing British rule during the 1890s. Later, under Rhodes’s management, land was given to European settlers, and the native people were systematically displaced.
By October 1923, Southern Rhodesia was declared a self-governing British colony. Thirty years later, the United Kingdom joined Southern Rhodesia with another of its colonies, Nyasaland (now Malawi), forming the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The federation lasted only ten years, crumbling in 1963 under protests and growing anticolonial sentiments. Two years later, in November 1965, the Rhodesian government, led by Ian Smith, made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Although the United Kingdom did not agree to the declaration, it also did not attempt to reassert control over the region through military force. However, the United Kingdom did request that the United Nations impose economic sanctions on Rhodesia, and the only country to recognize Rhodesia’s legitimacy under Smith’s leadership was South Africa. Later, in 1970, Southern Rhodesia renamed itself the Republic of Rhodesia, and the country fell into civil war, caught between two warring political factions, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (led by Joshua Nkomo) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (led by Robert Mugabe).
Beset by war, Smith signed a peace accord in March 1978 after extracting promises for the safety of Rhodesia’s white residents. This accord, known as the Internal Settlement, led to the first native election in April 1979. The prevailing party in the election was the United African National Council (UANC). On June 1, 1979, Abel Muzorewa, the leader of UANC, became the country’s prime minister. However, by February of 1980, Mugabe was elected head of state. He has held that post ever since, using various titles such as prime minister and president, while essentially becoming a dictator. Mugabe’ rule has been so horrible that Parade magazine named him the world’s worst dictator in 2009, citing as proof hyperinflation, 85-percent unemployment, crisis health conditions, and torture and beatings of nearly five thousand political opponents.
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 30, Doris Lessing, Published by Gale Group, 2010