robert_mugabe_1154591cDuring the 1950s and 1960s while most of the European colonies in Africa were gaining their independence, the southern tier of the continent remained firmly under white control. The region was fully occupied by 7 different British and Portuguese colonies. In 1965, when it appeared that Britain intended to grant independence to Southern Rhodesia, with equivalent rights for Blacks and whites, the white settler government seceded from the British Empire and declared themselves the independent white-ruled country of ” Rhodesia .”

The UN instituted some ineffectual sanctions and Britain looked the other way refusing to use force to bring its former colony into line. A small, but persistent, guerilla movement soon developed. The well-equipped white Rhodesian army held its own for quite a while. However, in 1975, when the adjacent Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola won their independence with military aid from Cuba , things began to change. Robert Mugabe and other guerilla leaders were soon mounting devastating military attacks in Rhodesia . By 1980, the white Rhodesians surrendered power to the black majority led by Mugabe and others. They promptly renamed the country Zimbabwe .

For more than 20 years afterwards, Robert Mugabe and the government of Zimbabwe peacefully negotiated with Britain , the white settlers and other interested parties to regain at least some of the land of the Africans. But all to no avail. Finally, 22 years after coming to power, they took forceful steps to regain their land. These actions have been greeted with hostility by the white farmers, Britain and America . Despite the fact that Zimbabwe is a fully sovereign nation, the US  openly threatened to topple the government.

The land question is the key issue, not just in Zimbabwe but around the world. Can any country really be free if its people don’t own the land beneath their feet? None are watching events in Zimbabwe more closely than the people of South Africa . Here, like in Zimbabwe , the Black majority has no real control of the land or the resources of the richest nation on the continent.

( ‘This is an excerpt from Africa Is Not A Country: It’s A Continent by Dr. Arthur Lewin, )