This week Brian Currin gave his personal story as a white boy growing up in Africa, during which we learned that he had been the captain of the Zimbabwe Rugby Union team in the 1991 World Cup. Brian’s family association with Africa went back as far as 1841 when his ancestors had been shipwrecked at the Cape of Good Hope on the way to New Zealand and had chosen to remain. Rhodesia had been governed by the British South Africa Company until self-government in 1923 but British governments refused Ian Smith total independence because he would not submit to African majority rule, “not for 1000 years”.
UDI followed and for a time the isolated regime flourished and Brian grew up in an idyllic society for the white settlers. By 1977 terrorist activity and diplomatic pressure increased and Brian’s father spent 6 weeks as an army officer fighting rebel forces and 6 weeks in his day job, a pattern which continued for 3 years. Eventually Robert Mugabe took over in 1980 as leader of an independent Zimbabwe and initially made a good impression – Brian’s father in law was in the government yet 20 years later his farm was taken over by war veterans at 6 hours notice. An uncle was beaten for 4 hours and we were shown the horrifying results. 3million of Zimbabwe’s 12 million population now live in exile – most of them black. After a period in Kenya Brian now lives in the UK but he still has hope for the future after Mugabe. There are only 50000 white people left in the country but the black majority are resilient and optimistic despite Mugabe’s tyranny, general lawlessness and hyper inflation which led in 2005 to the issuing of 100 trillion dollar banknotes.