Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Gokwe Kid and the mad Made for Mugabe Mermaid

I just fancied writing something totally insane. Absolute gibberish. Of course, all creative writers need a prompt. Usually it is life itself. In theory, you can write about anything. What I love to do is manipulation. It is called ‘spin’. I should have been a politician.

So there I was, not really concentrating any more on my school work (short attention span), and well, what do you know – Peter Godwin sends a Tweet, which for some unsure reason pops up on my Facebook. The link was very interesting. It is from a web site called bulawayo.24.com. This article was posted today and I insist you read this below because it beggars belief…until, shockingly, it is actually true. I have witnessed this and give my account afterwards.

- - -
Water Resources Development and Management Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo had a Senate Committee on Gender and Development in stitches when he alleged that mermaids were preventing government officials from installing water pumps at dams in Gokwe and Mutare.

Nkomo was presenting evidence on the water supply situation in Zimbabwe when he made the stunning allegations.

He said the problem first occurred in Gokwe when officers installing water pumps at a dam dumped the project vowing not to return to the area because of the mermaids.

He said a similar situation occurred at Osborne Dam in Manicaland. Government hired white personnel to do the job but they also refused to undertake the project.

"We even hired whites thinking that our boys did not want to work but they also returned saying they would not return to work there again," he said.

Nkomo said it was necessary to brew traditional beer and carry out any rites to appease the spirits.

Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo who also appeared before the committee concurred that there was need to perform traditional rites at the dams.

- - -

During the Rhodesian Bush War, the Russians, assisted by the Chinese, had this great idea to mutate some of the female ‘freedom fighters’ they supported into a kind of mermaid. The plan was that they could then swim from Zambia, crossing Lake Kariba, and swim up the Sengwa River and then sort of sliver along and then lurk in dams with broken water pumps in Gokwe Tribal Trust Land. A devious scheme, as sure enough, after the locals had hit the broken pump with a large lump of wood to ‘fiks-it’, they had then concluded it was ‘brokin’ and that meant calling a whitey out.

The ‘fighting mermaid of feminism freedom’ would then attack poor unsuspecting whitey and that was that. A few instances did occur in the Gokwe area, but was cleverly hushed up as crocodile attacks. Not that I ever saw a crocodile in all the time I was in Gokwe, but that is beside the point.

Luckily, during my time fighting this slime, I was chosen to become part of the elite covert unit PAMU (Police Anti Mermaid Unit). It was all very hush-hush because the mere thought that something like this might reproduce and suddenly a baby one pops out your tap whilst running a bath, was considered so terrifying that along with just about anything else to do with the war, it was kept out the local press.

Anyway, I remember that night vividly when I first saw one of the nasty things. I still get nightmares. It was a Saturday night/Sunday morning. I had just got back from the Gokwe whites only sports club rather well blasted out my skull. I recall that my knees hurt from crawling the half kilometre home, dragging my FN rifle behind me, and thought I could sooth them in the tiny swimming pool us elite policeman had just outside our single quarter’s bedrooms. Big mistake. I was so pissed I forgot that the pump had not been working for a couple of days and should have known this was a perfect spot for the hideous monsters to lurk in the rather shallow depths.

Recalling this is harrowing, even now after I have easily drank that pool and many more of its volume equivalent in bubbled water of hops, malt and wheat for decades, but, that night was bad news…

I managed to ease my aching bones into the shallow end, when suddenly, I was pulled in. (The official report stated I fell in; which is lie). The monster mermaid was terrifying but my training took over instinctively and I promptly started having a wee and a poo at the same time. (The poo was used in evidence at my kangaroo court-martial.) I screamed out for my mates but they were drunk and didn’t care a jot over my imminent demise. Of course, I still had my trusty FN assault rifle with me as its sling was wrapped around my neck. As I was dragged deep into the rather shallow depths, I cocked it and let rip at the demonic thing.

This was fire power at an enormous scale. I blasted it scales all over the pool walls. (Forensics claimed they found none. I think they were just too lazy to look properly.) That rifle did some damage though – mainly to itself. The barrel split almost instantly, but still I pulled that trigger as I fought for my life. The noise was appallingly still. The water pressure of 7,62 mm rounds being fired under water nearly made me pass out in pain as I emptied the entire magazine into its hideous form.

I don’t remember much after that because I must have wounded it and it went off. I got into a bit of bother but I talked my way out as usual. I did do a sketch of the thing that attacked me. Anyway, it is true, the things are still out there…please, please, make sure your water pumps are regularly serviced.

Next week I will tell you about the great fun I had when I was abducted by mutant ZANU (PF) green lesbian winged aliens from planet Zimbabwe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Africa and Rhodesia - A short history lesson

At the end of the Second World War the West European colonial powers were bankrupt and the Americans lent them the money to survive. Three things then happened that became inextricably intertwined that spelt catastrophic doom for the average black peasant in Africa.

Some of the educated blacks spotted a chance to make a few bucks and under the pretence of ‘Nationalism’ started to make a lot of squawking noises aimed primarily at any –

‘Make Love Not War’ sixties counter-culture ‘liberals’ that thought whitey was still whipping the ‘coons’ everyday on their million acre plantations –

and the Yanks, now flexing some serious muscle, both financially and militarily, decided that as the new kids on the block, the Brits can forget the whole empire nonsense, free the peasants and they could hopefully outspend the damn Russkies in gaining influence in Africa.

All with predicable results - Anarchy.

The squawkers, proclaiming to be Christian to the core, not having a bone through their noses and promising on their ancestor’s grave that the ideology of democracy, free speech, a neutral civil service, judiciary, police and army would be upheld; were given their chance. Hurrah to Independence, Hurrah to Democracy, Hurrah to the greatest get rich quick scam since Charles Ponzi.

So in the sixties it started to happen. One after another the colonies held ‘free and fair elections’. The average European in the liberalised West didn’t give a monkeys’ nuts on the outcome; they had enough problems of their own. So as soon as the loudest squawker had power and realised he had just been handed a cheque book and all it needed was an ‘X’ (His Mark) on the dotted line, he could live like a king! There was the pesky problem that some of his ‘subjects’ may not like the civil service being taken over by illiterate tribal mates (who happily soon spotted ways to have a jolly thieving time), and replacing the judiciary, police and army with only ‘loyal’ mates, and the press was used just to press out their protesting brains, tried to be ‘democratic’ in their protest. (Give a take a butchering or two.)

This problem was soon solved by teaching the moaners some manners. Usually this was very painful and involved severe dismemberment that generally led to the democratic moaner wondering how he lost his legs in the last knife edge election. But at least the new nation was free of the accursed whitey hey! Still, all this soon brought problems. It didn’t take long before these happy free nations saw the economy collapse along with the infrastructure through corruption and incompetence. But – luckily there is a solution. It is all whiteys fault.

