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Imperial Rhodesians: The 1953 Rhodes centenary exhibition in Southern Rhodesia

Shutt, Allison K.; King, Tony


Allison K. Shutt

Tony King


Reviewing the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition (RCE) of 1953, this article focuses on three interrelated themes in post-war Southern Rhodesia. First, significant post-war immigration challenged the state to educate new white Rhodesians on the founding myths of the colony, especially that of Cecil John Rhodes. Secondly, Southern Rhodesians were anxious to emphasise their status as British subjects in contrast to Afrikaner nationalism in South Africa. And finally, a rising and vocal black middle class challenged the state to adjust its national narrative to include blacks in the social process. The RCE spoke to all of these concerns by highlighting Rhodes and the British Royal family as central to a Southern Rhodesian identity that all races could share. Importantly, the black middle class had long embraced Rhodes's notion of 'equal rights for all civilised men' as their entryway into colonial society. At the RCE itself, the 'African Village' showcased African achievement in the arts as a noble contribution to the country. Taken together, the RCE's emphasis on Rhodes and royalty, as well as the focus on African contributions to culture, marked Southern Rhodesia as distinct from apartheid South Africa. © 2005 Journal of Southern African Studies.


Shutt, A. K., Shutt, A., & King, T. (2005). Imperial Rhodesians: The 1953 Rhodes centenary exhibition in Southern Rhodesia. Journal of Southern African Studies, 31(2), 357-379.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Jun 1, 2005
Journal Journal of Southern African Studies
Print ISSN 0305-7070
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 2
Pages 357-379
Keywords Southern Rhodesia
Public URL
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