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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Friday, August 1, 2008

THE MAN WHO CRIED UNCLE


Photograph Dominique Hoyet
THE MAN WHO CRIED UNCLE
Time October 11 1976
We never have had a policy in Rhodesia to hand over our country to any black majority and, as far as I am concerned, we never will."
Ian Smith, March 1976
Ian Douglas Smith, 57, does not easily change his mind. The eleven-year history of renegade white rule in Rhodesia stands as testament to his stubbornness. It was the jut-jawed Smith who, in 1965, led the self-governing British colony into making a unilateral declaration of independence in order to block London's intention of bringing about black majority rule. In the years that followed, Smith led white Rhodesia's dukes-up resistance to international pressure for change. But it was Smith, too, who finally agreed to accept reality. His epochal meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was, according to one sympathetic witness, "probably the most painful day of his life."
Gauging Smith's exact feelings has always been a difficult task. Passionately private, he has been described as an "extraordinary ordinary man." On several occasions during his long tug of war with London over its demands for representative democracy in Rhodesia he left British officials with the impression that he would give in, only to refuse later on. Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once called him the "most slippery political customer I've ever negotiated with." Says another of Smith's acquaintances: "Stubbornness has been that man's strong suit ever since I've known him."
Smith's self-description is somewhat different. "I am a strong right-wing man," he once declared, "but that does not mean either that I am an extremist, or that I am explosive. Very often the extremists are the weak men, and they are the first to get up and run. I have certain values I believe in, quietly and firmly, without shouting or waving my arms about."
Smith's values are those of most of the whites in a land whose colonization was relatively recent. A second-generation Rhodesian and his nation's first native-born Prime Minister, he is the son of a Scottish butcher and cattle rancher who arrived in Rhodesia in 1898. Smith was raised southwest of Salisbury in the small farming and mining town of Selukwe (pop. 7,900 blacks, 517 whites). His father, he has said, "was one of the fairest men I have ever met, and that is the way he brought me up. He always told me that we're entitled to our half of the country and the blacks are entitled to theirs."
The daredevil defiance with which Smith ran his breakaway regime, friends suggest, reflects his personality as much as his politics. As a pilot flying Hawker Hurricanes in North Africa for the Royal Air Force during World War II, Smith barely survived a spectacular crackup on a takeoff. But after five months of plastic surgery in Cairo, during which his face had to be almost totally rebuilt, he was happily back flying fighter missions. Later he was shot down while strafing German positions in Italy, and found himself stranded far behind enemy lines. Eagerly playing guerrilla, Smith fought with a band of Italian partisans for five months before beginning a 23-day trek across the Alps to British lines.
In 1948 Smith married a strong-willed South African widow, Janet Watt, whose views on race coincided with his own (they have a son; she has two children from her first marriage). Smith, the ex-pilot, soon gravitated into another form of combat: Rhodesian politics. In 1961, when he was chief whip of the ruling United Federal Party, Smith resigned his seat in protest over a proposed constitution that accepted the British demand for greater black representation in government. Backed by an ultrarightist tobacco tycoon, Douglas ("Boss") Lilford, Smith helped found the Rhodesian Front Party, which won the national elections in 1962 on a "white rights" platform. Smith became Prime Minister in 1964 and soon set Rhodesia on the dramatic road to breakaway from Britain.
White Rhodesian attitudes toward subsequent events are sharply divided. Most whites, however, probably consider Smith a hero for having held out so long.
The Rhodesian rebellion may be at an end, but Ian Smith does not plan to abandon his country. After all, he and his family still have 21,500 acres of prime ranching and farming land to tend in south-central Rhodesia. Says he: "I have no intention of leaving."

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I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.