This article reviews the history of defamation cases involving Africans in Southern Rhodesia. Two precedent-setting cases, one in 1938 and the other in 1946, provided a legal rationale for finding defamation that rested on the ability of litigants to prove they had been shamed. The testimony and evidence of these cases, both of which involved government employees, tracks how colonial rule was altering hierarchy and changing definitions of honor, often to the bewilderment of the litigants themselves. Importantly, both cases concluded that African employees of the state deserved special protection from defamation. The article then traces how the rules and ambiguities resulting from the legal logic of the 1938 and 1946 cases gave a wider group of litigants such as clerks, police, clergy, and teachers room to maneuver in the courtroom where they also claimed their professional honor. Such litigants perfectly understood the expectations of the court and performed accordingly by recounting embarrassing, even painful, experiences, all to validate their personal and professional honor in court. Such performances raise the question of how we might use court records to write a history of the emotional costs to people who used astute strategies that rested on dishonorable revelations to win their cases.