To understand it, you have to appreciate the British government's setup in Africa, and the dominion system.
But it basically boils down to the Statute of Westminster in 1931 that set up the dominion system, essentially making Great Britain the 'first amongst equals' among the dominions and itself (at the time Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland).
In essence, it was an attempt to federalize the British Empire, giving the various dominions independence in terms of domestic matters, while foreign policy and to some extent trade would be controlled by England (with the monarchy as the unifying figure)
The problem that quickly arose were Africa and India. Politically, the Raj and the British Indian office were the last true Victorians left in the empire, with the every increasing desire to expand its influence into the middle east and beyond. That's a different story, but suffice it to say that had everything else worked out, India was always going to be a problem.
But as to Africa... where to start. South Africa itself by the 1930s was a conglomeration of modern day Nambia, in theory under South African occupation by League of Nation mandates to be released at a future date, the 'British' Capetown area, the old Boer states, and the primarily Zulu but a number of other black tribes as well. The dominion relationship never sat particularly well here, as the Boers saw England as a conqueror, and held the majority of the government. The blacks had no say (outside of a very tiny fraction in the Cape area and a few token tribal MPs), the British element neutralized the most excessive of the Boers, and the 'moderate Boers' for the most part ruled.
Why this is important in regards to Rhodesia and the rest of British Central Africa is that the white controlled regions were clearly going to one day expect equal treatment, but they were not going to back any move that made themselves not only redundant (in terms of percentage of the electorate) but one that could bring into question the legality of their own wealth - which is exactly what happened. The white settlers and farmers whose land was legally owned under British law, was soon after confiscated once majority rule/independence was established on the basis that the farms were stolen in the first place. From that angle, it's understandable why they didn't want a change to the status quo - a tiger by the tail.
In the end, the British stated that until majority rule was established, the colonies would always be just that - colonies, not dominions. I think it's fair to say this was as much enlightened reasoning as it was a cynical decision to not relinquish any control, but the end result was a white minority looking for ways to hold onto power, all the while looking at the Boers as a model. England had backed itself into a corner from stopping them, because South Africa was doing it, and had been given dominion status. And it just isn't cricket (especially from the perspective of the other dominions) to have England meddling in 'internal affairs of a fellow dominion.' Not to mention, Australia was playing similar - though significantly less severe - games with its indigenous population.
Then, World War II, and Britain was forced to essentially let go of its colonies in one fell swoop. Course, it didn't, and instead you ended up with the old colonial powers pretending they still mattered and the bloody mess where white leaders in Africa saw a chance and jumped for it - South Africa declaring itself a republic (and thus out of the Commonwealth) in the 60's, and Rhodesia doing the same thing a few years later.
The tragedy in both nations comes from different angles. For South Africa, they had relative 'success' at oppressing their black population. Led to the apartheid and all sorts of nasty stuff. For Rhodesia, it was the opposite - the white minority had a much harder time, leading to a bloody civil war, and in the end South Africa turned against them, gambling that throwing Rhodesia to the wolves would take much of the heat off their own backs. Ian Smith called for majority rule, the black majority took over - naturally changing the state named after Cecil Rhodes to the much more ethnic sounding Zimbabwe, and the hero of the war took over the nation, giving us the much loved President Mugabe.
- Beaver Shaw
- Nairobi, Kenya
- I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011
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07/12 - 07/19
- TIME MARCH 20 1978 RE EXTERNAL RAID
- FIREFORCE TACTICS IN A NUTSHELL
- RHAF VOLUNTEER RESERVE SQUADRONS
- THE RAR IN RHODESIA
- OP URIC
- VESTA SITHOLE
- COMMUNIST SUPPORT FOR TERRORIST GROUPS IN RHODESIA...
- A BLOODY FINE EFFORT
- TRACKING TERRORISTS IN THE VALLEY
- EARLY RHODESIAN OPERATIONAL CONTACTS
- LOCKED RHODESIAN ARMY ARCHIVES IN THE UK?
- UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED TO RHODESIA
- ZIPRA COMMANDER NDLOVU DIES
- JOHN FAIREY
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