Racism in Colonial Zimbabwe

  • Alois S. MlamboEmail author
Reference work entry


Colonial Zimbabwe (known as Southern Rhodesia until 1965, and Rhodesia thereafter until independence in 1980) was established in 1890 under the sponsorship of Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company (BSAC). Rhodes was a firm believer in the White-Man’s Burden idea of the duty of the Anglo-Saxon race to help “civilize” the “darker” corners of the world and regarded British imperialism as a positive force for this purpose. The settlers who occupied colonial Zimbabwe shared this view of the world and treated the indigenous African population as children who needed their guidance, protection, and civilization. The policies which the settler state adopted and implemented, therefore, whether in politics, constitution making and governance, education, economy, land and labor policies, social relations, or residential policy, were based on this sense of racial superiority and the determination to promote white interests at the expense of the nonwhite population. Racial segregation permeated the entire colonial project at every level, whether it was in sports, hotel facilities, or the use of public conveniences and amenities. White racism in colonial Zimbabwe was also informed by a sense of fear, given the fact that whites were grossly outnumbered in the country throughout the colonial period and were always afraid of being overwhelmed by the African majority. This contributed to their determination to control the Africans and keep them in their place. Attempts at promoting racial partnership in the 1950s achieved little. State sponsored white racism ended with Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.


Racism Imperialism Colonization Black peril Land Education Labor Rhodes Rhodesia Settler 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Vijay Naidu
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the South PacificSuvaFiji

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