Wake up Britain – it’s pay-back time

Part I of a three-part series in which PETI NYEMBA questions the extent of Britain's past responsibility in the evolution of Zimbabwe and its present duty to its former colony.
It is astonishing that Britain can stand innocently on the side-lines and watch a country and its people collapse into

total ruin.
We ex-citizens of Zimbabwe are viewed with indifference; hammering on the door of No. 10 Downing Street that stands firmly closed. The world is doing nothing about Zimbabwe simply because there is nothing of value left in the country and it is tired of stories about AIDs, famine, corruption and violence.
How did this whole sorry mess evolve in Zimbabwe?
In 1884 England, France and Germany held The Congress of Berlin to discuss how to divide Africa between them. Not surprisingly, there were no African representatives invited! France ended up with the biggest patch of land but the English, largely thanks to the ruthless Cecil John Rhodes, eventually captured a number of magnificent countries.
The greatest prize of all was securing the Union of South Africa, where Rhodes and his friends found some of the world’s largest deposits of gold and diamonds. The pioneers drove the stake of the Union Jack into South African soil.
Rhodes was a man of vision and soon turned his eyes northwards toward the rich lands ruled by Lobungula. A Charter Company was formed and in l890 the Pioneer Column marched through unknown territories to claim the country for Britain.
Adventurers, miners, artisans and ambitious businessmen moved to populate the new country. Inevitably ‘remittance men’ arrived; ‘British black sheep’ sent by embarrassed titled families.
The good, the bad and the ugly jostled down together. Their lifestyle was reminiscent of early days in the Wild West of America. In time the pioneer look faded and little Britain emerged; better roads were built, fine buildings constructed and eventually one of the finest and most efficient civil services in the world was established.
Soon a two-tier system was implemented; the whites were in command and the blacks, like children, were to be given health, education and the continuity of their tribal rule – provided they behaved themselves. This system was never discussed with the resident blacks; it was just imposed with everything neatly graded ‘Blacks Only’ and ‘Whites Only’.
Black tribes were moved from their traditional lands onto arid Tribal Trust Lands. They were bewildered; had they not helped the visiting whites to find the gold stones? It became apparent that the whites were determined to stay; there was nothing they could do about it. His Majesty Lobengula died of a broken heart.
The first Chimurenga (rebellion) began when outspoken black leaders actively stood against the imposed British way of life. The Mashonaland Rebellion, when many innocent whites were killed, ended with the capture of the ring-leader, Mbuya Nehanda.
Nehanda and another leader, Kaguvi, were executed in Salisbury on 27 April 1898. Future black leaders were beginning to rise up, one of them being Robert Mugabe.
Rumbles of discontent among the whites began in the 1950s and grew louder in the 1960s when their population rose to 269 000. Growing numbers of liberal whites stood up to challenge educated blacks.
Of course the modern medical facilities ensured the survival of more rural babies, mothers and children. The school system was relatively nationwide, but very often distance prevented primary school children from attending and enough senior schools were built to offer a place to only 25% of those Primary school children! Deliberately planned or a financial constraint is a question mark – but it was a recipe for
However a spark of hope was on the horizon. Missionaries had arrived in the country well before the Pioneer Column and they had firmly established, particularly in Matabeleland, the doctrine of Jesus Christ who taught that all men were equal. Alarm bells rang in government offices as increasing numbers of black secondary school students slipped over the border in search of tertiary education in places like Fort Hare. Future Black leaders were on their way. One of them was called Robert Mugabe.
The rumbles of discontent commenced in the 1950s and grew louder in the 1960s when the white population rose to 269 000, the highest ever or ‘was ever to be in the future’ as it happened. Growing numbers of liberal whites stood up on the side of educated blacks and were isolated for it. – Next week – the Second Chimurenga.

Post published in: Opinions

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