This film is held by the BFI (ID: 10465).


A story of Rhodesia intended for potential European immigrants. The film highlights the contemporary conditions of life there, outlining the main industries and the standard of living for the African and white inhabitants.

Opening with a shot of Victoria Falls and some scenic views of the country, the film provides some geographical information - 'nearly three times the size of England and Wales' - with the benefit of a map, and discusses the transport links. The colonial history of the country is then outlined, first with a shot of Government House in Bulawayo and then a discussion of Cecil Rhodes, which includes shots of his statue and his grave. The film then considers how the government operates, before shots of local Africans; building huts; in class; on the farm; working in the city filling up a car with petrol. A consideration of the requirements of the potential immigrant follows, showing work on a gold mine ship and highlighting the different professions needed. The importance of industry - mining and agriculture - is shown through the example of the colliery at Wankie. The next section focuses on Rhodesian farming, followed by shots of settler homes and a consideration of the standard of living and use of leisure time for the white immigrants. The film concludes with a shopping trip for two white women - 'of course no coupon' - explaining that luxuries in England are commonplace in Rhodesia.



In the Spring of 1948 Sight and Sound published an article, under the title ‘Southern Rhodesia – Is This Your Country?’, outlining the development of government-sponsored films in Rhodesia. The article sought to consider, in particular, why these films were made. It explained that in 1945 the Rhodesian Government had ‘made plans for film publicity, and arranged for Gaumont-British units to come to the Colony to film various aspects of life, primarily from the immigration and tourist points of view’. Southern Rhodesia : Is This Your Country? was, the article stated, ‘the immigration film’ (Sight and Sound, Spring 1948, 7).

The film was produced for the Government of Southern Rhodesia by Gaumont British (Africa), which had been formed in South Africa at the end of 1946, with Harold Weaver – who was credited with adapting Alistair Scobie’s script – as resident director. Around this time, Gaumont-British also produced Colony in Colour, which was intended to encourage tourism and immigration, as was Southern Rhodesia – Land of Sunshine, which was produced in Kodachrome by Geoffrey Mangin and sponsored by the Government’s Public Relations department. The film was produced because ‘Rhodesia House wanted a more comprehensive non-theatrical tourist and immigration promotion film’ (Mangin, 1998, 18).

Sight and Sound claimed that, ‘despite the housing shortage in the country’, 20,000 immigrants, of which about half were from Britain, had entered Rhodesia in the previous two years. Peter Scott, writing in January 1954, stated that ‘since 1945, the European population has nearly doubled; for immigration has been at a rate exceeding 1 per cent of the population a month – a rate probably unparalleled in the history of the British Commonwealth’ (Scott, 1954, 29). Scott examined the impact this expansion was having on African migrant labour, particularly from Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, arguing that in 1951 ‘alien labour averaged 50 per cent of all African employees in Southern Rhodesia’ (Scott, 1954, 42).

Piers Brendon noted the unrest felt amongst African workers in Rhodesia after the War. The ‘ordinary Africans’ were, according to Brendon, ‘bitterly disappointed to receive no reward for their wartime sacrifices’ and ‘resented the post-war influx of white immigrants, particularly unskilled workers from Britain who adopted Rhodesia’s master race doctrine’. They were ‘incensed by stricter controls on the population of their bursting urban ghettos’ and suffered as food prices rose by more than 20% in the second half of 1947, while ‘wages stayed pitifully low’. Most of all, Brendon argues that the people were ‘inspired by moves towards colonial independence from India to the Gold Coast’ (Brendon, 2007, 578). The climax of this labour unrest arrived in 1948 when trade union bosses endorsed a general strike.

Sight and Sound explained that Southern Rhodesia : Is This Your Country? was shown ‘a few months ago’ at a news cinema in London, near Rhodesia House, with the audience ‘composed mostly of prospective immigrants to the colony’. Mr W.E. Arnold, who worked for the public relations office at Rhodesia House, ‘showed and spoke’ on the film at a conference on Africa held in Birmingham in January 1948, although African Affairs noted that ‘admittance was not free and this may have accounted for the very poor attendance’ (African Affairs, April 1948, 117). The film also played in Rhodesia. The South African Journal of Science noted a screening, which also included We Were Primitive, at the Public Relations Cinema in Salisbury as part of a conference in July 1950 (v.46, 1949-1950, 305). 



