Robin Norton 2005
Ever since I first wrote the previous paragraph I have realised that anyone not from 'British' Africa would laugh at what was written, it does sound like a recording from a propaganda machine, it could be better expressed, but I have chosen to leave it as it stands.
If you have taken the trouble to open this page, thank you. I hope that if you are not Rhodesian you might have some understanding or even a willingness to put aside what you have been told by the media over the last 40 or even 50 years.
I live in England, therefore the media I refer to is the 'British Media', sadly many parts of which has taken upon itself to rewrite history and almost without exception put forward the view that everything 'White' Britain did in the British Colonies was bad for the 'Black' people of those countries, then in the case of the British Colony of Southern Rhodesia which became Rhodesia in 1963 and then Zimbabwe in 1980, the 'White' government of Ian Smith which held power between 1965 to 1979, its actions were totally without merit and detrimental to the 'Black' people of that country.
My own insignificant part in this is that I was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), both parents British, my father was a regular in the British Army having joined up in the early 1930s, serving in India and throughout the Second World War, post WW2 he was sent by the British Army, first to Nyasaland (now Malawi) and then Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), when he was due to leave the British Army he was still in Northern Rhodesia and accepted the advice to be demobbed in that country where his talents could be put to use.
What is forgotten is that post WW2, Great Britain realised that it had an obligation to all its loyal colonies to help them develop at a much faster pace, the World was a very different place compared to the 1930s, Great Britain had many talented people who needed work after having served the King during the War, there were few jobs at 'Home', i.e. Great Britain, so many were encouraged to move abroad.
My mother was in a small group of people who flew out to Northern Rhodesia in 1951 with an ex Royal Air Force pilot who was starting up an air transport company, details in another part of this website.
This is just my story; there were many thousands who did exactly the same as my parents post War. At the same time these people and colonies were something the British government and British people were immensely proud of, the 'British Media' reflected this pride.
Then, in a very short period, this all changed, the so called 'Winds of Change' came about after a speech including that phrase by the then British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan in 1960 on a visit to South Africa (look in 'Africa –Maps and Facts' explaining that South Africa is a country, not an area). It was this speech it seems that spelt out the future for Britain's colonies in Africa, to my mind the promises given at that time indicating Great Britain would ensure that 'Responsible Governments' would be left in charge to run the colonies was not kept, the countries which gained their independence almost immediately under 'Black' rule have not prospered, those that held on to 'White' rule have now after long wars succumbed to 'Black' rule. Responsible Government was it seems not important in the rush to relieve the United Kingdom of its responsibilities.
The two countries which tried to keep what they considered responsible governments were what was Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia now Zimbabwe and South Africa.
As I am only concerned with Rhodesia I will restrict my comments to that country and what has happened since.
Rhodesia was always a far better developed country as compared to its Northern namesake, mainly because it was immediately North of South Africa, a country of enormous natural wealth which had been first settled by Europeans hundreds of years before. Rhodesia's farmlands were very fertile, the population low, in 1890 it is thought that the population was less than one million of all races, this in a country nearly twice the size of the Great Britain. Even by 1950 the population was only 3 million or so, with the better health care and education I mention, an ongoing aim for all 'White' governments, the population continued to increase at a sustainable rate.
In my time in the country, remembering that I left in 1974, population now 5 million, there were things I disagreed with, I was shocked to experience for myself when I attended a friend's wedding in 1973, a 'Black' friend, as I drove him to the reception after the Church ceremony, into a 'Tribal Trust' area, a sign by the side of the road said that 'No White Person was allowed in without a permit' or words to that effect. Needless to say I had no permit, but even though I saw a police land rover I was not challenged and I found out later that in practice the restriction was to prevent any possible troublemakers going in causing problems. It must be said that I never came across a sign in Rhodesia which said, 'Black people : No Entry'. My great interest in aircraft also led to problems for me, I was interrogated by the Salisbury Airport Security several times to see if I was a spy, I found this very frightening at the age of 18, the questioning carried out by men I knew, people who I had asked permission to take photographs of the aircraft at the airport in the past. I was not a spy! There are many things I could say, all I do know is that in general the relationship between white and black Rhodesians was good, there were bad 'whites' who treated their black employees badly, but in general the idea for all employees by employers, black or white, was to be fair and improve everyone's living standards. A happy worker is a productive worker, if only that was a sentiment understood by all British employers today!
