A Quick Sketch of the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia Bush War

I have noticed a lot of search traffic on this site pertaining to the Zimbabwe/Rhodesian War.  Aside from the Wikipedia entry covering the period, there is very little on the world wide web dealing with the subject. What follows is a thumbnail sketch drawn from my own reading of the episode which is not intended to be an accurate historical synopsis.

The political background to the Rhodesian Civil War

The Rhodesian War of the 1970s was a civil war. It was fought for the preservation of the Anglo/Saxon values and culture that had been grafted onto the landscape as a consequence of British imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The territory of Rhodesia comprised Mashonaland, Manicaland and Matabeleland, acquired by the British South Africa Company during  the 1890s and occupied by a white, mainly British settler community over the course of the 90-years that followed.

World War I broke the back of the British Empire, as it did imperial Europe as a whole, after which World War II effectively killed it. One of the first key triggers of eventual war in Rhodesia was the contribution made by Southern Rhodesia to the British war effort of 1939/45. All the colonies and dominions in one form or another contributed, but Southern Rhodesia is recognised as having made the most comprehensive per capita manpower contribution. Others included Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and South Africa.

Why this is important is because Rhodesia was at that time classed as a Self Governing Colony, while the other participants, with the exception of India, where classed a Dominions. A Dominion, by definition, was a colonial possession earmarked for independence within the Commonwealth. There was very little difficulty with this because in none of these territories did there exist a sufficiently large native population to warrant political attention. This was very different in the case of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, both of which did.

In recognition of her contribution to the war effort, meanwhile, Southern Rhodesia was promised by the Imperial Government, although this was never officially committed to treaty, that she would also be granted independence within the Commonwealth once hostilities had ceased, this in gratitude for her service to the Crown in war. The assumption here was that independence would be granted under the terms of an existing constitutional status that limited the black franchise under property and educational qualifications to almost zero.

To grant Southern Rhodesia minority rule independence may very well have been the British intention during WWII and in the immediate aftermath, and certainly much of the British political establishment would have preferred to have been able to honor this commitment, however, the new global political reality in a post-war world simply did not permit it. The independence of India introduced a powerful new voice into the Commonwealth that wholly changed the complexion of the global order. Indian independence was quickly followed by Egypt and the Suez Crisis, Malaysia, Burma, Ghana, Nigeria and a host of smaller entities. This was accompanied by increasing independence on the part of the principal white dominions of the Empire, namely Canada, Australia and new Zealand, all three of which made strong petition to the Crown to grant Southern Rhodesia independence only under a majority rule constitution.

Rhodesia, however, then under the leadership of Sir Godfrey Huggins, held the British to their original commitment to grant independence under a minority rule constitution, which established a political stalemate between the two governments that would in one way or another endure until 1980.

The Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, meanwhile, was established in 1953 as an effort to find a workable formula that would allow for a continuation in the medium to long term of white rule in the region. Against a backdrop of determined black resistance a federal constitution was negotiated between the three territorial governments of Northern and Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and the Imperial Government. The emergent black leader of this period was future Malawian president Hastings Banda.

By the 1960s the Federation was in the grip of sustained and organized black civil unrest that in due course resulted first in the independence of Nyasaland as Malawi, and then Northern Rhodesia as Zambia. This precipitated the collapse of the Federation itself and the withdrawal of white Southern Rhodesia behind powerful defenses, and an even more powerful determination that the colony, thereafter known simply as Rhodesia, would not go the same way as the rest of Africa.

It must be remembered at this point that 1960 had seen the handover to black rule of the Belgian Congo amid scenes of typical anarchy and slaughter, all of which did nothing to mollify white Rhodesia facing similar demands from blacks within its own borders. Likewise the events of the Mau Mau Uprising and the separatist war in Biafra all tended to strike fear in the hearts of whites at the prospect of black rule in Rhodesia. Britain, in the meanwhile, morally weakened and clearly no longer a global power, found herself in a difficult quandary. She could do nothing but fall in line with the mood of the global forums which all demanded that she grant independence to Rhodesia only under terms of majority rule constitution. No matter how much white Rhodesia might seek to remind her of promises made during WWII, there was nothing by then that Whitehall could effectively do.

UDI and the rise of the Rhodesian right

The second key trigger that pitched the colony in the direction of war was an abrupt swing to the right of the white Rhodesian electorate in the face of such change and uncertainty. From this emerged the Rhodesian Front, a powerful, white nationalist political front headed in the first instance by a somewhat (British) collaborationist Winston Field, and then later by the hawkish, uncompromising and highly charismatic Ian Douglas Smith.

