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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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Saturday, June 13, 2009



From: "Robert Kay"
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2006 20:52:22 +0200


April 2, 1925 - March 22, 2006

Firebrand revolutionary who was a catalyst in the transformation of Rhodesia
into Zimbabwe

When the 30-year-old James Chikerema addressed onlookers in the rough
recreational halls in Salisbury's townships in 1955, he shocked them not
only with his incendiary delivery, but also with his use of an expression
they had never heard before: "one man, one vote". He was the prototype
firebrand militant in post-Second World War Rhodesia where black political
leaders had never asked for more than better pay, the right to stand in the
same queue as whites in the post office and to be able to buy alcohol. Rule
by the white man was regarded as unquestionable, and black politicians
wanted only to be governed well by administrators they routinely addressed
as "our fathers". Chikerema was the first of a generation of African
revolutionaries to articulate the notion of black majority rule in Rhodesia,
and was the catalyst that launched nearly two decades of civil unrest and
seven years of guerrilla war that ended with the independence of the state
of Zimbabwe in 1980.

Uniquely, he lacked the blinding ambition for absolute leadership that has
littered postcolonial Africa with failed states controlled by unbalanced
despots - including his cousin, Robert Mugabe. Chikerema was committed to
"the struggle" and had a rare willingness to play second fiddle to political
leaders he believed were more able than him. To whites, he was a dangerous,
offensive, inflammatory rabble-rouser. His surname means "scoundrel" in
Shona. The rangy, bearded, pipesmoking troublemaker with his jackal-pelt cap
inspired black Rhodesians with his effrontery to white administrators.
Chikerema was non-conformist, non-doctrinaire and cared little what others
thought of his utterances. His apparently unreconcilable political
methodologies were exemplified by the two cheap copper plaques fixed to the
mantelpiece of the fireplace in his ample, run-down Harare home - a model of
an AK47 rifle next to the emblem of Tiny Rowland's Lonrho corporation. His
independence and affable frankness eventually had him sidelined from major
office as the nationalist movement grew into a government. Before and after
independence he was a dabbler in lost causes, surviving on the patronage of
Rowland, who bankrolled most of Zimbabwe's senior black politicians.

James Robert Dambaza Chikerema was born in 1925 at the Kutama Mission in an
African reserve, about 50 miles west of Salisbury, where his father taught
at the school under the severity of the Catholic Marist Brothers. He and
Mugabe were fellow students. They herded the family's cattle together, but
Chikerama had little in common with his aloof relative. After primary school
he went to St Francis College at Mariannhill in Natal, South Africa, one of
a handful of educational institutions in southern Africa open to blacks.
Chikerema quickly absorbed the political atmosphere of the upper forms and
was an adherent of the African National Congress by the time he left for
Cape Town, where he worked as a waiter by day and attended night classes in
history and English. He came into contact with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu
and other established ANC activists, whose focus was on the agitations of
Kwame Nkrumah in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya.
Chikerema joined the banned South African Communist Party and organised
protests with other black Rhodesians against plans to unite Southern and
Northern Rhodesia in a federation. Inevitably, the South African security
police came for him but did not recognise the African foreigner when they
turned up at his lodgings to arrest him. They asked him if he had seen James
Chikerema. "He just left," said the fugitive who immediately fled back to

A job as chief clerk in a factory outside Salisbury ended after he organised
a strike, and he turned to selling insurance, and circulated with a group of
young radicals, most of whom had also just returned from other parts of
Africa with the stirrings of black nationalism. In 1955 Chikerema and his
friends founded the City Youth League in Salisbury and launched themselves
on to the quiescent townships. They clamoured for universal suffrage and
fulminated against the white man's laws. A year later the Youth League was
formalised with Chikerema as its president. They raised their campaign with
protests and civil disobedience, particularly against the Land Husbandry Act
which they believed would force Africans out of their traditional rural
homes. Later in the year, authorities raised bus fares in Salisbury, and
Chikerema organised a bus boycott. The roads were thronged by thousands of
blacks, watched by uneasy policemen, as they walked the six miles from their
townships into town. Youths stoned a bus that tried to defy the boycott.
That night the townships erupted in violence and mobs went on the rampage.

Troops and reservists were called out to quash the commotion. The British
governor, Sir Peveril William-Powlett, declared a state of emergency. But
radical black nationalism had slapped the face of white authority and shown
its efficacy. The bus fare increase was dropped. The Youth League escalated
its offensive. Rallies were held in townships every Sunday with exultant
support, while police wrote down every word of Chikerema's speeches,
arresting him whenever his tirades were judged seditious. Chikerema realised
the impetus of support was enough now to carry the campaign out of Salisbury
and across the country, but did not believe he had the prestige and dignity
for a national leader. After a few failed approaches, Joshua Nkomo, a social
welfare officer in the railways, was recruited. In 1957 the Southern
Rhodesian African National Congress was launched in Salisbury. September 12
was deliberately chosen because it was Pioneer Day, commemorating the
arrival of the first white pioneers in 1890. Nkomo, an Ndebele, was
president, and the Shona Chikerema his deputy, representing a balance
between the two tribal groups.

