Saturday 31 October 2020

From Boxers To Rappers: When Ali Endorsed Reagan For President

Cartoon caricatures of former world heavyweight champions Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. (Image: Detroit Free Press, Friday, November 2nd 1984).

The rapper 50 Cent recently created a furore over his endorsement of Donald Trump during the present U.S. presidential campaign. That the print and online media found it noteworthy to report and discuss his and other endorsements from a number of other rappers was interesting not least because it bears similar undertones to the reaction of Muhammad Ali’s 1984 endorsement of Ronald Reagan, a right-wing Republican presidential candidate who was perceived by many in the Black American community as a “racist”.

The controversy which followed the recent endorsement by the Black American rapper and actor 50 Cent of Donald Trump provoked a severe backlash from many in the Black community, as well as from Democratic Party-supporting White Liberals. It was on many levels reminiscent of the backlash which followed similar endorsements by Black celebrities of right-wing presidential candidates of the past such as that which followed Sammy Davis Jr’s support of Richard Nixon in 1972 as well as Muhammad Ali’s approval of Ronald Reagan in 1984. 

Whereas 50 cent based his support of Trump on what he claimed was Joe Biden’s draconian tax plans for the wealthy, Ali, who had earlier endorsed the left-leaning Jesse Jackson during his landmark presidential bid, based his decision not on economics but on religion; saying that Reagan was “keeping God in schools, and that’s enough.”

The reaction towards Ali was littered with expressions of "disappointment", as well as barbs related to his declining health, which his political critics attributed to brain damage caused by a lengthy career in the ring.

Ali's endorsement of Reagan came alongside that of two other Black former heavyweight champions, Joe Frazier and Floyd Patterson. Headlined "We're Voting For the Man", billboards appeared showing Reagan playfully aiming a punch at Ali and superimposed photos of Frazier and Patterson.  Ali had specifically referred to both rivals as being "Uncle Toms" because they had received widespread support from Whites in the contests that he had with Frazier and Patterson respectively in 1971 and 1965. And it seemed rather odd and insulting that the marketing team who placed the billboard in Black neighbourhoods would use the designation of Reagan as “The Man”. “The Man” was of course a Black colloquialism which referred to a figure of state authority who was perceived to be an instrument of “White oppression of Blacks”.

It seemed striking that Ali, who at the peak of his powers was a member of the separatist Nation of Islam organisation and who was perceived by many White Americans as a racist and a radical, would actually take the step of endorsing a figure such as Reagan.  

There were compelling reasons as to why this should have been the case.

A former film actor and governor of the state of California, Reagan was perceived as a "racist" because when bidding for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 1980, he chose to start his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place where three civil rights workers were brutally murdered during the height of the movement. This alongside Reagan's frequent references to "states' rights" appeared to many to have been a coded message to White segregationists.

One other noteworthy incident which confirmed for many Reagan’s racial bias occurred two years prior to Ali’s endorsement when Larry Holmes, a Black world heavyweight champion, fought Gerry Cooney, an Irish-American contender. There had not been a White American world heavyweight champion since Rocky Marciano had reigned in the 1950s. The bout is remembered in boxing circles for the heightened atmosphere of bitter racial rivalry which surrounded it, and this was not helped by the fact that it was discovered that Reagan had made arrangements to call and congratulate Cooney in the event of the challenger winning the bout.

No similar arrangement was made with Holmes.

More evidence of Reagan’s racial attitudes was unearthed last year through the discovery of a taped conversation with Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. Complaining about a vote against the United States in the United Nations which had been supported by many African countries, Reagan told Nixon:

Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did ... To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!

Nixon responded with laughter.

This was of course unknown at the time of Ali’s endorsement, but the other points of evidence along with Reagan’s history of opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were enough to direct a great deal of opprobrium towards Ali.

In a syndicated column published in October 1984, and titled "Once a Champ, Now a Loser", Eileen O'Connor concluded that Ali's athletic talents had faded years ago and "It's a shame to see him lose his dignity as well." (1)

(1) It was not the first time that Ali had been criticised in this sort of manner. Some years previously, his decision to accept the role as President Jimmy Carter’s special envoy tasked with encouraging African nations to boycott the Moscow Olympics after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was met with incredulity by several of the African nations he visited. Nigeria’s Shehu Shagari refused to meet him, and a Tanzanian diplomat famously offered the following criticism of American policy by asking whether the United States would “send Chris Evert to negotiate with London.”

