Rhodesian PM Ian Smith Dies at 88

Broke from Britain and defended white minority rule for 15 years
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2007 9:47 PM CST
Former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith works from his study at his home in northern Harare, Zimbabwe in this 2000 file photo. (AP PHOTO/Rob Cooper)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Ian Smith, the Rhodesian leader who unilaterally declared independence from Britain in 1965 and defended white rule for 15 tumultuous years, died today at 88. Seen as a symbol of  African colonial-era racism, Smith was unrepentant during his lifetime, arguing that what is now Zimbabwe suffered more under the tenure of current President Robert Mugabe, the Guardian reports.

Born in Rhodesia, the son of a Scottish butcher, Smith served as a RAF fighter pilot in World War II. He was elected prime minister on the promise that black rule would not come to Rhodesia, “not in a thousand years.” Forced to cede in in the late 1970s, Smith remained combative, heading the opposition in parliament until 1986.