A History of Zimbabwe; Someone’s Tribute To Rhodesia
This article is a revisionist history of Zimbabwe through the eyes of a ‘Rhodesian’ called a ‘tribute to Rhodesia and Rhodesians, and truth’.
We first found it on a Facebook page called Salisbury, Rhodesia on Facebook. It caused a lot of controversy on the page. We have reproduced it here unredacted.
Tell us what you think.
This is currently “doing the rounds” and to some it may be worth a read. Many will see it as biased, but to most it will ring true especially those of us who went through it all.
The name Cecil John Rhodes will generally excite debate where it is recognised and most of the comments, particularly amongst the liberal establishment, will be negative.
Familiar epithets are rapidly forthcoming. Racist, ruthless, greedy capitalist, oppressor, imperialist. These are brands his legacy will forever contend with but what even his most vehement critics will struggle to deny is that for better or for worse this was a man possessed of astonishing and unselfish vision.
It is notable that two figures central to recent history, President Bill Clinton and General Wesley Clarke the NATO commander in Europe are proud to announce that they went to Oxford as beneficiaries of Rhodes Scholarships.
In Rhodes’ guidelines for selection of candidates for this award it is also interesting to note there is no mention of race. Much about civility, good manners, sportsmanship and understanding of the common good but nothing about race.
When he turned his attention and his financial resources to extending the British Empire in Africa because he was frustrated by the timidity of the motherland he applied much the same quality control to the people he selected to carry the Union Jack north into what was then a very savage continent. Although bankrolling the venture himself he moved with the tacit blessing of both Queen Victoria and the British government.
Cognisant of the fact that the task ahead would be arduous and dangerous, men wishing to join the pioneer column had to convince Rhodes and his aides that they were made of the right stuff. As a result most of those selected were of a military background but Rhodes wanted more. Tough and resolute they must be he insisted but they must also be gentlemen. And not only gentlemen they must have the skills to build a country. As a result doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and farmers filled the ranks of this elite body of men who rode north and colonised the country that came to bear the name of its founder – Rhodesia. Subsequent events bear testimony to the quality of these pioneers.
There certainly was an ensuing conflict with the indigenous inhabitants and there were casualties on both sides but once the resistance was quelled this handful of colonisers set about building a country.
The Shona people who were then a motley collection of disparate tribes such as the Zezuru, Kore-Kore and Manyika were discovered cowering in the hills where they hid from the marauding former Zulus, then and now known as the Matebele.
Much has been, and still is said about how the whites dispossessed the black people of the land that was theirs because they were there first. This is not correct. They had moved in from the north and deprived the San or Bushman people of territory they had considered their own. The San people did not end up in the Kalahari Desert through choice – they fled there. Of slavery too.
The contemporary view is that slavery in Africa was introduced by the white man. Again this is not so. The Matebele routinely enslaved those they defeated who they did not kill.
The white interlopers put an end to the genocide then in evidence and quickly insisted upon and enforced the rule that killing another human being was not a right of might. This was anathema to the African but he was forced to live with it. Robert Mugabe is a Zezuru who quite possibly would not have become an earthly being had Rhodes not sent his men forth.
In the broader context the story of Rhodesia surely has few parallels in history. Unlike their counterparts who occupied North America and Australasia for instance the Rhodesians did not annihilate the indigenous populace – once the occupation was over they swiftly set about establishing a fertile breeding ground which was ironically, later to prove their downfall.
As a direct result of the introduction of western medicine which brought under control many of the traditionally fatal diseases such as measles, polio and tuberculosis and the prohibition placed on the “ethnic cleansing” which was then a way of life, the native population of approximately 300,000 in 1896 rose to 10,000,000 by 1975. So much for the oppression of the white settlers.
Astonishingly, within 20 years of the arrival of the European an advanced and highly effective form of civil government was in place and by the time of the Second World War a country existed that had in place the infrastructure and arms of governance that allowed it to stand proud alongside the most developed countries in the world.