Smith took over the premiership of Rhodesia in 1964 on a wave of approval for his hard-line, no-nonsense approach to the problem of independence. (Read brief biography of Smith here) He recognized very early in his premiership that the 20-years or so of appeal and negotiation with Whitehall that had preceded his office had achieved absolutely nothing, and moreover never would. He therefore adopted the strategy of picking a fight with the British in the hope that he could bring the matter one way or another to a head. His principal weapon was the implied threat of a unilateral declaration of independence.

Smith, as with most white Rhodesians, was unable or unwilling to embrace the current reality of global politics, preferring to view the steady advance of black political independence down the length of Africa as part of a wider communist assault against the western, Christian values that he purported to represent. It must be said here that Ian Smith, a trenchant and somewhat deluded character, was nonetheless a man of unshakable moral rectitude and a clear believer in the sanctity of his mission. He was not an ogre or a monster as he is often portrayed under a contemporary light. It may now be said that he was wrong in the broader objective he sought to achieve, but he was neither corrupt nor sociopathic as his successor had proved himself to be.

Inevitably, however, Ian Smith failed in his efforts to negotiate independence for white Rhodesia, as he possibly both knew and hoped that he would. Therefore, on 11 November 1965, a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) was issued that effectively recast Rhodesia as a rebel republic, a status it remained subject to until the advent of majority rule in 1980.

Shooting war in Rhodesia

The ramifications of UDI were immediate. One the one hand Rhodesia became subject to a broad range of international sanctions that included both an arms and fuel embargo, and on the other hand the rebel colony was removed from any hope of direct British military support, and nor, indeed, any overt political support. The black population of the territory, meanwhile, were served by UDI with effective notice that white Rhodesia was not going to collapse quite as easily as the British Empire had elsewhere on the continent. One of the first actions of the new ‘independent’ Rhodesian government was to ban the two principal nationalist organisations – Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) – and to imprison or restrict their political leadership.

Both organisations then turned to what had become known as the Frontline States – in this case primarily Tanzania and Zambia – and the new Organisation of African Unity for guidance and support. Both movements set up governments in exile in Zambia and commenced planning an armed insurgency to topple white rule in Rhodesia.

The Rhodesian military machine at that time consisted of a large territorial formation comprising the eight battalions of the Rhodesia Regiment and associated independent companies; a single Rhodesian African Rifles battalion; a newly formed, all-white regular battalion of the Rhodesia Light Infantry (RLI); the C Squadron Rhodesia SAS; the Rhodesian Air Force and the various paramilitary arms of the British South Africa Police. National Service and ongoing territorial commitments were mandatory and affected all able-bodied white males in the country. A police reserve existed as a support element of the civil force, but ultimately it became a civil defence unit that included the highly effective Police Ant-Terrorist Unit.

Initial hostile incursions deployed by both nationalist organisations began along the northern frontier of Rhodesia bordering newly independent Zambia. These were initially disorganised, amateurish and experimental, and were dealt with without difficulty by the Rhodesian army. This phase of the war culminated in what became known as the Battle of Sinoia, a combined police and air force operation that ran to ground a group of seven ZANU militants just outside the town of Sinoia, now known as Chinoyi, ending with the comprehensive annihilation of the entire group.

By the end of the 1960s it had become clear to the leadership of both liberation factions that attempting to directly challenge a motivated, well trained and highly efficient Rhodesian army in a contest of wits and fire would be suicidal. The Rhodesian security and intelligences services combined very effectively throughout the 1960s to locate and deal with one insurgent group after another. Perhaps the most effective tool in the Rhodesian arsenal was the rural black population itself, which was seldom remiss at that time in passing back information to the authorities regarding the movement of unknown groups armed men through their areas.

By then, however, there were a number of key members of both nationalist organisations arriving back in Zambia from periods of military and political training overseas, particularly in China and the Soviet Union. These men returned with a much clearer and more detailed sense of revolutionary strategy. It was now understood that before an effective insurrection could take place the people needed to know and understand precisely what was taking place. Therefore a process of education began in the countryside, carried out by political commissars who, with a combination of indigenous/cultural and Marxist type re-education strategies and extreme violence introduced the population of the northeast of Rhodesia to the reality of peoples’ war.

