This chapter examines the turn towards active recruitment of white migrants in the 1960s and 1970s in South Africa and Rhodesia, as both nations left the Commonwealth, South Africa on the declaration of republic in 1961 and Rhodesia on the unilateral declaration of independence. It also outlines the inverse, parallel process in the United Kingdom, by which the migration of people of colour from the Commonwealth was progressively restricted beginning with the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962. In South Africa and Rhodesia, policy-makers aimed to create a demographic defence of minority rule as anti-colonial rebellion escalated. British immigration to both countries increased dramatically, reaching a peak in South Africa of more than 25,000 in 1975. Using oral histories and the results of a contemporary sociological study, this chapter argues that a large part of the attraction of South Africa and Rhodesia for white British migrants was the perception that white privilege was more secure in these minority regimes than in the United Kingdom. This is reflected in coded language such as ‘life style’ and ‘opportunity’ as well as more explicit discussions about immigrants of colour changing urban neighbourhoods in the United Kingdom.
This chapter consolidates the main arguments of the monograph. It highlights the ongoing connections between the United Kingdom, South Africa and Rhodesia in the decades after the Second World War both in the form of migration flows and networks and in the persistence of the ideologies of race that had long underpinned settler colonial and imperial rule. In reframing the history of decolonisation through this transnational lens, it challenges the persistent narrative that sets metropolitan Britain apart from the racism and violence of the settler colonies of southern Africa in the second half of the twentieth century. It concludes with a discussion of the ongoing legacies of these racialised immigration policies in the United Kingdom in the form of the hostile environment and the Windrush scandal.
The consolidation of racial nationalism in the 1950s
Jean P. Smith
This chapter describes the renewed promotion of British as well European immigration by the mid-1950s in both South Africa and Southern Rhodesia and growing opposition to the immigration of people of colour in the United Kingdom. In South Africa, official commissions in both 1955 and 1958 predicted the collapse of what they termed ‘white civilisation’ without increased European immigration. The same period saw the formation of a new official Directorate of Immigration and the private immigration agencies, Transa and Samorgan. The Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, formed in 1953, also more actively recruited white migrants from the mid-1950s, although this fluctuated based on the economic situation. As well as tracing these changes in immigration policy, this chapter demonstrates a shift towards state promotion of a unified ‘white’ settler identity in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia rather than British or Afrikaner identity through an analysis of changing public holidays and celebrations such as the institution of Settlers Day in South Africa. The chapter also addresses increasing racial tension in the United Kingdom as well as informal means employed to discourage the immigration of people of colour such as propaganda and measures that make it more difficult for would-be immigrants to obtain passports in their countries of origin.
The southern African settler diaspora after decolonisation
Jean P. Smith
Using oral histories and memoirs, this chapter highlights the varied understandings of self and identity in the settler diaspora and the ways this was influenced by age at migration, subsequent experience and motivations for leaving the United Kingdom. With attention to performances of identity such as accent, interior design and leisure, it traces shifts in the ways these migrants positioned themselves and made sense of political changes such as the 1961 South African declaration of Republic, the 1965 Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence and the onset of majority rule in Zimbabwe in 1980 and South Africa in 1994. Nostalgia, especially for the southern African landscape and wildlife, is a common theme in these accounts, one that provided a way to discuss the loss of settler cultures and privileges without reference to race or politics. Though they were not as publicly visible as other settler exiles such as the pieds noir of Algeria and the Portuguese retornados, the chapter highlights the similar dislocation experienced by post-war British migrants to South Africa and Rhodesia, both when these nations declared independence from the United Kingdom and left the Commonwealth in the 1960s and again at the collapse of minority rule.
The competing imperatives of minority settler colonialism, 1945–53
Jean P. Smith
In both South Africa and Southern Rhodesia initially ambitious plans to recruit British and other European migrants were curtailed by the late 1940s as large numbers of migrants arrived independently. Previous studies have attributed this shift in the case of South Africa to the Afrikaner nationalist ideology of the National Party which came to power in 1948. By contrast, this chapter argues that though framed by very different rhetoric, the actual implementation of the new government’s policies was very similar to that of its predecessor and was pragmatic rather than ideologically driven. The same was true in Southern Rhodesia, where the government, though more supportive of British migration in ideological terms, implemented more stringent restrictions than South Africa, imposing quotas on British and other immigrants as concerns grew about the provision of housing and jobs considered appropriate for Europeans. In both nations, policy-makers struggled with the tension between the imperative to increase the white population on the one hand and the equally compelling imperative to maintain racial privilege and prestige through the provision of appropriate accommodation and employment on the other. This comparison of immigration policies in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa highlights their similarities, ultimately both were minority settler colonial regimes whose very existence depended on the perpetuation of racial privilege and power.
