This book sheds light on the early colonial period of Zimbabwe when many of the country’s current land disputes originated. In particular, the book examines the Rudd Concession, the seminal southern African land and mineral agreement signed in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes and Lobengula, King of the Ndebele. This agreement ceded control of Matabeleland and much of Mashonaland (together comprising most of present-day Zimbabwe) to Cecil John Rhodes and his consortium of business associates. The Concession was not merely a land agreement, but was also interpreted by Rhodes as a de facto legal transfer of political and economic control of the entire Ndebele kingdom to his business partners and the British government.
Why would Lobengula sign such a seemingly disastrous agreement? The question is fundamental to an examination of the Rudd Concession and to understanding the fierce conflicts of today’s Zimbabwe. Moreover, this question underscores the historical nature of many post-colonial dilemmas throughout Africa. The research seeks to understand from a late 19th century perspective why Rhodes sought the agreement, and more interestingly, why Lobengula ever signed it. It also discusses the essential similarities between 19th century colonialism and African capitalism today, illustrating significant implications for contemporary relations between the developed and developing world.