Ian Smith was a fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain. He returned after the war to his native Rhodesia, which was at the time a member of the British Commonwealth. In 1948, Smith became a member of Parliament. He resigned in 1961 to head the Rhodesian Front, a party dedicated to the independence of Rhodesia without Black participation. Smith held various posts, including Prime Minister from 1964.
In 1965, he unilaterally declared independence from Great Britain. The British led a worldwide campaign of sanction against the Rhodesians, and these sanctions ,combined with growing guerrilla attacks, forced Smith to come to terms with the black opposition.
In 1979, Rhodesia became known as Zimbabwe, and Smith became an opposition Parliament member. He was suspended from Parliament in 1987.