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John Cecil Rhodes: Imperialism

John Cecil Rhodes, a Briton, born on 5 July 1853 in England, was the figurehead of British imperialists in Southern Africa. Rhodes in 1870 left his home country to live with his brother in South Africa. Later that year, diamond deposits were discovered in Cape Colony at Kimberly and he became a diamond prospector.


At 19, in 1873, Rhodes returned to England to pursue a degree at Oxford University. In 1881, he received his degree and found his way into Cape Colony Parliament. Surviving pieces of African history indicate that he was largely responsible for the attachment of Bechuanaland (Botswana) to the British Empire in 1885. With relative authority he held, Rhodes grabbed exclusive mining rights from the Matabeleland (Zimbabwe) ruler in 1888.


To the fast spread of White Rule, more authority was granted to Rhodes to form the British south Africa company (BSA) in 1889. Through this company, the man enjoyed sweeping powers that included authority to mine and establish administration in Northern Transvaal, Mashonaland and Matabeleland. Until 1923, BSA controlled the apparatus of governance in territories now called Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Seeking to extend the cause of imperialism, he and his army crossed the Matabeleland in 1890 and built the city of Salisbury (Harare), in northern Mashonaland. His men displaced indigenous people and settled on a large territory. Rhodes connected this region to the outside world by building railroads and telegraphs.


In this new territory, the BSA suffered adverse economic changes at the extinction of the gold that determined the settlement of Whites. Rhodes and Leander Starr Jameson, the territory administrator conspired against the Ndebele king.

In 1893, Whites squarely defeated the Ndebeles and grabbed their livestock as a step to BSA’s economic recovery. In 1894, this territory was renamed Rhodesia, after Rhodes.
In 1890, Rhodes was elected Cape Colony prime minister. Mashonaland and Matabeleland, areas in the South of River Zambezi were collectively and officially named Southern Rhodesia in 1898. Two areas in the North of River Zambezi became Nort-Western Rhodesia and Nort-Eastern Rhodesia and were governed separately. These two Rhodesias in the North were amalgamated in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia whose capital was Livingstone.

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Ollus Ndhom

Ollus Ndhom is the editorial chief at MuAfrica, a newbie online magazine. He is a self-driven and assertive youth with a belief in the power of words. His hobbies include writing commentaries, composing poems and serving God.

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