Oddly, it is. The political boundaries of Africa are a total farce. Before Whiteman arrived preaching that deranged idiot Scotsman’s load of crap of the three ‘C’s -Christianity, Commerce and Civilization, even the Romans had decided it was better to leave the place well alone. Things ticked along quite nicely, thank you very much. Tribes came, slaughtered, got complacent and were in turn slaughtered and along with some very nasty diseases hanging around the place, the native population muddled along quite ecologically efficiently. There were no ‘borders’, but just constantly moving boundaries of tribal influence.

So for centuries the jolly Golly was quite capable of sticking a spear up a rear to keep any status que, until whitey turns up with what is now Africa’s bane – the powered projectile. The top squawkers soon cottoned on to this fact after they had been sorted out into packets of land drawn on maps by whitey and his magic of Maxim machine guns. They patiently observed, watched and waited till they had lots and lots of boys’ toys that go bang, of their own; and a lot easier to use than your average assegai.

As the colonies disappeared to be replaced by countries that would struggle to find the definition in a dictionary, and with the reserve banks plundered – the money ran out and the boys with the toys got all excited and went mad and hacked up their former bosses and then they find that that this hasn’t quite solved the lack of purchasing power. What do you do in such a situation? Of course, you turn to the Whiteman because it is his fault they are in the mess they find themselves.

So, being very smart, they ask whitey, who has several centuries of bloody warfare, along with scientific advancement experience; to come back and sort the rotting, stinking, corpse laden shit holes out. Restore law and order and kick start the economy etc. Hah, who am I kidding…

Because, and this will shock, between 1960 and 1965, 26 African former colonies were given ‘Independence’. Most collapsed into anarchy almost immediately. Happily, the ones with guns could control the only thing left – their natural resources. Available to the highest bidder (don’t forget to chuck in a few weapons), the situation hasn’t really changed much. Bob Geldorf and Bono may tell you otherwise; but they are - quite frankly - hypocritical idiots.

So…one little place, still run by nasty whitey, has been keeping an eye on all this amazing liberalism and thinks – We don’t think this a good idea. By 1965 the British, under the leadership of some complete brain dead tosser called Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of a broken, chaotic, penniless nation called ‘Great Britain’, told the Rhodesians that they should hand over an immaculately run, almost crime free, corruptless civil service and judiciary and a generally rather well organised economy; to a bunch of squawking ‘Nationalists’ – and they told them to - ‘Fuck Off’.

It was like -this was the jewel of Africa.  No other colony had created in such a short time a nice paradise. Well, it did help if you were white, but saying that, they were paying the taxes that went towards better black enlightenment and surely one day it would reach equilibrium?

This answer didn’t go down toooo well with the rest of the world. Still, Rhodesia under Captain Ian Smith guided his ship straight onto the rocks. It just took a while to sink.

So the squawkers understood something dumb Rhodesian whitey had neglected to understand – the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and whilst the blacks were quite happy to chop each other to bits to make a few bob, kicking whitey out of Africa took precedence. For a very simple reason – it distracts the world from their own atrocities and makes sure dumb ass liberal whitey keeps pumping money into their Swiss bank accounts.

And so Smithy and the boys decide to fight. Sadly, after a bit of a false start, the future Zimbabwean nationalist squawkers, loosing the plot, pop a few assegais up a few arses and two triumphant Western/Eastern orientated orators emerge by the mid 1970s. One was called Joshua Nkomo. He led the group that was 100% Ndebele. They were on a loser from the bloody start. Due to whitey and his map, his Zulu ancestral rape and pillagers, whilst being far superior to the peasants up north (the Shona), find themselves making up only about 25% of the ‘country’. He opts to stop in Zambia ( a collapsed cess pit north of Rhodesia, that just coincidently happens to have some of the planet’s largest copper resources), and asks for help to overcome nasty whitey from…er, white skinned Russians.

Meanwhile, by the time poor Portugal gives up the ghost on Mozambique in 1974, the local intelligent intellectuals take over the country and whilst turning the place into the Guinness Book of Records as being the worst place to make a buck on the planet, and starving to death was a rather a happier way to go than being butchered as a ‘sell-out’; they let Mugabe (who has meantime brilliantly decided he is really a Chinaman, but has the support of 75% of the population called the Shona tribe), and his politically corrected nutters, to set up camp and start to cross into Rhodesia and kill people in the name of liberation. This was the end for the peace loving, black friendly, whites of Rhodesia.

Eventually, the nice, happy, liberated blacks took over – though it did take about 50,000 people to die first, and they all jumped up and down and celebrated freedom from white suppression in February 1980. Since then, the land has gone from strength to strength (not).

Who cares?

So, whilst the battle raged in 1976 – the Gokwe Kid arrives on the scene…

Mugabe – My Part In His Victory

I just realised that I have spent days messing about and making myself ill with the nonsense. I think that the thirty odd pages I wrote and scanned and combined was no good. Very depressing. But then just when I thought I had really lost the way, I came across another satirical Rhodesian writer. He has written a book called Mugabe – My Part In His Victory. I gather that he has published under a pseudonym of Chris Walmsley. 
There is a bit on Amazon here and I was well impressed. It also gave me an inkling where I was going wrong – mainly I didn’t need to go into so much historical detail, no matter how ‘basic’ I made it - there was too much. So I will scrap it all and just keep it very seemples.

I feel much better now. So back to work…

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Gokwe Kid takes a short break from work…

I ruined my dinner last night and landed up nearly poisoning myself. I had ‘found’ some severed neck bits and along with some frozen roast potatoes I popped them in a pressure cooker, added some herbs I had gathered from the mountainside and sprinkled a bit of instant Bisto powder on the lot, closed the lid, stuck the thingy on the nipple and fired it up on full whack.

Anyway, as I was laughing hysterically over my own witlessness, I started to think after about a tin or two that there wasn’t much hissing and puffing steam coming from the kitchen. Actually, there was a lot of smoke and a bad smell of something getting seriously crisped. The smoke alarm didn’t go off because it only does that when conditions are damp. In that scenario the thing screams its head off and lands up being put on maintenance mode for weeks and weeks and it goes ‘peep-peep-peep’ at a giant mosquito type pitch - which is driving me slowly insane.

So, I removed the cooker from the very hot plate and chased the smoke out my front door. Upon opening the pot, I was struck by several senses. The biggest one was the lack of mine. I had forgotten to put any water in. I scraped the rather black muck out and chased it around in a frying pan for two minutes with some oil and tried to eat the
disgusting muck. I also noticed that my once shiny new cooker now inside looked like the remnants of a fire bombed mosque. I filled it with cold water (I can’t afford the hot stuff) and a bit of el-cheepo washing up liquid and – well, I had a peep at it this morning and it does not bode well.

