Welensky, Sir Roy

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WELENSKY, SIR ROY (Roland ; 1907–1991), Rhodesian statesman. Welensky was a leading figure in the political life of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia for nearly 25 years. He was a member of the National Council of the Railway Workers' Union and a founder of the Northern Rhodesia Labor Party. During World War ii Welensky was director of manpower and a member of the executive council (1940–53). He campaigned for federation of the two Rhodesias in close association with Sir Godfrey Huggins (Lord Malvern), the first prime minister of the Federation, whom he succeeded in 1956. Welensky advocated a policy of "partnership" between the white and non-white races of the Federation. The partnership failed, either because it was unworkable or because, as many claimed, it was never properly applied owing to white opposition, and the Federation broke up in 1963 despite all Welensky's efforts. He retired from politics, settling as a farmer in Southern Rhodesia, and wrote an account of the Federation in Welensky's 4,000 Days (1964). In 1966, Welensky tried to come back to politics but was defeated in the election. One of 13 children of Michael Welensky (from Lithuania), a boardinghouse keeper, and his Afrikaner wife who converted to Judaism on their marriage, Welensky maintained links with Jewry. In his teens he was a railroadman, took up boxing, and in 1926–28 was the heavyweight champion of the Rhodesias. He lived his last year in England.


D. Taylor, The Rhodesian (1955); G. Allingham, The Welensky Story (1962). add. bibliography: odnb online; R. Welensky, Welensky's 4000 Days: The Life and Death of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1964).

[Lewis Sowden]