Their manifesto was simply to secure the swift transfer of power to the
African majority. They swept into Rhodesia's countryside, urging people to
flout the law, and organised boycotts and worked to undermine the authority
of white native commissioners who controlled the tribal areas. Chikerema was
accused of slandering the Minister of Native Affairs, Sir Patrick Fletcher,
by calling him "a thief". Chikerema's claim that he had said "chief" was not
accepted by the magistrate who fined him the immense sum then of £100. The
unrest stirred up by Nkomo and Chikerema in 1959 brought another state of
emergency, from Edgar Whitehead, the Prime Minister. Chikerema was among the
first victims of new repressive laws of detention without trial. He was
released in 1963 to find the SRANC had been banned. Its latest incarnation,
the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu), was splitting into two tribally
based factions, one led by the Ndebele-speaking Nkomo and a Shona group
called the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), of which Mugabe was one
of its most provocative officials.

Violence erupted, mostly in Salisbury's townships as the two factions went
to war with firebombs, stones, cudgels and spears. In 1964 the Government of
Winston Field rounded up almost the entire ranking membership of the African
nationalist movement, running into thousands and including Nkomo and Mugabe,
and put them away in prisons and remote restriction camps. Chikerema and a
few others were able to flee and Rhodesia's townships were relatively calm
for the next ten years. Chikerema remained loyal to Nkomo. He set up a Zapu
headquarters-in-exile in Dar es Salaam but angered President Nyerere of
Tanzania when he promised in 1965 "a reign of terror" against whites in
Rhodesia if Ian Smith's new Government carried out its threat to declare
independence unilaterally. The Zapu offices were moved to Lusaka, the
Zambian capital, where Chikerema was part of a "war council" to prepare for
the battle for Rhodesia. As a military strategist, he was a failure. The few
guerrilla groups Zapu dispatched into Rhodesia were almost all caught not
long after they crossed the border. He also got into trouble with President
Kaunda of Zambia for taking a BBC television crew around a Zapu guerrilla
training camp.

By 1971 Chikerema had lost influence in the exiled Zapu leadership and, with
a few other disaffected black nationalists, founded the Front for the
Liberation of Zimbabwe (Frolizi), to unite the guerrillas of Zapu and Zanu
into a single army. That too failed. He attended the first talks between
Smith and senior representatives of all the black nationalist groups on a
train on the middle of the bridge over the Victoria Falls, on the
Zambia-Rhodesia border. The talks ended in failure. Chikerema's hopes for a
military role faded in 1975 when the men in the largest guerrilla camp, in
Mgagao, Tanzania, signed a document of no confidence in him, and declared
their loyalty to Mugabe. He returned to Rhodesia and joined the "internal
settlement" between Smith and Bishop Abel Muzorewa that in 1979 won him a
Cabinet post in Muzorewa's ten-month rule. Frustrated with Muzorewa's poor
leadership, he joined a group of rebel parliamentarians to form the Zimbabwe
Democratic Party. It was only a few months before it was overtaken by the
Lancaster House agreement in December 1979 that bore independence in April
1980. He all but disappeared from the political scene thereafter, working
for Lonrho, making one last, unsuccessful stab in an election in 1995 for
the shortlived Forum Party, and he spent the rest of his time as something
of a gentleman farmer on a property he bought near his home at Kutama.
Shortly after Mugabe mounted his seizure of white-owned land in 2000, he
also had Chikerema's listed for seizure. "It's a punishment," said
Chikerema. "Because I stood against him and have never been a member of his
party." He died in Indianapolis in the US where he had gone for medical
treatment. He leaves his wife, Philda, and seven children.

James Chikerema, political activist, was born on April 2, 1925. He died on
March 22, 2006, aged 80



Half a Century in Uniform ~ a book about The Life Story of Group Captain O.D. Penton OLM AFC and how he helped form the Rhodesian Air Force includes Spitfire and Cessna Skymaster Ferries across Africa

This is the life story of Ossie Penton, who has been described as a "Journeyman Pilot." When I started preparing the manuscript I was told by him that he did not "really have a story to tell, I am not an "ace of the base" like Douglas Bader or Neville Duke. To me most of war was like a Cook's Tour.

This is the man who flew 114 missions over Malta, the Adriatic, Albania and Italy. He earned his wings with the South African Air Force and then went "Up North" attached to the RAF and flew with the Desert Air Force over the Italian War Theatre.

