Rhodesian Independence Bell

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Rhodesian Independence Bell
File:Ian Smith rings Independence Bell.jpg
Prime Minister Ian Smith ceremonially rings the bell on 11 November 1966
LocationSalisbury, Rhodesia
TypeTower Bell
MaterialBronze and mukwa wood
Height4 ft (1.2 m)
Weight250 pounds (110 kg)
Completion date1966
Dedicated date11 November 1966
Dedicated toRhodesian independence

The Rhodesian Independence Bell, or Rhodesian Liberty Bell, is a replica of the American Liberty Bell[1] used in Rhodesia to commemorate their Unilateral Declaration of Independence. It weighed 250 pounds and was made in 1966 in the Netherlands and was last rung in 1978.


The Liberty Bell was made in the Netherlands; it is made out of bronze, is 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, weighs 250 pounds (110 kg) and is supported by Rhodesian mukwa wood.[2][3] It cost £600 to make and was donated by five anonymous Rhodesians.[2] The funding reportedly came from American conservative supporters of Rhodesia.[4] The bell was inscribed: "I toll for justice, civilization and Christianity."[5][1]


Rhodesia had unilaterally declared its independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965. To commemorate the first anniversary in 1966, Rhodesia held a festival known as "spirit of 76" as a tribute to being the first colony to break away from the British Empire since the Thirteen Colonies in the American War of Independence.[6] Prime Minister Ian Smith unveiled the Liberty Bell and declared "Every time it chimes it will be another nail in the coffin of those who want to interfere in the internal affairs of Rhodesia."[3] He then ceremonially rang it 12 times at midnight on 11 November.[2] The ritual would be repeated each year at midnight on 11 November at an "Independence Ball" event.[7] Smith stated that the bell would always be rung 12 times despite reports it rang once for each year of independence; to which Smith said "You can imagine what the position would be when one of my successors, in due time, has to ring the bell 100 times."[8]

In 1979, the bell was not rung for the first time since 1966 after Smith returned to Zimbabwe Rhodesia from negotiations in London for the future Lancaster House Agreement.[9] The bell was retired and stored in the Zimbabwe Rhodesian National Archives.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "UDI - First Anniversary" (PDF). Southern Africa News Bulletin. 1966-11-18. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-01-22. Retrieved 2021-05-23. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Smith leads celebration". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1966-11-11. Archived from the original on 2021-05-23. Retrieved 2021-05-23 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Rhodesia: Kicking the Gong Around". Time. 1966-11-18. Archived from the original on 2021-05-21. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  4. Horne, Gerald (2001). From the Barrel of a Gun. University of North Carolina Press. p. 45. ISBN 9780807849033.
  5. "Rhodesians Celebrate 11th Anniversary of Breakaway". New York Times. 1976-11-12. Archived from the original on 2021-05-23. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  6. Kraft, Michael (1966-11-11). "Rhodesia marks independence". The Windsor Star. Archived from the original on 2021-05-23. Retrieved 2021-05-23 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. Brownell, Josiah (2017). "Out of Time: Global Settlerism, Nostalgia, and the Selling of the Rhodesian Rebellion Overseas". The Journal of Southern African Studies. 43 (4): 24. doi:10.1080/03057070.2017.1325621. S2CID 149102114. Archived from the original on 2021-01-23. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  8. Pringle, Ian (2012). "24". Dingo Firestorm. Penguin Random House South Africa. ISBN 9781770224292.
  9. "The Union Jack will fly again". MacLean's. 1979-11-26. Archived from the original on 2021-05-23. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  10. Thatcher, Gary (1979-11-15). "Rhodesians Scrap 'Independence' festivities this year". AF Press Clips. The Christian Science Monitor. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2021-07-04. Retrieved 2021-05-23 – via United States Department of State.