Sigh, it is a hard life. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Gokwe Kid and the mystery of the knives and forks.

Eish – I needed a break. Pushed it a bit far, but I have gone over 95% and run it past another mate – it is looking good. I thought I should take the day off, but after messing around - I felt the urge and did this in less than two hours. Forgive any p and g mistakes. Go on - have a laugh…

North Wales, sometime last year. (I think.) A true story.

The Gokwe Kid digs around hard in his stainless steel pot that contains his cutlery collection. No matter how often he gropes around, the only fork about is one used for poking at pickled onions at parties. He cannot afford either of these and now he concluded that at least five, maybe six forks had mysteriously disappeared out the kitchen. The world’s greatest bush detective started to think…a sign of imminent chaos.

First he looks to see if maybe they had flown out the window- a flock of forks. This solution was induced by the second tin of beer, which the great sleuth uses to grease his brain cells, as being impossible because he has no window in the kitchen. He also didn’t bother to raise his eyes and stupidly look at the extractor fan’s grid just in case they had been building a nest there. Perhaps they had made a stab at doing a runner? After all, as far as the Kid could recall, they all had four prongs to leg it on.

Scratching through his decrepit track suit bottoms at his anal orifice (as sadly his disabilities didn’t allow his arms to travel further up then his facial one), he thought hard. Staggering to the floor, he took a peep under the fridge – perhaps they were chilling out there? None to be seen and the cleverest of thoughts entered his frontal lobe. ‘How the hell am I going to get up?’

With the pain in his back nullified from mulling the problem over with some more tins that were now rather easy to get hold of, he miserably concluded he would have to purchase some more forking forks because the truth had finally hit him. Over a period of binges he had tended to throw the fork, along with the plate scrapings, into the rubbish bag.

Things are not simple living in Britain’s version of Gokwe. Although the electricity works, most of the inhabitants lack the spark of brightness. Even Polish immigrants don’t bother looking for work here. The Kid kits up and drags his aging, creaking screeching bag on wheels, with telescopic handle, down the long hill. His body, aged from fighting gooks three decades ago and nothing to do with alcohol and tobacco, weaves expertly between wonderful examples of starving Irish made rock walls, and the Snowdonia National Park wild bush. It reminds him of home – the Great Zimbabwe Ruins - when he fell pissed out his head down the narrow path from the acropolis.

The old bag will be needed. At least whilst he is forking about he can pop into the Co-Op and get some light refreshments for the empty fridge. But first he has to replace the things he needs to remove food from his plate - so he went to the bank first to see if the cash point would say yes for a change. Fortified with a fiver, the Rhodesian X-Factor winner is instantly recognised by a fan driving a large vehicle –
“Get off the fucking road you drunken dick.”
The Kid waves enthusiastically onto his back. How the people loved him and so in tune. The shouting fanatic knew he was on the rocky road looking for forks and was the great Dick of the Bushveld.

Now on a mission, the Kid studied the front of a large shop called ‘The Factory Shop’. This was obviously a shop that had not been fabricated, but what happened to Woolworths that had been there the last time the Kid took off his shades? Had they forked off too? He didn’t care; they had gone the same way as Rhodesia – well forked.

The BSAP’s finest works out how to enter the place. After lingering a little too long at the women’s lingerie and concluding he would look daft wearing a nylon leopard skin thong to remind him of the good old days, he snoops out the forkers who are hanging around with some right sharp characters called knives. They can only be messed around with by adults. Dangerous things indeed and the Kid quickly spots what he needs and enters the realm of the towns' intellects – the cash desk.

Idling swaying to some canned camp music, whilst some ancient crone attempts to work out how to enter a PIN number, the Kid looks idly down at his would be purchase and…
He has KNIVES. How can this be? Confused. Has he lost it totally? He looks down at his feet. The left shoe is right, the right shoe is right also, he hadn’t left it behind. No, he knew the difference and being the wicked wit he is and gagging for a laugh (and a drink), and as he is next in turn after the old bag finally remembered her birth year, he switches to the Russian accent he picked up from questioning questionable gooks and says to the young girl at the desk –
            “Zis is nife, Yes. It say nife? Yes?”
            She looks. She looks at the product, looks at the Kid - who has now placed a finger up his right nostril and has wide staring eyes.
            “Erm, actually they are not. I go quickly and get the knives.”

As the girl moved from behind the counter, the Kid pulls finger and stops her. Switching to his arrogant Rhodie/BBC News Reader pseudo accent
“My dear, I know perfectly well they are forks – for forks sake.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Gokwe Kid – walking the tightrope

Last night, someone whose opinion I respect, asked me if I was bi-polar? I spoke to many people last night. Really bizarre, some were in South Africa, another on Vancouver Island. I think they all worry about me. In the end it boils down to walking a tightrope. I have pushed and still pushing the boundaries of creative writing in a memoir. I have created an interactive ‘B’ class celebrity from three decades ago, wandering around as a policeman in the last colonial land in Africa, stuck in a Victorian time bubble. It is insane!

I shudder at some of the prose I have come across from Rhodesian/Zimbabwean writers and future writers. I am going over one at the moment, and I have warned the author that er…problems. As if I don’t have enough to do. A lovely parcel arrived today from the Open University. Loads of goodies inside for my next course and when I pass it…I have a degree…yippee. But, I wander a bit

So, who the hell am I to criticise any writer when I have no credentials? Actually, I have. Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing after my name (DipLCW(Open) as well as CertHum (Open)) for a start, but away from the academic…look in the cyber world. Google - The Gokwe Kid.  Get it? Click images. Or just type in Gokwe and click images. Get it!

So – to my problems. LM radio is playing in the background. I listen to it all the time. Jim Croce is singing ‘Time in a bottle’, how appropriate. Then Tinky Pringle starts gabbling and snaps me out of the zone. Bless her. A Salisbury girl actually. You can Email her via their website.

Anyway, yeah, writing about Rhodesia and those days. I am giving away the first seven almost perfect chapters. Simply Email me and beg a bit. lore-data@hotmail.com

But be warned. Some of you will not get it and set fire to your PC. Some will stop and think – did he really just say what I thought he said? This is very dangerous territory I go into. Some people have the early drafts. Few have the latest version. This is dynamite and I know I am on a winner - but there is a big but – I am three quarters across the tightrope and wobbling. In one conversation last night, I was warned. I was walking a very, very fine rope. This is an excerpt from his Email I received this morning –

I've nailed the first 7 chapters with much enjoyment and some good chuckles and outright shouts of laughter.  You poke fun at everyone (including yourself) and everything.  But there is an underlying sense of sadness, I think. Sad for all the fucking idiots who ran the show and sank the ship. Many of them are brought back vividly to life and... if I didn't know them... I knew somebody like them.  

