Facts speak louder than statistics

Friday, 26 April 2013

Remembering All Our Allies

Rhodesian servicemen.

On ANZAC Day we honour the brave soldiers of Australia and New Zealand who have fought bravely to protect our freedoms. And despite the day being mostly about our own brave people the soldiers of our allies are also recognised.

But whether it’s ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day one group is overlooked despite being one of the most distinguished. 

They fought for freedom with no hesitation, their contribution to WW1 and WW2 was higher per capita than any other Commonwealth nation and that includes Britain. Their future prime minister also fought in WW2 with distinction. 

They served with such distinction the Royal Family made a special tour of their country after WW2 to say thank you.

The country in question is Rhodesia which was a self-governing nation within the British Empire.

But despite fighting with Britain and the Commonwealth the Rhodesian's found themselves abandoned by Britain and the Commonwealth in their own time of need. 

The rise of so called African nationalism that was usually a flimsy front for vicious dictator’s and the ruining of stable African nations one by one launched itself against Rhodesia. Countries all around Rhodesia fell to this supposed majority rule that in reality unleashed absolute horror onto the continent.

When the refugees from these newly independent African nations went through Rhodesia they told of the looting, the mutilations, the rapes and the murders that they were fleeing from.

That is what majority rule brought to those nations so it’s no wonder the Rhodesian's resisted. To many in the West majority rule was a wondrous thing where everyone was happy and the majority ran the nation to greater levels of prosperity for all.

Of course many of the starry eyed idealists out there don’t let facts get in the way of anything.

“Britain has granted independence to more people than any other nation in history”, squeaked then British prime minister, the starry eyed Harold Wilson. The response by Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith was “Yes and in one instance this resulted in a million people being killed in 3 days”.

One problem for Rhodesia was the ambiguous status of its relationship to Britain. Not a colony, not a dominion but definitely governing itself, the Rhodesian's weren’t going to take a step back to appease the newly independent dictatorships that were flourishing within the Commonwealth. 

Having fought for freedom with distinction they weren’t going to give everything up for the convenience of a British government that was caving in to communism.

The calls for one man one vote and majority rule for Rhodesia were major acts of hypocrisy by Western nations especially since they recognised en masse African dictatorships where the majority weren’t allowed to vote or even speak out. 

In any case there was a way black people in Rhodesia could vote. If they meet certain employment or property qualifications they would be placed on the same voters roll as anyone else. This method was used in the country as they had no way of securing their borders, it would have been more than possible for someone to bus in supporters over the border. At least with property and/or employment they were demonstrating their commitment to the continued well-being of Rhodesia.

On top of that the tribal chiefs had a voice in the running of the nation so no one was totally disenfranchised. One person one vote was of no concern to people whose main concern in life was tribal custom and survival. Give them a how to vote form and they’d likely use it as a firelighter. And forget about ‘educating them’. Many of them didn’t want to know although that was changing and no one in the government was stopping them.

Of course all this was making the newly established dictatorships look bad. A country where the majority of people are happy? Can’t have that, makes the dictatorships look bad! A country where given time the black majority would be in a position to run a first world democracy? Can’t have that! Educated, democratic voters make life difficult for dictators.

When the so called freedom fighters launched a civil war in Rhodesia the Rhodesian's showed their commitment to freedom when they stood alone against an enemy that was determined to wipe them out. Abandoned by their allies they fought against the evil that had already enslaved most of Africa.

Their fight was justified and they certainly weren’t going to let the fact that it was an inconvenience to anyone stop them. They dared to stand alone at a time when many wanted to pretend everything was fine and everyone was happy. 

Because they dared make their stand for their country the Rhodesian's aren’t as widely recognised for their achievements but that doesn’t alter the fact that their contribution to fighting for freedom is outstanding.

They have done much to be proud of and just like all of our allies they deserve our recognition and gratitude. 

The Rhodesian's I have had the good fortune to meet carry on the true spirit of their great nation. They prefer to remain happy about what they had and achieved instead of remaining bitter about what they have lost.

They had a prime minister who fought for his country in war, served his country in peace and was only concerned with what was good for his country, not just himself.

While the sun has set on Rhodesia it will never set on Rhodesian's. The contribution they have made lives on and they helped make the world a better place.

Writer, Jeremy Michaels for the editor.