Remembering A Great Nation - Rhodesia.

My entire family, save for one uncle, fled from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1980 when Mugabe came to power. They all moved down to South Africa where most of us have lived ever since. Since the Apartheid regime fell in 1994 this country has also been gradually declining in many respects.

Don't get me wrong. There is hope for this country. Nelson Mandella played a wonderful role in helping this country move forward from the horrible predicament that was the old Apartheid regime. It needed to be dismantled but the question was how to do it without doing too much serious damage to the country. Perhaps a long-term strategy in terms of tackling this problem and introducing previously disadvantaged groups into the mainstream would have been ideal. But there was already too much damage done and too little time to make amends. 

The loss of Rhodesia and its old nationality was very hard on my dad. He loved his country and he nearly gave his life for it in the Rhodesian Bush War 1965 - 1980. Like many ex-Rhodesians he felt betrayed and stabbed in the back by Great Britain, the mother country.

There still is a strong 'Rhodesian' identity or neo-nationality even though ex-Rhodesians are now scattered all over the world. The ex-Rhodesian community still keeps in contact and the glue that held them together back then is still there today. There's a whole new generation of ex-Rhodesians that have grown up outside of the original nation's borders. 

No one in my family ever picked up a South African accent although we've lived here for decades. My parents have been told that they have 'Rhodesian' accents and so have other members of the family. I, my brothers and my cousins have a bit of a Rhodesian accent that we picked up from our parents. If you heard my accent you'd probably have a hard time knowing where I was from unless you were familiar with ex-Rhodesians.

Rhodesia was a great nation. It was a paradise on earth - beautiful, safe, the economy was one on one with the American Dollar. It was known as the "bread basket of Africa". Until it was trashed by socialism/communism under the guise of "democracy".

Yes, among a mountain of other evidence that has been documented, my dad himself picked up communist leaflets and other propaganda that had been printed in East Germany and the USSR and distributed among the enemy on more than one occasion. The communists were training them, indoctrinating them, brutalizing them and arming them. Characteristic of communist terrorism, my dad and many of his comrades witnessed horrible atrocities committed by these people. They loved to come and murder whole families, women and children, bayonet them and butcher them in the most horrendous fashion... when the men weren't there to fight them.

The war wasn't lost by the Rhodesians militarily. It was lost over a conference table. The country succumbed to severe international pressure, blockades, trade embargo's and so on. They could have kept up the fight forever and they would have had they been able to finance the war. The South African Apartheid government was supporting Rhodesia financially but they too were coming under immense international pressure and couldn't keep it up.

The Rhodesian military was inflicting terrible casualties on the communists despite the overwhelming odds. They were being armed with the latest tanks, artillery, small arms and other weapons but our people were beating them with what they had. Their Russian tanks were being knocked out by our artillery, and we only had a few of them to go around. We didn't have any tanks. We were lacking anti-tank weapons. The Rhodesian troops were relying heavily on captured enemy weapons and ammunition depots. Their own weapons were being used against them.   

The Rhodesian army was one of the most professional, efficient and deadly in the world. If any army in the world knew how to fight a war it was the Rhodesian army. ex-Rhodesian military personnel, generals and officers have went on to revolutionize and train the military in the UK, United states and so on.

The Rhodesian was a unique breed of man. In both world wars, the Rhodesians turned out more soldiers for the British army per head of its population than any other Commonwealth nation. The same was true for the Rhodesian Bush War. Nobody complained. They served their time in the army, they moved on. There was never a shortage of men who were willing to serve their country.

The Rhodesians were one of Great Britain's most loyal subjects. It's a pity the same sense of honour and decency was not returned.

In retrospect, the conditions under which these Colonial nations were established were immoral and wrong. They cannot be morally justified in any way. However, two wrongs can never make a right. Hate responding against hate can only produce more problems.

It's easy to make that judgment from my perspective and that of my family and easy to overlook the sufferings of the peoples who were unjustly subjected to ill-treatment and disrespect in many ways. The best I can do is regretfully and respectfully acknowledge them and apologize on behalf of those who were responsible for history's wrongs and injustices.

The past has been left behind though and the future has gone forward. Things are fine the way they are and not all gloom and doom.

