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Thread: Where the Rhodesians right?

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    Politics.ie Member Schomberg's Avatar
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    Default Were the Rhodesians right?

    Ok, not looking for this to end up being a verbal boxing match between racists and ultra liberals, so please lets try and have a decent discussion. I just finished reading Peter Godwins excellent two books When a Crocodile Eats the Sun and Mukiwa: A white boy in Africa both very fascinating books. I had few members of my own (extended) family live for a short time in both South Africa and later (Southern) Rhodesia after the Anglo Boer war until the 30's when they came back to Ireland, so maybe thats why I got some interest in it. Anyway, reading all these little autobiographys by former white Rhodesians you can't help feel like they were a pretty misunderstood bunch. No doubt there was some elements of post colonial racism about in the country, but I can't help but feel they had a point. The black Rhodesians were still living in a very tribal environment. They didn't turn soil, they wanted their children to stay at home and help with the farm rather than go to school, they trusted their witch doctors more than trained medical physicians even to the point that by the mid 60s Rhodesia's hospitals were estimated to be operating at only 60% capacity. The majority of white Rhodesians did want majority rule but wanted it at a slower rate. they wanted people educated and capable before being handed over power. There was hardly any point in giving power to someone just because they were a certain skin colour if they weren't capable to doing the job.

    There had to be an element of fear there too. I guess white Rhodesians were as afraid of Democracy as they were of communism. The African experience would have justified their fear. Places like Mozambique to the north had had democracy, but only once. after that it was despotic dictator after dictator. Whites were such a minority in African states they had no political voice. Other African states that gained majority rule ended up in a spiral of tribal warfare and inhuman violence, where one tribe got on top, raped the land for all they could before they were ousted by the next warlord. You have to wonder how supportive the black Rhodesians were of Mugabe and the black nationalists too and how much of it was down to pure fear. It seems logically that they'd reluctantly be more supportive/afraid of the more brutal force. Peter Godwin made an observation in one of his books about how they'd go into villages to try and police the situation and show the locals that they could protect them. They'd then see some operation with them until the local terrorist force would come through, rape, kill and stake people and after that they'd get no co-operation whatsoever.

    All the white doom-sayers were vindicated in the end. The bread basket of Africa became the basket case of the continent. Weird thing is that immediately after independence it actually looked like they would pull off the impossible and create a proper run, democratic multi-racial society. Ian Smith spoke about all the great meetings he had with Robert Mugabe and how he seemed to have mis understood the man. All changed pretty rapidly as we know.

    sorry...rambled on a bit aimlessly there...not a good idea to try and type an intelligible post while dodging the boss
    Last edited by He3; 27th April 2010 at 02:00 PM.

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    Politics.ie Member Clanrickard's Avatar
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    Yes is the answer. What is clear is that handing the rule of a country to people who a generation before had been living in mud huts is a bad idea. People need to be educated to be democratic or the whole democracy idea fails as so many African countries have shown.

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    Politics.ie Member Interista's Avatar
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    The majority of white Rhodesians did want majority rule but wanted it at a slower rate. they wanted people educated and capable before being handed over power.
    Is there any evidence for this? Did they make any moves towards it while they could? This is a genuine question. Forgive me for being skeptical, but it's easy for them or their descendents to now say that they wanted 'majority rule'. It's like when you talk to white South Africans these days, you'd think that every single one of them had always been opposed to apartheid, when we know that the majority of the white population supported it and very few actively opposed it. Then again, there weren't many Nazi sympathizers in Berlin in 1945 either.

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    Politics.ie Member Twin Towers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schomberg View Post
    Ok, not looking for this to end up being a verbal boxing match between racists and ultra liberals, so please lets try and have a decent discussion.
    Fat chance of that when your first line already queers the pitch with stereotypes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Interista View Post
    Is there any evidence for this? Did they make any moves towards it while they could? This is a genuine question. Forgive me for being skeptical, but it's easy for them or their descendents to now say that they wanted 'majority rule'. It's like when you talk to white South Africans these days, you'd think that every single one of them had always been opposed to apartheid, when we know that the majority of the white population supported it and very few actively opposed it. Then again, there weren't many Nazi sympathizers in Berlin in 1945 either.
    + a big one

    Of course there weren't many Nazi sympathisers in Germany after May 1945. How could there be after the miracle that saw them all turn into Christian CDU supporters overnight?

