Kith and Kin Politics: Rhodesia’s White Settlers and Britain, 1939 to 1980


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Rhodes African Studies Centre


This study analyzes how Rhodesian white settlers, African nationalists and British politicians used the language of kith and kin ties to interpret relations between Rhodesia’s white settlers and Britain between 1939 and 1980. It argues that familial, socio-cultural connections between Rhodesian whites of British extraction and Britain influenced Anglo-Rhodesia relations and the eventual process of decolonization of white Rhodesia. These notions operated at both the familial and political level and they were fluid and dynamic under the influence of local, regional and international factors. Throughout the colonial period, Rhodesian whites remained in touch with their kith and kin in Britain and cherished their British identity. These cultural connections reflected in the way Britain handled the Rhodesian problem in the 1960s and 1970s. This study also shows how cognate ideas of imperial loyalism, Britishness, whiteness, ethnicity, moral behaviour, wealth, class and political ideologies were part of the imagined Rhodesian settler society.