The end of the ‘Phoney War’

Soon afterwards, in 1972, a second and more determined phase of the war began with a series of hit-and-run attacks mounted against farms and homesteads in the Centenary area. This time the customary Rhodesian military response was met with somewhat less success that hitherto. Guerrilla groups retreated into the heavily populated Tribal Trust Lands and the pre-prepared support system that had been carefully put in place for this moment. Intelligence sources dried up while the insurgent groups simply disappeared.

The Rhodesian security establishment itself then retreated in order to ponder a response to this new situation. In the first instance an operational area, Operation Hurricane, was established in the northeast, the first of what would ultimately be six ongoing operations countrywide. Thereafter experiments began to take place using pseudo tactics developed by the British in Malaya and Kenya during the uprisings in those countries. From this was born the Selous Scouts Regiment, a unit configured to utilized turned guerrillas for the purpose of infiltrating authentic guerrilla groups either to acquire intelligence or set the enemy up for a more conventional infantry attack.

The pseudo strategy worked extremely well once it had been properly organised and resourced. A key fact in its success, however, was the parallel development of Fireforce, a vertical envelopment strategy using heliborne infantry and paratroopers in combination with fixed wing air support to act quickly and decisively on intelligence delivered by the Selous Scouts. Fireforce units were placed on permanent standby at various Forward Air Fields scattered across the country in order to react immediately to fresh intelligence regarding the movement or presence of guerrilla groups.

There is a considerable amount of technical material out there regarding Fireforce. The definitive study of the strategy was written by Professor Richard Wood in his book Fireforce.

Thus, by 1974, Rhodesia had for all intents and purposes re-established its domination of the battlefield. At this point it still appeared that a military solution to the crisis was possible. The Rhodesian Government remained in ongoing negotiations with Britain although a formula for independence remained elusive. If the reasons for this can be put in a nutshell it could perhaps be said that Ian Smith sought on behalf of white Rhodesia a means to retain all the principal instruments of power in white hands while at the same time allowing for at least the appearance of meaningful black political development. This was, however, practically impossible because by then the black nationalists had begun to demand absolute power immediately while Smith and his government insisted on substantive white control into the foreseeable future.

A new future

April 1974 saw a quantum shift in the geo-political landscape of southern Africa. A military coup in Lisbon resulted in the ouster of the right wing dictatorship of Marcello Caetano and the installation of a military government. One of the principal catalysts of this action had been the long and bleeding wars that had been ongoing in both Angola and Mozambique. The new government therefore promised to end these wars, which in effect meant that Portugal was now willing to countenance the independence of her overseas provinces. To Rhodesia this meant the potential for a radical widening of the war front down the entire eastern quadrant of Rhodesia.

Indeed, on June 25 1975 Mozambique achieved independence. By the beginning of 1976 attacks by ZANLA (Zimbabwe African Liberation Army), the military wing of ZANU, were beginning to be felt down the length of the eastern border regions adjacent to Mozambique. By the middle of 1976 the war was being fought in earnest more or less throughout the country. Rhodesia was now wholly reliant on South Africa for survival, and South Africa frequently proved herself to be less than the friend-in-need that white Rhodesia might have hoped she would be. In the meanwhile white Rhodesian society became intensely militarised with national services and territorial commitment cutting deeply into the economic viability of the country, and the army itself increasingly less able to effectively garrison the country.

External Operations

In October 1976 the Selous Scouts regiment conducted a daring cross-border raid into Mozambique that annihilated a ZANLA staging camp on the Nyadzonia River in the Manica Province of Mozambique, killing upwards of 1000 ZANLA combatants who had been poised for deployment into Rhodesia. This marked a turning point in the Rhodesian war strategy. Increasingly now the territorial and rear echelon elements of the army would deal with the situation internally while on a large scale the war would be taken into Mozambique and Zambia in order to neutralize enemy build-ups at their source. A corollary of these attacks would be the significant damage inflicted on Zambian and Mozambican infrastructure which served to illustrate to both governments the high cost of war with Rhodesia.

These external raids were more or less ongoing from 1976 onwards. They were conducted in the main by either the SAS or the Selous Scouts with active assistance from the RLI, now a commando battalion, and various other specialist branches of the army. These raids have been exhaustively covered as individual actions in many biographies and histories since, and need not be dealt with in any detail here. For further reading see Prof. Richard Wood’s Operation Dingo, Pamwe Chete by Col. Ron Ried Daly and The Elite by Barbara Cole.