I enjoy all the subtle use of innuendo and nuance. So many sights and sounds are familiar. It's full of good old colloquial speech and humour. The introduction of historical facts, movies, books, quotes is clever. Some oblique references where one has to 'refer' and try to 'apply' memory and make connections. Suggestive. It exercises the brain box! 

What I'm saying is... everybody will see themselves in your pages.... and that's what will make the book popular, I believe (apart from the good 'wordsmithing' in its pages)

Random thoughts......good images of the times, local colour. It's ruthless and hard-hitting (you will take some flack)

I keep willing you down the road to a happy ending ( that it wasn't so bad and all worth while) But I don't think that is going to happen!!

Last night I had the weirdest of dreams. I recalled an episode from a TV series called Stalag 13. The plan was that one prisoner would try to escape by claiming insanity and hence be sent back to the UK by the NAZIs. Weirdly, this ‘expatriation’ deal was true. So, the head of the escape committee gives the man approval to go ahead with the plan, but warns him that he could be going to somewhere he will not realise. And you know what happens in the end? The bloke went mad, stark raving mad. He actually believed he was the madman he created! So I awoke refreshed (a bit) and decided to really go for it, because, in a mad world, the fools have the last laugh…hah-hah-hah

So, my budding writing buddies – read what I will send you, learn a bit, but most of all – do not go down this road because it maybe one you will not return from…

PS – I will try to set up a PayPal account so some of you can throw the idiot the cost of a beer or two now and then.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Carpe Diem - Seize the day

I received an Email shortly after my last posting. It came from Mitch Stirling.
He attached a little anecdote he wrote lamenting his time as a fresh, scared, young man starting out as a teacher at Fort Victoria High School. This is mixed with some very good opinions on where Political Correctness has taken the West and the problems teachers have today. He has kindly allowed me to put it up here.

Known as Fort Victoria until 1982, when its name was briefly changed to Nyanda. Within a few months its name was again changed to Masvingo when it was discovered that Nyanda did not translate very well across dialects. It is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe, and grew up around the encampment established in 1890 by the Pioneer Column en route to their eventual destination, Salisbury. (Wikipedia)

The pictures were scanned from - More Rhodesian Senior Schools 1950-1982 (Part 2) Books of Zimbabwe, 1982

Carpe Diem - Seize the day

After three years at the Teachers' College in Bulawayo I was let loose on the world of Rhodesian education as a teacher of History. My first thoughts were that I really should have paid more attention to the lectures on the theory and practice of education whilst at college. In fact, I thought, I really should have 'attended' those lectures! Oh well, too late now. Into the deep end I went with the finest of Rhodesian youth in 1968. 

 Fort Victoria High School 1982

The best thing - perhaps the only thing - I had to offer as a teacher was my youth. To my relief I realized that the Fort Victoria High School children who were destined to receive my 'words of pedagogic wisdom' were not children at all, but young adults separated from me only by a few short years. And they were mostly from a middle-class Rhodesian background just like mine. But how, I asked myself, was I to corner them in a classroom on a lovely sunny day and make them interested in history?
Fortunately the Zimbabwe Ruins and the little-known Nyajena Ruins were not too far away, so classroom captivity was not a big problem at all.  'Living' history was a real possibility because there was a school bus, sandwiches and bottles of Mazoe orange to take on expeditions to the ruins and the surrounding Iron Age sites. Perfect.
Young minds were very keen to soak up all of that, as was mine.  From those interesting beginnings it was a natural and easy progression to read and learn about the Zulu and Boer War and hold them in memory in preparation for public exams. It would be nice to think that those young folk enjoyed the history as much as I and hopefully that fat red history of "The British Empire and Commonwealth" by James Williamson - the book that most of us remember as the standard text book for "O" level History - lay comfortably in their classroom desks, along with the more demanding Log Tables and "O" Level Maths and Science books. 

Another amazing thing I discovered was... when I asked the 'kids' about all the things they loved - like trees and fish and animals - I became the pupil and they the teachers. They were a very knowledgeable bunch of ‘bush babies' who knew far more than I. So, a mutual and instinctive respect for one another developed based on a fascination for the ancient and the natural world, plus some plain old-fashioned decent values which are so often absent in today's world of education.

One of those values was respect for one's seniors. I was brought up with that respect and so were they. It was like an unspoken rank-structure handed down from father to son and mother to daughter. It's what made a young boy stand up when a lady-teacher entered a room, open a door for her and doff his cap at the appropriate moment. I'm not suggesting they had perfect manners those Fort Victorians, nor were they 'goody goodies' by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it. But, there we were (for better or for worse) locked together in a moment of time, trying to understand each other and the world around us. Wonderful memories were made and, dare I say, friendships were formed that have survived the test of time, even to this day.

Friendships... I say that loud and clear. There is nothing wrong or sinister about friendship in a pupil/teacher relationship as long as certain rules of conduct are observed on both sides. Although I have to say that certain things happened in those old days; certain 'things' for which I would probably go to jail for today. To beat some young male miscreant on his bum with a bit of stick was the way of things back then. If a boy was caught smoking or drinking in the hostel dormitories it was normal practice for him to present his buttocks to the staff room for six whacks with a cane.  Simple as that: it was the rule. I have been on the giving and receiving end of the 'stick' in my time on many occasions, so I think I can speak with some authority when I say that I don't feel depraved or dysfunctional or psychologically damaged by it in any way. But... and this is the point, one very quickly learns (from both ends) that punishment of any kind should be swift, decisive, occasionally painful, although never dispensed in anger. It is a fast-track learning experience. The cane may be primitive, but it works on most occasions. 

At the other end of the scale... to place a comforting arm around a young 12 year old lass, as I did on occasions, seemed perfectly natural and completely innocent. But I would go straight to Alcatraz or San Quentin today - or wherever they put deviant, psychopathic, paedophiles in North America - for such unacceptable behaviour in today's schools. All the best teachers I have known over the years who graced our Rhodesian education department have always had, first and foremost, the kids’ best interests at heart. These men and women could be easily identified by their passion for directing young lives down the straight and narrow paths of life. And they had a quality of fairness about them which could be spotted and appreciated by most school children, sometimes subconsciously, and sometimes not until later years.
The influence of famous educators like Bob Hammond, Jeeves Hougaard, Miss Thwaits, Neil Jardine, Tony Tanser, Dot Turner, Miss Parsons etc etc on the lives of the children in their charge cannot be underestimated. I mention these names at random; there are many more who influenced all of us in many ways... wonderful academics, cricket coaches, tennis coaches, drama, music, art... Some of them even represented Rhodesia in a variety of disciplines and they generously handed down their skills and experience to the next generation of Rhodesians.