This introduction establishes the key arguments about the persistence of migration to southern Africa after the Second World War and especially after the 1960s, the distinctive dynamics of minority settler colonialism and how in South Africa, Rhodesia and the United Kingdom migration policy was used to fortify a racially-defined nation. It places British migration to South Africa and Rhodesia in a broader historical context within the wider history of post-war emigration from the United Kingdom, describing the policies of the other main receiving countries: Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The chapter situates Settlers at the End of Empire within the broader literature on British emigration, which has tended to focus either on the nineteenth or early-twentieth centuries or on individual receiving countries. It also addresses the transnational sources on which the book is based, which includes archival sources and oral histories and the methodologies employed in their analysis.
Settlers at the End of Empire is a ground-breaking study that integrates the neglected history of emigration from the United Kingdom with the history of immigration to the United Kingdom in the second half of the twentieth century. Drawing attention to the volume and longevity of British emigration, Settlers at the End of Empire analyses the development of racialised migration regimes in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), from the Second World War to the collapse of the apartheid regime in 1994. Both white emigration from the United Kingdom and the arrival of increasing numbers of Commonwealth migrants of colour were cast as signs of national decline and many emigrants cited the arrival of migrants of colour as a factor in their decision to leave. South Africa and Rhodesia meanwhile, moved from selective immigration policies in the 1940s and 1950s to an intensive recruitment of white migrants in the 1960s and 1970s. This was an attempt by these increasingly embattled settler regimes to increase their white populations and thereby defend minority rule. Though such efforts bore limited results in war-torn Rhodesia, South Africa saw a dramatic increase of European and especially British migrants from the 1960s to the early 1980s, just as the United Kingdom implemented immigration restrictions aimed at Commonwealth migrants of colour. In all three nations, therefore, though they took different forms, migration policies were intended to defend nations imagined as white in the wake of imperial collapse.
Wartime travel to southern Africa, race and the discourse of opportunity
Jean P. Smith
This chapter demonstrates the importance of wartime experience to post war migration and highlights the ways in which the Second World War strengthened connections between the United Kingdom, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The war brought millions of British troops to the region, providing more Britons than ever before with experience of the lifestyle possible for white migrants. Using memoirs and letters to the South African government, I argue that this experience of abundance and white privilege convinced many to make their stay permanent. Would-be migrants sought to took advantage of wartime contingencies, asking the British government for demobilisation in southern Africa and drawing on relationships formed during the war in their appeals to the South African government for admission. More broadly, war-time travel provided more Britons than ever before with direct experience of imperial sites and this contributed to the continuing significance of empire and especially the Dominions in the post-war United Kingdom.
The politics of migration in the final days of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, 1970–94
Jean P. Smith
This chapter considers the final years of the Rhodesian and apartheid regimes. The intensification of the war between anti-colonial forces and the Rhodesian government in the mid-1970s saw a decline in the number of British and other immigrants to Rhodesia. In South Africa, however, after a small dip following the Soweto Uprising in 1976, British migration quickly recovered and remained at high levels until 1984. This migration coincided with vocal sympathy for the Rhodesian and apartheid regimes in the United Kingdom by such groups as the Monday Club, a Conservative pressure group, and the continuing implementation of racialised immigration policy culminating in the 1981 British Nationality Act. It also highlights growing opposition to British and other European migration to South Africa and Rhodesia, examining the UN sanctions placed on Rhodesia and the campaigns of the anti-apartheid movement.
This chapter concerns official planning for post-war migration in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia. Promoters of migration in all three nations sought to use the wartime migration of British children and service personnel to encourage white migration to Southern Rhodesia, South Africa and the other settler colonies of the British Empire. By contrast, British officials sought to encourage Black service personnel serving in the United Kingdom to return to the Caribbean, reflecting racialised understandings of who was a desirable migrant. The debates and discussions surrounding these plans reveal the ways in which policy makers, voluntary organisations and individuals perceived both white British migration and its importance in the emerging Commonwealth. They also reveal, in the intense concern about the potential for Black service personnel to remain in the United Kingdom after the war, the importance of race in perceptions about migration and an official concern about Commonwealth migrants of colour well before the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948.