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History of Zimbabwe:
Iron Age Bantu-speaking peoples began migrating into the area about 2,000 years ago, including the ancestors of the Shona, who account for roughly four fifths of the country’s population today. Ruins at Great Zimbabwe, a Shona-speaking state, attest the existence of a medieval Bantu civilization in the region. Linked to the establishment of trade ties with Muslim merchants on the Indian Ocean coast around the early 10th century CE, Great Zimbabwe began to develop in the 11th century. The state traded gold, ivory, and copper for cloth and glass. It ceased to be the leading Shona state in the mid-15th century.
In 1837 the Shona were conquered by the Ndebele, who forced them to pay tribute. Later in the 19th century British and Boer traders, hunters, missionaries, and hunters stated encroaching on the area.
In 1888 British imperialist Cecil Rhodes extracted mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele. In 1889 Rhodes obtained a charter for the British South Africa Company, which conquered the Ndebele and their territory (named “Rhodesia” in 1895 after Cecil Rhodes) and promoted the colonization of the region and its land, labor, and precious metal and mineral resources. Both the Ndebele and the Shona staged unsuccessful revolts against white colonialist encroachment on their native lands in 1896-1897.
In 1911 the territory was divided into Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia, the latter becoming a self-governing British colony in 1922. In 1953 the two parts of Rhodesia were reunited in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and after its dissolution in 1963 the whites demanded independence from Southern Rhodesia (Rhodesia from 1964).
As African majority governments were assuming control in neighboring Northern Rhodesia and in Nyasaland, the white-minority government, led by Ian Smith, declared unilateral independence on November 11, 1965. The United Kingdom called the declaration an act of rebellion but did not reestablish control by force. When negotiations in 1966 and 1968 proved fruitless, the UK requested UN economic sanctions against Rhodesia. The white-minority regime declared itself a republic in 1970. It was not recognized by the UK or by any other nation.
As guerrilla activities fighting minority rule intensified, the Smith regime opened negotiations with the leaders of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZANU), led by Robert Mugabe after the assassination of Herbert Chitepo in Zambia in 1975, and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo. With his regime near the brink of collapse, Smith in March 1978 signed a desperate accord with three black leaders who offered safeguards for whites headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa.
Muzorewa, who not only had the support of Smith but with the white-minority regime in South Africa as well, lacked credibility among significant sectors of the African population. The Muzorewa government soon faltered. In 1979 the British Government asked all parties to come to Lancaster House in an attempt to negotiate a settlement in the civil war.
Following the conference, held in London (1979-1980), Britain’s Lord Soames was appointed governor to oversee the disarming of revolutionary guerrillas, the holding of elections, and the granting of independence to an uneasy coalition government with Joshua Nkomo, head of Zimbabwe African People’s Union. In the free elections of February 1980, Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) won a landslide victory. Mugabe has won reelection ever since.
In 1982 Nkomo was ousted from his cabinet, sparking fighting between ZAPU supports in the Ndebele-speaking region of the country and the ruling ZANU. In Feb1983 Mugabe sent in the Fifth Brigade (also known as the Gukurahundi) to Tsholotsho, Matebeleland North and started the genocide. 1984 they moved across the Manzamnyama River into Matebeleland South ending up killing well over 20 000 people. A peace accord was negotiated in 1987, resulting in ZAPU’s merger (1988) into the ZANU-PF.
The drought in southern Africa, perhaps the worst of the century, affected Zimbabwe so severely that a national disaster was declared in 1992. The drought confounded the country’s debt crisis. The ensuing IMF-backed economic adjustment and austerity program caused further widespread hardship.