The purpose of this story was not to lament on the negatives, but merely to acknowledge and reflect on the past... from one party's perspective. Perhaps this story could give others an insight into the way one party sees these things and help bring about a greater understanding.
NorseChief NorseChief
26-30, M
19 Responses Apr 7, 2011

Thank you for sharing this. I am not Rhodesian, but a very dear friend of my family was. I knew him through my Grandfather and I was alway amazed to hear his stories of the time he spent training RAF aircrews in WW2. He passed away in the 90s and was mourned like one of our own. As I grew up I bought books and watched clips of films to learn about his country, Rhodesia. It seems now a country that existed solely on the will of it's citizens, a place where community endeavour forged a brilliant nation that was passionately defended to the end. I have great respect for the people of Rhodesia. I think it's wonderful that it still lives on through it's expatriates through a strong social media. But the more I learned the more I grew to be sickened and ashamed of my own country's role in it's demise. Like many English people I am afraid that Britain may never truly be Great Britain ever again. Betraying our natural friends proves this much. Labour governments have always been ineffectual, and the poisonous way they dealt with Rhodesia was unpardonable. If Rhodesia truly still stood today, as it did back in it's heyday, it would be a place I would want to be a part of.

Thanks for posting this well written story. As you know by now I am S.African. I have ex-Rhodesian friends who have pretty much said what you have said. Africa is full of unfortunate colonial issues. I think that open and honest stories like this are good in terms of creating greater understanding and tolerance. This is one of the cool things about EP, we can share stuff like this with people the world over just by using a PC. Many of us have ended up in S.Africa due to things that our ancestors did and now we simply have to deal with it as best we know how. My ancestors are from England/Scotland and Italy. They ended up in S.Africa due to events in the 2nd world war and this country is all I know. I'm not going anywhere, I shall die here. One of my grandmothers loved the English queen and all that. I on the other hand have no love for the queen or any other royalty for that matter.

Considering the way Mugabe treats his own people I am surprised that the man is still alive. Africa is a darn complicated place no ? :-)

Complicated, yes. But beautiful. ;)

Speaking of WW2, my granddad married my grandma because her first husband was killed fighting the Germans in the RAF. Otherwise, as you can imagine, I wouldn't have been born.

Hi am happy to know that there is still such glue and contact how can i be part of this ?

Add a response...

Maybe i am a little bit to late with my comment but, as you talk about the old Rhodesia so are we having still the old South Africa. It is all about humanbeings who have the money and the influence who think they can do waht they can do . The way Germany was involve in ex Rhodesia they were all over. We can never get away from History. Humanbeings make and break humanbeings. Were do hatred come from? What i would like to see is :THE YOUNGSTERS MUST LOOK FOR A WAY WE CAN ALL LIVE IN SA: One will allways have backstabbers but, the only way we can make it work is see other races as humanbeings and not as "stupids" so to say. The FIRST mistake the apartheid regime was making in SA was to underestimate BLACK people .

Thank you, akalias007. After Mugabe is gone I think it's all uphill from there. It's going to take a long time for Zimbabwe to recover from the damage that has been done on all levels, political, economic, social... At the moment, a very positive step forward would obviously to get rid of Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

This is very interesting and informative reading. I have read a lot of the materials availble about Rhodisian history and I can only agree with you. Very interesting reading from an ex-rhodisian. How do you see Zimbabwe/Rhodesia after Mugabe??

penguinswon, you'e right on. We must always be mindful of the past in the sense that we should learn as much from it as we can and extract the value from it so that we are better equipped to refrain from repeating the same mistakes.<br />
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Apartheid was an ill-conceived foolish idea from the very beginning. It is extremely regretful that such an exclusive obnoxious regime ever came to power. Those who inherited the regime were faced with the complicated dilemma of how best to deal with it. The politicians worth their salt realized early on that it had to be dismantled but it was easier said than done. So much damage had already been done from decades of abuse.

I was never a huge fan of Ian Smith, but Mugabe is a disgusting big blood stain on the map of Africa. Much like the perpetrators of Apartheid.<br />
If Malema has his way, south africa will go the same way as Zimbabwe. The apartheid regime was absolutely indefensible and it's inevitable that the native populations will reclaim their land. Question is, will they do it in the same way it was taken from them? Let's never forget our ugly past.

Intelligently, thank you for your much appreciated feedback and valuable insights. :)<br />
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"We are all only one small sliver of the story. Each of our memories, experiences, and even "feelings" is passed down to us from our fathers and our fathers fathers to a large degree."<br />
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I agree. That's why I love to hear other's opinions and see other perspectives because it gives a more complete picture of the whole.<br />
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I'm also a little bit of a chip off the old block lol. :)<br />
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It's the little pieces of ourselves that make us who were are.<br />
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It is my pleasure for sharing if you enjoyed it. :)

