The country's former name, Rhodesia, was derived from Cecil John Rhodes (1853–1902), whose company administered the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Lobengula (1833–94), king of the Ndebele, whose grant of the minerals concession in his territory to Rhodes in 1888 led to European settlement, headed an unsuccessful rebellion of his people against the settlers in 1893. Prominent African nationalist leaders are Joshua Nkomo (1917–99), leader of ZAPU; Bishop Abel Muzorewa (b.1925) of the United Methodist Church, who became the nation's first black prime minister in 1979; and ZANU leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe (b.1924), who became prime minister after independence. Ian Smith (b.1919) was prime minister from 1964 to 1979. Many of the early works of the British novelist Doris Lessing (b.1919) are set in the Rhodesia where she grew up.