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England. He is the author of the books Jersey Boy: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula and Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal. He contributed two essays to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing, part of the Cambridge Companions to Literature series published by Cambridge University Press in January 2019. They were “The Africans: Boxing and Africa” and “Jose Torres: The Boxer as Writer”.

Monday 26 October 2020

Erdogan: Turkey's Meddlesome and Mischievious Neo-Ottoman Sultan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan. PHOTO CREDIT: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s recent comments regarding his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s mental state has led to the recall of the French ambassador from Ankara. His assertion that Macron was “in need of mental health treatment” was not his first barb aimed at the French president. Back in August, he accused Macron of having “colonial aims” in Lebanon and referred to Macron’s visit to Beirut as a “spectacle”. But if there is any truth to Erdogan’s accusation, it is almost certainly a case of psychological projection. Erdogan himself has been explicitly engaged in a perennial quest aimed at restoring Turkish grandeur and influence to the great cost and the irritation of his country’s neighbours and traditional allies. 

That Recep Erdogan would be sensitive to comments construed as anti-Muslim in sentiment, is not particularly surprising. He is by all accounts a devout Muslim. Further, many consider his ideological roots when he began a path into politics as akin to that professed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is today perceived by many to be an al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun in a suit.

But his publicly uttered umbrage at President Macron’s speech cannot merely be interpreted as a spontaneous reaction of a pious statesman. His failure to express regret over the beheading of a French History teacher by an Islamist student who was offended by the display of two cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad alongside other cartoons during a discussion on freedom of speech speaks volumes. Those who know the man well will be bound to see it as a calculated move geared toward building up his image at home, as well as promoting himself as a righteous leader of the Muslim world.

Erdogan is a man who is adept at self-promotion. He is also consistently involved in one or other conspiratorial endeavour aimed at expanding Turkey’s geopolitical sphere of influence. It is neither inaccurate nor lazy to attribute his agenda as being that of attempting to facilitate the emergence of a neo-Ottoman state.

Yet, all his designs have so far ended in failure.

His attempt at weaving this Ottoman dream in Central Asia went awry in the 2000s because his Turkic cousins wanted more money than Erdogan could afford. Erdogan was knee-deep in the attempt to balkanise Syria in concert with the Saudis, Israelis, and US-led NATO states. But this was frustrated by the actions of Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. More recently, Erdogan tried to bolster his prestige at home by asserting a Turkish sphere of influence across the Mediterranean by threatening the Greeks and intervening in the Libyan mess created by NATO's overthrow of Gaddafi. He was frustrated in this endeavour not only by Egyptian and Greek actions which called his bluff, but also by Macron's stated intent to militarily oppose any overt acts of Turkish aggression in the region.

Ever the troublemaker, Erdogan has been revealed as an active backer of the Azeri attack on Armenian-controlled Nagorno Karabakh, an action that has brought back memories among the Armenian populace and the Armenian Diaspora of the Ottoman orchestrated anti-Armenian genocide of the early 20th century.

Back in July, Erdogan's decision to sign a decree which will turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque will signal the final nail on Christendom in what used to be the Christian city of Constantinople. An ineradicable opportunist, he likely chose this moment in time to capitalise on the recent schism in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is based on the geopolitical animus between Russia and Ukraine.

Through all of this he has lost friends: Erdogan has fallen out with President Bashar Assad of Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, as well as the Saudis. The European Union, which Erdogan once aspired to join, has become wary of him -if not hostile- because of his intermittent attempts to extort money through the threats of coercive engineered migration. And his relationship with the United States has been poor since the 2016 coup which he believes was a NATO-backed operation using the followers of the exiled Fethullah Gulen.

Through all his adventures, he has burnt bridges as well as his fingers. The “Zero Problems with Neighbours” policy which he trumpeted at the beginning of his tenure in office has long been in tatters. But the parlous state of the Turkish economy which had been steadily contracting prior to the global recession caused by the covid-pandemic may mean that his endless scheming and posturing will not abate.

The question that now remains is when will the world be finally rid of this meddlesome and mischievous neo-Ottoman sultan?

