First Street, Salisbury

Salisbury was the capital city of Southern Rhodesia. It was the capital of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It was the heart of administrative and commercial activity in Southern Rhodesia from the time of its establishment in 1890 up to 1982 when it was re-named to Harare. Bulawayo was the heart of the railways and industry.

Historical Background

Salisbury was named after then Prime Minister of Great Britain (UK), the third Marquis of Salisbury. A British tradition. [1] [2]

Fort Salisbury was founded on 12 September 1890 by the British South Africa Company who had occupied the area from Bechuanaland. It was founded as a fort by the Pioneer Column and BSA Company Police established by Cecil Rhodes. [1] The area of Salisbury subsequently developed into a modern city.[3]

The fort became a municipality in 1897 and a city in 1935; it reigned as the capital of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963.[4]

On the 18th of April 1982, on Zimbabwe's second independence anniversary, the city was christened Harare a Shona name which was associated with a local indigenous chief Neharawa.[4]

Infrastructure and Major Centres

Salisbury as metropolitan city was centred around the Central Business District. The main attraction in the city centre was the First Street which was only a preserve of the white minority community. This area was associated with not only a resemblance of white frivolity but also the apartheid nature of the colonial government which segregated against the black majority, This area was made up of by and large, government buildings including the main police camp, a hospital, a post office and a conglomeration of other government departments. The city also house the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which was located in the Mount Pleasant areas.[5]

Residential and Industrial Areas

The bulk of Salisbury's black population was concentrated mainly in the high density suburbs located on the western and southern parts. the Mbare area had hostels for both bachelors and married residence and accommodated the bigger chunk of industrial workers who were employed in the wage labour economy. The white minority community was mainly concentrated in the Northern and Eastern suburbs of the city which included areas like Chisipite, Borrowdale and Vainona. The majority of the indigenous population was housed in areas like Mbare, Highfield, Dzivarasekwa, Kambuzuma and Mufakose.


By the time the time it was renamed to Rhodesia in 1982, Salisbury had witnessed significant developments. The city had developed to a modern city city with a functional industry in both manufacturing and processing of goods. Service provision of basic services such as health and education had marginally improved with most residential areas having at least one primary school. Transport services had also modernised with a network of road and railroads linking the capital and the rest of the country. An Airport (now Harare International Airport) facilitated the swift movement of goods and people linking the city to outside world.


  1. 1.0 1.1 , Rhodesia,retrived:24 Jun 2014"
  2. [Chief Information Officer, Lore and Legend of Southern Rhodesia Place Names] (Southern Rhodesia Information Service, Salisbury, 1960) Retrieved 8 November 2021"
  3. Zimbabwe History,retrived: 24 Jun 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 , [ Harare - formerly known as Salisbury, the Capital of Zimbabwe,retrived:24 Jun 2014"
  5. , [view-source: Rhodesia], retrived:24 Jun 2014"