History Monday: The History of Zimbabwe – Chronology (1900- 1953)

This History Monday we shall look at the period, I have come to call; the ‘lull before the storm.’After the First Chimurenga and the death of Chief Mapondera; there was no armed opposition to settler (BSAC/ British) minority rule in the country. There were incidences of political unrest and labour protests.

1903: Much like the founding fathers of the USA, the settlers in Rhodesia feel the need to establish a government. The settlers insist of having a voice in the colony’s legislative assembly. In 1903, they have seven officials of the BSAC and seven elected settlers.

1907: The settlers have a majority of the colony’s legislative assembly seats.

1914: As the 25 year charter is about to come to an end, it is the will of the settlers that will prevail. The settlers are seeking self-governance. They do not want accept the rule of South Africa, (which is seeking to absorb the region). South Africa persuades the British government to extend the company’s charter for another ten years.

1922: At the appraoch of the new charter’s end; a referendum is held on the issue. This referendum is limited to Rhodesia’s European population. BSAC administration ends with settlers opting for self-governance. 60% of the votes cast are for a full internal self-government against 40% wishing to become a fifth province of the Union of South Africa.

1923: On 12 September, after 33 years to the day of the arrival of the first settlers in Salisbury; Rhodesia becomes a self-governing crown colony. Rhodesia prospers and becomes a success with the settler population growing from 34,000 to 222,000 within 30 years.

1930: Land Appointment Act restricts black/ native access to land, forcing many into wage labour.

1930-1953: Black/ native opposition to colonial rule grows. By the 1950s the political futire of all African colonies is under intense discussion. Amongst the settlers there is an assumption that Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia will merge into a single independent nation. This is resisted by blacks/ natives who are beginning to find a political voice. This resistance is strongest in the northern colony with its much smaller white/ settler minority population. In the African view, the danger of the union is the postponement of the ideal independence under a black majority rule.

1953: Britain creates the Central African Federation, made up of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi).

The next section will detail the tumultuous late 1950s to 1960s with the rise of nationalist groups and UDI.

Till then.




  1. Gascoigne, 2001. “History of Zimbabwe.”
  2. BBC News, 2011. “Zimbabwe Profile – Timeline.”

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