None of this, however, served to alter much the general trajectory of the war, and increasingly it became clear that a political solution would be required. By then, however, Ian Smith could fairly be accused of having squandered many viable proposals and was left at this late stage with very few options. The shooting down of Air Rhodesia Flight 825 en-route from Kariba to Salisbury, resulting in the death of all but eight of the 56 passengers on board, ten of whom were murdered on the ground by a ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army) group, shocked an increasingly demoralised white Rhodesia to the core. A series of attempts on the life of ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo failed, although one of these, Operation Bastille, despite its failure, is recognised as one of the most brilliant and daring SAS raids of the war.

The role of the Rhodesian Security Forces now became one of containment while a political solution was sought. External raids continued while internal operations and the country’s general security needs continued to make unsustainable demands on the white population of the country. Plans were made for the raising of a third battalion of the Rhodesia African Rifles while a system of Security Force Auxiliaries made use of supposed supporters of the moderate internal black parties as an adjunct to the hopelessly overstretched core of the Rhodesian army. White emigration was perhaps the single most direct threat posed to the short or medium term survival of the country.

Negotiated defeat

The political solution when it was found amounted to comprehensive capitulation even though the Rhodesian army had suffered not one significant tactical defeat at any time during the period of war. A ceasefire was declared as a consequence of the Lancaster House Agreement that saw a return to Rhodesia of all of the exiled black leaders and a general election held to determine the future political face of Zimbabwe. The process had been exhausting and came as a bitter shock to a war weary and fearful white population. The closing actions of the Rhodesian Army were three operations. These were Uric, Miracle and Cheese which all witnessed intensive attacks delivered against insurgent facilities and the transport infrastructure of both Mozambique and Zambia. All the key arms of the Security Forces were involved, and arguably these last acts were among the most daring and brilliant of some 15-years of accelerating war.

The disintegration of the Rhodesian armed forces when it came was quick and quiet. The Selous Scouts, a unit configured on maverick terms, aimed a few swift and bloody punches at the undeserving victors, but for the rest the forces of Rhodesia died with dignity and due process under the protection of a negotiated treaty. Britain could at last wash her hands of her errant child while Zimbabwe settled uneasily into existence.

Very little on the whole has been written to chronicle the history of either of the liberation movements, and certainly no attempt has been made to locate and commemorate gravesites and to assemble a roll of honour. The forces of liberation in Zimbabwe have not deported themselves with a great deal of dignity, and certainly cannot claim to have upheld of their traditions with integrity. This, at the very least, cannot be said for white Rhodesia. Whatever political standpoint one might view this episode of history, the Rhodesian armed forces retain a highly respected placed in British and general military history and have been studied and chronicled perhaps more than any other.

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  • Dzimbabwe

    yeah right, of course you’d be biased towards the white Rhodesians! Our freedom fighters fought using far less weapons, the battlefield was far too unbalanced but we defied all odds and gave the Rhodesians a run for their money. Although Zimbabwe is currently in bad shape, better mess the place ourselves than live under the white man’s oppression!!!! To our brothers and sisters who perished fighting for oue freedom I say RIP and thank you for fighting for our beloved country. LONG LIVE ZIMBABWE!!!

  • chimanimani

    Yes there is absolutely no doubt that the liberation forces of Zimbabwe fought with great courage and fortitude, often, in particular in the early days of the war, facing almost suicidal odds. There were obviously individuals within the movements who were more competent than others, this was true for both sides, but the numbers of young black cadres killed in relation to the numbers of white skilled does require acknowledgement of courage and commitment on the part of ZANLA and ZIPRA fighters. Apologies if the impression has been given that this is not so.

  • Ex-Rhodie

    The terrorists were aptly named. Their leaders wanted personal power. The war crimes committed by the insurgents on their own people in the rural areas to intimidate them are as bad as anything this world has ever seen, yet not one has been held to account. Mugabe should have stood trial for his role in these crimes instead of being helped in becoming president by Western countries, especially Britain, who handed over Rhodesia to criminals for political expediency. Better mess the place yourselves Dzimbabwe? You did that all right! Now the innocent people have to live with it while the corrupt ZANU bosses grab the spoils. Long live Zimbabwe? It’s not living now is it?