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020)

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England. He has a keen interest in issues pertaining to global security.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Rene Schneider: The Constitutionalist General

Chilean Stamp commemorating the second anniversary of the death of General Rene Schneider

The assassination of Chilean General Rene Schneider who died on October 25th 1970 from wounds sustained in an attack three days earlier is worth recalling because of his stand in protecting the constitutional process in his country, as well the circumstances of his murder.

He was a pro-democratic military official who affirmed that the role of the armed forces should be apolitical. During a General Staff meeting on July 23rd 1970, Schneider said the following:

The armed forces are not a road to political power nor an alternative to that power. They exist to guarantee the regular work of the political system and the use of force for any other purpose than its defence constitute high treason.

Schneider had issued this powerful statement at a time when there was agitation within the Chilean army to block the confirmation of Salvador Allende, a Marxist-influenced politician, as the President-elect of Chile. It came to be known as the "Schneider Doctrine".

His murder, at the hands of a right-wing faction of the army led by General Roberto Viaux, a retired officer who had previously engineered a mutiny over soldiers pay and conditions, was a state-sponsored enterprise involving the United States Central Intelligence Agency with the knowledge of Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor during the Nixon presidency.

The “Schneider Doctrine” would be challenged and finally destroyed on September 11th 1973, when a violent military coup deposed President Allende and brought to power a military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet. And on March 30th 2004, Schneider’s murder was the subject of a legal complaint brought by his estate against Kissinger in the United States. The action was dismissed and finally ended in 2006.

The threat of the rise of governments which could be perceived as anti-American in Latin America, had of course obsessed the United States for decades before the enunciation of the Schneider Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine, through which the United States demarcated its Western Sphere of influence, applied not only to the old European powers but to the emerging power of the USSR. The reported plan by the Socialist Junta to confiscate wealth while operating a soviet form of government caused a great deal of apprehension in Washington when the Government Junta of Chile was established in June 1932. American interventions in Latin America were persistent and in the Cold War era, Allende, who pursued a policy of nationalisation, and who was a self-described “implacable enemy of Yankee imperialism” drew the ire of the United States which subsequently aided his overthrow.

Although the era of the military junta appears to be in the distant past, the relevance of the Schneider Doctrine remains. The military coup which overthrew Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2009, has been followed more recently by the pivotal role played by the Bolivian military in securing the resignation and resulting exile of President Evo Morales, as well as President Jair Bolsonaro raising the prospect of military intervention in Brazil to protect his hold on power.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Sunday 18 October 2020

The Selous Scouts and Rhodesia's "Dirty War": A Tale of False Flag Terror and War Crimes

Emblem of the Selous Scouts Special Forces unit of the Rhodesian Security Forces. Although nominally part of the Rhodesian Army, the Scouts were directly under the control of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and not the Rhodesian Army.

The war fought during the 1970s in the nation state formerly known as Rhodesia was an asymmetric conflict which pitted the Rhodesian Security Forces against the militias of Black African liberation movements, most prominent of which were ZANLA and ZAPU. Alternately known as the Rhodesian Bush War and the Zimbabwe War of Liberation, it was characterised by an unceasing brutality which claimed the lives of many non-combatants. Both government and guerrilla forces participated in the brutalisation of civilians. However, with the passage of time, many Old Rhodesians, who feel vindicated by Zimbabwe’s political and economic malaise, have sought to characterise the war as having been prosecuted by the White minority government in an ethical, rules-abiding manner. Among its forces, the Selous Scouts is often touted as a model of martial efficiency and resourcefulness, whose codes of behaviour were beyond reproach. This could not be further from the truth. While the Scouts were effective in destroying enemy guerrillas, they were at the heart of a counter-insurgency strategy which waged chemical warfare not only against guerrillas, but the wider African population. The unit was also responsible for initiating False Flag attacks which it sought to blame on Black Nationalist groups;  a mode of operation which while central to its founding aim of providing the Rhodesian state a dimension of psychological warfare, its supporters erroneously claim was alien to the unit.

The Selous Scouts were a multi-racial unit formed in 1973 to wage unconventional warfare. The methods employed included infiltration, assassination, abduction, torture, sabotage, and blackmail. The unit committed “False Flag” atrocities as part and parcel of their modus operandi. The Rhodesian “Bush War”, as is the case with a multitude of wars, had a psychological dimension in regard to which the Selous Scouts, with their expertise in “pseudo operations”, consistently undertook missions which relied on deception, and such deception was utilised to either kill a large number of the insurgent enemy (Black Nationalist) or to kill specific civilian targets in order to blame the Black African insurgents.

