I AM a white African. I was born in Singapore but that does not make me Singaporean, any more than the fact that my parents were both ‘British’, makes ME British.
I was first taken to Southern Rhodesia (in1950) when I was two years old and, over the years, I developed an unbreakable love for that part of Africa and all its people. Was it Kwame Nkrumah who once said that being born in Africa does not make you African: Africa has to be born in YOU?
Although I am often accused of being ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Zimbabwean’ because I do not attempt to deny our many mistakes and failures, I believe that this is actually conclusive proof of my ‘PRO-Zimbabwe’ stance.
If we are unable to recognise our mistakes, then we are doomed to repeat them. Similarly, I am regularly vilified (traduced?) by some of our sillier brethren for supposedly making fun of black Africans for their supposed lack of ‘knowledge’ or ‘civilisation’. Absolute nonsense!
It is rank stupidity to pretend that Africa was as ‘advanced’ as the European nations by whom we were conquered between the 16th and 20th centuries. We did NOT have the ‘wheel’ or a ‘written language’ in 1600, and it is ridiculous to claim that we had BOTH 3,000 years earlier, but somehow ‘forgot’ how to make, or to use them.
There is absolutely NO shame in not knowing something. When we were born, we all knew nothing.
The only shame (stupidity) occurs when someone will not LEARN, when taught and, personally, I firmly believe that certain African countries would now be amongst the world’s leading economies, had we been allowed more time to LEARN and ASSIMILATE the knowledge that was already inherent in other nations.
Zimbabwe is the PRIME case in point. In 1980 – after more than a decade of ruinous Civil War and United Nations mandated sanctions – we still had that to which the leaders of the ‘Frontline States’ repeatedly referred as the ‘Jewel of Africa’.
We had Africa’s second most advanced economy; we fed ourselves and we exported our surpluses; we had the makings of a First World health system; we had the best schooling infrastructure and teachers in Africa; we had a magnificent road and railway system; we had an incredibly resilient local industrial base that had become virtually self-sufficient and immune to sanctions.
We had a thriving airline (that made profits) and the strongest currency in Africa; we had superb Security Forces (80% of whom were black Rhodesians) who repeatedly thumped the terrorists at home, and who could wander, almost unimpeded, throughout Southern Africa.
What we did NOT have, was EQUALITY. But I believe we were getting there, as was confirmed when the ‘white’ electorate voted – with a huge majority – to accept the principle of full equality between the races.
Certainly, this concession was partly imposed by the international community (particularly apartheid South Africa), but the simple fact was that the vast majority of white Rhodesians – like most of their black brothers – really did not give a damn about politics, but just wanted to be left alone to enjoy their lives in our home in the sun.
My heart still burns with pain when I think of how it COULD have been. Had the international community recognised Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s government after Africa’s FIRST ethnic power-handover elections, the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian Security Forces would have neutralised the terrorist threat within a matter of weeks.
Money and international expertise would have POURED into Zimbabwe as global governments desperately sought to prove that SOMETHING in Africa really COULD work.
There would have been no ‘one-party’ state. No Gukurahundi. No election violence. No Marambatsvina. No uncontrolled land grabs (there was – and still is – plenty of unutilised land for all). There would have been no starvation; no begging; no loan defaulting; no fleeing refugees; no economy and currency collapse; no ‘goat $s’ …
We would have been the richest people in Africa, rather than being the sick joke of Africa. Is it possible to repair the damage that has been done by Zanu PF? I hope so.
Kariba Kay is a retired Zimbabwean war vet living in the UK.