BlackFacts Details

Harare, Zimbabwe (1890- )

Harare (formerly known as “Fort Salisbury” or “Salisbury”) is the largest city in Zimbabwe with a population of 1.6 million. It serves as Zimbabwe’s seat of government and Zimbabwe’s commercial and industrial center.  The city is located in Northern Zimbabwe in the region of the Shona speaking people.

Cecil Rhodes and the British South African Company (BSAC) founded the settlement as “Fort Salisbury” on September 12, 1890.  The fort began when the BSAC’s Pioneer Column, under the command of Major Frank Johnson, invaded Shona territory and seized land held by the Shona and other indigenous groups. Britain recognized the fort as a colonial municipality in 1897 and in 1923 the settlement became the capital of the Rhodesia Colony which then included both Northern and Southern Rhodesia.  In 1953 Salisbury became the capital of the newly forged Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which includes the contemporary nations of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. After the collapse of the Federation in 1963 Salisbury remained the capital of Southern Rhodesia.

In addition to being an administrative hub, Salisbury served as a major economic center for Southern Rhodesia. Initially British settlers, who were a minority in both the capital and the nation, focused on small-scale farming and gold mining in the area. After World War II light iron production, steel production, textile manufacturing, paper production, and vehicle assembly were introduced to the city. Also, by the 1950s the number of British residents increased significantly and a university and new airport were established.

In Salisbury the British denied black residents their civil rights. Africans were barred from downtown areas and relegated to segregated neighborhoods called “locations.” White settlers controlled Salisbury’s economic, social, and political institutions. Racial inequity triggered strikes by African workers in the 1940s, bus boycotts in the 1950s, and major anticolonial uprisings in the 1960s. In 1960, at a protest called the March of 7,000, a young