One example of a Selous Scout False Flag operation was conducted in February 1980. Named “Operation HECTIC”, it involved two Black African Selous Scouts named Lieutenant Edward Piringodo and Corporal Morgan Moyo bombing churches in the Salisbury area. Piringodo and Moyo used explosives captured from ZANLA guerrillas to blow up two churches; taking care to leave behind ZANU literature near the ruins caused by each blast. However, both Scouts died after a third bomb they were carrying prematurely exploded inside the car they were driving. They were near an Anglican church at the time of the final explosion which took their lives.

“Operation HECTIC” was designed to discredit Robert Mugabe’s ZANU at the forthcoming elections by making his organisation appear to be anti-Christian and anti-freedom of religion. The irony is that although influenced by Marxist-Leninist thinking, Mugabe did not totally cast off his Jesuit upbringing. For instance, he named one of his younger children, a son Bellarmine, after a not-very-well-known Catholic Saint.

The 1980 operation suggests that the frequent allegations made by Black Nationalists that the Selous Scouts carried out atrocities against African villages and Catholic missions are extremely credible. They would have used Black African members of the force in the way Piringodo and Moyo were used to disguise themselves as guerrillas to carry out such atrocities. Mugabe, who revelled at Piringodo and Moyo being “caught and destroyed in their own devilish trap”, specifically blamed the Selous Scouts for having carried out the attack against the Catholic missionaries in February 1977, as well as for the gunning down of 27 Black African tea workers on a White-owned estate in the Honde Valley in late 1976.

Why would the Selous Scouts have committed these deeds? The answer is that alongside the war of bullets and bombs was the propaganda war. The Rhodesian state sought to discredit the Black African guerrillas among the Black populace, as well as in the international court of public opinion. History is replete with examples of states using militarised sections to carry out acts of terror. The Red Hand, the terror organisation which assassinated members of the Algerian FLN, and its West German arms suppliers was a creation of the French Secret Service. And the Military Reaction Force (MRF), a construct of British Army Intelligence, was formed by Brigadier Frank Kitson to not only gun down Irish Republican guerrillas, but to stage operations that would discredit them.

This does not mean that the disputed atrocities may not have been committed by Black African guerrillas who murdered those who they considered to be traitors to their cause, but it ought to encourage those disbelieving Old Rhodesians to remove their rose-tinted lenses and confront the brutalities perpetrated by their side.

Lt. Colonel Reid-Daly, the Commander of the Selous Scouts, was a veteran of the Malaya conflict during which time he would have seen and imbibed the more nefarious aspects of counterinsurgency employed by the British Army. While Frank Kitson’s name is often projected as the key authority in the practice of British Army counter-insurgency, the foremost exponent of what came to be known as anti-Maoist rural counter-insurgency warfare, was applied in Malaya by General Robert Thompson.

The Selous Scots were created precisely to conduct ruthless and “ungentlemanly war”. In fact, the unit came to be known for “murder, rape, smuggling and poaching”, and its members gained a reputation as “psychopathic killers” and “vainglorious extroverts”.

The Rhodesian military began to develop counter-insurgency chemical warfare in the early 1970s, and the Scouts metamorphosed from being a tracking unit to being the central purveyors of the Rhodesian state’s chemical warfare strategy. Glenn Cross’s 1999 book, Plague Wars gives a good account of this aspect of the war. An  academic article written in 2002 by Ian Martinez for Third World Quarterly which was titled “The History of the Use of Bacteriological and Chemical Agents during Zimbabwe’s Liberation War of 1965-80 by Rhodesian Forces” is also very enlightening about the role of chemical warfare in the counter-insurgency.

The Selous Scouts were instructed to poison watering holes, stagnant water, slow moving streams, and other bodies of water near guerrilla camps inside Mozambique, near the border. In one operation, the Selous Scouts poisoned a well in Mozambique which led to the deaths of at least 200 civilians because the well was the only source of drinking water in the area. The Scouts were also instructed to spread cholera. Under cover of “Operation Long Walk” in August 1973, members of the unit poured cholera agents into the Ruya River. This also caused deaths among innocent civilians in Mozambique but was discontinued because the agent dissipated quickly in water, and it could spread back to Rhodesia including areas where the Scouts were operating.

