Hard WORK made Rhodesia

Rid yourself of the idea that life in Southern Rhodesia is easy.
It is not easy. And that means WORK.

Southern Rhodesia needs new settlers of British stock to help her develop.  The country covers 150,000 square miles of South Central Africa – three times the size of England – with a great variety of mineral wealth, and with enormous potentialities, both human and material, waiting to be realised. This brochure tells you something of the country, the kind of life you may expect to live, and our hopes and plans for the future.

But we don’t want you to have any false ideas. You may have heard that Southern Rhodesia  has a pleasant climate – one of the finest in the world – and a vast supply of native labour so that the White man lives in ease and comfort with a minimum of effort.  Rid yourself of any idea that life in Southern Rhodesia is easy.  It is not easy.  Continual effort is necessary if the Whites (with about 92,000 Europeans to 1,773,000 Africans they are outnumbered nearly 20 to 1) are to justify their standard of living and maintain their intellectual and physical superiority.  The African people are advancing rapidly in the scale of civilisation, though they have still a long way to go to come within measurable distance of the Europeans; the average Rhodesian is glad to see them progress since the African, when he is better educated, more efficient and consequently better paid, is capable of making incalculable contributions to the development of the country.  But the European, if he is to keep ahead, cannot afford to slacken. And that means WORK.

Skill, a capacity for work and, incidentally, a sense of adventure, are essential qualifications. Let us quote the present Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia (Sir Godfrey Huggins) on this subject:

“Southern Rhodesia is no place for men and women without skill of either hand or brain, nor is it a place for people who expect to be molly-coddled through life.  But for those who are independent and self-reliant, prepared to stand solidly on their own two feet, it is a grand country.  We believe that there will be development and expansion in all directions in Southern Rhodesia offering opportunities for more than our present limited European population, and for the man who is prepared to work and ‘take a chance’ there will be ample scope – so long as he bears in mind that, although we have many amenities, on the whole this country must be regarded as still in the pioneering stage.”

For men and women who are worth their salt Southern Rhodesia has room to spare.  And she also has opportunity.


Where is it?  Southern Rhodesia, 150,000 square miles in extent, is in South Central Africa, bounded on the north by the Zambezi River, on the south by the Limpopo River on the east by Portuguese East Africa and on the west by the Bechuanaland Protectorate.  Her territorial neighbours to the north and south are Northern Rhodesia and Transvaal province of the Union of South Africa respectively.  She is entirely landlocked  and has no seaport of her own, but thanks to cordial relationships with her southern and eastern neighbours she makes use of the Portuguese East African port of Beira and the great South African ports of Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Constitution. Constitutionally, Southern Rhodesia occupies an unusual position among the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations and the British Colonial Empire. In one sense she belongs to both, in another sense to neither.  She is a self-governing Colony, yet although a Colony, she deals direct with the Commonwealth Relations Office of the British Government. She has full control over her own affairs, with one important exception – legislation affecting the Native population.

In some respects, therefore, Southern Rhodesia resembles a Colony; since she enjoys full autonomy otherwise, she resembles a Dominion, but she has not been granted Dominion Status.  Neither geographically nor politically is she part of the Union of South Africa – the postal address should read “Southern Rhodesia” and not “South Africa”.

History. Fifty-eight years ago Southern Rhodesia was trackless veld swarming with wild life, both animal and human, a land of savagery and bloodshed.  The dominant native tribe was the Matabele, who lived in Matabeleland and whose chief kraal (or town) was where the city of Bulawayo stands to-day.  The rest of the country was inhabited by unwarlike, pastoral tribes collectively called “Mashonas” who were constantly preyed upon by the Matabele and were in some danger of extermination when a Pioneer Column organised by Cecil John Rhodes, the Kimberley diamond magnate, Prime Minister of Cape Colony and the greatest Empire builder Africa has ever known, reached the site of present day Salisbury on September 12th 1890.  The march of the Pioneer Column from the border of Bechuanaland to Salisbury is one of the great romances of the Empire.  The Pioneers were colonisers who formed the nucleus of the civil population, and in their wake followed many more adventurous spirits.  There activities were confined to Mashonaland for the first three years, until the inevitable clash occurred between the forces of civilisation and savagery which led to the Matabele War of 1893.  The pioneers invaded Matabeleland, conquered the Matabele and established Bulawayo.  Three years later. in March 1896, the Matabele (who had been allowed to retain their arms) rose in revolt, and three months later the Mashona also rebelled.  The little Pioneer community suffered its greatest and blackest test, and emerged triumphantly.  Both rebellions were eventually suppressed, and since that time there has been no conflict between White and Black; indeed, relations between the two races have become steadily more harmonious, and the loyalty and service of the native people in the late War (as in World War One also) were exemplary.

