It is crucial to remember and understand the ups and downs that characterised the revolution that brought about independence, as Zimbabwe turns 32 in about two weeks time.
The rise of trade unionism during the early years of nationalism was crucial in organising the struggle into a formidable and credible revolution.

African political activity during the early stages of nationalism manifested mainly in trade unionism.

The Rhodesia Railway Employees Association agitated for better conditions for workers, its efforts culminating in the Railway Workers’ strike in October 1945, signaling the workers’ determination to improve conditions of service through organised action.

In the following years, other workers organisations, notably the Federation of Bulawayo African Workers Union led by Jasper Savanhu, the African Workers Voice Association under Benjamin Burombo and the Reformed Industrial and Commercial Workers Union under the leadership of Charles Mzingeli, were established.

Cde Burombo’s association appealed to both rural and urban constituencies and strikes were experienced throughout the country over these years.

Other manifestations of African protest were the revival of the Southern Rhodesia Bantu Congress as the Southern Rhodesia African Native Congress, the Voters League and the creation of the African Methodist Church which was an African protest against both white religious and political domination.

Students also expressed their disgruntlement through strikes, like the famous Dadaya Mission strike in 1947.

However, this phase did not entail a nationalist movement as Africans were still generally thinking in terms of improving their conditions under white rule rather than attaining sovereignty and independence.

Mass nationalism eventually began with the formation of the City Youth League, in 1955 by activists such as George Nyandoro, James Chikerema, Edson Sithole and Duduza Chisiza.

The League’s new militancy was reflected in the Salisbury Bus Boycott it organised in August 1956 in protest at bus fare hikes by the United Transport Company.

In 1957, the City Youth League and the Bulawayo-based African National Council came together to form the country’s first national political party, the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress (ANC).

The ANC challenged destocking, the unpopular government-initiated soil conservation policies and the notorious Land Husbandry Act  that included reducing the size of African land units, the number of cattle individuals could hold and undermining the chiefs’ traditional control of the land.

In February 1959, the colonial government of Rhodesia declared a state of emergency and banned the ANC under the newly created Unlawful Organisations Act also leading to the arrest of several political leaders.

The African nationalists then formed the National Democratic Party NDP on 1 January, 1960 under Joshua Nkomo, Zimbabwe’s late Vice President.

The NDP’s was banned in1961 leading to the establishment of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union ZAPU.