British Central Africa faced the obstacle of a resident white settler population. Most of the white people lived in Southern Rhodesia (150,000 in 1950, rising to 200,000 by 1960). There, they dominated the African majority with South African-style segregationist legislation. A third of the territory – the best land – was reserved for white ownership, while most of the country’s 4–5 million Africans were restricted to the poorest third of the country. Rigid ‘pass laws’ restricted the movement of workers in the towns and other racist laws reserved all the better paid jobs for whites. Since the 1920s, the white settlers of Southern Rhodesia had ruled the colony through their own system of elected parliamentary government. Africans only ever had very limited representation. African political parties were quickly suppressed as soon as they were formed.
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