In his log one comment epitomised the man. He wrote it after he landed from a ground strafing mission in Albania with several bullet holes in his plane. It read: "Hit several times. The Big Twitch!"

When he finally returned to South Africa he could not leave flying alone and emigrated to the then Southern Rhodesia where he joined the Southern Rhodesia Auxiliary Air Force. With that force he took part in the longest ferry of Spitfires ever undertaken, setting the scene and providing the ground work for another ferry some 25 years later. This was the Ferry of 18 Cessna 337G (Skymaster ~ Milirole Ground Attack platform) aircraft from Rheims in France to Salisbury against United Nations sanctions. Both the Ferries are detailed in the book with the original logs from both recorded. The detailed account of how the Rhodesian Aircraft ferried the Skymaster code named the Lynx ~ the aircraft designed especially for operations in Viet Nam includes photographs only published in this book.

Ossie was a founder member of the Rhodesian Air Force and rose to high rank due to his unique personality and his ability as a leader as well as a pilot. He helped train several of the men who became Officers Commanding of the Air Force.

In addition to recording the story of a unique man the book also shows the political climate and events of a turbulent time in South Africa's and Rhodesia's (now Zimbabwe) history.

Ossie finally retired from flying in 1982 after serving with the fledgling Air Force of Zimbabwe. One of his students was at that time the Air Marshal in charge of the Air Force.




