THE MYTH OF RHODESIA AS A BREADBASKET
Updated: Jun 29
I just read Andre’s post in which he claims that Rhodesia was a food basket of Africa and responsible for producing some of the highest cereal yields in the world.
That is a lie that illustrates the delusions of grandeur of our colonizers and their illiteracy due to a biased Rhodesian education.
As a starting point, was Rhodesia ever a breadbasket for Southern Africa or Africa?
By economic definition, a breadbasket is a country that produces enough food to provide food security for every citizen, plus a season [6mth to 1yr] of reserves, while remaining with enough of a surplus to be a significant exporter into a region more than any other nation of the same region.
Now, for those who have read our history, malnutrition in Rhodesia was well over 90% among the children of black farm workers who formed the majority of workers.
For those who don’t read much, I’m sure you are familiar with the images of children with swollen bellies from malnutrition and kwashiorkor that was synonymous with Rhodesia. Images that have almost disappeared in modern day Zimbabwe because the reduction of poverty has given people better means to feed themselves.
It is this level of food insecurity among the majority [98% of the people] that pushed Rhodesian infant mortality to above 200 children per 1000 births. That infant mortality rate has since been brought down to below 40/1000 by the current government.
Not only were the children dying from malnutrition but many also suffered mental health issues, night blindness, bheri bheri and other poverty diseases from this lack of adequate nutrition.
Even though a few privileged black people were working on farms, in industry and mining, many of them were paid a below living wage by the colonial capitalist system that they couldn’t afford food. Meanwhile, the majority were unemployed and overcrowded in infertile, dry and arid dust bowls known as reserves where buying food was not even a remote prospect.
These people who constituted 92% of the forgotten population, usually starved and died of hunger without being documented. So we don’t really have a clear picture of what the true impact of poverty and starvation was on the majority.
What we know is this hunger and starvation forced 14 and 16yr old male and female minors to leave school and march barefoot to Zambia and Mozambique to take up arms and overthrow the failed and illegitimate Rhodesian government and her apartheid South African partners by the gun.
They lost all fear of the formidable military might of Rhodesia and Vorster’s South Africa because hunger and destitution left them with death-while-fighting-for-freedom as a more acceptable option than living in Rhodesian death concentration camps or reserves.
Why else would young children burden themselves by going to war instead of living their young lives, going to school and eating all they could in the breadbasket?
Rhodesia never had anything close to internal food security for it to meet the first condition of being a breadbasket.
On the export front, Rhodesia never produced more than 10% of Africa’s output as it lagged behind countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya in maize, wheat and cereals.
In fact, Zimbabwe’s highest maize, tobacco, sunflower, peanuts, cotton, flowers, veg and beef production records were all set after independence.
All of Zimbabwe’s highest records for Cotton, Tobacco, wheat and Maize production were all broken after the 1999 land reform. More appropriately they were set under stringent economic sanctions imposed by the United States.
This is after:
• 90yrs of colonialism;
• 90yrs of colonial underdevelopment, stolen lives, stolen taxes, stolen cows, stolen land, stolen resources, stolen labor, enslavement, impoverishment of the natives, miseducation of natives, white unjust enrichment and land degradation by the European settler that was designed to make black people strangers to the land;
• 17yrs of liberations war;
• 13yrs of Rhodesians sanctions whose effects and debts were transferred to Zimbabwe.
• never receiving reparations from the colonizer for 90yrs slavery and theft,
• 40yrs of rebuilding Rhodesian pillage, environmental degradation, war damage, reversing black race orientated underdevelopment and paying Rhodesians debts;
• 20yrs of western sabotage and deindustrialization after independence to kill Zimbabwe in its cradle,
• 12yrs of destabilization by the apartheid government on behalf of their western principals, which led to Mozambique war against RENAMO and Gukurahundi;
• 10yrs of IMF and World Bank debt manipulation that led to ESAP;
• Zimbabwe sending its army to Congo alongside Namibia, Angola, Libya, Chad and Sudan to fight western sponsored Rwandan and Ugandan rebels to bring an end to the war through the Sun City Accord,
• being punished for ending that war that had killed 5mil Congolese civilians by 19yrs of US and western sanctions.
After all that we are still standing but Rhodesia fell in just 13yrs of sanctions, apartheid South Africa in 6yrs even though Europe and the US were backing them up.
We are MaDzimbabwe, houses of stone, older than the oldest european civilizations. We will remain standing when they are gone.
By Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare of ZUAUWS.