The first significant post-war engagement of the King’s African Rifles was the Malayan Emergency, where British and Commonwealth forces fought Chinese communist insurgents between 1948 and 1960.
The KAR were withdrawn from Malaya from 1952 onwards because of the Mau-Mau Uprising in Kenya, which was the regiment’s largest and longest post-war action, continuing until 1960.
From 1953 onwards the 1st and 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalions of the KAR were part of the army of the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
The Federation was a semi-independent state within the British Commonwealth, comprising the self-governing, white minority-ruled state of Southern Rhodesia and the British Protectorates of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi).
The Federation was formed with the political objective of forging a middle way between majority black rule and the white minority apartheid regime of South Africa.
The Federation was intended to be a permanent entity leading to Dominion status within the Commonwealth, but black nationalists in the Protectorate territories were suspicious of it from the start, rightly suspecting that it would be dominated by the economic and military power of white-ruled Southern Rhodesia.
In 1959 the Federation’s KAR Battalions and the Royal Rhodesia Regiment (RRR) were deployed to suppress political unrest in Nyasaland and again in 1960 to control the border between Northern Rhodesia and the newly-independent Republic of the Congo, which was descending into civil war.
The Nyasaland Emergency threw the concept of the Federation into question in Britain and by the time of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s famous winds of change speech to the South African Parliament in 1960, it was clear that the Federation could not survive.
The British decision that Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland should be allowed to succeed and become independent as Zambia and Malawi led to the dissolution of the Federation in 1963.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the King’s African Rifles became the nucleus for the newly-independent armies of Malawi and Zambia, as the Malawi Rifles and the Zambia Regiment.
Southern Rhodesia renamed itself simply Rhodesia and made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965, which led to the Bush War of the 1970s and black majority rule as Zimbabwe in 1980.