  • Petergorman06

    i lived in rhodesia in the nineteen forties and fifties until sixty one, in bulawayo , what was a great country then is now a coorrupt violent nation fuelled by greed and murder of anyone who disagrees with mugabe, who should be placed on the international list of wanted murderers for crimes against humanity , i hope he dies a violent death from peter gorman

  • Petergorman06

    i would like to hear from anyone who knew me in bulawayo . i attended northlea scholl and worked in the post oddice in bulawayo, thanks

  • carpentaro

    What has become of this once pioneer country is a absolute shame. Ian Smith was right!

  • chimanimani

    Ian Smith was right that the country would go to the dogs within a single political generation, but wrong I think, as were all of those who preceded him, in not acknowledging the inevitability of majority rule and preparing accordingly

  • chimanimani

    Ian Smith was right that the country would go to the dogs within a single political generation, but wrong I think, as were all of those who preceded him, in not acknowledging the inevitability of majority rule and preparing accordingly

  • Jgfc

    My utmost respect to the Rhodesians and their perfect warriors. Their struggle to maintain their independence and way of life reminds me of Israel. Israel, however, had the massive support of the USA whereas the Rhodesians were essentially on their own.

  • lol amazing how history sounds when it is written by someone trying prove a point

  • Legionaire

    One of the greatest crimes of the last century was the abandoning of Rhodesia by Western nations and the UN. The truth is that it was NEVER a race war, was always a part of the Cold war – Communism vs Democracy. Was Rhodesia perfect? Hell no, far from it. While America was trying to keep its black population down the the British were trying to stamp out the Irish Independence movement they dared judge Rhodesia and then stab her in the back. Mugabe and his cronies are no better than any other thug, stealing from all. The jewel of a continent destroyed by evil.

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  • Shumba

    These comments are far too limited. As a black Zimbabwean who grew up in the Manicaland area in the 70’s I saw first hand what BOTH sides did to the civilians. The RLI committed atrocities as well to anyone *suspected* of being a rebel… uh, excuse me a “terrorist”. My father was a school principal & was kicked and burned on his forearms with a cigarette by a white officer of the Rhodesian Army who accused him of helping the rebels. This was done in front of the entire school. Of course he had helped the guerillas!!! He gave them food and medical supplies intended for students. But what was he to do when rebels (and soldiers) show up in the middle of the night … with AK-47s?? [This is all interesting to read because I lived through it age at 5-10 and remember helicopters, mine-proof vehicles, etc – because coming to the States in 1980].

    In any case, Nkomo & Mugabe turned to help from Communist nations because the Western nations turned away from them too. I fully backed the rebel cause for freedom. Rhodesians wistfully look back at Rhodesia – and so do I to some extend. At least there was food, the “trains ran on time”, and some semblance of order. But the daily humiliation of a racist system where Blacks couldn’t vote or even go to Victoria Falls (it was “Whites Only”) had to be changed. You can turn your blind eye to the racist/apartheid like system that was in place and facilitated white luxury, but that’s the truth. I remember police coming to ask us to leave the ground where a travelling circus had come to Mutare. It was “whites only” on that day. My father struggled to tell me why we had to leave – I was 7 years old and I was crying to get on the merry-go-round. That was the first time I became aware of race. That system had no place in the 20th century.

    Of course Mugabe has gone too far. At least under white rule, nobody starved and people had jobs. He has DESTROYED Zimbabwe – and is now doing the the very evil things Ian Smith did – banning musicians, controlling the media, banning freedom of assembly … and he’s even shot at university students and killed thousand of his own people. HORRIBLE.

    If only the Rhodesians had acquiesced and given some more political and economic power to the Africans, it could have been a much different story and ending. No question Whites built up and modernized Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. But the Rhodesians feared all out chaos and mayhem of black rule – and failed in preparing the black population in running a modern economy. It’s like handing over the car keys to a 7 year old. Nothing good will come out of it.

  • Peter Baxter

    Hi Shumba. Thanks for your comments. All of which are valid. I appreciate it. You clearly understand the subject. However I will only disagree with the question of atrocities. Burning with a cigarette does not constitute and atrocity in this context. The RLI was never responsible for anything on the level of the Elim Mission Massacre, the burning to death of families in homes, the cutting off of lips and ears and other mutilations etc, all of which were acknowledged by Herbert Chitepo among others as a necessary tactic in politicizing the masses. There are no innocent parties in war, but I think you will agree that in the main this was so.