But you didn't have to become an international player or a big success at anything to appreciate what those teachers did and how they imprinted themselves indelibly on all of our lives.

Friday, January 06, 2012

“Mum, how come when Rhodesia asked for independence from Britain, we were told no but places like Zambia and Malawi did?” or The history of Rhodesia, Rhodesian style…

“Mum, how come when Rhodesia asked for independence from Britain, we were told no but places like Zambia and Malawi did?” or The history of Rhodesia, Rhodesian style…

And so in early 1973, the future Gokwe Kid sat down miserably for another torturous breakfast. It was school holidays. He was 14 going on 15 and was now a pupil at the co-ed Mount Pleasant High School, Salisbury. Having been removed from Allan Wilson Technical School due to ‘poor performance’ by his father, the Headmaster, Geoff Lambert, had kindly placed the lunatic in 3b1 instead of where he should have belonged – mainly in the ‘Special’ class.
He liked his new school. He had chinas from the Boy Scouts days in his class, those days before his father had removed him - blaming the Scouts for ‘poor performance’ at school. There were also nice girls in the class. They tended to be a bit more tolerant of his verbal diarrhoea of unashamed utter bullshit. Also, only the headmaster and deputy heads were allowed to cane the boys, which was a relief because the Kid had been beaten almost everyday at Allan Wilson.

Mount Pleasant High was in the northern suburbs, a so called ‘affluent’ area and had grown at a huge rate, so by the time the Kid was enrolled there were over 1100 pupils spread over six forms. The classes all numbered under 30 pupils. By the time a child entered the third year of higher education, his/her path to O’levels and beyond had been determined. There were three ‘A’ streams. These kids were the crème de la crème, not just Rhodesia’s elite, but in the world –


The Intelligence of White Rhodesians

For the past five years, all Standard Two European, Coloured and Asiatic students in the Salisbury District of Rhodesia (which contains over 50 per cent of the white population) have been given South African group intelligence tests. Those scoring 130+ have then been tested individually, using the latest international standardization of the Terman-Merrill test.*

About 95 per cent of those scoring 130+ on the group test did so on the individual test. The Terman-Merrill tests revealed that about 7 per cent of the white children in the government schools of the Salisbury district had IQs of 130 or better. This compares with about 2.5 per cent in that range in the U.K. and the U.S. and about 3 per cent in New Zealand. Group testing of pupils in privately operated schools indicated that their inclusion would not have lowered the percentage of gifted children.


Thus, white Rhodesians are an elite element within the English-speaking world in terms of psychometric intelligence. This finding is reinforced by visual impressions. Salisbury whites appear larger, healthier, more vigorous, alert and bright than London whites. Beatniks, transvestites and obvious homosexuals are conspicuously absent.

Among the reasons offered for the intellectual superiority of white Rhodesian children were:

(1). The Group Test is a much better instrument than the subjective opinions of teachers for winnowing out gifted children from the mass.

(2) Rhodesian policy is to exclude immigrants who lack jobs, thus minimising the influx of unskilled, uneducated and incompetent elements.

(3). Since the white minority must provide managerial, scientific, professional and intellectual leadership for the Africans as well as the Europeans, the demand for elite elements is enormous. Rhodesian officials estimate that 15 per cent of their white population consists of professionals and highly skilled technicians as against 10 per cent in the case of white South Africans and only 6 per cent in the case of the British. (The tests showed that the Coloured and Asiatic children made quantitatively insignificant contributions to the 130+ IQ group.)

(4). Immigration to developing frontier countries is probably positively selective for self-reliance and intelligence.

Of the 800 or so white Rhodesian children who scored 130 or better, no less than twelve were shown to have Iqs in the 180+ range. This again is a multiplier of the normal IQ distribution.

‘A’ streamers would be fast tracked in two years through their O’level curriculums. They could take as many as they liked and tended to hang around in their own clique, but some ‘B’ streamers, especially boys of sporting abilities were acceptable. ‘B’ streamers were a weird hotchpotch. There were two. B1 and B2 but only divided to maintain low numbers in class. They would take three years to complete a minimum of five O’levels. They were given some options. English, French/Afrikaans and Maths a must. All boring. Geography also a must. The Kid loved this subject; especially as his teacher had the biggest mazams he had ever had the pleasure of looking at, stuffed into a tight, sleeveless top.
Then you could choose two from the following – Accounts, Biology, Physics and Chemistry, Domestic Cooking and History. The Kid loved history and biology told you about sex so that was that. There was a problem though. His biology teacher was called Mrs Virgo, and although a nice old dear, was rather old fashioned and learning about reproduction from her tended to put you off the idea. Here was a problem. The ‘A’ streamers were taught by the best teachers. ‘B’ streamers were taught by the less gifted, such as the maths teacher who didn’t even have a degree.

‘C’ streams were for the idiots. Quite a lot of them actually, C1,2 and 3, but not all were totally brain dead. Some suffered from learning disabilities that are recognised now, but in those days were just bundled under ‘thick and naughty’ and had what little sense they had constantly beaten out of them in the vague hope of getting some into them. One of these went on to become world famous – Bruce Grobbelaar.

But it is HISTORY that interested the Kid that fateful morning as he watched with growing alarm as the ponging mess called Pronutro – Banana flavour, slowly coagulated into the soya bean mash it was made of. The Kid neither liked nor disliked his petite, blonde and rather strict step-mother Katherine. It was all just c'est la vie for him. No hugs and stuff in this family, just a smack across the head from father if he returned a barb with one of his own. And then the Kid did a classic – opened his mouth before engaging brain
            “Mum, how come when Rhodesia asked for independence from Britain, we were told no but places like Zambia and Malawi did?”
            Step-Mum pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. The Kid knew the look and thought he shouldn’t have hit the enter button before going carefully over the content.
            Katherine stood up and returned shortly with a large, brand new text book and placed it before the panicked eyes of the future winner of ‘Rhodesia Has No Talent’. The book is titled Longman Secondry Histories. The Modern World since 1900. It is a 1973 revised edtion published by Longman Rhodesia (Pvt) Ltd, Southerton, Rhodesia.
            “Ignore the first two thirds; they cover much of what your O’level history curriculum of Europe since the 19 hundreds. I want you to read the section ‘Africa South of the Sahara 1900-1972.’ I want you to pay particular attention to the Chapter 28 and read the questions at the end and write the answers. You will dedicate two hours each morning of the holidays to the task. At the end you will know the answer. Do I make myself understood?”
             The Kid felt sick as a proverbial pig. A simple question received a rather complicated answer – one to totally mess up his plans of just dossing about for four weeks.
            “What is this book?” the Kid babbled in panic.
            “The Rhodesian Government has recognised that not all whites are bright sparks. They have realised that O’level may be just out the reach of some of them. They have introduced a new certificate. It is called the Rhodesian General Certificate of Education, RGCE. They pass, they may go onto O’levels. If they fail O’ levels, at least they may have something to show a future employee.”
This was all doing the Kid’s head in. He thought of maybe taking a mouthful of Pronutro and fall on the floor, spasmodically twitch a bit while spitting gunky soya gunge out his mouth. No chance of that – wicked step-mother was well tuned to his stunts.
            “But, but, I know all about Rhodesian history, like at Blakistan Junior School we learnt about the Mazoe Patrol, and, and at Allan Wilson, they even have bits of them in cabinet!”
            “So you know everything do you? Pray, open to page 289 and answer the following.”
            The Kid does as he is told and with horror realizes he is well up the creek -

