Unpopular History and the contradictions of Zimbabwe’s history by Bookworm

Published in The Standard on Sunday, 20th March 2016

Several years ago, as an undergrad student at Midlands State University, I had the fortune of meeting Louise White who was in the country on tour with her book, The Assassination of Herbert Chitepo: Texts and Politics in Zimbabwe. Her history seminars at the University of Zimbabwe were oversubscribed.

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Review of Unpopular Sovereignty by Luise White

Luise White. 2015. Unpopular Sovereignty: Rhodesian Independence and African Decolonisation. London:
The University of Chicago Press. 343+xvi pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-23519-6. Price: US$30.

The year 2015 is the 50th anniversary of white-ruled Rhodesia’s bid for independence. The bones of the
story are well-known to most people. On 11 November 1965 the Cabinet of Rhodesia (unsurprisingly)
announced that Rhodesia now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. This was the first unilateral
break from Britain’s Empire since that of the American colonies 189 years before. The majority of the
international community deemed Rhodesia's action illegal, and economic sanctions, the first in the UN's
history, were imposed on the breakaway state. Protracted political negotiations failed and the bloody
Rhodesian Bush War (1964-1979) led to the Lancaster House Agreement, the first fully-democratic elections
ushered in the independent state of Zimbabwe. Until this book, the motivations and actions of the Rhodesian
government were seen as those of a rebel white state only interested in maintaining its privilege and power.
Luise White has done an admirable job in showing the more-complicated aspects of this story within the
broader politics of African decolonisation, a perspective long-needed in studies of the Ian Smith era.

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Review of Unpopular Sovereignty - Derek Matyszak

Reviewed by the discussant, Derek Matyszak, Senior Researcher, Research and Advocacy Unit,  at the seminar on 18 June, 2015 at SAPEZ in Harare.

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Review of Unpopular Sovereignty

Unpopular Sovereignty: Rhodesian Independence and African Decolonisation

by Luise White

University of Chicago Press (2015)

Distributed in Zimbabwe by Weaver Press

Launched at SAPES Policy Dialogue Forum on 18 June 2015

The following are the notes provided by Professor Luise White who provided the keynote address.

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