This Day in Black History: April 17, 1980

Zimbabwe officially gained its independence.

Posted: 04/17/2013 08:00 AM EDT

It is a nation in southwest Africa that has a long history in colonization and in seeking to overcome majority white rule. Zimbabwe effectively achieved sovereignty from the United Kingdom on April 17, 1980, after 14 years as an unrecognized state under the country’s conservative white minority when the nation was known as Rhodesia.

The independence celebration was held in a large stadium in the capital, then known as Salisbury and since renamed Harare. In was attended by many foreign dignitaries, including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, President Shehu Shagari of Nigeria and Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser of Australia. Also, Bob Marley performed “Zimbabwe,” a song he wrote at the invitation of the government, at a concert celebrating independence.

Since gaining independence, the nation has been led by Robert Mugabe, who was previously one of the leaders of the guerrilla movements against white-minority rule. He was elected to power in 1980, serving first as prime minister from 1980 to 1987 and then as the first executive head of state.

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 (Photo: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi  Mukwazhi)

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