It was Stanley Nyamufukudza who argued in 1993 that it was becoming clearthat those who study Zimbabwe’s 1970’s war literature risk narrowing down to pro-guerilla literature only – something to that effect.
The grave danger was to deny oneself opportunity to get to know how the ‘man in the opposite camp’ viewed the same war, Nyamufukudza continued. He was reviewing former Rhodesian soldier Angus Shaw’s war novel Kandaya: Another time, AnotherPlace.
With that in mind one gradually noticed a lot of Rhodesian “soldier literature” lying all over the country in; old book-shops, old libraries, flea-markets, treasure shops,old school cupboards, former nannies and kaddies’ suitcases… Rhodesian soldier literature is everywhere in Zimbabwe and we side-step it everyday as we look for bananas, flowers or brightly coloured magazines. Some of it is just crazyand when you read it, you curse: “Of course, their version - the terrorists– was that we’d massacred women and children, just to incite hate against us. Well, maybe there were some women and Children.
I know there were. But you can’t stop shooting at terrorists if there are women and children there, because then you’d never win the war.” Some of it gets straight to the guts with its kind of brutal candour mixed withstony bravado: “I often used to wonder how Kandaya felt when we were closing in on him or his people.
Sometimes they didn’t have a chance because we had the helicopters, the radios, the superior fire power, you name it, we had it.” Jeremy Ford’s 1975 book of poems called Hello Soldier! Is not a book you might consider going through when you come across it.
It is a “hastily” written andillustrated “book of sketches and poems of a Rhodesian soldier’s life”. But when you realize that this could be one of the small but useful windows into the Rhodesian Front Call Up, you read it for pointers and insights.
Page 2
Carrying fifty-seven poems, Hello Soldier! Is passionately dedicated “To my wife, Florence.” It is a kind of Rhodesian soldier’s diary in poetry form. It should be remembered that able-bodied Rhodesians dutifully went to “Call-Up.”
Meaning that they trained and served in their Rhodesian army for specific periods during the 1970s war which they often refer to as the “bush war”. The Africannationalists refer to the same as “war of liberation.” In the first poem called “Call-up” the persona who is out on call up addresses a girlfriend back home. The reason for going to war is understated: Think of all the love we had, Girl, sometimes think of me, Now I’m just a soldier in A war to keep us free.” Free from what? You ask. Obviously free from communism or black rule! Maybe it also means “free to have our kind in power.” Free to continue tilling the lands usurped from the helpless natives. However that very contentious issue is given a soft touch in the poem: “Girl, I am just a soldier with A rifle and a pack, Girl, you got to keep your heart For me when I get back!” This lends this poetry to comparing and contrasting with the black nationalist guerilla poetry by the likes of Freedom Nyamubaya and Thomas Bvuma where the war is actually “the real poetry” and the bush and struggle are “that open university.”For Jeremy Ford’s persona call up is just duty, something you can go in and outof. It is only a rite of passage and an initiation into manhood. It is not further than a physical experience. In “Fit Enough” the doctor insists on the mere physicality of the venture and the war is not associated with clear-cut ideals: “The Doctor says I’m fit enough, They say he ought to know- Two feet, two hands, a steady gaze To carry on for days.” If you are looking for the Rhodesian soldier’s ideals in this anthology beyond “keeping us free,” you are bound to be disappointed. The poems are about“training” only as an external experience. However the sense of thrill such poems could instill in a white boy-reader cannot be over-emphasised. As a
Page 3
3romance/mobiliser genre, this book must have been very useful to the Rhodesian cause. It is a book that can drive any boy to the barrack. There is a lot of “wheeling”, “marching” “muttering” in these poems and at the end of the day, there is always “time to eat.” The sense of picnic in the Call-Up barrack isportrayed as over-powering: “Now Army food is not too bad When you’ve been out all day, For then you eat what they dish out In lumps upon your tray. The weight of it is quite enough To keep a man content, It weighs him down like may tonsOf healthy grey cement.” There is a mixture of both the spartan and ‘soft’ adventure. The comfort strikes a direct opposite with the hunger and disease of the ZANLA and ZIPRA camps inMozambique and Zambia, respectively. One senses that the “Rhodesian war” dependent on a regular fat bill. The illustrations to this collection show young soldiers in pretty tunic, fitting caps, barrack beds, well oiled guns and the occasional acoustic guitar. Interestingly there was time to write letters to “Dad, mum, Pete and Joe back home.” Mum and Dad could even come visiting. There was time to listen to radio Jacaranda’s “Favourites in the Forces,” a programme on which girl-friendswould phone in or write to tell Jack to “give the terrs a hard-time.” Or one could phone in to pass “all my love to Frikkie du Toit – somewhere in the bush.” One’s duty in this war was “timed” and one marked the passing day on the barrack calendar. You “did your bit” and went back home or to college a true patriot. This was a leisure trip and when it ended, one turned one’s back and moved on. One was only “a rifleman” who received money on pay-day: “Pay checked and found correct sir! Is what they make you say, And that’s enough to last you till It comes to next pay day” But then, throughout, you don’t find a black face in this one hundred and twentythree paged book of poems! But one knows that the cooks and care-takers in these barracks were blacks. The black characters have been very unskillfully erased from the whole picture. This is however part of the well known Rhodesian lie or myth – that the blackman is not worth seeing. This is not only
Page 4
evident in Rhodesian literature. It is also the same case in Rhodesian paintings.In 1995 Tim McLoughlin was to write: “This point becomes clearer if we compare landscapes (paintings) by white painters like Alice Balfour and others who are fascinated by the vast unpeopled spaces which they see (and not people). Much attention, Particularly in water colour painting, goes into the brush- work details of long winter grass or aloes. (and not people), contorted shapes of branches…” There is, in Jeremy Ford as in Rhodesian psyche, an excitement with the self. The none but ourselves syndrome. And even after the training, the young soldier persona is not portrayed as properly defining his (guerilla) enemy. Atbest the man on the other side is a monkey:“We’re leaving in a week or so To go and earn our keep Away there in the valley where The monkeys lie asleep.” Towards the end of this “amusing” book of poems one comes across the only contact in a poem called ‘Contact.’ You think - now I will “see” the guerillas. Butthe guerillas are not given shape. There is a single guerilla gun-shot and beforethe Rhodesians respond, the guerillas disappear: “We all skirmished forward And sank to one knee As they ran away through The forest of trees.” The guerillas remain simply as “they” and their association with the bush and darkness have been typical as far back as Peter Halket of Mashonaland. The African guerillas rush back into the unchristian bush where they belong. The young Christian Rhodesian soldiers remain and continue to preserve their“freedom.” Part of Ian Smith’s U.D.I. document does not mince words: “We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilization, Christianity and in the spirit of this belief we have this day assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all.”
Page 5
As Jeremy Ford’s soldiers go deeper and deeper into “their country”, they get lost in it! They say, “We are miles away from nowhere.” They miss “a smoke, a wash, some good hot food and a sleeping tent.” They are stranded until an army helicopter finds them. The “bush war” remains an adventure until the young soldiers return home. The Rhodesian soldier literature, music and life-style has retreated from the public sphere but it is very much alive. Today the Rhodesian web-sites receive poems continuously from Rhodesians in Zimbabwe, South-Africa, Canada, Britain,Australia and New-Zealand. What unites the Rhodesians, as seen in their literature (both in print and today’s web-sites) is the theme that “Rhodesians never die.”
The physical Rhodesia was overtaken by ‘terrs’ in 1980 but the Rhodesians the world over have created a nation in their minds.
They are watching us. They hear what we say.
Stanley Nyamufukudza’s warning is important: Let us keep them in sight.
Let us understand them through what they wrote and are still writing.

Rhodesian AF Air to air contact comment


Saw on your choppertech blog about the only air-to-air combat during the bush war. I ‘d heard the story from the other side – the pilot of the other plane was actually an RAF instructor who was training up the BDF Air Wing at the time. His name was Tony someone who I came across in Gaborone in the early 80s. He told me he’d actually visited Thornhill after the war to meet up with you guys and mull over the story.

Good luck for the book.

Dave Crossley