Cecil John Rhodes PC, DCL was an English-born South African businessman, mining magnate, and politician. He was the founder of the diamond company De Beers, which today markets 40% of the world's rough diamonds and at one time marketed 90%. An ardent believer in British colonialism, he was the founder of the southern African territory of Rhodesia, which was named after him in 1895. In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became the independent state of Zambia and Southern Rhodesia was thereafter known simply as Rhodesia. In 1980, Rhodesia, which had been de facto independent since 1965, became a recognised independent country, renamed Zimbabwe. South Africa's Rhodes University is also named after Rhodes. He set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate.
Historian Richard A. McFarlane has called Rhodes "as integral a participant in southern African and British imperial history as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln are in their respective eras in United States history.... Most histories of South Africa covering the last decades of the nineteenth century are contributions to the historiography of Cecil Rhodes."