  • Muchaya Ben

    I was born and bred in rural Mutare and was a teeenager during the struggle for independence against racist minority rule. I was 19 years old at 1980, and I know and saw all. I even saw the first guerillas who came to Rhodesia in 1973/74 as political commissars and they went from place to place in the rural areas educating “povho” about the coming of guerillas in summer of 1975. My father who was a school headmaster & another teacher gave one such group a car ride to the nearest tarred road around 3:00 am, after they had taught us about the forthcoming bush war. They were very nice people. After a few days, 8# gangster-looking armoured vehicles roamed aimlessly along the dust road near our rural school, as they had received “intelligence” info from sell-outs of the presence of these political commissars. I remember a bunch of black stupid looking Rhodesian CIDs sleeping in the veranda of our house for 2 nights and had been dispatched on a wild goose chase.

    The white soldiers known as “puruvheyas” committed serious and heineous atrocities. Many innocent women, children etc, were butchered or tortured mercilessly. The freedom fighters controlled more than 60% of the black rural community, and there were no go areas for white soldiers, the puruvheyas know this. All rural Rhodesia had been cut off from the urban areas – schools, hospitals, clinics, public centres etc. public transport network had all been closed between 1976 and 1980 in all rural areas, and these places were teaming with guerillas.

    The Rhodesian forces were very exhausted after the mid “70’s , with limited and dwindling resources; use of mercenaries and some riding on horses did not make much change; help from their then apartheid neigbhours still did not yield much change too. There were many times between 1978-79 when the Rhodesian forces “patrolling” (they will be hanging out in dilapidated rural school buildings day and night), on hearing that the guerillas were within the vicinity, they will just turn and look at the other side and ignore. The guerillas will also do the same thing ONLY when they hear that the “puruvheyas” were not beating the rural people and demanding to know where “gandangas” were. Everybody was exhuasted in this bloody war, but the Rhosedians LOST at the end.

    That being said, the guerilla fighters also suffered heavy casualties; they also committed their atrocities to “sell-outs”. The rural area was almost under control of the guerillas, with pungwes everywhere, and mujibhas and chimbwidos teaming from all sides of the country.

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  • Anthony Muremba

    The white people always amaze me. They now it all and they did a lot of good for poor blacks who knew nothing and did nothing for themselves. What a rotten way to think of other people. Mugabe is a black person who fights for the country’s interests. The long bad days for white rule are gone and will never return. If the blacks mess the country up its good music for us. We will progress in our own way without the racial bias and nauseating and disgusting patronage of the white man. I have a problem with people who say black people were better off and had anything good during Rhodesia. Its the white man’s continued condescending attitude which makes me sick to the stomach. Against all odds the blacks plucked political power from the jaws of a ruthless and inhumane system of apartheid perpetrated by the so called superior race. we know how to look after our on interests and we shall continue to do things which make us progress and have quality life not the prescription of the white superior race.

  • chimanimani

    Anthony I am going to leave this comment up, but I would definitely suggest that you leave the racism and race vitriol at the door next time you come into my site. Everybody has a right to their opinions, and everybody views history in different ways. So do us all a favor and take a chill pill and learn to live with others is a spirit of brotherhood.

  • Sukuma

    As a white ex-Rhodesian who was also growing up in the war years, I felt Shumba’s comments above given the circumstances are valid. I can recall hearing on the radio not to school because Bulawayo was being invaded, stories of the hatred between the Shona and Ndebele, plus I can remember feeling really sad about those in the bush who were stuck in the middle between the opposing forces.

  • JRB

    Mugabe was, and still is, backed by Communist China, Nkomo by the Soviet Union. “Independence” for Africa meant Communist domination. Also, how many millions of blacks died in the civil wars and terrorism that came after “independence?” Just the Congo war killed millions, never mind Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, etc.

    Whether you favor or oppose white rule over Africa, it did more to civilize and develop that continent than anything before or since.

  • Chen

    Shumba ibenzi. Mwana wemu black puruveya, amai mutengesi. Ndiyani asiri kuUSA? Tose tingoriko.

  • kings

    Its nice to hear you calling yourself “ex-rhodie” because you will never be one again.

