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Ian Smith passes away; Rhodesia vs. Zimbabwe

Ian Smith, the leader of the former Rhodesia, has died at age 88.

Click here for the full story from the BBC.

Despite the economic problems of the current Zimbabwe, it is ridiculous to believe that Zimbabweans would be better off under the colonially brutal government of Smith. However, some people are making this claim. Historically speaking, the world is full of amnesiacs.

This is the same Rhodesia where 1% of the whites ruled the other 99% of the population. The Smith government was brutal and unforgiving, illustrated by their release of anthrax on their own people.

So, you be the judge. History will judge Ian Smith. I prefer the indictment of Richard Munsaka, as quoted in the BBC article, who says:
“Ian Smith was a sick old man.”

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

4 Comments

  1. History has judged: Smith was right. Mugabe has driven the former Rhodesia into the ground through ineptitude and coruption. Zimbabwe can not even support their own currency as inflation has run amok. Freedom has not arrived in Zimbabwe; election fraud, suppression of rival political parties…
    I think that the abject failure of Mugabe in Zimbabwe speaks for itself.

  2. Hello there, Lindsey and Carpentaro,

    Lindsey, you can find some interesting primary source stuff here. http://www.aluka.org/action/doBrowse?sa=xst&st=2219&st=2250&t=2260&br=tax-geo-general%7Crelated-to%7Cgeography-country. First hand accounts, articles, etc. However you will need to find a university with access to the collections. Also some accounts here supporting liberation (http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Zimb.html) and some supporting the previous colonial administration.

    Carpentaro, agree that Mugabe has been a failure; indeed many of the revolutionaries were when given power. However, I am leery of equating that failure with supporting the previous colonial administration. To say it was better economically means it was better for the 90%, I doubt it was.

  3. “it is ridiculous to believe that Zimbabweans would be better off under the colonially brutal government of Smith.”

    Debatable? Yes. Ridiculous? No. (unless you refuse to acknowledge the obvious)

    “The Smith government was brutal and unforgiving”

    As opposed to . . . Mugabe?

    Let me see: Live under oppressive rule with a prosperous stable economy versus living under an oppressive rule with no money but lots of danger. Hmmm . . .

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