    As for Rhodesia, what can you expect when people are oppressed, exploited and kept in misery for decades while immigrants cream off the best of everything that is going? They did nothing to allow the native inhabitants to develop anything, much less democratic institutions. The last White government in Rhodesia didn't have a single academic qualification between them, so who were they to help prepare the Black majority for self-rule?

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    Politics.ie Member rockofcashel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clanrickard View Post
    Yes is the answer. What is clear is that handing the rule of a country to people who a generation before had been living in mud huts is a bad idea. People need to be educated to be democratic or the whole democracy idea fails as so many African countries have shown.
    And what if the Africans simply do not want to live in a democratic society ?

    You do realise that widescale representative Democracy is a very modern idea
    1,197 people agree with me.. how many agree with you ?

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    Politics.ie Member Schomberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Interista View Post
    Is there any evidence for this? Did they make any moves towards it while they could? This is a genuine question. Forgive me for being skeptical, but it's easy for them or their descendents to now say that they wanted 'majority rule'. It's like when you talk to white South Africans these days, you'd think that every single one of them had always been opposed to apartheid, when we know that the majority of the white population supported it and very few actively opposed it. Then again, there weren't many Nazi sympathizers in Berlin in 1945 either.
    I'm reading Ian Smiths biography at the minute (heavy going and care is needed to separate his own prejudice from the events taking place around him) and he talks about it in there. The move might have been a late development in the war but the country was renamed Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. I think the problem was that they backed a black democrat (Abel Muzorewa) who didn't have any sway the extremist elements in black nationalist circles. The whites were clearly fearing for their very lives. They feared the communism the black nationalists were promoting, they watched other African states become independent and go down the dictatorship path with massive violence and famine. They probably feared a black backlash too. I think they were genuinely concerned of the prospect of people who weren't qualified to run a country being handed the reigns of power and control. Their neighbor Mozambique had just gone through that very thing.

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    Politics.ie Member Interista's Avatar
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    The last White government in Rhodesia didn't have a single academic qualification between them, so who were they to help prepare the Black majority for self-rule?
    Kind of reminds me of how the Brits suddenly got all uppity about 'democracy' in the years before Hong Kong was to be returned to China. They were hardly in a good position to lecture anyone on the matter, given the very undemocratic nature of the unelected colonial government of the territory, with the governor appointed by the queen in London.

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    Politics.ie Member Interista's Avatar
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    They probably feared a black backlash too. I think they were genuinely concerned of the prospect of people who weren't qualified to run a country being handed the reigns of power and control.
    So no blacks were 'qualified to run a country' despite them being by far the majority? Did these 'terrified' colonists ever stop to ask themselves just why only white folk were 'qualified' to rule?

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    Politics.ie Member Rocky's Avatar
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    To begin with on the education issue, the large majority of black Zimbabweans weren't educated, but Mugabe was and by all accounts he was/is a very intelligent and educated man and that hasn't stopped him driving Zimbabwe into the ground.

    The level of support Mugabe had at any point is also disputable, although he did of course have a large level of support at least originally. If a free and fair election was held today all proper polls suggest he would be hammered and he even won the first election after Independence through violence and intimidation.

    It's also important to note that under white rule, the large majority of people did live in massive poverty and despite your argument, the system wasn't set up to improve that. Of course things have got worse since then, but the whites never had any great interest in improving the black people as you seem to suggest and even if they had, people inherently can't do that and the notion that they can is simply rascist. People have to grow and develop in their own way and that can't be imposed on them.

    White rule couldn't last forever and shouldn't and was always going to fall and we would end up somewhere like here. It took the West a long time to get to where we are today and even at that it's not near perfect and although Africa won't end up exactly like the west for good or bad, it will develop, hopefully for the best and in recent years Mugabe's control has weakened to an extent.

    As always there are no easy answers.
    Last edited by Rocky; 26th April 2010 at 01:57 PM.
    "Give us the future, we've had enough of YOUR past, Give us back our country, to live in, to grow in and to love..."

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