Cecil John Rhodes

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes:The Colonization of Zimbabwe


  • The colonisation of Zimbabwe was part of the was part of imperialist activities in the late 19th century
  • Four European countries were interested in Zimbabwe
  • These were the British, Germans, Portuguese and Boers
  • The British wanted the territory for gold
  • The Portuguese wanted the colony to link with their South East Africa colonies
  • The Germans and Boers wanted to expand their territories into Central Africa
  • Britain eventually colonized Zimbabwe and it was given the name of Cecil John Rhodes Rhodesia

Reasons for the Occupation of Zimbabwe 

  • Gold had been discovered in the Rand in 1886 and this raised interest in Britain, Germany, Portugal and Boer who thought it was also available south of Limpopo
  • They went to sign mining concessions with Lobengula
  • The rich Savannah soils found in Zimbabwe also attracted European settlers as they wanted to do commercial agriculture
  • There were vast natural resources in Zimbabwe like ivory and iron and Europeans wanted to control these hence the colonization of Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe was colonized because there was also a readily available market and demand of European goods
  • Cecil also wanted to control the large herds of cattle available in Zimbabwe
  • Rhodes’ ambitious character of wanting to spread British imperialism and control the whole Southern African region led to the occupation of Zimbabwe
  • Friendship treaties between local leaders and British officials e.g. The Moffat treaty of 1836
  • Missionaries working in Zimbabwe pleaded with their mother governments so that they colonize Zimbabwe in order for them to spread Christianity
  • Rhodes’ investments in the Rand had not been producing profits and this made him to be interested in colonizing Zimbabwe to compensate for the losses which he had suffered.
  • Zimbabwe was occupied as a  strategy by Britain to force Boers to embrace the
    British scheme of South African Confederation under the British law.
  • Zimbabwe was also colonized to fulfill the Cape to Cairo project by Rhodes
  • Racist tendencies that were high during the time can explain why
    Zimbabwe was occupied as Rhodes believed that the British were the finest race in
    the whole world. Thus Zimbabwe was colonized to be civilized
  • Zimbabwe was also colonized due to the need to invest surplus capital

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