Southern Rhodesia

a) For what reasons did Britain establish control over Southern  Rhodesia?
b) How was the country governed from 1898 to 1923?
c) How did the European settlers gain power? _ .
d) ln what ways did the economy of Southern Rhodesia develop in this period?
e) Why did the settlers demand a change of government after the First World War? What kind of government did they want?
f) Describe the constitution set up in 1923.
g) Name three Prime Ministers who held office between 1923 and 1953.
h) What was the Land Apportionment Act and why was it passed?
i) How did Southern Rhodesia's economy develop up to the Second World War? .
j) What part did Southern Rhodesia play in the Second World War and how was the country affected by the war?

            “Er, this is for the idiots, clever kids don’t need to know things like this. We learn about English kings and stuff, and world wars and nasty Nazis, much more interesting.”
            Katherine ignores this ignorant comment and turns the pages to the questions on page 341 -

Events in Southern Rhodesia

a) Name the two Prime Ministers of Southern Rhodesia 1953-1962.
b) (i) Who were the African nationalist leaders and what did they
(ii) Why were the nationalist parties banned?
c) What did Africans gain by the constitution of 1961 ?
d) What new party gained power in 1962? Who was the Prime
Minister? What was the attitude of the new government to the
e) Why did Southern Rhodesia fail to gain full independence from
the British Government?
f) What does 'U.D.l.’ mean? When did Rhodesia declare U.D.l.?
g) How did the British Government and the United Nations try to
overthrow the Rhodesian Government? Why did these measures
h) Where and when were unsuccessful attempts made to reach
settlements after U.D.l.?
i) When did Rhodesia become a Republic? Who was Prime Minister
and who was President?

            “Can you answer these? You will after you study. You may start now. I will be monitoring you.”
- - -

Woosh, it is 2012, The Gokwe Kid rolls another cheeky fag and gazes out the window. The book is there, looking rather dragged about, but he has it. Perhaps the only one in existence now. It is so clear, almost prophetic in clarity. The history of Rhodesia, uncomplicated, simple and yet for all its brilliance was restricted to ‘C’ streamers. Crazy… He scans pages, does some OCR and messes about with the parts he needs. He wonders why we, the white Rhodesians never clicked. For all our ‘fine’ education, we just didn’t get it. Nor did the author in the end. But if we had looked…it was all there, but study HISTORY and African history at that…eish, what the hell for? It is not like we will lose anything…or

- - -

The future winner of the Rhodesian X-factor conceded defeat, staggered to his room and moaned for ten minutes about his own stupid gob…and he read and read. The prose was so…basic that even an idiot could understand it –

Southern Rhodesia

Cecil Rhodes was a wealthy man with driving ambition. During the Scramble for Africa, he wished to extend British power to the region between the Limpopo and the Zambezi Rivers and so prevent the Boers of South Africa or the Portuguese of l\/Mozambique acquiring the area. Gold had been found and it was hoped that the region would prove as rich as the South African Rand.
ln 1885, he persuaded the British Government to establish a Protectorate over Bechuanaland thus securing the route from the Cape to the land beyond the Limpopo. In 1888, his agent, Rudd, obtained a Concession from Lobengula, the king of the dominant
Matatabele tribe. This gave Rhodes permission to look for minerals in Mashonaland, an area to the north of Matebeleland, in which Lobengula sent his warriors to raid.         
In the following year, Rhodes obtained a Royal Charter which set up his British South Africa Company. The Company was given permission to govern Mashonaland and to make land grants. In 1890, the first group of Europeans entered Mashonaland as settlers, establishing forts along their way. Their journey ended at Fort Salisbury, named after the British Prime Minister of the time. After that, the pioneers dispersed to farm and look for minerals. Soon  afterwards, an Eastern border to the Company's territory was established after a dispute with the Portuguese.
            Lobengula and his chiefs were unhappy with the extent of British penetration and the restrictions which had been placed on their raids into Mashonaland. Attacks on the Mashona caused a war with the European settlers in 1893. Although the British suffered a serious disaster when a patrol led by Major Allan Wilson was wiped out by the Matabele, European weapons soon proved effective. The Matabele were subdued and Lobengula died soon afterwards.
In 1896, first the Matabele, then the Mashona, rebelled against the British South Africa Company. The Matabele were subdued and in a series of indabas or discussions in the Matapos hills, Rhodes himself met the chiefs and persuaded them to accept the Company's
authority. Finally, the Mashona rebellion was also brought under control. The name 'Rhodesia' was used for the first time in 1895.

Government by the Chartered Company 1893-1923

The British South Africa Company, often known as the Chartered Company continued to rule Southern Rhodesia until 1923. At the head of the government was an Administrator. Efficient government was introduced by two men in particular: Sir William Milton, the Administrator from 1898 to 1914, reorganised the Civil Service, and Sir Drummond Chaplin, his successor, continued his work.
ln 1898, the British Government gave Southern Rhodesia a new constitution. The normal Executive and Legislative Councils were set up and from the beginning the settlers elected members to the Legislative Council. By 1907, their representatives were in a majority.
Meanwhile the country developed economically. Railways were constructed from Beira and the Cape. Gold was found in quantities, but coal, chrome and asbestos became more valuable to the economy. European agriculture also developed and after the First World War, tobacco became an important export.

