November 11th is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and Veterans’ Day in the United States, on this day those who fought and died for their countries are remembered. November 11th 1918 was the day the terrible tragedy that was the First World War finally ended. However, there is another important historic event that occurred on this day. On November 11th 1965, fifty years ago today, Southern Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence (UDI) from Britain and became the Republic of Rhodesia. Throughout Rhodesia’s existence and into the present day, that little nation is compared to Hitler’s Germany or is otherwise denigrated as something evil and oppressive. Monty Python, for example, had several scenes in which Rhodesia was unfairly attacked for being extremists. Rhodesia and the white populace were not malicious or murderous they were instead paternalistic and felt that they should be free to maintain land which they had been in control of since the 1890s and which had been globally recognized as British. And it is important to mention that the Rhodesians saw themselves as British. They were very proud of their ancestry and only unilaterally declared independence from Great Britain when it became apparent the motherland was turning its back on them.
Though Rhodesia was not a democracy in the sense that leftists and so-called conservatives believe in where everyone no matter how unworthy or ill-informed is given the right to vote, it was still a democratic state. As Richard Wood notes Rhodesia’s electoral qualifications excluded race. In true Victorian fashion only landowners with a certain level of education were allowed to vote and believe it or not this included blacks; just a minority of them. In time this could have come to incorporate a greater percentage of the black population as their lot was improved – and believe it or not the Rhodesian government did not purposely hold blacks back. The restrictions on voting also applied to whites. Admittingly the voting law was made stricter just before UDI but this was because the Rhodesians began to fear for their existence. It had become clear by the middle sixties that the world was going to punish them for simply being white and in Africa. Though it should be noted that Ian Smith was prepared to have blacks reach parity with whites but for him this had to be a slow and steady growth and not some random and spontaneous change; also he did not want majority rule as he feared this would be detrimental to whites.
Another hindrance to the black populace was that most continued to live in traditional tribal communities which did not mesh with modern Western trends. They didn’t to be part of the state which was a system quite foreign to them. This was the traditional way of life for these people since time immemorial; why should they be forced to accept modern and western trends? This was something the Rhodesians recognized but the left and pseudo-right simply cannot because they are internationalists and universalists who believe that all men are exactly the same and should be ruled by the same doctrines. The fact that not even all Whites were eligible is also good policy. One of the few problems with nationalists is that it they may be against interracial or interethnic equality but then support intraracial or intraethnic equality. Inequality is just as real with individuals within groups as is it with those who are without.
The main opponents of Salisbury were ZIPRA and ZANLA . Most people forget that the black populace of Zimbabwe were not one homogeneous group: there were the Ndebele and the Shona. The Ndebele were the smaller of the two groups and were the descendants of Zulu who migrated northwards and conquered Zimbabwe in the 1830s. Though the Ndebele had had a greater role in resisting the British and were the more dominant of the two black ethnicities, the Shona were the vast majority and thus had numbers on their side. ZIPRA was the militant wing of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union and was Ndebele while ZANLA was the militant wing of the Zimbabwe African National Union and was Shona. Both groups were communist and were just as much a threat to the blacks as they were to the whites. Some 7,790 black civilians were killed in the Rhodesian Bush War and though the security forces must take some blame for accidental deaths such as killing innocents believed to be connected to terrorism or bombing legitimate targets which happened to have civilians in the vicinity (as happens in all wars), the majority were killed by ZIPRA or ZANLA.
These groups frequently used violence in order to force blacks to support them, as a message for blacks not to support the whites or to play out long-held tribal rivalries under the guise of “liberation.” The communist aspect of these groups cannot be underestimated as both made it very clear to the world that they were fighting a Marxist-Leninist struggle even though the blacks were not proletarian in the least; they simply substituted black for proletarian. Mugabe’s ZANLA eventually came out on top and though Mugabe has since moved away from orthodox communism he still runs a strictly far-left regime and imposes the same brutality on his people as a communist would. 468 white civilians were also killed and most of them were rural farmers caught unawares and isolated from the rest of the world as is the case with the farm murders which happen far too frequently in modern day South Africa. ZIPRA also infamously targeted civilian aircraft; shooting them down and then killing any survivors they came across. Yet this information was rarely made available outside of Rhodesia and to this day most people are completely unaware of such atrocities.
