Ian Smith was removed from power in 1980 by 14 and 16 year olds who were forced to mature early and to seek military training and guns in Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
They sought training and guns to violently remove this tyrant called Smith from power because for 90 years, he and his progenitors terrorized their parents and failed to provide these youth with education, healthcare, jobs, land, water, sanitation, nutrition and more importantly hope.
Smith’s maladministration was so gross that young kids chose to sacrifice their lives and futures, walking to Tanzania to train, so that they could come back and die fighting a fierce army, to free their parents and future generations, due to lack of hope.
The UN aptly called Smith’s mismanagement and oppression, a crime against humanity. They even put him under legal UN sanctions, voted for by the entire Security Council, to force him to end the mass suffering of black Rhodesians under his leadership.
All it takes is for one to ask why over 60 000 young children would leave their parents, childhoods, education, partying, movies and dating to carry guns and risk dying fighting a well armed army, in a well managed country?
It is because Smith’s Rhodesia was hell on earth. It was a failed state where there were no movies or parties but a lifetime of slavery and suffering for blacks.
Less than five schools prepared black, Asian and colored children for university, as a result in 90 years, Smith had less than a thousand black, Asian and colored graduates.
Blacks were not allowed to own property. They could not dream of having a career beyond being a teacher, nurse or policeman and over 93% of black people were confined to reserves where they worked as slave labor on farms and in mines.
This is why many young black Rhodesians chose to die on their way to Tanzania or in war, because they were seeking to escape the misery of Rhodesia through freedom or suicide by war.
Today, Zimbabwe is a totally different country. A country where everyone is selfish and wants to live because they have an opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.
Unlike their parents, young Zimbabweans are busy in school, dating, partying and dreaming of going to university, accounting, actuarying, lawyering, engineering, computer programming, graphic designing, entrepreneuring, farming, mining or marketing in the hope of becoming the next Tagwirei, Doug Munatsi, Scot, Ginimbi, Nakamba, Passion, Ubert Angel or some other achiever in a Zimbabwe where anything is possible.
With over two million graduate role models and so much hope and opportunity, you would struggle to convince a young Zimbabwean to sacrifice themselves in a protest, voting, later on joining a war.
And that’s the key difference between Zimbabwe and Rhodesia: one was not worth living in so people sacrificed to die and the other makes people selfish and reluctant to die because it’s alive with possibility.
Young Zimbabweans have too much to lose, that they have become self-centered and individualistic in a Zimbabwe that is full of opportunity.
Every ghetto and village youth has the audacity to dream because they can become the next mogul of fuel, banking, farming, mining, business or sport as the Zimbabwe that was freed from Smith, makes all things possible.
Even grown men and women can become millionaires by merely sabotaging their country, as we see with activists and opposition politicians in Zimbabwe. In Rhodesia going against Smith meant sure death, in Zimbabwe it’s an opportunity.
Even calling Smith a hero has made some lazy Zimbabweans a lot of money. Some are even paid to go to jail because even non-Zimbabweans see so much opportunity in Zimbabwe that superpowers spend their energies paying people to try and take over this bountiful country.
So good is the life that our forefathers brought us through liberation, education, land reform, resource ownership and higher standards of living; that today’s youth take what we have for granted, thinking that the comfort they enjoy today living on their own land, mining their own resources and having any career they choose, was possible during Smith’s regime.
It wasn’t, hence Smith’s Rhodesia was a crime against humanity and he was removed by very angry black youth who tossed off complacency to become fearless gun totting warriors for their freedom.
By Rutendo Matinyarare of Frontline, ZASM and ZUAUWS.