Discounting the first seven years in which war and rebellion seriously interfered with progress, Southern Rhodesia’s development can be said to date from 1898.  In the 50 years since then the Colony has suffered serious setbacks, in the form of three major wars (the South African War and the two World Wars), and post war depressions. But in spite of these the Colony has progressed.  To-day she looks forward to a long period of peace in which she can develop her enormous mineral, agricultural and industrial resources to enable her to fulfil her destiny in South-Central Africa. And for that she needs more skilled European population.

Administration.  Until 1923 Southern Rhodesia was administered by the British South Africa Company, founded by Cecil Rhodes on the basis of a charter granted by Queen Victoria in 1889. The Chartered Company (as it was alternatively called) had commercial as well as administrative privileges and to-day is still a powerful factor in the Colony’s economy through its commercial interests, in transport, mining and agriculture.  In 1922 the Company’s administrative charter was ended and the people were given the choice between governing themselves or entering the Union of South Africa. A referendum showed a substantial majority in favour of self-government, and in 1923 the self-governing Colony of Southern Rhodesia came into being as part of the British Empire.

Under Responsible Government the country’s progress has more than justified the result of the Referendum.  The 1921 census revealed a population of 33,620 Europeans and 762,000 (estimated) indigenous natives.  Since then the population has grown steadily, the 1941 census figures being 68,954 Europeans and 1,399,000 Africans. The latest census figures (May, 1946) are: Europeans, 82,382; Coloured, 4,567; Asiatics, 2,913. The estimated native population is 1,773,000. Immigration during 1947 brought the European total to 92,000.

The wealth of the country has also grown. In 1923-24 revenue stood at £1,522,000. Five years later it had increased by nearly £1,000,000 and by 1938-39 had reached £3,514,000.  During the war years the figure bounded upwards until revenue for 1946-47 exceeded £11,000,000.  An indication of the Colony’s economic strength is that she financed her war effort entirely from her own resources. From the outbreak of war up to the end of March, 1945, she spent a total of £25,988,000 on war purposes alone, besides maintaining, and in some cases developing her administration and civilian services.

Southern Rhodesia enjoys parliamentary government on the United Kingdom model, with a Parliament of 30 members and a Speaker, who is appointed.  At present there is only one Chamber (the Legislative Assembly), but provision exists in the constitution for the establishment of an Upper Chamber when the time is ripe. The present cabinet consists of a Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Native Affairs, and five Ministers holding the portfolios of Finance; Internal Affairs (corresponding to the Home Secretary); Mines, Commerce and Industry; Agriculture and Lands; Justice and Public Works; and Defence.

His Majesty the King is represented by the Governor and Commander-in-Chief who, with the Cabinet, constitutes the Governor-in-Council.

His Excellency the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Major-General Sir John Kennedy, and Lady Kennedy walking in procession after an Opening of Parliament. 

The Franchise. Politics are conducted on Party lines and the general election in April, 1946, was contested by the United Party, The Rhodesia Labour Party, the Southern Rhodesia Labour Party and the Liberal Party. The result of the election was: United Party 14, Liberal Party 11, Rhodesia Labour Party 3, S.R. Labour Party 2.

All British subjects over the age of 21 years, irrespective of sex or colour, have the Parliamentary vote.  Other qualifications are six months’ residence in Southern Rhodesia, occupation of premises to the value of £150, receipt of an income of not less than £100 per annum, or ownership of a registered mining location.

An aerial view of part of Salisbury in 1947. In the centre foreground the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the Founder, looks west along Jameson Avenue from the intersection of Third Street.  Government Offices line Jameson Ave, Milton Building on the left and Vintcent Building on the right. The transformation which followed in just 20 years is amazing to consider. 


The above has been transcribed from a Southern Rhodesia immigration guide of 1948.