Zimbabwe Independence Day
On this day in 1980, Southern-Rhodesia gained independence from the British, taking the name Zimbabwe. The day marked the end of racial segregation after a protracted war of liberation that claimed many lives. In the ninety year span that Zimbabwe was a colony, it was administered by the British South African Company (BSAC) under the name Rhodesia and the Responsible Government under the name Southern Rhodesia. Both administrative systems were under the British monarchy. In 1965, Zimbabwe became autonomous and was led by a white segregationist government after Ian Douglas Smith made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain. This was after the British government had made majority rule a condition for the independence of Rhodesia from Britain. Smith followed the UDI by declaring Rhodesia a Republic, which however, did not have international recognition. From June 1979, the Republic of Southern Rhodesia was replaced by Zimbabwe-Rhodesia after Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa won the first majority elections. Lacking international recognition, after about three months, the country was taken back into the hands of Britain, as per the Lancaster House Agreement which was meant facilitate transition. The country once again became a British colony known as Southern Rhodesia. In the April 1980 elections, Robert Mugabe, head of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) won the majority and became the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean independence is celebrated on 18 April each year and Robert Mugabe has been at the helm since 1980. Although initially, the ceremony used to attract large numbers of people, gradually, the numbers have been decreasing as more and more people are becoming disillusioned as the promises made during the war for independence are yet to be realised. This disillusionment is also in the context of a declining economy and political turmoil caused by a blend of factors such as mismanagement and corruption and the imposition of sanctions. The day, however, is a yearly holiday and remains formally celebrated by the government of Zimbabwe at both national and district levels. A presidential speech which tallies with current national themes and the nation’s history is read out to the public. The official ceremony is followed by entertainment such music, different kinds of performances and soccer. There is also free food that is shared by the public.
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