The unit was responsible for injecting thallium into canned meat which was given to insurgents under the deception that they were being supplied from a friendly source. In one situation, the guerrillas gave their poisoned canned meat to villagers on Tribal Trust Land who were short of food, and the villagers subsequently died.

The authorities acquired double agents within the structures of the Black African guerrillas who soaked clothing and food in toxic organophosphates. This resulted in many newly recruited revolutionaries dying on the journey to guerrilla training camps in Zambia and Mozambique. This meant that those who had not yet engaged in attacking the Rhodesian state (they could after all have given up or have been told they were not guerrilla material by instructors) were pre-emptively murdered in a cruel manner. Also, because the double-agent perpetrators could be easily fingered, they were themselves killed.

Those captured Black African guerrillas who the Selous Scouts could not “turn” were either subjected to an extrajudicial execution or were used as human guinea pigs in biological experimentation, which of course inevitably led to their deaths.

While certain Old Rhodesians may claim an ‘end justifies the means’ rationale, the results contradict their frequent argument that the war was fought to defend Black Africans as much as Whites, for the Rhodesian authorities did not seem to mind that their chemical warfare programme was by the end of the 1970s causing health problems among the Black civilian population.

In 1979, Rhodesia recorded the largest recorded outbreak of anthrax, a development which has been interpreted as the deliberate use of a weaponised biological agent. Ken Flower, Chief of Rhodesia’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and a CIO officer named Henrik Ellert confirmed in their memoirs that the Ian Smith-led regime used biological and chemical weapons against the guerrillas, against rural Black Africans to prevent their support of the guerrillas, and against livestock like cattle in order to reduce rural food stocks.

The application of chemical warfare*, at the heart of which was the Selous Scouts amounted to war crimes because it arguably contravened The Hague Convention of 1907. Furthermore, the deliberate and systematic killing of livestock in Black African populated areas infringed Common Article III of the Geneva Convention, 1949. Additionally, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) of 1972 embodied the renunciation by the world community of nations of the use of biological weapons against human beings.

There are of course difficulties associated with specific application to Rhodesia which was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention and, after its Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, was an illegal regime. Nonetheless, the use of such weapons in both internal and international conflicts is now recognised to be a violation of customary international law. The problem of affixing the successor state to Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, with the responsibility of these crimes can be overcome by affixing responsibility of these actions onto individuals who acted on behalf of the Rhodesian state. This would mean that members of the Rhodesian Security Forces including those who served with the Selous Scouts could be prosecuted by a Nuremberg-style court for a range of offences including the murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the use of biological weapons of war against both civilian and military targets as well as compelling prisoners of war to serve with a hostile army.

It should be noted that as part of the war of deception, the deaths of humans and cattle from these poisoning incidents were used as Rhodesian government propaganda to blame the guerrillas. Thus, part of the strategy of the state was geared towards sowing discord between the insurgents and rural populations. On the one hand, villagers were conditioned to believe that food shortages were been caused by guerrilla activity, while the insurgents were encouraged to believe that their food was being poisoned by villagers. In several instances, they launched attacks on those villages they held responsible.

Admissions by Selous Scouts veterans in regard to these actions and objectives have been rare, but a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) cable from Harare to Washington D.C. in 1990 revealed that a member of the Selous Scouts admitted in 1978 that they had “tried both chemical and biological warfare techniques to kill terrorists”. And the recollections of the likes of Ken Flower and Henrik Ellert regarding Selous Scouts atrocities are highly relevant because the Scouts were directly under the control of the CIO and not the Rhodesian Army. What is more, the Rhodesian government had a tight control over the media which facilitated the psy-ops motives of the Selous Scouts. The White population were thus subject to brainwashing by government propaganda which included a great deal of disinformation.

This partly explains the reluctance of many Old Rhodesians to accept this less than salubrious aspect of the fight to maintain the status quo.

* A key aspect of the chemical warfare programme concerns its funding. Researchers have pinpointed Britain as the point of origin, from where the money was funnelled through Saudi Arabia and South Africa before reaching Rhodesia. The “British-betrayed-us” mantra by Old Rhodesians forgets that the “Kith and Kin” attitude remained strong until the end when the British and the government of Ian Smith realised that the financial and manpower burdens imposed by the war on the Rhodesian state, made it impossible to continue. The emigration of Whites who wanted to avoid compulsory service, sanctions, as well as the moral contradictions inherent in maintaining a racial state, made its continuation impossible.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Sunny Ade's "Ja Funmi": Fate and Destiny in Yoruban Cosmology

This is one of Sunny Ade's finest songs.

