A Piece Of My Mind
by Lord Graham, 7th Duke of Montrose
former Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Defence
I Grew up in Brodick Castle in the beautiful Isle of Arran.
But from boyhood I was determined to make my way on my own abilities, neither aided nor hindered by the accident of birth. Rhodesia in 1931 presented that opportunity.
The blacks, with few exceptions, in those days were “right out of the bush”. Many wore only a loin cloth.
I lived about four miles out of Salisbury and daily passed an African constable stationed on the road to invite the women to re-arrange their garment, if large enough, to cover their breasts, before going into town.
To see an African in shoes was a rarity.
Here was a beautiful and fertile land, almost untouched, crying out for the development that only the skills and know-how of the European could bring.
How enthusiastic we all were to establish peace where bloody tribal warfare held sway.
To push passable roads to most corners of the country. To build a railway. To establish farms. To open up mines and the beginnings of industry.
We younger ones were determined to carry on where the old hands had left off, for all could see the potential of the land and its people.
Well, in the 46 years I have been here, we’ve come long way.
We can point with pride to the fantastic development of agriculture, mining, industry and transport by road, rail and air.
Also to the many well dressed and prosperous Africans who have left the subsistence economy of the tribal lands to play a part in every branch of Rhodesia’s economy.
Not merely as employees of the white man and his industries. But as businessmen with their own enterprises – transport businesses, bus companies, chain stores, supermarkets, building contractors etc.
Wealthy men by any standard.
They are as apprehensive of what will follow the abdication of the present stable government as the white population.
To open up the country, we men and women went into the bush and lived in grass huts, got malaria, forded swollen rivers, had a privy 40 yards down the garden and heated our bath water in old oil drums.
We’re not afraid of hard living. We’d do it all over again.
What you are asking us to face is the certainty of seeing all that has been done crumble. The blood, sweat and tears of four generations that brought the country from savagery to civilisation blown away before the so-called winds of change.
We who know and love Africa tell you this collapse is inevitable if you make us hand over to African majority rule now – long before there are nearly enough Africans, under any system of government, to sustain the standards the white man has brought them.
It requires more than a couple of dozen ambitious clerics and honorary degree doctors to run a land three times the size of Britain.
The policies that you – the UK, the USA, and the UN – are forcing upon us will mean chaos, bloodshed, civil war and starvation – even if you paper over the cracks for a while with grants in aid.
You doubt my assertion? Tot up the millions who have been slaughtered from Bangladesh to Biafra, from Luxor to Lusaka.
I am one of many Rhodesians who, in 1939 hastened to the aid of Great Britain.
We gave six of the best years or our lives in the fight for a free society and the right, in that freedom, to carry on building up the land and people in “the jewel of Africa” – Rhodesia.
In 1945, we left in your hands a position in which you were unquestionably one of the most powerful nations the world had known with the opportunity “to be a blessing unto all the nations of the earth.”
We went humbly back to our homes in distant lands, wherever they might be, and left you to it.
What can you say of your stewardship?
You have thrown away your power. You have lost the will to work. You have permitted your daily lives to become so pointless your youngsters go “punk”.
You have brought your country to such a pass it is rated a third rate nation.
For centuries you achieved a great deal to bring peace, stability, civilisation and Christianity to much of the world.
Then you quit in the middle of it and you, and your winds of change will, one day, be spoken of with obloquy by those you abandoned in the belief you were giving them “freedom”.
There is no truer axiom than that “the triumph of evil requires only that good men do nothing”.
(First published in The Sunday Post, Scotland, October 1977)
The Minister of Defence, Lord Graham, chats with Sergeant Major Kisi (left) and Sergeant Major Kefasi of the Rhodesian African Rifles, both in hospital recovering from wounds received during anti-terrorist operations in 1968.
Although known in Rhodesia as Lord Graham, James Angus Graham was in fact the 7th Duke of Montrose. He was a signatory of Rhodesia’s Declaration of Independence on 11th November 1965 at which time he was Minister of Agriculture.
Very typical of large numbers living in Rhodesia, the Marquess of Graham, as he then was, volunteered for active service in 1939. He served on HMS Kandahar and gained the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the service of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
This article by Lord Graham was quite prophetic although, like him, most of us who lived there forecast a similar fate for Rhodesia and indeed many other parts of Africa – hence Rhodesia’s resistance to a premature transfer of power.
Quite apart from the ruin brought upon Rhodesia, the once jewel of Africa, since the advent of Zimbabwe one has only to think of the chaos which has occurred throughout Africa since 1977 when Lord Graham wrote his piece.
Sudan (200 000 – 400 000 killed in Darfur), Somalia (failed state), Rwanda (coups and least 800 000 people killed per a Human Rights Watch estimate), Congo Brazzaville (2 coups), Congo Kinshasa (on-going civil war), Sierra Leone (4 coups and civil war), Liberia, Uganda (4 coups), Angola, Chad (2 coups), Central African Republic (4 coups), Burkina Faso (4 coups), Eritrea, Burundi (2 coups), Guinea-Bissau (4 coups), Mauritania (6 coups), Niger (3 coups), Nigeria (3 coups and widespread strife), Ethiopia (over 500 000 killed – per Amnesty International).
This list is the result of just 10 minutes work – there are many other cases of repression not included.
It might almost be quicker to list the countries which have not suffered since their grant of “freedom”.