"The purpose of this story was not to lament on the negatives, but merely to acknowledge and reflect on the past... from one party's perspective. Perhaps this story could give others an insight into the way one party sees these things and help bring about a greater understanding."<br />
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I think this statement about sums it all up. <br />
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I enjoyed reading this piece (all 3 times, no less!) and I've also enjoyed reading the thought-provoking comments that it inspired. We are all only one small sliver of the story. Each of our memories, experiences, and even "feelings" is passed down to us from our fathers and our fathers fathers to a large degree. <br />
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Nostalgia, I believe, is a very healthy way to take heed of both the good and the bad. Through it, we can look back and see all of the ugliness while still enjoying the fond memories of all the goodness. It helps us to idealize our happy times even as we remember the not-so-happy ones. <br />
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Pieces like this one also help others to understand where we come from and why we are who/what/how we are today. Whether you disagree with a persons telling of their feelings on a matter or not, you can still respect the fact that it is their personal experience that birthed those certain feelings. <br />
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When it comes to "opinions", there are no wrong ones. Only different ones. Thank you for sharing yours. It was a pleasure to read. :)

SunsetSong, I'm glad I could give you a perspective, although perhaps a bit biased, but a certain perspective nonetheless, into this part of the world and some of the details of things that have gone on in decades past. I try to be as truthful and open about this subject as I can. But it is difficult to give the whole story from one side, like that of my family. <br />
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This story is mainly a respectful reflection of many ex-Rhodies' feelings and the way they saw these events unfold. It's all in the eye of the beholder in that regard.<br />
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As for my dad, he's still alive and well. He's pretty healthy actually and looking young for his age. Hope he has many more years on this earth that the Lord permits him. :)<br />
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As believers I feel we shouldn't really be fussing ourselves with matters of this temporary and fallen world. Instead I know our eyes should be focussed on the Kingdom of God and a wonderful future for all peoples from everywhere and all parts of the world who have made Jesus Christ their Lord and Master.<br />
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This story reflected the mood that I was in the day I wrote it and now in retrospect I sort of feel it was better left unsaid. However, I did intend to help give others a somewhat different perspective to this specific piece of history.<br />
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Thank you for your wishes and goodwill.

t1g3r80y, thank you for your comment. I agree with much of what you had to say.

I fully agree with NorseChief and Storm25 but I would like to add my 2 cents. <br />
We have seen the same thing happening all over Africa: Europeans take over territory by force or trickery, build up infrastructure and actually utilize available natural resources. Mostly this occurred during times when resources in Europe were scarce and "land-grabbing" was seen as vital for survival in Europe. Fortunately the European pioneers in Africa saw the natives as a valuable asset and not as unwanted vermin to be terminated (as was the case in Australia and America). Once the land had been developed and infrastructures built, the native population saw first hand the advantages of progress and felt that they had been cheated out of having all this wealth themselves. Of course it was morally incorrect for Europeans to claim the Africans territories in the first place and this cannot be justified. The African, seeing the white man sitting in his nice villa with swimming pool etc. decided he wants his land back and as a bonus he'll claim the villa and swimming pool for himself. Fair enough, but unfortunately he neglected to realise that a villa and swimming pool require loads of maintenance which needs skilled labour and imported material. So after the African took back his rightfully owned land, inevitably the whole infrastructure which actually inspired him to take the land back, started to fall apart. Now he sits there hungry and cold, in a pile of rubble and blames Europeans for his misfortune. Also, his freedom fighting revolutionary leader gets fatter and fatter and has no qualms with sending in his militia to flatten houses, kill women and children to curb any potential uprising that may threaten his power ba<x>se. <br />
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As a South African, living abroad for the past 13 years I have loads of sympathy for Africans. I grew up on a farm in Mpumalanga and had many black friends. The general attitude here in Europe is that black people are dangerous and it's rediculous the way they are avoided. No one sits next to a black person on the trains, trams and buses. Once, after a long night of bar hopping, on the way home, I stumbled into two young black men at a tram station on the street. It was 4 in the morning, about minus 10 degrees outside and they had nowhere to go nor would anyone help them. I know how it is when you come straight from Africa and have to face such weather so I took the two young men home with me and gave them a bed to sleep in and when we were awake, my wife made us all a hearty breakfast. I really enjoyed helping these poor guys that everyone else were scared of.<br />
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While everyone in Africa is suffering and blaming each other, the real culprits are sitting here in Europe laughing their ***** off and still getting rich off Africa's resources. Does the African continent have some kind of magnetism that makes people stupid? It doesn't matter what colour or religion you are, you have the same God-foresaken maniacs in government and the only thing you can do to change that is start another war so you can replace one maniac with another. An everlasting cycle of self-destruction which keeps Africa in check so that everyone else can keep getting rich off the fat of the African land. <br />
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With the latest developments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Ivory Coast people are forced to look for refuge abroad. The ones that make it to Europe don't go back. Not even after the war is long over. Migration policies get stricter and stricter though. These fat nations want to keep us out so that we can't enjoy the fruits of our own sweat and blood. And believe me these people would have nothing if not for exploitation of developing countries. I am convinced that if enough people would migrate to first world countries it would force them to stop controlling Africa's economy and allow it time to develop itself. At worst, people that migrate and work in first world countries or start companies there, can send money back to the mother land where it belongs. <br />
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We are living in the third millenium now and the times of being attached to a particular piece of ground for which you live and die is long gone. We can move to and work anywhere in the world and still be home for Christmas. We should take advantage of our unique character and skills to place ourselves in the world as the people that get things done. We just have to be more flexible and ready to learn other languages and cultures. The most constructive revolution for African countries is not the toppling of the own government but the exploitation of countries that have been exploiting ours for hundreds of years already.

