Images show Zimbabwe when it was Africa's bread basket

These fascinating pictures show a time when Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa long before it was left impoverished by Robert Mugabe.

Pictures from the late 1890s and early 1900s show farms, mines and railways being constructed in the southern African nation, when it was known as Rhodesia.

They also show protests calling for independence from colonialist rule as the 20th century progressed before a bloody liberation war started in 1972, led by Mugabe.

The dictator, now 93 and having been in effective control of Zimbabwe since 1980, is facing an uncertain future after he was placed under house arrest and put under pressure to end his 37-year rule.

Zimbabwe still has the world's third largest reserves of platinum and was once a huge agricultural exporter sending wheat, tobacco, and corn to the rest of the continent and beyond from its fertile farmland. 

But under Mugabe's leadership, the country's mining and tourism-driven economy has been laid to waste. Hyperinflation has wiped out savings, unemployment is sky-high and economic output has halved since 2000 while seven in ten in the landlocked country of 16million are stuck in poverty.

Africa's bread-basket: Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, was once seen as a powerhouse on the continent. Pictures show a tobacco farm in the country in around 1900

Pictures from the late 1890s and early 1900s show farms, mines and railways being constructed in the southern African nation, when it was known as Rhodesia A group of men building a railway in the countryside in about 1899

The images also show the growing calls for independence from colonialist rule as the 20th century progressed before a bloody liberation war started in 1972, led by Mugabe. Britain's Secretary of State for the Colonies, Iain Macleod, is confronted by protesters during a visit the the country in March 1960

Pictures from the late 19th century include a mud hut in Gwelo (now Gweru) labelled as 'The First Government Office'

The country was named Rhodesia after British businessman and politician Cecil Rhodes who was instrumental in colonialising the southern African state.

Rhodes built mines and infrastructure whilst brutally putting down insurrections from native Africans.

Pictures from the late 19th century include a mud hut in Gwelo (now Gweru) labelled as 'The First Government Office.'

Other images from this time show railways under construction and hunters posing with three enormous dead hippopotamuses.

Powerhouse: Rhodes built mines and infrastructure whilst brutally putting down insurrections from native Africans. One of the mines is pictured in about 1899

Thriving: Pictures show the Mount Morgan mine in about 1899.  The country was named Rhodesia after British businessman and politician Cecil Rhodes who was instrumental in colonialising the southern African state

The archive photographs show people crossing the Zukerboschrand river in 1896. The nation was once known as the bread basket of Africa for its impressive economic output

The country also became popular with big game hunters. Shocking pictures show dead hippos lying in the Mlembo River in about 1910

Pictures show an serviceman called Major Harding sitting in front of a 'native contingent' in Rhodesia in about 1898

The pictures were taken long before Robert Mugabe seized power and led the country to economic ruin. This photo shows two villagers in 1898, one carrying a baboon on his shoulder

As the 20th century progressed, more calls were made for African independence, including in Zimbabwe and the set of pictures  show protests from independence groups against Iain Macleod, Secretary of State for the Colonies.

In 1965, when most remaining European colonies in Africa were obtaining independence under black majority rule, the tiny white minority in Southern Rhodesia broke away from Britain, forming a racist regime similar to that in neighbouring South Africa. 

The declaration by Rhodesia's white minority government led by Ian Smith was the first such action taken by a British colony since the American declaration of 1776.

Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan visits Kariba Dam during a tour of Africa in January 1960. Five years later, when most remaining European colonies in Africa were obtaining independence under black majority rule, the tiny white minority in Southern Rhodesia broke away from Britain, forming a racist regime similar to that in neighbouring South Africa

The images, including this one of a shop front and passersby, show a time when Zimbabwe was beginning to flourish in 1899

The photographs also show native Rhodesians, including these four men watching an auction sale in about 1896

Under construction: A group of workers lay railway track planned by Cecil Rhodes near an area known as Broken Hill in 1900

Villagers wearing traditional Mashukulumbwe headgear sit next to a large animal skull in 1910 as others watch on

Settlers went about constructing mines and railways after arriving in the southern African nation. This picture shows a colliery that was built in the country in about 1910

It sparked a bloody liberation war from 1972, led by Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, in which at least 27,000 died.

The war culminated in the country's independence, negotiated under British auspices, in April 1980 and Southern Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe.

The country was in jubilation and the world hailed the birth of a model for Africa.

In a Harare stadium hundreds of thousands of people witnessed the hoisting of the new flag and reggae star Bob Marley performed one of his songs to celebrate independence.

Canaan Banana became president, but this was an honorary position, with Mugabe, the prime minister, holding the reins of power.

Another picture shows the Waihi mine in what is now Zimbabwe in 1899. The country was once considered the region's bread basket

Lady Dorothy Macmillan, wife of the Prime Minister, visits a Polio Clinic in the country as part of a tour of Africa in January 1960

African National Independence supporters are pictured staging a rally in March 1960. Years later, Robert Mugabe would go on to seize control of the country

This was the scene as protests unfolded during a visit to the nation by Britain's Secretary of State for the Colonies, Iain Macleod in March 1960

Wheat us hauled on two wagons drawn by pairs of oxen in 1910. More than a hundred years later, the country lies in economic ruin after years of Mugabe's brutal rule

In 1987 Mugabe became head of state after reforming the constitution to usher in a presidential regime. 

But it was the seizure of white-owned farms nearly years later that would complete Mugabe's transformation from darling of the West into international pariah - though his status as a liberation hero still resonates in many parts of Africa.

Aimed largely at placating angry war veterans who threatened to destabilise his rule, the land reform policy wrecked the crucial agricultural sector, caused foreign investors to flee and helped plunge the country into economic misery. 

A white settler is pictured posing with Africans next to a car and in front of a mud hut in what was once  Rhodesia in about 1910

This picture shows a suburban residence in the Salisbury - now the capital of Zimbabwe and known as Harare - in 1900

Traditional: This portrait shows Chief Mukobela from the Namwala District of what was once Rhodesia in about 1960

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November 20, 2017

Sources:` Daily Mail

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