The majority of our people have remained in the false belief that 1980 was the year Zimbabwe attained independence. Of course, this is what is recorded, and will probably remain ensconced in history books for many years to come. But that does not mean there is truth in that assumption. To understand this narrative better, one has to first ask the question of; what independence from.
To answer that question any person would be quick to jump onto the fray, assuming that it was independence from white domination. However, that reasoning, in itself, would be projecting the real problem. Zimbabwe is one of the countries that are said to have been British colonies. But Zimbabwe became a British colony, only as late as 1897. We have to consider whether the country had been independent before that time, or not. Was Zimbabwe independent, before British colonialism, or not?
African colonialism was pursued by Europeans, stretching from the second half of the 14th century up to the end of World War II. The colonialists had sought to spread what they viewed as acceptable civilization. But, whether rightly or wrongly, colonialism facilitated some forms of civilization on the African continent, under the yolk of ignorance.
The dawn of modern civilization promoted democracy, aiming at people’s co-existence on the basis of respecting human rights. Democracy cannot be ideal, though; when humans reach the standard of treating other fellow humans in ways they want to be treated. That level empowers each human being to take responsibility for the survival of other fellow humans.
From time, immemorial, humanity had pursued the idea of attaining power by defeating weaker nations, through vicious battlefields. Africans claim to be victims of slavery, more than any other race. But, among themselves, Africans were not immune to such foolish behaviour. There is no nation that can claim to have behaved without seeking to dominate other groups. Greatness was in the ability to conquer rival nations.
If defeated, a country became subservient to the conquering nation. This displayed a classical example of a dearth of progressive civilization. This was also practised by the Israelites, who were considered God’s nation. The Israelites, probably, butchered more people than any other nation. The reason for such a development can be a subject of another day. Nonetheless, the history of humanity is littered with uncivilized conduct in barbarism.
Zimbabwe was named Rhodesia after the white settlers defeated the natives through the leadership of Cecil John Rhodes. Other than the wars of the 1890s, there is no other recorded serious black resistance before the initiation of liberation struggles in the 1960s. Those white settlers carried some common racial discrimination. However, the policy of Cecil John Rhodes had been to advance civilization among Africans.
The Rhodes scholarship, although later abused, had been meant to advance the civilization of the natives. It is one thing to be clouded in racialism practised by some whites, and quite another to acknowledge the quantifiable positive developments through colonialism. There cannot be sense in settling matters out of emotion, rather than reason.
No other topic in this world triggers emotional debate than talking positively about colonialism. Like any subject that is premised on ignorance, a person can be killed when standing up to suggest that there was something good about colonialism. One is given support, only when narrating that colonialism was the worst thing ever to happen in Africa. This would be said without even mentioning the dark conditions under which those Africans lived, before the colonialists.