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In 1965, the far-right prime minister Ian Smith unilaterally declared independence after Britain refused to let Rhodesia decolonise as a white supremacist state.
Two major liberation organisations emerged. Zanu, under Robert Mugabe, and Zapu, under Joshua Nkomo. Black nationalist opposition began its armed resistance in 1966.
When international economic sanctions were imposed against Smith’s regime, white commercial agriculture was heavily subsidised, making it even harder for African peasants to compete.
The "land question" was a major cause of the guerrilla war, which was fought with increasing ferocity during the 1970s with both sides intimidating and torturing recruits in rural areas.
In 1979, renewed negotiations in London led to the Lancaster House Agreement which paved the way for independence in April 1980. Mugabe, who won a landslide victory in the first free election, promised to resettle blacks on white land.
Ian Smith declares UDI, 1965
'Half the land is in the hands of 250,000 settlers' Robert Mugabe, 1976
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