  • Russell (a “murungu”)

    Good reply Anthony. Perhaps Anthony Muremba would be kind enough to share his age with us? I served, with great pride I hasten to add, with the Rhodesian African Rifles whom, to a man, lost more than any white man ever did. Given that this great regiment was made up entirely of volunteer (black) soldiers, one has to question the liberal use of racist vitriol that Anthony Muremba has chosen to inject in to his commentary. His ignorance may well stem from the fact that he was probably not even born when the so-called “struggle” took place and the fact that well over 85% of the troops in the former Rhodesian Army were, in point of fact, volunteer blacks (not conscripts). If you (Anthony) remove your blinkers and ear plugs and take the time to speak with those older and more learned than your good self, you may well be surprised that there are many black Zimbabweans today who would (probably) vehemently disagree with you. Whilst I neither agree with nor condone the more obvious errors of the Rhodesian government, there are those in our midst of whatever colour or political persuasion, that wish for nothing more than to live their lives in peace, with a sound infrastructure (power, water, sanitation etc. etc. etc.) and freedom of association. I have MANY friends in Zimbabwe who just so happen to have a different skin colour to me who, rightly, see me as I am and not in black and white as you choose to. The lessons from our history are there for all to see and learn from. It is imprudent, unpatriotic and immature to continue some 30+ years later to force ones opinion on his fellow man in the ‘hope’ that they will simply become compliant with your views. We are all Zimbabweans, regardless of our colour, so let us embrace one another and move forward to prosperity. Pamberi Ne Runyararo Mu Vanhu. Handiti??

  • belvidere

    Were Barbara and Angela Gorman your sisters??

  • Kevin Farayi

    you son of a boer. you lost the country of your dreams through racist arrogance. you got what you deserved. never a again a colony. as for its current troubles – unfortunately as you wihs us bad luck, we knwo every nation goes through its growing pains.so we shall survive – and thrive. get over it.

  • Kevin Farayi

    I listened to radio mozambique every night at 8pm with my brother and he joined from that. this was a war against not just white rule, but colonisation, racism and repression. whites are not in a position to lecture to us whther there was black-white problem or not, like the axe will never feel the tree stump’s pain!
    these boers thought they had a god given right to rule every country. no wonder they still feel the pain of loosing their racist rule.

  • Kevin Farayi

    thats the part you love most is it? not your apartheid system in rhodesia. the way white now potray shona ndebele relations is as if there is a rwanda or kosovo in the country. we actually relate much much better fyi. we do have inter marriages something your racist government legally would never allow between blacks and whites. its not surprising you poit this out though. the way of the westerners is to divide people in order to rule them. the world has woken up dear racist.

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  • Alan

    Just another “”holier than thou” racist Black, privileging on his victim-hood. Being a victim is the lazy way to not taking responsibility and accountability for one’s life. Blacks are always quick to accuse white skinned people of racism. They just cannot see the racism and intolerance in people like Robert Gabriel Mugabe who has been utterly corrupted by power, greed, theft and murder.

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  • guest

    Chimanimani, if you read the book “so far and no further” by prof. Robert Wood, I do believe Mr. Smith was prepared for the inevitability of majority rule, which is why he tried to delay as long as possible to ensure the country would be ruled fairly and in a democratic fashion. he knew Mugabe was not the man to rule and as seen in the BBC documentary ” End of Empire ch 14 Rhodesia” the British also found out too late. the coalition govt. with Bishop Muzorewa was accepted by the British, but Mugabe wanted control for himself. and while it seems odd theat the British offered independence to Rhodesia after ww2 as a reward for their service, the reneged on their offer, yet kept their promise to Mugabe.

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  • ConciousOne

    So true….like in any divorce, economic power will be diminished. If war was here in the U.S., the economic situation would be no different as any other country devastated by war.

    I have taken notice to this…and I have asked Caucasians this…..they never answer….When it comes to Bullsh*t they talk, they pretend to have knowledge and defend, when it comes to reality, suddenly they cannot defend their stupid innate weak ass racist ideologies.

    Why, in every country that’s rule by blacks, Blacks do not set up a system of racism against Caucasians, but when Caucasians gain power in a black country they set up a system of racism?….and its okay with the majority of Caucasians…..When blacks are tired of being mistreated by Caucasians and white blood is shed, the leaders ( blacks) are now cronies….For over 80 yrs, in some cases more, the Caucasians were cronies. Same in Angola, same as in South Africa, etc.I can go on and on.

    Why create wars in other peoples land, tearing down their government, family structure, raping,pillaging and destroying their learning institutions, create horrific living conditions for these original folks, call the people ignorant as though it was self induced, while maintaining peace within Europe while boosting the economy of Europe and the U.S. from the suffering of these folks….But its okay, as long as the Caucasians are running the country with racist policies, not in Caucasian lands, but lands where non-Caucasians are, why??

