Wednesday, March 07, 2007

For Satan so loved Zimbabwe, he gave his only begotten son, Mugabe, that whoever follows him shall have everlasting poverty.

Nice one! This little gem I picked up from the Zimsituation web site. It appears the police were doing the old search and beating thing on some poor peasant, when they found this little very witty ditty written across one of his numerous next to worthless bearer cheques he was carrying. The poor sod was arrested for defecating on the President. Oops I mean defamation. It looks like maybe – just maybe, cos I have heard it all before and I have predicted a couple of times that he will go this year.

Why? Because the economy has almost, not quite, hit rock bottom. 1600% inflation heading for a new world record of 4000 by end of the year.

Do I give a damn. Of course not. (not)! This Blog is just to keep telling everyone – Nah nah nah na … we horrible naughty white people got what we deserved, piss off and let us dig our own graves now. Oh, any one got a shovel spare, mine was stolen. I called the police but they said I got to pick em up ‘cos they got no cars or fuel and…whatever.

Meanwhile – back in the good old days, there was Sammy.

I wonder what happened to my first and only black friend. I think he must have been a couple of years older than me, back in ’77, when I was in Gokwe. His rank would have been Constable and he would have had to call me Sir. I got on well with all the Black staff in the police. I always seemed to instinctively know and respect their vast experience and knowledge when I first started as a P.O. (Patrol Officer) deep in the bush. But this man – he was special. I look at the photograph as I write my memoirs and struggle to remember his name. I think it was Sammy. I know that he was the first and only Black person at that time in Rhodesia that I allowed to use my first name - but only in private, for I feared recriminations. Don’t forget, I was a city boy – so my only personal contact with Black Rhodesians was with the domestic staff of our family and neighbours and all, including staff in shops and at the factory where my father had worked, used terms ranging from Picinini Baas to just Baas, as I grew up.

In ’77, I was barely 19, and my cutting wit and satirical tongue was primitive and often enough cause for a deservedly good kicking from my fellow White P.O.s. Such was our lot when a tiny minority were tossed in a communal pot of social intercourse not of their making. Sammy was based in Gokwe as well and we did a PATU (Police Anti Terrorist Unit) tour together, my first. Sammy was as slim as my self but at least 3 inches taller than my boring average height of 5’8 and a half. His English was exceptional to the point of brilliance. He could word play and banter with me and I was constantly pushed to match his wit. In those days White ignorant bigots would have ranked him as a cheeky ‘kaffir’, only because they instinctively knew that the man was far ahead of them in raw intellectual intelligence. In the photo, that’s him in the middle. What happened at that place is in my memoirs. Crazy stuff with dead snakes and deader men whilst we drunk numerous cups of the best coffee in the world – you have to wait till I finish it.

But I was reflecting recently what was it that made me want us to become friends, to such an extent I would have preferred his company a lot more than some of the other young White patrol officers I was forced to live with. Sadly, etiquette of the time and my upbringing created mental barriers I could not overcome.

But I do remember that day when I decided that I would like Sammy to be my friend, if he wanted to. Colour had nothing to do with it. I still have few friends, most people think I am obnoxious arrogant twat, and they are right, so making friends have never been easy…

It was a dry season day when me, Sammy in the middle and NSPO (National Service Patrol Officer) Nicholas (Nick) Robinson, who was driving, were on the way back to Gokwe town from some bush camp in a mine proofed open backed Land Rover. Sammy had flatly refused to sit in the back, where it was unprotected, and didn’t have any problem making his point. It was hot and cramped, three of us in the front as we swerved, bucked and zigzag over those dirt tracks through the bush. The engines on these basic machines kicked out incredible heat and Nick was forced to change gears between Sammy’s legs. The middle position of a land Rover’s bench seat is pure misery as far as comfort is concerned.

When we came across a troop of baboons, which was quite often in those parts, as usual between youngsters at the time, something insulting would be said. Nick decided to slur Sammy –

‘Hey , Sammy, isn’t that your family? Should I stop and let you say hallo?’

Nothing said here was really big deal. It was such an old joke, and I guess it barely brought a snicker to my lips. Sammy just smiled faintly. I don’t think Nick was racist. It was just a classic piss take we all did. If Sammy hadn’t been in the front with us, I would have been the brunt of the basic bush humour. Then, around the next bend sat a huge baboon on its own facing the oncoming Landy and touching Nick’s shoulder lightly, Sammy pointed at the animal and with a huge grin announced in a very feigned falsetto excited tone -

‘P.O. Robinson, have you told your sister that you have joined the police force? Perhaps you should stop and have a chat with her.’

I burst out laughing, and Nick nearly ran the poor creature over in anger as it dashed out the way. He hadn’t taken that comeuppance very well. He never said a word for the rest of the trip back.

Nick was a classic example of a NSPO. There is a lot of fuss being made recently over Peter Godwin, author of Mukiwa, (a best seller, I loved it) Co-author of Rhodesians Never Die (IMHO perhaps THE best factual book about Rhodesia between 1970-80) and his latest memoirs When a Crocodile Eats the Sun (not read it yet, hoping someone sends me a free copy). He was also one of those type of policeman. Highly educated, usually with A’levels, they used the opportunity to do their national service in the police – the idea being of course that you reduced your chances of having the shit shot out of you by 50% than if you in the army. Also, if you lucky and staioned in a city or town, good odds of wasting the 18 months of call up (at that time) playing policeman plod and having a laugh before going off to university. The pay was also slightly better than the average troopie. Being clever was always an advantage if you happened to be a bit of a sadist and off you would go into Special Branch, grow your hair and beard and beat the shit out of people. 30 years later nothing has changed much, just the name. Now these nutters are called the C.I.O.

Sammy and I discussed everything when we were alone, which was not often. Conversations about home, politics, minority White rule, and why he was fighting on ‘our side’, but I cannot recall the details. Then one day he was gone. I think it must have happened whilst I was at driving school. I vaguely remember he said his time was almost up in Gokwe and he wanted to be transferred to a town. It just wasn’t the thing to do in those days to make enquiries about the whereabouts of Black people unless they were bad. Rather stupid of me when I think about it now.

I often mull over the idea, that with that fine intelligence if Sammy climbed high in the new Zimbabwe Republic Police Force, only to be succumbed to temptation and became another looting corrupt officer - now the terrorist. I somehow don’t think so. More I fear that his cutting sharp tongue could have landed him in big trouble – like a bullet in the head and an unmarked anthill somewhere in the bush as his grave.

But maybe he was as clever as I believed him to be, and got out with his family when Mugabe completely lost the plot. Perhaps he is a teacher in London. I suppose I will never know now. I just have an old photograph of some kids ‘dressed to kill’ in combat camouflage larking about with a snake we terminated and that handsome grinning, unforgettable face of Sammy - my Black friend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you sound like a true zimbabwean, why not embarace it and forget about rhodesia andng focus on being zimbabwean. the new zimbabwe that will soon be, will need men like you.