Few, if any parcels of land have been seized from the clutches of abject savagery and poverty and launched into the civilised world with such rapidity. This is an incontrovertible historical fact that is the legacy of Rhodes and his select band of men. But they were racists is the inevitable cry of the critics. Indeed they were but they were benevolent racists and they bore no grudges – they wanted to live and let live and create a country – which they most certainly did.
And, try if you will to fill their boots at the time. These were white men drawn from then one of the most technically and socially advanced countries in the world who found themselves amongst some of the most backward people on the face of the earth. On a social, political or technological level they had absolutely nothing in common with one another. Does it really come as a huge surprise that they did not immediately assimilate, integrate and consider themselves amongst equals?
By 1960 Rhodesia was, after South Africa, the second most developed country in Africa and was completely self supporting. A vibrant economy grew without incurring any debt. Education and health care, although more accessible for the whites was available to all.
The justice system, staffed by highly trained men of impeccable integrity was superb and respected by all. In the history of the white man’s short tenure in Rhodesia there was not a single incident where a judge was alleged to have acted in a manner that did not befit his office.
The police force was widely considered to be one of the finest in the world. It is a testament to the quality of this law enforcement body that despite having recently intruded into an extremely hostile environment they conducted their duties unarmed and with such restraint that it was not until 1962 that a fatality at the hands of the British South Africa police was recorded. The majority of the members of this force were black. The Rhodesian Department of National Parks and Wildlife was unquestionably the finest on the continent. The wildlife throughout the country was well prospected and game populations grew considerably. Corruption was virtually unheard of.
A voters’ franchise was in place that, contrary to contemporary perceptions, was non racial but based on criteria that took into account the economic and educational status of the country’s citizens. Irrespective of race the vote was available to those holding the requisite educational qualifications combined with proof of gainful employment. The government of the day correctly asserted that universal adult suffrage was a process that needed time. The native people had only recently been in a state of relative barbarity – democracy needed time, they insisted and how right events have proved them. One man one vote was the rallying cry of the “liberation” movements. The cynics will point out that that quickly became “one man one vote once.” From then on it was a swift decent into chaos.
Through no fault of their own the native people could not begin to comprehend the complexities of western style government and the rule of law. Laws were written on paper. They had no written language nor could they begin to understand that something intangible and invisible constituted the law and was all powerful. The only rules they had ever followed were those of their chiefs and kings and these were totally arbitrary in their mandate and method of enforcement. History now shows clearly that under the firm, consistent but benevolent rule of the white man the people of what is now Zimbabwe were enjoying their halcyon days. In the African context, peace and prosperity the likes of which the indigenous people had never known, prevailed.
But times were changing and firmly incorporated in Hitler’s legacy following the end of the Second World War was the stamp that bore the most execrable example of racially inspired lunacy heretofore witnessed. The direct assumption following this appalling event was that wherever the white man held power over another racial group it should be considered abhorrent and extinguished. Such was the reaction to persecution of the Jews in Europe that white supremacy in any form was considered unconditionally unacceptable. There was no time for objective examination on the merits of the different cases – all white men were seen to be sullied by this tragedy and all were called upon to bow their heads in shame.
For the United States of America it was a great opportunity to pressure the Europeans to disband their Empires and thereby reduce their influence. With unflattering haste the European colonisers from France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium and Spain packed their bags and fled.
The pace was set when Ghana became the first self governing former colony in 1957. By 1964 most of the continent was decolonised and already descending into chaos. The Rhodesians struggled to comprehend the unfolding spectacle. They had been sent to Africa under the auspices of the British government to achieve objectives and they had conducted themselves in keeping with the finest traditions of fair play. They had not raped, plundered or murdered. They had built a successful country out of nothing but hard work and enterprise and had put in place all the checks and balances consistent with the tenets and principles of British governance. They had nothing to apologise for – quite the opposite they were extremely proud of what they had achieved.
