This Day In History: April 18th
The landlocked Republic of Zimbabwe shares borders with South Africa, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique. After nearly a century of colonization, the country declared independence on April 18, 1980.
Here are five things to know about Zimbabwean independence!
Life Prior To Colonization. Zimbabwe is home to many stone ruin sites, with several dating back to the ninth century. These ruins tell a story of life prior to European control. The Bantu people made up a large portion of the population and inhabited the land for more than 10 centuries following their great migration south.
The Arrival Of European Settlers. By the 1830s, European hunters, traders and missionaries began to explore the region. The settlers came to explore the interior of the land and establish a route to connect their pre-existing settlements. Towards the end of the 1880s, the British South Africa Company was established by Cecil Rhodes. The company obtained a British mandate to colonize the territory.
The Rise Of Resistance. The natives did not welcome this change with open arms. Rather, the people resented the arrival of the settlers and began to fight back. Ultimately, the first uprising was subdued, but after the passing of the Land Apportionment Act in 1930, opposition grew again. By the 1960s, Zimbabwe witnessed the emergence of nationalist groups such as the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu).
Declaration Of Independence. After Zambia and Malawi gained independence, the Central African Federation split up, which left Zimbabwe as the only member without independence. By the mid-1960s, Ian Smith served as the Prime Minister and unilaterally declared independence. Despite Smith’s declaration, the country did not gain international recognition until April 18, 1980. Zanu leader, Robert Mugabe, won the independence election and became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Following Independence. The years following independence were marked by instability on several fronts. The country faced an economic crisis because of the land seizure program that resulted in funding cuts from Western donors like the World Bank. Despite food shortages and unrest, the country worked towards stability. In 2013, the country established a new constitution that limited future Presidents to two five-year terms.
Zimbabweans continue to celebrate their independence from colonization with festivities on a national and local level. There is typically an official ceremony that is followed by food, music, performances and an assortment of entertainment.