British South African Company
FounderCecil John Rhodes
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Key people
Cecil John Rhodes

British South Africa Company (BSAC) was a commercial listed company which administered territories in Southern Africa including the country now known Zimbabwe. Then, it was called Southern Rhodesia. BSAC administered Southern Rhodesia between 1890 and September 1923.

Royal Charter

BSAC administered the territories by authority of a Royal Charter which was granted to Rhodes by Queen Victoria of England. The Royal Charter establishing the BSAC was approved on 29 October 1889 by Queen Victoria. The company's coat of arms had the motto "Justice, Commerce, Freedom." The Royal Charter was initially for a period of 25 years. It was extended for a 10-year period in 1915.

The BSAC Coat of Arms

BSAC's administration of Southern Rhodesia officially started on 13 September 1890 when the British flag, the Union Jack, was raised at Fort Salisbury.

Through the Royal Charter, BSAC had authority to:

  • Make treaties
  • Promulgate laws
  • Preserve the peace
  • Maintain a police force,
  • Acquire new concessions and generally provide

BSAC's main function was, therefore, to explore and build infrastructure into south-central Africa for the benefit of the British. In exchange, the British would assist with military power where needed, as happened during the Ndebele uprising in 1986.

Key Events Involving the BSAC

  • 1890 - BSAC invaded Mashonaland with a force of raiders called “Pioneers”
  • 1893 - BSAC invaded the Matabele kingdom
  • 1896 - The Ndebele Uprising happens, resulting in the British troops intervening

End of Company Rule

The BSAC rule in Southern Rhodesia ended in 1923 with the granting of responsible government to the settlers who had been attracted to the colony with exaggerated stories of vast gold deposits. BSAC, however, held on to its commercial assets in Southern Rhodesia.


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