Ethnic cleansing did not occur in Rhodesia but has in Zimbabwe. Indeed, such atrocities frequently occur throughout the third world and yet these countries rarely if ever face the international pressures Rhodesia did. Moreover, Rhodesia’s economy was far stronger than Zimbabwe’s. Hyperinflation is a massive problem in Zimbabwe and so too is under-employment. In 2008 the nation was forced to suspend its own currency from 2003-2009 because it was so terrible. Poverty currently affects about 80% of the populace. Compare this to its predecessor which had to face UN sanctions,
Rhodesia had a strong economy, and experienced a trade surplus every year from 1965–75, with the exception of the drought year 1968 as well as 1971. Businessmen who traded with Rhodesia were often cooperative. Rhodesia was a reliable trading partner, and good terms of trade was often reason enough to disregard the UN sanctions. Anti-Rhodesian organizations often uncovered regular sanction busting activities, and forced the Rhodesians and their trading partners to find new trading routes. The sanctions were probably more an annoyance than destructive with regard to Rhodesian trade. The late oil blockade had the same characteristics: irritating, yet not devastating. Oil accounted for a mere 27 percent of Rhodesian power usage, and the boycott could be bypassed by importing oil through Mozambique and South Africa. The Rhodesian product that was hardest hit by the sanctions was tobacco. One can say that the sanctions alone could not break Smith’s regime, even though they were a strain on the Rhodesians.
How many nations have experienced such pressures as Rhodesia and still managed to produce such a competitive and efficient economy?
If the UK had let the Rhodesians become a dominion as the Rhodies wanted, then there would have been no formation of a republic and no need for sanctions. Granted it would have been a minority ruled country but considering how much better off blacks were in Rhodesia than in any majority rule state I don’t think this would have been as bad as some would have us believe. Though even when we look back not in hindsight, but as people were during the 1960s I still feel it wrong for Britain to have imposed its rule on a country that Britain wanted to leave its empire. Beggars cannot be choosers and if the UK wanted Rhodesia to leave and for it to do so in a quick and peaceful fashion and for the government that would replace the colonial one to be efficient and responsible than they should have just let Smith and his fellows be. And besides, since 1923 Southern Rhodesia had essentially been a self-governing dominion. The Rhodies actually had a chance to officially become a dominion but Prime Minister Godfrey Huggins decided that federation with Northern Rhodesia to create a large white dominated dominion was the better strategy. This occurred – with Nyasaland included as well – to create the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in 1953, however, it was not granted full independence and ended after 10 years. The dissolution of the federation led to renewed calls for Southern Rhodesian independence. Calls which went unanswered and eventually resulted in UDI. Huggins would have been better off asking for independence and not federation.
The whites accepted that majority rule was inevitable but hoped that there could be a smooth transition and one which would ensure that whites could continue to live peacefully in Rhodesia and militant thugs like Mugabe wouldn’t be able to take power as they had in most neighbouring countries. All these leftists get upset at whites taking non-white land but not vice versa. In fact, they actively promote it, especially when the non-whites are black. Simply put these SJWs, feminists, anti-colonialists, etc. are first and foremost anti-white. I doubt if Rhodesia could have lasted that long given the black population was so much larger but while it lasted it would be far more productive for all inhabitants. Indeed, it was in the short space of time Rhodesia did exist. Ian Smith is everything his successor is not: a genuine gentleman and a trustworthy politician who actually cared about his people. Moreover, he was popular.
In keeping with the fact that today is also Remembrance Day I shall close by pointing out that Rhodesia punched well above its weight during both world wars and Malaya. In the two world wars Rhodesia contributed more than any other country in the British Empire; including the UK. This included, amongst others, Ian Smith who was a pilot in the RAF. Sadly, Britain did not repay the bravery of her kith and kin with independence.
Only sixty years prior to the coming of the British