A great leader of men.
He was a man who evoked strong emotions whenever his name was mentioned. Either you believed in him or you despised him.
I like to think that you have to look at things within the context of the times. It’s of no use looking at things which have already evolved and then trying to pass judgement. Or in other words, perhaps someone who went to Africa in 1890 sees things differently to someone brought up in today’s world.
These are just my views on an extraordinary man, a second world war hero. A man who was called upon to defend Western culture and all that it stood for.
The beginning of these strong emotions was when in 1965 as Prime Minister of Rhodesia he rebelled against The Crown with these immortal words;
” To us has been given the privilege of being the first western nation in the last two decades to have the determination and fortitude to say:’So far and no further.’ We may be a small country, but we are a determined people who have been called upon to play a role of worldwide significance. We Rhodesians have rejected the doctrinaire philosophy of appeasement and surrender. The decision which we have taken today is a refusal by Rhodesians to sell their birthright. We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilisation, and Christianity-and in the spirit of this belief we have just assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all.”
His early years.
Entry into politics.
Smith was first elected to Parliament in 1948 whilst still in his twenties when he won the seat of Selukwe where he was busy farming. So began his political career.
He was a natural leader and because of his life experiences he was utterly fearless. Not surprisingly therefore he made steady progress culminating in being Minister of Finance during the Federation years.
The Federation was just a compilation of three neighbouring states in those days, colonies ( Ah, dear old England hey) consisting of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Currently known as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.This became more and more convoluted and was dissolved in 1961.
In essence Rhodesia had been self governing almost since it’s inception and had repeatably been promised Independence from successive British governments. Along the same lines that this was granted to Australia and New Zealand. However in Rhodesia’s case they were denied, (read betrayed).
The Sixties, Turbulent Times.
An awe inspiring sight?
Courtesy of Frankie Kay.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world and on the border of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and Zambia (Northern Rhodesia). In the Ndebele language spoken by the Matabele people of Zimbabwe it is called ‘ Mosia au tunya ‘ which simply means ‘ The Smoke that Thunders.’ Very aptly named as if you are on foot, you can hear it and see the mist from miles away.
The Mashonaland countryside.
So different and so beautiful? Rhodesia’s most affluent province.
Pre- Independence Flag.
The Rhodesian Flag as it was prior to Independence, showing the Union Jack on the left and the Rhodesian coat of arms on the right. Very similar to the Australian and New Zealand Flags.
The Smith years.
Post Independence Rhodesian flag.
The new flag.
Beautiful. Oh, when the Saints, go marching in.
So proud to be Rhodesian and I always will be.
Beginning of the end.
The Kariba Dam Wall.
Completed in 1958 and built to provide hydro-electric power for Northern and Southern Rhodesia now known as Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively.
At the time was the largest man made lake in the world.
Now I need to make this as short as possible as this is not a History lesson, just a recollection. Funnily enough Ian Smith was Kissinger’s wife, Nancy’s, hero.
The long and short of all this is South Africa had even more trouble than Rhodesia at this time and was the powerhouse of the region. The South African army was trying to control the terrorist incursion in South West Africa, alongside trying to back the pro Western leader Savimbi against the Soviet backed leader amongst the warring factions in Angola. This was causing problems among the super powers of the time, namely America and the U.S.S.R. and Cuban troops were helping the Soviet faction. So Kissinger made a visit to South Africa at which Smith was ordered to attend.
Meanwhile the South African leader Vorster was busy trying to curry up favour amongst newly Independent black led governments in certain African states and was his pet like at the time trying to give South Africa time and breathing space.
Smith was seen as the problem with his uncompromising views. He was a very strong man and as usual everything was seen as his fault, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
So Kissinger told him that, if the Rhodesian and South Africans combined forces joined, they could quite easily take all of Africa up to the Equator. However he was unsure if they could defeat Cuban forces. Consequently if they got the better of Cuba, then the U.S.S.R. would have to come to the assistance of Cuba, which meant, America, would have to come in to assist the SA, Rhodesian forces. Now here’s the deal. There is no way America is going to help. Somewhere about this time he got Nancy to come in and shake her hero’s hand.
Rhodesia had to go.
To sweeten the deal and make Smith toe the line, Vorster cut off Rhodesia’s fuel supplies. A small landlocked country which already had had it’s supplies cut off from the new leadership in Mozambique now had it done again. This after supporting the Western world at all times and taking a lone, courageous, stand against the evils of communism.
John Steinbeck’s immortal words in the Grapes of Wrath sum it up best;
“There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation, there is a sorrow here, that weeping cannot symbolise.”
A tribute to Ian Douglas Smith.
Still not good enough?
The Final Betrayal.
Smith and Mugabe.
Deprived of citizenship.
The Last Post.