Nervous Conditions

Nervous Conditions Rhodesia in the late 1960s - Early 1970s

Rhodesia was an unrecognized state in Southern Africa during the Cold War, in the region now known as the country of Zimbabwe. It was considered a de facto successor state to the former British Colony of Southern Rhodesia (which had achieved responsible government in 1923). Ian Smith, the country's first Rhodesian-born leader, believed that Rhodesia was legally entitled to sovereignty, a claim that the registered voters supported. This started to stir up tension between the Rhodesian Front and the British Crown. In 1965, Rhodesia's (mostly white) government issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom, which got the attention of the UN Security Council. UN officials called for sanctions on Rhodesia, which soon became mandatory. Despite this, the conflict continued to escalate and in 1970, Rhodesia declared itself a republic, severing ties to the British Crown. Many Rhodesians saw Ian Smith's motives as selfish - he wanted to protect the colonial elite, many of whom still considered themselves European. Smith claimed that the black African majority, though, was still too inexperienced to govern the country, and continued to embrace a racial hierarchy. Public opinion was often divided along racial lines.