Responsible Government

At first the Company and the settlers got on well together but by the First World War, a quarrel had developed between them. The settlers believed that the Company paid too much attention to its shareholders in England and that it should spend more on such things as schools and hospitals. They also resented the tax on gold miners and the granting of land to speculators. In its turn, the Company found that it was not making a profit and wanted to give up the responsibility of governing the country.
The war brought a lull in the argument, as approximately 25 per cent of the European population took part in campaigns in German South West Africa and East Africa, as well as overseas. However, an  association was founded during the war to work for Responsible
Government for Southern Rhodesia. As we have seen, in this type of government, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet are chosen from the chief party in the elected Legislative Council. As the settlers already had a majority of representatives in the Council, this would give them
control of the government.
After a General Election in 1920, twelve out of thirteen elected members on the Legislative Council supported the Responsible Government Association led by Charles Coglhan. The British Government then appointed a Commission to investigate the governments of both Northern and Southern Rhodesia. For Southern Rhodesia, they recommended Responsible Government if a majority of voters approved in a referendum. As some people  favoured union with South Africa, the voters were offered a choice, but the majority voted for Responsible Government. The new constitution came into force in 1923. Southern Rhodesia became a British colony with a Government representing the king. The Government was to be chosen from the Legislative Assembly which was elected by those who could read and write and had an income of £1OO per annum. The colony was to be practically self-governing in internal matters, but the British kept control of Foreign Policy.

The Kid sighs deeply. What the hell must he learn this shit for? It wasn’t like he was going to have to fight for the nonsense - little did he know…  A couple of chinas turn up and bang on the kid’s bedroom window. They want him to come out and play. Swim and do ‘Marco-Polo’ in the pool glistening so invitingly just on the right of his line of sight. Katherine hears the knocks too and dismisses them until 10 o’clock, as he must study. He hates her…

Southern Rhodesia 1923-45

Southern Rhodesia developed smoothly under Charles Coglhan who was Prime Minister from 1923 until his death in 1927. He was followed by Howard Unwin Moffat who began to experience difficulties. ln the early 1930s when the Great Depression caused unemployment
and hardship and many people left the country. Economic difficulties brought Moffat's downfall and in 1933, Godfrey Huggins became Prime Minister. He had come to the country as a young doctor and stayed on. He was a popular personality and actually remained Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia until 1953, and then of the Federation until 1956, the longest 'reign' in the British Commonwealth.
As in Kenya, a land problem developed especially as the African population gradually increased with the end of tribal warfare and the introduction of better living conditions. ln an attempt to solve the problem, Moffat's Government passed the Land Apportionment
Act of 1931. This separated the lands of the two main races who were not allowed to buy land in each other's areas. This was intended to prevent exploitation of the African by speculators and also to encourage white immigrants to bring their capital and skill to develop the European areas. However, it caused bitterness amongst Africans who resented the amount of land allocated to European use.
After the set-back of the Depression, economic development continued. Tobacco became Southern Rhodesia's biggest export. New minerals were discovered, strip roads were laid and industries began to grow up in the towns. Economic development caused a social problem. Many Africans left their villages to work on the European farms and in the mines and
towns. Their wages helped to buy the consumer goods that were now available. However, the system had some bad side effects. The Europeans regarded the Africans as only temporary residents in their areas. Most of them left their wives and children at home and so families were split, and this caused a decline in traditional African values. Many workers did indeed return to their villages after saving enough money for what they wanted, but others became
de-triba|ised and did not wish to return, yet they had no permanent home in the town. This problem became worse after the Second World War. African agriculture also deteriorated as too much was left to the women who were conservative in outlook and resisted
new methods. 

Yawn, what does the Kid care? The only ‘real’ contact he had with black people was Julia the maid and David the garden-boy. Not exactly the future…He plods on through the chapter.

 Southern Rhodesia played an important part in the Second World War considering her size. Several camps were set up to train Air Force personnel, while about 10,000 troops of all races served in the British Army in such areas as North Africa, Italy, the Middle and Far East. Many of the Africans who had served abroad came back with new ideas and afterwards began to demand more opportunities for advancement. ln addition, the war caused an economic boom as the demand for agricultural produce and minerals increased. Factories to manufacture consumer goods also grew up as it became difficult to import them from Britain. 

The days go by, and the Kid attempts to absorb the short history of his country. He skips a bit…

Soon after the break up of the Central African Federation in 1963, Malawi (Nyasaland) and Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) achieved independence. Southern Rhodesia, originally the most advanced of the three territories, had still not gained full independence, though, in practice, Britain had very little control over her affairs.
During the Federal period up to 1962, Southern Rhodesia had two Prime Ministers, Garfield Todd and Sir Edgar Whitehead, who had passed laws to advance Africans. However. African nationalists led by Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole were not satisfied with the rate of progress. They did not oppose the Federation in the same way as the nationalists in the Northern Protectorates, but wanted 'one man, one vote', and African control of the Southern Rhodesia Government. Their violence led to the banning of the nationalist parties, the restriction of the leaders and a State of Emergency in 1959.
However, a new constitution was introduced in 1961 and approved in a referendum by the Rhodesian electorate. This gave more Africans the vote according to their education and property. African nationalists were not satisfied. Renewed violence and intimidation led to the banning of Nkomo's Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU.),and the renewed detention of the nationalist leaders. The majority of Europeans were worried by this violence and in the elections of  1962 (which the African voters boycotted to show their dislike of the
constitution) they ousted Sir Edgar Whitehead and voted in the newly formed Rhodesian Front Party, (RF).
The new Prime Minister, Winston Field, asked for independence for Southern Rhodesia but this was refused by the British Government who wanted a constitution more favourable to the African nationalists. Fie|d's failure to gain independence resulted in his replacement by Ian Smith in 1964. Long negotiations between Smith and the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, achieved nothing. The British laid down Six Principles for a settlement, the first of which stated there must be unimpeded progress towards majority rule'. This was unacceptable to the Europeans of Southern Rhodesia who did not want to hand political power to inexperienced Africans.
Because of the failure to achieve independence by negotiation, the Rhodesian Government made a Unilateral (onesided) Declaration of Independence on 11 November 1965. The British Government said this was illegal and imposed sanctions or trading restrictions on the country. This failed to subdue Rhodesia  and in December 1966, Smith and Wilson met once more, aboard  H.M.S. Tiger in the Mediterranean. It seemed as if a settlement had been reached but the agreement broke down because the British proposals for an interim government until final arrangements had been made were not satisfactory to the Rhodesians.
After that, Prime Minister Wilson appealed to the U.N. to impose mandatory (compulsory) sanctions against Rhodesia. This was done, but because it was impossible to block all access to Rhodesia, sanctions did not bring the country's downfall. In fact, because of the difficulty of importing goods, secondary industry expanded and boom conditions followed. The main result of sanctions was to place the European electorate more firmly than before behind Smith and the Rhodesian Front Government. In 1968, further negotiations between Smith and Wilson on board HMS Fearless also broke down and in 1970, still unrecognised by the rest of the world, Rhodesia became a Republic, with Smith as Prime Minister and Clifford Dupont as President.
ln 1971 negotiations were reopened with the British Government. ln November, Ian Smith and Sir Alec Douglas Home signed an agreement by which Rhodesian Indepen-
dence would be recognised by Britain. A new constitution was to be introduced giving Africans a gradually increasing number of seats in the Assembly, while racial discrimination was to be reduced. However, in accordance with one of the Six Principles, the British wished
to test public opinion to see if it favoured the proposed settlement.
A Commission led by Lord Pearce was sent to Rhodesia and in May 1972 reported its findings: while most Europeans, Coloureds and Asians were in favour, the Africans rejected the proposals in over whelming numbers. The Rhodesian Government claimed that this was caused by intimidation, but the verdict meant that the settlement was not put into force.