The central lyrics are:

Ori mi ye o ja funmi

Eda mi ye o ja ja funmi

Ori agbe a ja fun agbe

Ori aluko a ja fun o

It is about having faith in the forces controlling fate and destiny. A man’s determination to persevere.

His plea has to be contextualised in the Yoruban cosmological paradigm of the spiritual & supernatural realm ("Eleda") on the one hand, and the earthly one on the other ("Ori").

"Ori", while literally meaning "head", is a metaphysical concept in Yoruba which not only refers to a person's intellectual abilities, but also to his spiritual intuition and destiny:

"Ja Fun Mi" literally translates from Yoruba as "Fight For Me".

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Rhodesia: Ruminations on a Former Colonial Settler State

A member of the Rhodesian Special Forces unit, the Selous Scouts in training (PHOTO CAPTURE from Getty Images).

The following is part of the text of my thoughts about the comments posted at my YouTube Channel in regard to a newsreel I uploaded over four months ago which was a 1977 report on the training and activities of the Rhodesian Army Special Forces unit known as the Selous Scouts.

. The Content of the Newsreel

The original source gives very little details except to name the news reporter, identify Major Ronald Reid-Daly and provide short descriptions of what is happening in the reel. The title of upload and the brief elaborations within the text are my creation.

I will go into details later about the allegations of Selous Scouts involvement in False Flag operations. Needless to say, some comments here which have dismissed this as anti-Rhodesian “BBC Marxist Death Cult Propaganda” are wide of the mark. The ITN report gives a sympathetic portrayal of the Selous Scouts. Any rational person can hear the allegations regarding the massacre of the missionaries to Major Reid-Daly and his denial. I uploaded a short interview with Reid-Daly conducted by another news agency and the same question was put to him, and the same denial was issued. There was good reason for him to be asked based on circumstantial evidence. What is more the subsequent failure of a Selous Scout operation involving the bombing of churches in Salisbury in 1980 and to which I alluded to in the description box vindicates that line of questioning.

If anyone simply sees this newsreel as merely “anti-Rhodesian” then it speaks of an inflexible and ineradicable mindset of indoctrination -the very mindset which such people accuse both their real and perceived opponents of having.

. Rhodesia: A Colonial Settler Project Against Which Rebellion Was a Perfectly Natural Reaction

Rhodesia was a colonial settler project. This involved subjugation, land expropriation and the imposition of a caste system within which the subjugated Black Africans were exploited by Whites of mainly British descent.  The social and economic system may have appeared a benign one to the Rhodesians who favourably compared it (and still do so) to the Apartheid system in neighbouring South Africa, but it was nonetheless a system based on the Whites monopolising access to the country’s natural resources and keeping the Africans whose lands they acquired by force in their place.

Judging by many comments made by supporters of the late Rhodesia on this upload, it may come as a shock to more than a few, but human history is replete with societies who have rebelled against such a state of affairs. This was the case with Algeria, Palestine, the Slavic lands of Eastern Europe, and Kenya. And where the native populations who were looked upon variously as “Untermensch” or “uncivilised” (the White Nationalist term today would be “low I.Q.” peoples), avoided extermination, they fought back to reclaim their native lands.

The Black Africans of what came to be the territory of Rhodesia were no different from Catholic Irish resisting British colonisation; the Muslim Algerians resisting French domination, the Black African Kenyans resisting the British or the Palestinians resisting the militias of the Jewish Agency in Palestine and the State of Israel once it was established.

This allusion to Marxist-thinking as the root of the evil which stimulated Black Africans to fight against the Rhodesian “paradise” is as absurd as it is lazy in its construct. The fact that the Soviet Union and China gave aid and support to liberation movements in Africa and Asia, and to some extent in Latin America, was more an accident of history. Resistance against any colonial settler entity such as Rhodesia, is an ineluctable facet of the human psyche.

The Poles and other Slavs who were referred to as subhuman by the Nazis were not concerned about Hitler’s assertion that Germany’s Slavic neighbours owed all the achievements in culture to the German race. The Irish who were lampooned as ape-like, rowdy, and prone to fecundity did not care too much about British-English civilisation which under Cromwell had massacred them. It was under British rule after all that the devastating famine took place. Today, this mentality persists in Irish Republican communities who perceive Israel as an unjust and oppressive colonial settler state and support the Palestinian cause, while the Unionists take the opposite view. 

