Those on the Left (and often those allegedly on the Right) often attack the legacy of Rhodesia by claiming it was “racist”. This is, if one looks at the facts, utter hogwash. Ian Smith was certainly no racist, nor were most members of the Rhodesia Front, the ruling political party of Rhodesia. Rhodesia’s voting policies were based not a racial hatred, but on practical reality. Blacks were not barred to vote because of their race, it was simply required that one had to read and own property in order to vote. Popular Democracy had already proven a disaster in Africa, and the Rhodesian Front was committed to preserving not only the Rhodesian Whites, but the nation itself.
One quote that is often used as a club to beat Smith (and by extension, the RF and Rhodesia) is when Ian Smith said “Let me say it again. I don’t believe in black majority rule ever in Rhodesia—not in a thousand years.” At first glance, this seems like a rather identitarian outlook, that while given the circumstances is understandable, is certainly not ideal. However, upon closer inspection of the quote, along with the full length of the quote (as the quote that is usually provided is but a snippet of a larger statement), we can see that Smith is in fact, condemning Identitarianism and Racism.
The full quote is as follows:
“I have said before, and I repeat, we are prepared to bring black people into our Government to work with us. I think we have got to accept that in the future Rhodesia is a country for black and white, not white as opposed to black and vice versa. I believe this is wrong thinking for Rhodesia. We have got to try to get people to change their line of thinking if they are still thinking like that. This is outdated in Rhodesia today. I don’t believe in majority rule ever in Rhodesia… not in 1,000 years. I repeat that I believe in blacks and whites working together. If one day it is white and the next day black I believe we have failed and it will be a disaster for Rhodesia.”
Ian Smith is not saying he wants Rhodesia ruled by White overlords. What he is saying is that one cannot divide a country based on racial lines, as his Marxist, Afro-Centric opponents from ZANU and ZIPRA would. A “Black” state would only lead to racial strife. In fact, once Blacks did gain control of Rhodesia, after killing or exiling nearly all the Whites, Robert Mugabe proceeded to commit genocide against his fellow blacks in Matabeleland. What Smith is promoting is really what Africa needed more of, looking past racial and tribal differences, and working for the good of one’s nation. Along with corruption, ethnic violence is one of the main reasons African nations fail. Once the radicals had “Africa for Africans”, it quickly devolved into “Africa for my Tribe”. Many Blacks in Former Rhodesia are now admitting that Ian Smith was in fact, a great man. Ernest Mtunzi, Former UK Representative of Joshua Nkomo said “Smith was misunderstood in a lot of ways. He is an African [and] understands the African mentality. It wasn’t his problem what happened in Rhodesia. He came in [to power] in 1965 after Winston Field, so he was along the system that had been created. If you look at the development of Rhodesia, Smith contributed enormously [to] that. It didn’t only benefit the whites, it benefited the blacks.” and that “Smith was being realistic-if you give people something before they are ready [for it] they are going to mess it up. And that has happened. If he had had the opportunity to work with the people [and] help bring them up, Zimbabwe would be a better place now. Smith did make it better during his government. There is no reason why he could not do that if he had been allowed to go on.” Morgan Tsvangirai, Leader of the Movement for Democratic Change admitted that “If Smith was a black man, I would say that he was the best Prime Minister that Zimbabwe ever had.” Patrick Kombayi, Opposition Politician and former Mayor of Gweru, said that “The roads that we are using today were all built by Smith. All the infrastructure is Smith’s. We never suffered the way we are suffering now because Smith took care of the economy that supported all people and they had enough to eat. When he left power the [British] pound was on a par with the Zimbabwean dollar, but President Mugabe has killed all that.”
The real identitarians in Rhodesia, and for that matter, the rest of Africa, were the radical Afro-Centrics, such as Robert Mugabe, who wanted to have a country only for Blacks. They are the real racists, not Ian Smith or the RF. White Rhodesians, Boers, British South Africans, were all just as much “Africans” as a Zulu or a Shona. The West needs to shake off the foolish notions of racial guilt that have infected our culture, so that the tragedy of Rhodesia is never repeated again.