The Kid hands in his answers. What a waste of time! He has learnt nothing really and doesn’t give a toss…

- - -

Woosh, 2012, a late evening. The Gokwe Kid is tired, but absolutely fascinated. Shame the story ends in 1972. Eish, a few years later all shit breaks out! He rolls yet again another cheeky and decides he is an alcoholic. He ruffles through a few more pages. He finds some stuff and starts to think the author of this text book was lucky not to be shot – by either side-

- - -

Criticism of colonialism

The colonial period in Africa's history was really very short, less than a hundred years, but it brought important changes. African nationalists are quick to point out the bad side of colonialism, for example the exploitation of their raw materials and minerals and the use made of cheap or even forced labour. Many educated Africans resented the
condescending attitude of Europeans.
On the other hand, without colonialism, there would have been no
nationalism. It was the European powers which drew the boundaries of modern African nations. ln addition, the Europeans brought many social and economic benefits: Britain in particular spent more money in the later years of her rule than she ever took out of her colonies.
Communications were developed, crops introduced, minerals discovered and mined. Missions, hospitals, schools and clinics were established. The modern African nationalist was himself produced by these European influences, not by the tribal past of pre-colonial
Africa which he usually rejected.

The problems of independence

Many Africans expected too much of independence. lt did not automatically solve old problems and, in fact, it created some new ones. The most serious of these was a lack of unity within the state. During the struggle for freedom, most Africans had been united against the colonial Government, their common enemy. Once this was removed, tribal and regional feuds revived and caused political conflict and even bloodshed as in the Nigerian Civil War from 1966 to 1970.
Because of the need to achieve unity, most African countries soon became one party states. The political group which had gained independence ran the government and banned all other political organisations. The former French colonies were the first to do this but some ex-British states soon followed suit. These states had been left with parliaments like those of Paris or West-minster but these did not suit the African personality. To the new leaders, the Western European system of allowing and even paying critics to oppose the government seemed extremely foolish especially as they had few experienced politicians. As Nyerere of Tanzania said, “There can be no room for difference or division.”
The politicians claimed that the one party system was a more African way of doing lthings than democracy. ln the tribal past, the elders used to meet under an indaba tree and discuss difficulties until they were solved, not divide into groups to oppose each other. Along with one party states, African Socialism developed. In general, this meant that the government controlled most aspects of life in the country. Once opposition was banned, the Prime Minister often became the President as well. Parliament became unimportant and the government began strict supervision of civil servants, police and the law courts. ln a democracy, these are regarded as neutral in political matters, but many African governments staffed them with loyal party men.
The people of the African states became in general far less free than under colonial rule. In many states, critics of the government could be arrested, restricted, gaoled or even executed, either without trial or after proceedings in which all the judges were party men and in which they were allowed no defence. The most extreme example of this, occurred in Guinea in January 1971, when over fifty people were executed in public for their part in an alleged invasion of the country.
It was not always easy to find sufficient educated men to staff government departments and so incompetence often hindered the work. Added to this was corruption, as many officials used their positions of power to take bribes and so line their own pockets at the expense of the government. This was very difficult to eradicate especially in West Africa where the system of ‘dash' or bribery had been a way of life since the old slave trading days.  
As there was no legal way of changing the government, critics had to resort to violence. Often in the new African states, the army was the only group with the necessary strength to overthrow the political leaders. As popular discontent increased, the generals ousted the politicians. General Mobuto of the Congo was the first of the military rulers. Then, when Ghana’s  President Nkrumah was absent from the country in 1966, he was deposed by the army, which set a new fashion in military coups.
These became common place, the most recent to date being the deposition of Milton Obote of Uganda in January 1971. African states ,are, in general, very poor. They need schools, hospitals and clinics. They need to develop agriculture, industry and communications. They need mines, dams` and power stations. However, they lack the technicians who are needed to develop these projects and because the people are poor, they cannot raise the money to pay for them in taxation. Such money as is available is often wasted on prestige projects such as monuments and Presidential palaces which do not benefit the people at all. To make matters worse, the population is expanding at such a rate that a  LITTLE development is useless: ENORMOUS improvements are necessary FAST.

Foreign Aid could help to solve economic problems but often the country which gives it expects support in return. Both Russian and Chinese Communists have sent aid, for example to Guinea and Tanzania, in the hope of securing a foothold in Africa. On the other hand, Western European countries and the U.S.A. are accused of neo-colonialism, when they ask for support in return for their assistance. Thus, Africa could become a scene of rivalry in the   Cold War, though most African states claim to be neutral. ln fact, they have tried to make themselves part of the 'Third World', of the non-aligned powers. As most Asian and African states had gained independence by 1970, they were in fact in a majority in the United Nations where they had great influence.

- - -

Woosh – 2012, North Wales. The Gokwe Kid runs to the toilets and vomits. This cannot be. It is almost four decades since he read that stuff, and yet it is real as today. This is all too much, why was this restricted to the idiots? Would it have made a difference if it was taught to the bright sparks? Who knows, because a short time later – WAR and 50.000, give or take a few, will die…for what?

The Kid is knackered, but he has one more page to scan. The signed page of this history book. He recalls meeting the co-author and had demanded that book for his collection. It was not signed. In fact, it was just a test copy with a few, corrections jotted in. He insisted on a signature.
            “I haven’t signed using this name for a very long time,” the co-author said to the Kid.
            “Do it, just go for it,” the Kid replied.

And so he got his way. He knew a bit about the author. A strict Roman-Catholic (besides bending the rules now and then), born and raised in a working class two up and down terraced house in some backwater in Leeds, United Kingdom. The father was a steam train driver, the mother a house wife, but with frugality they sent their only chid to university. A personality that was not very creative - but very determined. Though marriage the author landed up in Nyasaland, teaching black children. Divorce and migration saw the writer teach at Hatfield Girls High, Oriel Girls High, Species College and be an archive secretary to Sir Roy Welaensky, in Salisbury, Rhodesia. Later - became the Head of History at Mount Pleasant High and in protest after 1980, when the ruling party insisted on changing history, became Head of History at the prestigious, privately funded St Georges High School. A position held for well after the use by date.

The Kid pushes a book page for maybe the last time into the scanner. It is the page with the signature…