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Origins of the term
The term Rhodie was first used by British Army and civil service personnel in Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe in 1980) during the period between the Lancaster House Agreement of December 1979 and the formal independence of Zimbabwe in April 1980. The term was initially applied to all white Zimbabweans. After independence, the term began to be applied increasingly to those whites who were nostalgic for the past. The nostalgia a Rhodie feels relates particularly to the UDI era (1965 to 1979), during which the predominantly white government, headed by the Prime Minister Ian Smith, declared independence from Britain in an attempt to prevent any commitment to a set timetable regarding black majority rule. The UDI project ended in the Bush War of the 1970s, fought between the Rhodesian Security Forces and the communist-backed black nationalist insurgents of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA).
Current usage of the term
Implications of racism and violence
Usage of the term Rhodie changed further in post-independence Zimbabwe. It began to be applied to a white Zimbabwean of a particular kind. An image published in The Sunday Times Magazine in 1984 showed a poster near Harare reading "Private Party Invitation Only No Drugs No Rhodies No Racists No Troublemakers Allowed on These Premises".
A Rhodie bar is an establishment frequented by Rhodies and is often decorated with memorabilia of the UDI era and the Rhodesian Bush War. Such establishments, in pubs, restaurants and hotels, can be found in most Zimbabwean towns and there are several in South African towns such as Cape Town where concentrations of Rhodesian expatriates live. There is at least one claimed Rhodie bar in England.
Implications of lower-class
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The term Rhodie can also carry social connotations. During the period after independence, about two thirds of Zimbabwe's white population left the country. Those remaining tended to fall into two distinct categories. Firstly, there were individuals of high social status possessing professional skills and property which would enable them to survive in the new order. Secondly, there were individuals of low social status lacking the skills or qualities needed to emigrate.
Use as endearment
Expatriate Rhodesians outside Zimbabwe often describe each other affectionately as Rhodies. These people do not generally exhibit the characteristics indicated above.
Short for Rhodesian Ridgeback
Use as a nickname
Short for the surname Rhoden, Rhodes, and Rhode. Used as a term of endearment without racial implications.
Contrary term Zimbo
The term Zimbo is nowadays applied to anyone Zimbabwean.
- Hoggart, Simon (9 February 1980). "Ironing the lawn in Salisbury, Rhodesia". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
Even the British squaddies look with faint contempt on the Rhodesians (or 'Rhodies' as they sometimes call them; military slang mushrooms overnight).
- Unendoro, Benedict (16 August 2007). "ZIMBABWE: Poor whites hit hard times". IWPR. The Shebeen. Archived from the original on 20 February 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
'Rhodies' – as whites who long for the old pre-Zimbabwe days of white-ruled Rhodesia are known – called such white people '******boeties' [****** lovers] and despised them.
- Longworth, Peter (11 September 2004). "Dark hearts". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
For the leftovers of Ian Smith's killing machine who people Fuller's new book, the past is all there is. Yesterday's world had rules of engagement. Remaindered from the Rhodesian war, all they have now is their ghosts inadequately repressed by extreme religion, alcohol, purple pills or a penchant for tearing down bars. Don't believe these guys don't exist. Spot them at the end of a Harare Rhodie bar or even worse stumbling towards you across the terrace of a bush hotel and it's time to grab the bill.Review: Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller.
- Godwin, Peter (25 March 1984). "Whose Kith and Kin Now?". The Sunday Times Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 August 2004. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
When Prince Charles visits Zimbabwe this weekend he will find a nation still divided four years after independence. But now the divisions run deepest within the dwindling white community between young permissive trendies and fervent 'born-again' evangelists, between those who prefer to be African rather than European and those who can't wait for a stamp on their emigration applications.
- "Welcome to The Crown Hotel". Archived from the original on 23 March 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2013.