The Rhodesian Bush War was just the start of modern Zimbabwe’s tragedy. In today’s special double episode we pick up where we left off: in the middle of the bloody Rhodesian Bush War. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives in the conflict. Hundreds of thousands more lost everything they owned in the struggle. Then came independence and Robert Mugabe took control of the nation.
One year after the Bush War, high-level espionage destroyed key Zimbabwean infrastructure. Two years later, Mugabe unleashed his Korean-trained Fifth Brigade on the Ndebele people: thousands of African nationalist kung-fu masters rampaged the Ndebele homeland, massacring thousands and intimidating hundreds of thousands. It was ethnic persecution, some authors say genocide, on a massive scale. The persecution was called Gukurahundi – the rain that washes away the trash.
Then Mugabe turned his attention toward the European minority beginning in 1990. Fifteen years later less than a few thousand Europeans remained in the country, down from 250,000 twenty years before – yet another massive population shift in Rhodesia-Zimbabwe’s long history of ethnic conflict.
Finally, Mugabe’s attention turned inward: wiping out all African opposition to his rule with yet more naked intimidation, disappearances, torture, and mass propaganda. The result is Zimbabwe today, a nation filled with homeless, where more people flee the country than graduate from university. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled their homeland. Their story is rarely told. Imagine all of these refugees and mistreated people gathered into a massive city – millions of them. See the women’s haggard, wrinkled faces, the children’s begging eyes pleading for help that doesn’t come – a city of people living on the margins, without even the hope of hope, so hungry they don’t even feel it anymore.
Here is their story.
Download episode 55: here
Maps and Illustrations
Collapse of Rhodesia by Josiah Brownwell
Portugal’s Guerrilla Wars in Africa: Lisbon’s Three Wars in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea 1961-74 by Al Venter.
“Mugabe’s Misrule and How it will Hold Zimbabwe Back.” by Martin Meredith. Foreign Affairs. March/April 2018.
The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart
Bitter Harvest by Ian Smith
Mugabe by Martin Meredith (2007)
A Martyr Speaks by John Coey
Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe 1884-1902 by Arthur Keppel-Jones
A Short History of Mozambique by Malyn Newitt
Operation Dingo by J.R.T. Wood
Black Fire: Accounts of the guerilla war in Rhodesia by Michael Raeburn
Dingo Firestorm (2014) by Ian Pringle
Years of Renewal by Henry Kissinger
From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe by Lawrence Vambe
White Liberals Moderates and Radicals in Rhodesia, 1953-1980 by Ian Hancock
The Rhodesian Front War by H. Ellert (1989)
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James
Cry Zimbabwe: Independence 20 Years on by Peter Stiff
Mugabe: Power And Plunder In Zimbabwe by Martin Meredith
The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith
The Rhodesian War: A Military History by Paul Moorecraft and Peter McLaughlin
Bush War Operator: Memoirs of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, Selous Scouts and Beyond by Andrew Balaam
Fire Force: A Trooper’s War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry by Chris Cocks
Survival Course: Rhodesian Denouement and the War of Self by Chris Cocks
The Saints: The Rhodesian Light Infantry edited by by Chris Cocks, Craig Bone, and Alexandre Binda
Masodja: The History of the Rhodesian African Rifles and its Forerunner, The Rhodesia Native Regiment by John Wynne Hopkins, Brig David Heppenstal, and Alexandre Binda
Pamwe Chete: The Legend of the Selous Scouts by Ron Ried-Daly
Rhodesia: Last Outpost of the British Empire 1890 – 1980 by Peter Baxter
A History of Rhodesia by Robert Blake (1978).
Taming the Land Mine by Peter Stiff
Black Fire: Accounts of the Guerilla War in Rhodesia by Michael Raeburn
Rhodes: The Race for Africa by Antony Thomas
The Founder by Robert Rotberg
A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia by Hannes Wessels
Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia by Frederick Selous
Selous Scouts: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists by Peter Baxter.
Rhodesian Light Infantryman 1961–80 by Neil Grant
White Liberals, Moderates, and Radicals in Rhodesia, 1953-1980 by Ian Hancock
The Iron Lady : Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer’s Daughter to Prime Minister by John Campbell and David Freeman
The Struggle for Zimbabwe: Battle in the Bush by Lewis Gann
The Struggle for Zimbabwe: The Chimurenga War by David Martin and Phyllis Johnson
Origins of Rhodesia by Stanlake Samkange
At the Going Down of the Sun by Charlie Warren
NATIVE POLICY IN SOUTHERN RHODESIA, 1890-1923 (sic). By DUIGNAN, PETER JAMES. Stanford University Doctoral Dissertation. 1961.
‘“It was Difficult in Zimbabwe”: A History of Imprisonment, Detention and Confinement during Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle, 1960-1980’ by Munyaradzi Bryn Munochiveyi. University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation. 2008.
History of Africa by Kevin Shillington
Cecil Rhodes: Flawed Colossus by Brian Roberts
The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power by Robert Rotberg
“After Two Decades of Rot, Zimbabwe Is Coming Apart at the Seams” by Antony Sguazzin, Ray Ndlovu, and Brian Latham. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-14/after-two-decades-of-rot-zimbabwe-is-coming-apart-at-the-seams
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire. 36 Lectures by Patrick Allitt. Produced by the Great Courses.
All our yesterdays, 1890-1970: a pictorial review of Rhodesia’s story from the best of ‘illustrated life Rhodesia’ by Various.
End of Empire: Rhodesia. (1985). Produced by Grenada Television. Available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DuNhsLR9y0