The Kenyans correctly wanted their land back, as did the Algerians and as do the Palestinians. Why do Old Rhodesians resent the idea that the Blacks would want their land back? As with the aforementioned peoples, the Black African resented the paternalistic and oppressive system, and resisted.

Cecil Rhodes, the man who gave the country its name, was at the heart of the system through which Black African workers were brutally exploited. If such a statement strikes any one as being somehow “Marxist”, it proves the point of the distorted lens through which some Old Rhodesians choose to view the world. The massacres of Ndebele people prior to and after the Rudd Agreement using maxim guns was a deliberate cruelty which went further than the prosecution of war. It was genocide.

Land expropriation, labour exploitation, and genocide: that was the foundation of Rhodesia.

. The Insurgency in Rhodesia: False Flags, Black Propaganda and Psychological Warfare

I note comments relating to the news reporter’s reference to the murder of European Roman Catholic Missionaries in 1977 as having possibly been an operation carried out by the Selous Scouts have been met by disbelief and recourse to the tired mantra of the “biased Marxist media”. As I wrote in the description box, the Scouts specialised in irregular warfare with its methods including “infiltration, assassination, abduction, torture, sabotage and blackmail”.

For those who are ignorant of the concept of the “False Flag” operation i.e. the carrying out of a mission designed to discredit the opposition, I would simply ask you to find out about “Operation Susannah”, an operation conducted by Israeli Military Intelligence in 1954. Known as “The Lavon Affair”, it was a botched attempt by the Israelis to disrupt closer relations between Nasser of Egypt and the Americans and the British. The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was part and parcel of this sort of playbook. You are also invited to find out about “Operation Northwoods”, a diabolical plan approved by the Pentagon which sought to stage terror attacks on American soil to blame on Cuban Communists in order to present an opportunity to invade and overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Again, read up on the Anni diPiombo (or “Years of Lead”) in Italy from the late 1960s to the middle 1980s when NATO’s Gladio network enabled Fascist-sympathising militias to murder innocent civilians in order to blame Marxist and Anarchist groups. The bombs in Piazza Fontana (1969) and Peteano (1972) provide examples of this diabolical “Strategy of Tension” (“La Strategia della Tensione”). The Bologna bomb in 1980 was also an example although there was no question from the outset that it was the responsibility of a neo-Fascist group.

Now interestingly, Major Reid-Daly served in Malaya where Frank Kitson, the exponent-in-chief of the counter-insurgency doctrine of the British Army, was developing (after his experience in Kenya) his methods which encompassed the aforementioned specialisms of the Selous Scouts, added to which was the use of “Black Propaganda”. Kitson used his colonial experiences in Northern Ireland against the Irish Republican Army. Feel free to search for information on the activities of the Military Reaction Force (MRF) which apart from assassinating suspected Republican guerrillas, murdered innocent civilians in order to blame the IRA.

Anyone who researches the murder of the missionaries will find out that it was not an open and shut case for affixing responsibility to any of the parties. As in all wars, a propaganda war was being fought, and Rhodesia was no exception. Using the dark arts of false flag operations was evidently part of this. In fact, as I mention in the description box, two Black African members of the Scouts who were involved in planting explosives in churches in Salisbury in February 1980, were themselves accidentally blown up by one of their bombs. The aim of this Selous Scouts operation was to make it seem that operatives working for the military wing of Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF organisation had planted the bombs (ZANU literature was left at the various locations) because as a Marxist, Mugabe (the Jesuit Marxist) was “against” Christianity. This was an attempt to discredit Mugabe’s political party in the run up to the elections in what was to become Zimbabwe.

Therefore, it is not inconceivable that Black members of the Selous Scouts disguised as African guerrillas were used to conduct the massacres of the missionaries in order to present the African militias as anti-clerical.

At least one comment refers to the “savageness” of the guerrillas when dealing with “uncooperative” African villagers. I do not know the ins and outs of every single facet of the Bush War in Rhodesia, but that commentator and others reading this should be aware of cruelties practised by the Rhodesian side. There is a film I have yet to upload about a British mercenary hired to combat poaching. This man was allowed to shoot at Black Africans at once a 6PM curfew came without considering whether his target was a poacher or late getting home. And to claim his bounty, he did not have to produce a dead body, only the right ear from it.