It is now, some 30 years later that I am saddened and not the least angry at how British Governments and the British Media in the last few decades have transformed history so that to the majority of British people, any white person connected with Rhodesia, all 'White Man's' deeds in that country is or was wrong, if not evil. All white people who went out to Rhodesia or were born there have become pariahs, known as 'White Settlers', a description now used as a form of abuse, on a par in fact with I do not know what. By contrast, at the same time, in recent years, most noticeable in 2004, Germany, the country under Adolf Hitler which started the Second World War, Germany's part and the people of Germany are slowly being written out of 'Media' reporting as having anything to do with the War, the focus is on 'Nazis' starting the War, 'Nazis' bombing Great Britain, 'Nazis' killing six million Jews and responsible for killing many more, the focus is in fact quite often turned onto the British Royal Air Force for bombing Germany as being criminal, forgetting the events leading up to those bombing raids, forgetting also the German Luftwaffe bombing attacks on British cities such as Coventry, Portsmouth, Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton and London to name just a very few. The point I am making I hope is obvious, if not, does it not seem extraordinary that British people who fought for the British King and Country during World War Two have been turned into; 'hated white settlers' and the people who were the 'enemy' at the time are in the process of being transformed into reluctant participants of the same War, when they were trying to kill the very same British King and people of Great Britain, amongst others. The Media is using the passage of time and faded memories, not forgetting total lack of interest to rewrite history. Rhodesia never had the apartheid system of South Africa and was never part of South Africa, but to most British people in the 21 st Century, that is what they believe to be the case, why? I hear it myself, time and time again on Television and radio programmes, in newspaper articles too, reinforcing the view that Rhodesia and South Africa were one and the same. As for Germany and Germans, I was not involved in the War, either the First or Second World War, I am quite happy for the whole of Europe to work together for the future, never must it happen for the same type of conflict be allowed to occur in Europe, German people are very like the British, it is good to be able to make good friends with both British and German people. What must not be forgotten or covered up is what happened at that time, all the people who gave their lives, by changing history their sacrifice is wasted and their memory insulted. It is not a right for any organisation or government to rewrite history.
Finally, in late 2004 as I write this, hardly any news comes out about Zimbabwe, the coverage by the British Media is almost non existent, when the country was 'White' Rhodesia, day after day, night after night, the BBC and British newspapers had in depth coverage telling the British people of the 'Evil Racist Smith regime' running the country, now, under 'Black Rule' Zimbabwe is in ruin, commercially, financially, democracy is non existent, state sponsored murder, intimidation is the norm, there are massive food shortages, water supplies to the whole country including the capital city, Harare are interrupted as the pipes and pumps are failing, no investment or repairs have been carried out for years, the country is ruled by the tyrant, Robert Mugabe, what more, it can only be described as a FAILED STATE in CHAOS.
TO THE BRITISH MEDIA; WHY NO COVERAGE NOW?
Several people have contacted me about what I have written, always welcome even when not in agreement with my views, my feelings remain that whatever faults there were with the Ian Smith idea of a Rhodesia governed by a responsible government, it is still an absolute tragedy to all the people of Zimbabwe that Robert Mugabe and his ruling elite have destroyed what the British had created, I do not accept the view that 'if only Ian Smith had handed over power to another 'black' leader earlier that things would be different', however nice it would be to think that there were or are good long term 'black' leaders waiting in the background who would have only the best interests in their country's future, I cannot think of one at this time who I would like to live under in any of the sub Saharan Africa countries and do not believe that Zimbabwe would be any different. It should be noted that this is about the first article I have seen in the last month, if not longer, dated 28th May 2005. When Zimbabwe was Rhodesia ruled by the so called 'evil racist regime of Ian Smith', every newspaper, every radio and TV station in the UK featured Rhodesia every single day and night, on the front page too, note that this is on page 51 of the Times, no mention is made by the BBC on this day.