High Lands and Low Symbolize A Rhodesia Separated in Crisis
(Mr. Shamuyarira is a graduate student of economics at Harvard and former president of the Rhodesian Student Union in America. His article is partially in refutation of an article written for the CRIMSON by Clive Kileff '66, a white Rhodesian, on December 1, 1965.)
Rhodesia was a divided country long before there were any men in it.
Eons ago two long rivers cut parallel valleys down the sides of the southern Rhodesian plateau, leaving a broad ridge bisecting the country. Men began to call the broad ridge the High Veld, for it was 4000 to 5000 feet above sea level. On the High Veld was, and is, life, in a rich, tropical savanna graced with tall grass and scattered umbrella-shaped trees. Africans once proudly owned and farmed it, but a century ago they were gradually pushed down its steep sides by the white settlers.
At the bottom they found the Low Veld--the depressed valleys below 3000 feet on either side of the ridge. Tens of thousands of untrained Africans with no means of transportation now crowd the Low Veld. It is a hot, unproductive, malaria infested area with inadequate hospitals and few opportunities for improvement. Here sixty per cent of the African population is employed--mostly on the land.
On the High Veld are the tobacco ranches, the major cities, and most of the country's wealth. Whoever controls that high land controls the destiny of the country, and whoever fails to control that plateau becomes a pauper. All other inequities in Rhoddesia result from the unequal distribution of land--the Europeans on the rich land and the Africans on the poor.
Most African families in Rhodesia are now on "reserves"--much like American Indian reservations--and are given six acres of land for farming, regardless of the quality of the land. All the land owned by Africans is now over-used and over-populated. In the European area only three per cent of the land is used for cultivation--the rest is left idle. The Africans have tried raising high-grade Virginia tobacco, a crop that brings 14 per cent of the nation's income, and have been prevented from doing so by the government's Tobacco Marketing Board.
The cultivation of young African minds is as restricted as the cultivation of the African's land. A young Rhodesian learns in his first history lesson that "400 years ago, Africa was called a dark continent," and that it stayed that way until "the Victoria Falls were discovered by David Livingstone." The chief of his tribe, according to the history book, was discovered by some European explorer. The child is led to believe that he belongs to some group that does not belong to the normal everyday world. He belongs to something that needs to be discovered.
The educational system haunts the African Rhodesian's future. At present no African Rhodesian holds a degree in veterinary medicine, architecture, engineering, plumbing, geology, agriculture, agricultural economics, psychiatry, or aviation. Of the 135 students from Rhodesia now studying in the U.S.A., only one per cent is in the natural sciences. This is a pity, for technical and scientific skills will be most needed when the students get home.
More than economics and education isolates the African population. Despite government contentions, very little has been done to integrate the black and white sections of the community. Buses are segregated, as are hotels, schools, and government departments. Interracial activities such as sports are prohibited. Until recently the signs on the doors read "No Dogs--No Africans" or "Africans use the Window." Once an African bought a tractor from such a store and, turning the trick, he demanded that the tractor be delivered to him through the window.
The two parties which comprise the Rhodesian African nationalist movement--although they differ on methods--are absolutely united on establishing an African government based on democratic socialism. They both agree on a program of land redistribution and on the need for an educational system geared not to Great Britain but to Rhodesia. The immediate, paramount objective of both is the deposition of Ian Smith's rebel government. The People's Caretaker Council, led by Joshua Nkomo, is seeking a solution to the present crisis through compromise; the Zimbabwe African National Union, led by Ndabiningi Sithole, wants to overthrow the Smith regime through confrontation by any possible means, including force of arms if necessary.
Some form of direct confrontation will be necessary, and at present it appears that the Africans will have to carry the fight alone. It is unrealistic to think that economic sanctions against the Smith government will force his downfall; unlss every country in the world is prevented from trading with Smith and the sanctions are supported by armed force, the Republic of South Africa and Portugal will give him all the materials he needs. It is equaly unrealistic to expect definitive action from the United Nations without the support of Great Britain and the U.S. Each nation must aid the African nationalists in whatever way it can. The Africans will overthrow Smith however they can, no matter what the cost