The Selous Scouts acted with savagery, killing innocent civilians in neighbouring countries -not by mistake i.e. the euphemistic “collateral damage”, but as a means of psychological warfare. A good example of this was in the Scouts raid on a ZANLA camp, situated at Nyadzonya-Pungwe, Mozambique in August 1976. They got to the camp by disguising their armoured vehicles in the colours of the Mozambique Army (a classic False Flag tactic) and, according to Major Reid-Daly, massacred up to a thousand.

It was seemingly an impressive tally, except that the Selous Scouts had shot many guerrillas who were unarmed as they stood in formation for a parade. The camp was formally registered as a refugee camp with the United Nations. Guerrillas were present, but the Scouts raiding party saw fit to set fire to the camp hospital following which all the patients were burned alive.

The thinly veiled racism among some of these comments seek to promote the idea of savagery being the preserve of Africans while forgetting European-originated depravity. It is interesting how the brutalities inflicted on Africans by European colonial powers prefigured those visited on their fellow Europeans including Jews during the period leading up to World War 2 and of course during the war itself: the genocide against the Namaqua and Herrero by Kaiser-era German colonisers, and the use of bodily parts in experiments are just two. The Boer has not forgotten the British concentration camps and neither have the Ethiopians who endured Italian camps in Somaliland and who were massacred by Black Shirts in Addis Ababa in 1937.

In the case of Rhodesia, how can the facts of the brutal counter-insurgency campaign employed in the 1970s be ignored? Bulldozers and flamethrowers were used to defoliate 54,000 square miles of countryside. The “Free Fire Zones” set up by the Rhodesian Army meant that any Black African found within them would be shot on sight. There were curfews imposed on the Black population (effectively martial law) and there was internment and forced resettlement.

There was a campaign of terror which did not stop with killing Black African guerrillas - many of whom were not killed in action but tortured prior to being murdered- it also extended to Black African civilians.

. The Insurgency in Rhodesia: A Lost Cause

Some of the commentators on this page are Black. They have objectively stated that the Selous Scouts were a formidable fighting force. I have acknowledged this fact in the description box. But they were fighting a lost cause. The frequent references to being “betrayed” by the British (and the Americans) has a hollow ring to it. It is redolent of the “stab in the back” rationale popularised by German Nationalists in the aftermath of World War 1.

The war in Rhodesia, as was the case with the wars in Angola and Mozambique, came at the tail end of the decolonisation of Africa. The Selous Scouts doubtlessly had many victories, but so did the French military in Algeria, the British in Kenya and Aden and the Portuguese in southern Africa.

Rhodesia would have collapsed without the support of the British whose kith and kin policy essentially held sway right to the end. They did not invade Rhodesia after UDI. The British bypassed sanctions by supplying Rhodesia with oil through Mozambique until the Portuguese withdrew.

. Modern Day Racial Warfare & Identity Politics

It seems to me that those who yearn for old Rhodesia have fused their ideological raison d’etre with the present-day manifestations of identity politics. They are White Nationalists or in the parlance of many on the mainstream political left, “White Supremacists”. The use of the term White Supremacist is in many ways an objective one. White Rhodesians after all enjoyed a great amount of privilege; real, tangible privilege. Not the asinine expressions utilised in today’s “Culture wars” where terms such as “White Privilege”, “Black Privilege'', “Jewish Privilege” and so on are frequently used. They enjoyed a standard of living which owed a great deal to the subjugation and exploitation of the indigenous Black African population. The linkage with White Supremacy comes from the use of the old Rhodesian Flag as a source of militant White identity as was the case with the mass murderer Dylann Roof. There was also the case of the Alberta-based Canadian soldiers who were discovered to be selling White Nationalist-Supremacist flags, badges, and literature.

. Conclusion.

The truth is that Rhodesia was no beacon of democracy which offered its Black African population a vision for the future. Rhodesia collapsed under the weight of its contradictions. Some such as quite a number of commentators on this post can gloat about the failings of the political leaders of Zimbabwe, but the truth is that they are living in denial about the nature of the system and the fact that that system was doomed to failure. And as was the case with the French-Algerian Pieds-Noir and the Boer, they must face up to this. 

© Adeyinka Makinde (2020).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.