The Story of Rhodesia/Administration & the Name Rhodesia

The name “Rhodesia”Edit

The Company initially referred to each territory it acquired by its respective name—Mashonaland, Matabeleland and so on—but there was no official term for them collectively. Rhodes preferred the name "Zambesia" while Leander Starr Jameson proposed "Charterland". Many of the first settlers instead called their new home "Rhodesia", after Rhodes; this was common enough usage by 1891 for it to be used in newspapers. In 1892 it was used in the name of Salisbury's first newspaper, The Rhodesia Herald. The Company officially adopted the name Rhodesia in 1895, and three years later the UK government followed suit. "It is not clear why the name should have been pronounced with the emphasis on the second rather than the first syllable," the historian Robert Blake comments, "but this appears to have been the custom from the beginning and it never changed."[1]

Administrative divisions & centersEdit

Matabeleland and Mashonaland, both of which lay south of the Zambezi, were officially referred to collectively as "Southern Rhodesia" from 1898,[1] and formally united under that name in 1901. Meanwhile, the areas to the river's north became North-Western and North-Eastern Rhodesia, which were governed separately, and amalgamated in 1911 to form Northern Rhodesia.[2]

The overall centre of Company administration was Salisbury, which was also the Southern Rhodesian capital. The administrative centre in North-Eastern Rhodesia was Fort Jameson, while in North-Western Rhodesia the capital was Kalomo initially, and Livingstone from 1907. Livingstone became the capital of Northern Rhodesia when the two northern territories joined in 1911, and remained so at the end of Company rule.[3]

Administrative posts, politics and legislatureEdit

The head of government in each territory under Company rule was in effect a regional administrator appointed by the Company. In Southern Rhodesia, a ten-man Legislative Council first sat in 1899, originally made up of the administrator himself, five other members nominated by the Company, and four elected by registered voters.[4] The number of elected members rose gradually under Company rule until they numbered 13 in 1920, sitting alongside the administrator and six other Company officials in the 20-member Legislative Council.[5] The Company's Royal Charter was originally due to run out in October 1914,[6] but it was renewed for a further ten years in 1915.

In Northern Rhodesia, administration was entirely undertaken by the Company until 1917, when an Advisory Council was introduced, comprising five elected members. This council did little to lighten the Company's administrative burden north of the river, but endured until the end of Company rule.


  1. a b Blake 1977, p. 144
  2. Brelsford 1960, p. 619
  3. Hunt 1959, pp. 9, 12, 17
  4. Willson 1963, p. 101
  5. Willson 1963, pp. 111–114
  6. Wessels 2010, p. 18