so firstly i get what you saying and on some points i agree others i dont. when you are sepressing anyone its not right in anyway be it in SA, Australia, Darfur etc it's not right whether you a minority or a majority when you take away someone freedom and rights your taking their fundamental right to live. when you do this people are going to fight back they are going to stand up and shout until they heard how, where, when is all part of that it's exactly what happened in SA and happened in America and England and all over the world with slaves womans rights etc it's going to happen and it's a consequence you have to deal with. Yes Rhodesia may have been an awesome country but to who the majority wasnt happy the majority stood up and protested and where heard. for every action theres a reaction i'm not saying you completely wrong and i'm definately not saying that the country is better off now all i'm saying is the last goverment the current goverment are messing up so instead of sitting back in another country bitching over the internet stand up shout and scream and do something about it, it takes one person to make a change and whinning and moaning and saying the country is going to hell will not get you or that country any where!! you claim to be something and rehash facts you heard from you family or in books and become an expert you have to live in that world and you have be staying in that country if you want things to change then stop being a fair weather Rhodesian and start becoming a Zimbabwean because thats what the country's called now it has been for over a decade now - good luck!!

Pancrecious, it's just a saying. :) When I say "threw the country over to the dogs" I'm not saying anybody is the "dogs". It's not like that :) When I said that, I pictured in my mind somebody throwing a piece of meat at dogs, discarding it. In other words, I'm saying that the country was thrown away and wasted unnecessarily. It doesn't matter who came to power. I am just saying that the situation was not dealt with appropriately or wisely.<br />
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However I do have a problem with people who murder and butcher women and children in a time of war. Later on in my story, I referred to those murderers as "dogs" because of their actions. I wasn't condemning everybody on their side, just those people who had no qualms about committing such atrocities. It doesn't matter what cultural, ethnic, ideological group those people are from. If they commit atrocities I think their actions earn them the right to be called "dogs".<br />
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When I said the situation was not dealt with wisely or appropriately I am saying that the country was not ready for majority rule. Ian Smith himself said that it would never happen in his lifetime. A lot of people misunderstood what he meant by that statement. He meant that the ethnic majority needed to be gradually introduced into the mainstream of the country such as business and politics. They needed to be trained, educated and realistically empowered so that they would be able to become full participants in the country's economy and elsewhere. This could not be achieved by just granting majority rule at once. This needed to be carefully planned, executed and sustained over a long period of time in order for it to become a real success.<br />
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I was also saying that the situation was misread and misinterpreted by the international community abroad. To the outside, it appeared to be a popular uprising against minority white rule. The situation was in reality very different. <br />
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It could be better summed up as a communist invasion from outside the country masquerading as a freedom movement. These people were coming into the country, terrorizing the local natives and intimidating them to support them. If they didn't comply they were massacred and example was made of them for other people who refused to comply. If this was a popular uprising from within the country, why did these people have to come from outside and force the natives to do what they wanted? Why did they have to use these tactics if their fight was for democracy?<br />
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What people don't realize is that the surrounding native communities were happy and content before these communists started infiltrating the country, indoctrinating and terrorizing them. There was no popular uprising within the country. It was an invasion.<br />
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I hope I helped you understand my viewpoint better :)

"Threw the country over to the dogs" who specifically were the "dogs"? Great knowledge you have about southern Rhodesia.

i know how you feel my friend we no all about them it is a f.....n disgrace

As a historian i must agree. The communists used their ever famous "we are doing nothing wrong" act while brutalizing a nation they wished to "liberate". Funny how none of those nations wanted to be liberated till the communists are in power and they must agree or get butchered. Great Britian has lost her sense of honor tho it is debatable if she ever truly had it. On behalf of those who have wronged your ppl, sir, i beg forgiveness. tho i have nothing to do with it i pray your hearts do not become bitter. bitterness is the true basis of communism along with pure evil. God bless the fallen.