‘Here lies a land of promise, of conquer, rugged, wild, undeveloped, a land of opportunity for the right men’. The opening lines of Southern Rhodesia – Is This Your Country? outline the film’s function as a recruitment film for potential British immigrants. The film then sets out to ‘look at this land, and its people and the work that they do’, but the country is viewed throughout entirely from the perspective of the white settler.

The film offers a romanticised and traditional account of Rhodesian history, talking of the pioneers, ‘who first cut the road through a hostile and savage wilderness’ and of the ‘great Englishman’ Rhodes. The film’s tone, and specifically its references to pioneer days, illustrates an attempt to maintain traditional colonial rule within Africa. The film defines the type of immigrants the government is seeking – ‘the right men’ – as adventurous and containing ‘that spirit which has carved this civilisation from the heart of the African hinterland’. It emphasises these qualities at a moment when traditional colonial rule was under increasing threat, most notably with the independence of India.

The film highlights the perceived developments under British rule. Even when noting that ‘few natives’ have the vote as the ‘franchise is based on a minimum income and educational standards’, the commentary explains this by stating that ‘European civilisation has only been stabilised in the colony for some 50 years and the vast majority of the natives are still living under tribal conditions. Developing a sense of political responsibility will be a long task’. The voiceover reiterates the ‘value’ of the British to the locals, noting that ‘the government has a strong policy for the education of the natives and the raising of his standards of living’. However, in justifying British rule, the film must necessarily illustrate the perceived helplessness of the locals within this ‘primitive and alien society’, informing the viewer that ‘Left to himself the native is a wasteful and negligent farmer. A bad crop may mean starvation for him and his family’.

The film establishes a clear contrast between the white settlers and the local Africans. A shot cuts from white government workers outside the opulent buildings to a shot of Africans building huts in the hills. The working relationship between the settlers and ‘natives’ further illustrates this distinction, as the commentary notes that ‘one white man to eight or more natives is the proportion of labour’ and that the white farmer ‘must learn the tricky business of handling native labour’. This clear division is maintained as the commentary asserts that ‘all the non-skilled workers are African’. However, this line has a dual purpose. It also illustrates the need to recruit specifically skilled white men – ‘the would-be immigrant must be a skilled man, valuable to the community’ – in order to maintain the racial order, which the film suggests is maintained in part by these distinct working roles.

The film, in common with many instructional films, displays Africans as the subject of scientific study. It acknowledges that there is ‘a definite social colour distinction’ and thus ‘We should pause to examine the position of the native population in the life of the country’. Yet, this consideration of the local Africans is merely a ‘pause’ from the main focus of the film – the white settler – and is only included because ‘this has a most important bearing on the position of the white settler’. The Africans are addressed purely in relation to their interaction with the white settlers. As such, there is no mention, for example, of worker unrest, the famine and drought of 1947, or the housing problems of black Africans.

Tom Rice (March 2008)


Works Cited

‘The Society's Activities’, African Affairs, Vol. 47, no. 187. (April, 1948), 116-117.

Brendon, Piers, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781 – 1997 (London: Jonathan Cape, 2007).

Connolly, Brian M., ‘Southern Rhodesia: Is This Your Country?’, Sight and Sound, Spring 1948, 7-9.

Mangin, Geoffrey, Filming Emerging African: A Pioneer Cinematographer’s Scrapbook – from the 1940s to the 1960s (Cape Town: G. Mangin, 1998).

Scott, Peter, ‘Migrant Labor in Southern Rhodesia’, Geographical Review, Vol. 44, no. 1 (January 1954), 29-48.

South African Journal of Science, Vol.46, 1949-1950, 305. 




Technical Data

Running Time:
21 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
1881 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
SCOBIE, Alastair
Southern Rhodesia Government
WEAVER, Harold
MARSON, Lionel
Production Company
Gaumont-British Instructional
Production Company
Gaumont-British Instructional







Production Organisations