On 27-28 June 2018, Dr Thula Simpson and Dr Eddie Michel from the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria hosted a colloquium entitled ‘Rhodesia to Zimbabwe: The Diplomacy of Isolation and Liberation under UDI’. The colloquium, covering the diverse diplomatic and quasi-diplomatic engagements witnessed during the period between Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965 and Zimbabwean independence in 1980, was sponsored by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) and the Southern African Historical Society (SAHS), and was held at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship.
Presenters at the event included highly respected academic figures from South Africa, the broader southern African region, Europe, Russia and the United States. The keynote address was delivered by Professor Vladimir Shubin from the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The other papers delivered at the event were by Professor Gary Baines (Rhodes University), who discussed South Africa military support for Rhodesia; Dr Tinashe Nyamunda (University of the Free State), who explored Rhodesian/Portuguese trade relations; Professor Gerald Mazarire, who considered the role of Rhodesia as a regional ‘superpower’ in Africa; Dr Andy DeRoche, who discussed the global diplomacy of Kenneth Kaunda on the Rhodesia issue; Dr Myles Osborne (University of Colorado: Boulder), who investigated the impact of UDI in the Caribbean; Todd Carter (University of Oxford), who evaluated Rhodesia in the context of the Anglo-American ‘Special Relationship’; Sibanengi Ncube (University of the Free State), who considered the effects of the UDI on the economic fortunes of the Rhodesian tobacco industry; while Dr. Sue Onslow (Institute of Commonwealth Studies in the School of Advanced Studies, University of London) offered an analysis of the ideological and pragmatic motivations of foreign ‘mercenary’ fighters in the Rhodesian army.
The University of Pretoria was well represented at event, through participants including Professor Alois Mlambo, who considered the imposition and evasion of international sanctions; Dr Glen Ncube, who discussed the ‘Freedom from Hunger’ campaign that was led in Rhodesia by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Dr Eddie Michel who explored United States policy towards Rhodesia; and Bruce Berry who reflected on the international politics of the flying of the Rhodesian flag.
The papers presented at the colloquium covered an intriguing variety of topics and stimulated lively intellectual debate among both the presenters and the attendees. The event also brought to the fore important questions about our understanding of the interconnecting nature of the various historical determinants (international, transnational and supranational) which shaped the global response to the UDI. They also demonstrated the need to transcend traditional historical narratives and boundaries (diplomatic, military or social) regarding the diplomacy of Rhodesian UDI.
Dr Michel and Dr Simpson are presently engaged with the presenters in bringing the proceeds of the colloquium through to publication in a Special Issue of the South African Historical Journal.
Videos of the individual presentations can be viewed here.
(Back row, from left to right): Dr. Myles Osborne, Dr. Sue Onslow, Todd Carter, Prof. Gary Baines. (Middle row, from left to right): Dr. Eddie Michel, Bruce Berry, Prof. Alois Mlambo, Prof. Vladimir Shubin. (Front row, from left to right): Dr. Thula Simpson, Prof. Gerald Mazarire, Sibanengi Ncube, Dr. Glen Ncube, Dr. Andy DeRoche.
Professor Vladimir Shubin ((Institute for African Studies: Moscow) delivering the Key Note Address
Dr. Andy DeRoche (Front Range Community College)
Dr. Eddie Michel (University of Pretoria)
Professor Gary Baines (Rhodes University)