Cohen, A. and Pilossof, R. (2017). Big Business and White Insecurities at the End of Empire in Southern Africa, c.1961-1977. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History [Online] 45:777-799. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03086534.2017.1370217.
This paper examines popular and widespread mistrust of large-scale capitalism, and its potential for disloyalty to the post-1965 Rhodesian state, by the white middle class and small-scale capitalists in Rhodesia. It focuses on the relationship between Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland, managing director of the multinational Lonrho company, and Wilfred Brooks, the editor of the largest business/trade journal in Rhodesia, Rhodesian Property & Finance. This case is augmented with observations on the role and actions of other multinationals such as the Anglo American Corporation and the newspaper conglomerate of the Argus Press, which illustrate how white, urban, small-scale capital responded to the political changes underway. A close reading of Property & Finance in the early 1960s suggests there was a general fear of large-scale business enterprise without firm Rhodesian roots. As the 1960s progressed, this fear morphed into concerns of big businesses’ relationship with African nationalists and the pan-African movement. Many saw these companies as too friendly with new African political entities. In particular, Rowland’s willingness to work with independent Africa, and particularly the Organisation of African Unity, was of crucial importance in shaping the way in which Property & Finance engaged with Lonrho’s business activities. These findings illustrate key divisions within the white community during a time of radical change. Furthermore, they cast light on the contested, and often contradictory, role played by these multinational companies during the era of decolonisation and political change in southern Africa.
Cohen, A., Pilossof, R. and Swart, S. (2016). The State, The Citizen and Power. South African Historical Journal [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2015.1118883.
Two decades ago, a cohort of key historians made an important intervention into understanding the workings of political violence and coercion in southern Africa. The essay col-
lection was published on the cusp of the democratic transition in South Africa in 1992.2 They focused on coercion and paternalism in the labour market and cults of violence in Mozambique; violence on the gold mines in South Africa; political and masculinist domestic violence in the armed struggle; protests in informal settlements in South Africa; and,
finally, they offered a look at war and the potential for social healing in Zimbabwe. Now, in this Special Issue, a new generation of historians make their mark.
Cohen, A. (2016). Lonrho and the Limits of Corporate Power in Africa, c. 1961-1973. South African Historical Journal [Online] 68:31-49. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02582473.2015.1118878.
This article focuses on the British multinational business Lonrho and the very real limits to its corporate power. In doing so it will examine the expansion of Lonrho, under its buccaneering chairman Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland, from its Southern Rhodesian roots across the African continent. In addition, it will demonstrate how Lonrho's African businesses proved crucial in buttressing Rowland's control of Lonrho in an attempted boardroom coup during May 1973. While Rowland's ability to coerce African governments was negligible at best, his African relationships and networks provided a key component of his successful battle to retain control of the company. As such this article demonstrates the need to (re)-consider the multifaceted nature of corporate power during the period of decolonisation.
Cohen, A. (2014). Britain and the Breakdown of the Colonial Environment: The Struggle over the Tanzam Oil Pipeline in Zambia. Business History Review [Online] 88:737-759. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007680514000749.
This article explores the tendering process for the construction of the Tanzam oil pipeline during the mid-1960s. In addressing aspects of the political response to British investment overseas and the history of the British company Lonrho, it argues that the British government's determination to concentrate financial investments at home affected its ability to project its presence through supporting business overseas. In addition, the article suggests that the Zambian government demonstrated autonomy in awarding the tender.
Cohen, A. (2014). Dams and the Dilemmas of Development. African Historical Review [Online] 46:70-81. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17532523.2014.911438.
Cohen, A. (2011). Lonrho and Oil Sanctions Against Rhodesia in the 1960s. Journal of Southern African Studies [Online] 37:715-730. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2011.611286.
This article assesses how the British multinational company Lonrho, led by its buccaneering managing-director, Roland ‘Tiny’ Rowland, attempted to navigate oil sanctions against Rhodesia after the British colony had made its Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in November 1965. Rowland had built, and possessed, a majority shareholding in the company which operated the oil pipeline that provided crude oil to Rhodesia's Feruka refinery near Umtali from the port of Beira on the Mozambique coast. After voluntarily ceasing to supply Ian Smith's rebel regime with oil soon after UDI, Lonrho became involved in a series of discussions with the British government over the future of the pipeline and oil sanctions more generally. In examining these discussions, I will argue that the pipeline was of too much symbolic importance for the British government to significantly allow Lonrho to influence its Rhodesia policy. Despite clear evidence that the Beira naval blockade was to all intents and purposes ineffectual, as petroleum products were still reaching Rhodesia via Lourenço Marques, the influential position of South Africa and more established British businesses operating in the area meant that Rowland's protestations went ignored. This further supports arguments made in recent literature that contend that the primary purpose of British sanctions against Rhodesia was to dissipate international calls for tough measures, rather than to bring about the end of white minority rule in Rhodesia.
Cohen, A. (2010). “A Difficult, Tedious and Unwanted Task”: Representing the Central African Federation at the United Nations, 1960-1963. Itinerario [Online] 34:105-128. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0165115310000379.
On Tuesday 22 January, 1963, the First Secretary of State and Minister in charge of the Central Africa Office, R.A. Butler, met with the Southern Rhodesia Cabinet in Salisbury. Butler notified the Cabinet that he was visiting the Central African Federation in order to “gauge for himself” the situation. Southern Rhodesia, he remarked, was “an issue unjustifiably pursued at the United Nations” and countering this negative international opinion “was providing the British Government with a difficult, tedious and unwanted task”.
Cohen, A. (2009). Voice and Vision - The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland’s public relations campaign in Britain: 1960-1963. Historia 54:113-132.
By the late 1950s, the future prospects of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland were increasingly portrayed in a pessimistic light in the British press. The Federal government chose to counter this coverage by undertaking a comprehensive public relations campaign in the United Kingdom. This article examines their decision to hire the London public relations company, Voice and Vision, and this company's subsequent attempts to rehabilitate the Federal image between 1960 and 1963. It will be argued that although the campaign achieved limited success in some quarters, it revealed that the Federal government had misunderstood British politics, and did not grasp the erosion of the ties that might previously have secured the Federation's future in British public sympathy only ten years earlier.
Cohen, A. (2008). Business and Decolonisation in Central Africa Reconsidered. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History [Online] 36:641-658. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03086530802561024.
This article re-examines the role of the copper mining industry during the decolonisation of central Africa. By focusing on the actions of the Anglo American Corporation, and the
Rhodesian Selection Trust’s (RST) American parent company, American Metal Climax (AMAX), it expands on Larry Butler’s recent article and argues that Anglo American continued
to support the federal prime minister, Sir Roy Welensky, following their public withdrawal of funding from his governing United Federal Party in May 1959. This marked divergence with RST’s policy of engagement with aspirant African leaders was driven by the company’s close personal links with Welensky as well as geopolitical factors. Furthermore, the influence of RST’s American connections on directing the company’s policy should not be understated. Harold Hochschild, AMAX’s chairman, played a pivotal role in directing RST’s strategy.