Zimbabwe; history and independence

Until 1980 the country was known as Rhodesia, after which it was renamed the Republic of Zimbabwe. It becomes independent that same year, after a struggle of almost 15 years. Independence was unilaterally declared in 1965. Mugabe became the country’s leader on December 31, 1987 and remains so to this day.


The meaning of Zimbabwe is House of Stone, which was a reference to the name for the royal residence. Another reference is the stone construction in the south of the country, the Great Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwe is located just above South Africa, to the east of Mozambique, to the southwest is Botswana and to the south is South Africa. The country has an area of 400,00 kmĀ². This is about 10 times the size of the Netherlands. The country has 12,500,000 inhabitants, which is almost 1,500,000 fewer inhabitants than the Netherlands. The capital is Harare.
The country is divided into different population groups, such as:

  • The Shona, 77% of the population
  • Ndebele, 19% of the population
  • Small African minorities, 3.5% of the population
  • Whites, only 1% of the population

The official language in Zimbabwe is English, and Shona and Bantu languages are also spoken by the local population.
The climate is warm and dry, the land is high (it forms the backbone of a mountain range) and not on the ocean. There are many grass steppes and some forests in Zimbabwe. The highest mountain is the 2,600 meter high Mount Inyangani.


The country was already inhabited more than 5,000 years ago. It has been proven by the drawings of the so-called Bushman paintings, the rock paintings of the hunters from the Iron Age. Almost 1,700 years ago, the Bantu-speaking peoples (including the ancestors of the Shanto) came to Zimbabwe and chased away the hunter peoples of the time. To this day, the Shona remains the largest ethnic group in the country.
Zimbabwe is better known as Rodesia as an English colony that was founded in 1888. It was the British Cecil Rhodes who gave the country its name. The British came to mine the country for its ores. However, this was not the great success the British had expected. However, they stayed in the country and became farmers. The original population was put into reservations and the whites took over the agricultural lands.
A quarter of a century later the country fell apart, including Southern Rhodesia. Until 1923, the country was run by Rhodes British South Africa Company. The British government had little interest in the country and gave Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) the choice between annexation into South Africa or a self-governing colony. Self-government was chosen.


The first resistance against white domination began in the early 1960s. The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU, to which Mugabe also belongs), was the first organization. From here the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) split. After years of guerrilla actions, the two organizations started working together in 1976 under the name Patriotic Frond (PF). The country officially became independent on April 18, 1980. Canaan Banana was president of Zimbabwe from then until December 31, 1987. Then he hands the baton to Mugabe. He fulfilled his task almost entirely ceremonially, the actual power already lay with Mugabe.
The elections that preceded independence brought the great victory to Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who became Prime Minister. From that moment on, ZANU rules with an absolute majority, essentially without opposition. It was to his credit that the original residents got their property back. This was done by requisitioning and claiming the land from the whites. Mugabe started out as a moderate leader, but over the years he wanted to move towards a one-party system and increasingly showed signs of a dictator.
In March 2008, Mugabe is still in power, but the country has now entered a major economic crisis. The inflation rate for 2007 is approaching 65,000%. According to him, inflation was the fault of the former occupiers.
After the March 2008 elections, between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, a different situation has emerged in the country. Tsvangirai claims victory in both the national and presidential elections. However, Mugabe refuses to budge, and tensions in the country are only increasing.

read more

  • Zimbabwe; sights
  • Zimbabwe; Harare