The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland


The white settlers in Southern Rhodesia conducted a referendum in 1923 to end British rule and established a new constitution under a system called ‘Responsible Government’. Under this new government there was little interference from the British. The white settlers could pass laws that helped them exploit and oppress black citizens.

After a while, the white settlers devised a plan to expand their territory by merging Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi). Under this plan, the federation would allow settlers from Southern Rhodesia to rule over and exploit the resources and citizens of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. With the British governments approval, the federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was created in 1953. The wealth produced in Northern Rhodesia for example was used to fund projects that benefited Southern Rhodesia such as the Kariba dam.

The federation was opposed by most Africans in all three countries. The dissolution of the federation eventually led to the independence of Zambia under Kenneth Kaunda and Malawi under Hastings Banda. After the dissolution of the federation, the British tried to persuade white settlers in Southern Rhodesia to give Africans more power. The group led by Prime Minister Garfield Todd supported giving more rights to Africans but was voted out in 1959 and Edgar Whitehead became Prime Minister. After the British refused to give Southern Rhodesia full independence Prime Minister Ian Smith declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence).

Even after the dissolution of the federation, Africans in Southern Rhodesia remained exploited and oppressed. After the National Democratic Party was banned in 1961, the leaders formed a new party called the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and in 1962, Joshua Nkomo was elected President. The party was formed during a time when poverty and overcrowding was increasing on Tribal Trust Lands. Many people joined ZAPU in protesting in various ways with the hopes that Britain would give them independence. These were the early seeds for Zimbabwe’s complete independence which was eventually achieved in 1980.


  1. This generation of Africans have to learn that the europeans did not give us independence. Though many fought bitterly and appeared to achieve victory, the europeans left because it was expedient for them to do so. However we regard it, the truth remains that they coul have destroyed us if they wanted to. They simply had more power.

    Many of the educated african elite were so pro-european in their tastes and thought that they would have continued the europeans whims without the Europeans presence. An example is Dr. Busia, prime- minister of Ghana for 2 years after Nkrumah was removed from power. He himself was removed after two years and sought refuge in England.

    To be able to undetstand our present circumstances, we need to learn that the European never intended to give independence. We must understand that to continue to maintain a physical presence on the continent was exorbitant and irrelevant to the european purpose of exploiting african resources cheaply. So, where there was resistance, that resistance was brutally destroyed.

    The evidence is the example.of Congo and Nkrumah, where the attempt to form a solidarity in african economics, military, and political interests were brutally destroyed and puppet governments installed all over.

    Today’s african needs to discover real independence. We are more empowered today through increased literacy to do so. As long as we are willing to be serfs of europeans, merely content with the accomplishment of being a “big man” in a european organization we will never be free. To be less ambiguous, lest someone say no one is free, we will always be second class citizens in our own countries. The African Union must be more meaningful than the farce we have today when former proud members like Ghana, proud of our leadrship at the beginning of the struggle for independence, has sunk so low as to receive terrorists for money from the US govenment. Nkrumah, Lumumba, Kenyatta and Amilcar Kabral will be ashamed of what their vision has been degenerated into by fools!

    Let us also be aware that we have trojan horses on the continent in Sudan and South Africa. The Sudanese mixed races in the north who waged a brutal war for subjugation of the South recognizes caucasian Syrian refugees as brothers but not the Nuer or Dinka. And the Boers and Afrikaners are still on the continent. We cannot have Sudan as part of the African Union.

  2. Its interesting how the benefits that present day Zimbabwe formerly Southern Rhodesia came from zambia & Malawi

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