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Big Business and White Insecurities at the End of Empire in Southern Africa, c.1961-1977

Cohen, Andrew, Pilossof, Rory (2017) Big Business and White Insecurities at the End of Empire in Southern Africa, c.1961-1977. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 45 (5). pp. 777-799. ISSN 0308-6534. E-ISSN 1743-9329. (doi:10.1080/03086534.2017.1370217) (KAR id:60732)


This paper examines popular and widespread mistrust of large-scale capitalism, and its potential for disloyalty to the post-1965 Rhodesian state, by the white middle class and small-scale capitalists in Rhodesia. It focuses on the relationship between Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland, managing director of the multinational Lonrho company, and Wilfred Brooks, the editor of the largest business/trade journal in Rhodesia, Rhodesian Property & Finance. This case is augmented with observations on the role and actions of other multinationals such as the Anglo American Corporation and the newspaper conglomerate of the Argus Press, which illustrate how white, urban, small-scale capital responded to the political changes underway. A close reading of Property & Finance in the early 1960s suggests there was a general fear of large-scale business enterprise without firm Rhodesian roots. As the 1960s progressed, this fear morphed into concerns of big businesses’ relationship with African nationalists and the pan-African movement. Many saw these companies as too friendly with new African political entities. In particular, Rowland’s willingness to work with independent Africa, and particularly the Organisation of African Unity, was of crucial importance in shaping the way in which Property & Finance engaged with Lonrho’s business activities. These findings illustrate key divisions within the white community during a time of radical change. Furthermore, they cast light on the contested, and often contradictory, role played by these multinational companies during the era of decolonisation and political change in southern Africa.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/03086534.2017.1370217
Uncontrolled keywords: Rhodesia, capitalism, big business, Lonrho, Property & Finance, Wilfred Brooks, Anglo American
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Andrew Cohen
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2017 11:16 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 05:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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