11 November 1965
Ian Smith became prime minister of the self-governing British colony of Rhodesia in 1964. In keeping with the postwar trend toward de-colonisation, British authorities were prepared to permit Rhodesian independence, but only on the basis of giving the black majority population a fair share of power. When negotiations stalled, Smith illegally declared independence from Britain in 1965. During his address to the nation he declared: We Rhodesians have rejected the doctrinaire philosophy of appeasement and surrender. The decision which we have taken today is a refusal by Rhodesians to sell their birthright. And, even if we were to surrender, does anyone believe that Rhodesia would be the last target of the Communists in the Afro-Asian block? We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilization, and Christianity; and in the spirit of this belief we have this day assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all. In response the British prime minister announced a full-range of sanctions including ceasing all British aid to and preferential treatment for Rhodesia, banning the import of Rhodesian tobacco and recalling the British High Commissioner. Ian Smith's white minority government led the country for 14 years amid international scorn and sanctions. Following a bitter bush war with black nationalists, his government gave way to a new administration in 1979, leading to the creation of Zimbabwe. Defiant to the end, Smith denied the civil war caused by the actions of his regime and insisted there was nothing wrong with five million blacks being ruled by 200,000 whites.