The harsh realities of the new “liberated” Africa were soon upon them. They were aghast at the sight of defenceless and impoverished refugees flooding into their country who were fleeing the mayhem that followed the Belgian evacuation of the Congo and they simply could not understand why they were being told to surrender power immediately to a people who had no grasp of how to govern in the civilised context. They knew it would sound their death knell. All this while they studied at close quarters, a continent to their north in varying stages of anarchy.
The English socialists in the form of the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson with the surreptitious but enthusiastic support of the Queen and the Royal establishment were not listening. They were a long way from the action and their lives and livelihoods were in no way threatened by the carnage that was spreading through Africa. The Queen struck up warm personal relationships with the likes of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda. They both became palace favourites and Nkrumah is reputed to be the first person outside of the Royal circle to learn that Her Majesty was pregnant with soon to be Prince Edward. In Whitehall, principle, loyalty to fellow countrymen and honour were coming a very poor second to expediency. When Nkrumah plundered Ghana and assumed the role of dictator and Kaunda sent in his army to wipe out a political opposition in the form of the Lumpa sect neither the Queen nor her Prime Minister batted an eyelid. While General Idi Amin was cleansing his country of the Asian minority and murdering his fellow Ugandans in their hundreds of thousands he was accorded the dignity of an official visit from the British Foreign Secretary ( soon to be Prime Minister Callaghan) who physically lowered himself as he was brought into the presence of this maniac. Uganda retained full membership of the Commonwealth. Amin’s representative at the United Nations was accorded full voting rights in the General Assembly when the world followed Britain’s lead and voted to condemn Rhodesia as threat to world peace and thereby invoke a universal trade and travel embargo on the most peaceful and prosperous country on the continent of Africa..
The bewildered Rhodesians had suddenly become an embarrassment to the new left in an age where the Englishman in Africa was suddenly and unfairly declared a pariah by his countrymen and his European cousins. Britain had decided it was time to dispense with this proud but unruly little band of people. It was simply too bad that they had suddenly been overtaken by events in a world dominated by double standards that they could not comprehend.
When Harold Wilson narrowly resisted pressure from the African states to send in troops to destroy his own kith and kin, the Russians and Chinese leaped in to fill the void and the war to defend one of the last remnants of western civilisation in Africa began. With Britain leading the campaign to economically throttle the beleaguered country by placing a naval embargo on the country’s ports of supply the Russians and Chinese hitched their military might to Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe respectively.
Despite a world arraigned against them this intrepid band of people along with their black compatriots fought with remarkable tenacity against incredible odds and in an astounding show of resilience and courage they refused to succumb. The strength of feeling of the black Rhodesians in this conflict is indicated by the fact that 70% of the Rhodesian army, air force and police were filled by black volunteers.
But the final act of perfidy was still in the wings. In this a new confidence trickster emerged in the form of the Thatcher appointed British Foreign secretary Lord Peter Carrington. He then set about convincing his erstwhile countrymen in Rhodesia that he, despite their scepticism had their interests at heart and an agreement under his guidance was signed. This became known as the Lancaster House Agreement and was signed in 1979.
In a final act of the most despicable betrayal after repeated assurances to the contrary he then orchestrated the handover to the Marxist terrorists led by Robert Mugabe.
Today the country now known as Zimbabwe lies in ruins. Little more than a year after acquiring power Mugabe sent his North Korean trained ethnic cleansers into the west of the country to exact retribution from the Matabele. The atrocities, carefully chronicled by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, were obscene even by African standards and thousands died.
As I write the people of Zimbabwe live with poverty the likes of which they have never known. Two prominent black journalists by the names of Raymond Chavunduka and Choto have recently emerged from eight days of torture in military dungeons. The once vibrant economy is destroyed.
The rule of law is a luxury of the past. Mugabe is forcing farmers to stop planting so as to force a restive populace into submission by starvation. A reign of savage terror under the auspices of the police force sweeps the country.
The politics of terror and cronyism are a way of life and the national coffers are bare – looted by the terrorist who only recently graced the streets of London in a horse drawn carriage in the company of the Queen of England while he inspected a guard of honour drawn from the Household Cavalry.