    War will cause the any country’s economy to decline…as in any divorce, this cut in economics is inevitable…The land is most important.

  • ConciousOne

    War will cause the any country’s economic decline…as in any divorce, this cut in economics is inevitable…The land is most important.

  • ConciousOne

    Are you saying, that a group of Caucasians can enter a land of black
    folks, take their land, make each other rich from the land, while the
    original people of the land are to be made poorer. This is okay, and
    it’s not racism?…and be tolerated…If Caucasians did not enter these countries with war and hatred ( Colonial), taught the people how to hate and kill without being provoked,would the people died to gain their land back?…

    Further, what is civilize??….A group of folks living, loving, care for each other, having their very own build in system of learning institutions and religion is uncivilzed, until they are introduce to radio, televisions, cars and greenbacks. …. I prefer the latter, that’s civilization. Not Computers and other technology. Further, the African people civilized Europe and the entire world. Created civilizations on every continent. The Caucasians were the most recent and the least to evolved and civilized. This is the reason for there innate behaviour of destroying people, culture and civilizations, which continues today. They have not fully evolve.

    Its a shame that western folks have some of the most advanced technology, but cannot get along with their neighbours and continue to instigate war and the annihilation of people on every corner of this earth, and still have the audacity to call themselves civilize. Ignorance sames to be paramount in the western cultures devoid of common sense…luxury can only hide the pretenders for so long. Pretend to be smart, only because Caucasian sponsored military is use world wide to ignorize and hold back the rest of the world, while Europeans and the U.S. are then able to leap far ahead, never allowing mutual growth. Why??…See above.

    As to war….
    War will cause the any country’s economy to decline…as in any divorce, this cut in economics is inevitable…The land is most important.

  • ConciousOne

    When the British cannot control a country’s resources, it creates war and chaos by implementing and paying for its dictators. Then will return to control once again. People have to wake up.

  • ConciousOne

    Further, the Caucasians were the first criminals there in that land, stealing the resources,no allowing the country’s very own people to partake. That’s magnified criminals and greed. An entire country, taken just for Caucasians. What dio you expect eventually, WAR! when the Natives said its enough of your racist, systemic rule, they had the nerve to want to fight for land that does not belong to them. Further, innocent people were burned, tortured and disappeared during Caucasian ruled, that was okay, but not now, cause its blacks doing it, huh. Like I have said, would this be happening if Caucasians did not invade and destroy these folks family infrastructure generations earlier, now it comes to this, fighting for their land and self rule.

    Further, if Mugabe is Criminals, then he could have only went unpunished by criminals.But you see, you were indoctrinated to look at blacks as being criminals and whites are the court justice, even though these criminals support your so call criminal…..But, its just the indoctrinated one sided schooling you have preserved.

    Further, where in any country, Caucasians are not criminals running it…. Do you know what Gorbachev said about the corrupt U.S. government…..”They make the Russians look like “School boys.”

  • ConciousOne


  • ConciousOne

    Who taught him racism, the systemic racist Caucasian government, who supported him, a racist regime of Caucasian folks.Do you expect any better. This is what the Caucasian Sponsors wanted. They had other folks much better than Mugabe to chose from, but they wanted and thought they could control their puppet. What do you expect. It liken unto the U.S. hiring and paying Black officers to harrass blacks, so then to call the actions, non racist. But it still is, when done by government.

    Further, why enter another country and set up a Systemic racist government?

  • ConciousOne

    Sound like the slaves in America fighting for their slave masters…..What would happen if the Rhodesian had won…would it be back to being the least in their very own land, while foreigners (Caucasians) reap the total benefit from the land?…Would you rather the blacks rule Europe in the same manner of concern…..and would you pick up arms against the blacks with this same type of racism perpetrated against you and people that looks like you?

  • Can

    Clearly racially biased article, the author’s mind is as deluded as those now defeated and mostly dead colonial racists. Not for a second did he imagine himself in the shoes of the majority blacks, rather trying to justify racist white rule with other injustices towards blacks…how freaking delusional. This is a common pattern with all racists, they all have tunnel vision, permanently fixed in place by false sense of self-superiority.

  • Learn your own history

    Hey Kevin, I suggest you research your own history before making ridiculous statements like the above. There is a clear history of war between the Ndebele and Shona, and in fact, the Shona aren’t even one tribe! It was ZANU who encouraged Shona to intermingle and begin to consider themselves as one group. I should know – I wrote my dissertation on race relations in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe.