Magazine article The Spectator

Rewriting History

Magazine article The Spectator

Rewriting History

Article excerpt

Radio

The tragedy that has befallen Zimbabwe became starkly apparent in The Choice last week on Radio Four (Tuesday), a programme in which people talk about the difficult choices they have made in life. In this case it featured Peter - not his real name - a black Zimbabwean history teacher and supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, who'd fled to Britain seeking asylum from persecution by Robert Mugabe's secret police and the so-called war veterans.

He told the presenter Michael Buerk how, as head of history at a school in Zimbabwe, a new syllabus was introduced designed to brainwash pupils about how communism was the best political system in the world. The country's real history was abandoned: the fact that it was first populated by the Bushmen who were driven away by the Shona in 850 AD, who were in turn forced out of western Zimbabwe by the Matabele in 1836, before the white settlers arrived in the 1890s. History now is what the whites did to the blacks. Peter made the mistake of expressing his concerns about this propaganda in the staff common-room and word spread that he was something of a dissident.

He couldn't discuss it with the pupils because one of them was the son of a war veteran who'd killed a local farmer. Things really turned nasty, of course, in 2000, when Mugabe lost a referendum on constitutional change. The mad tyrant then blamed teachers for poisoning the minds of pupils, before setting out to terrorise all those who supported the opposition. Peter was followed by the secret police, arrested and beaten, and feared for his life. His choice was either to stay or to flee. He couldn't go to South Africa because he thought that regime was a friend of Mugabe's and would allow the police to catch up with him. So he came to Britain as a genuine asylum-seeker amidst the flood of the bogus migrants.

At first his application for asylum was turned down but was accepted on appeal. Peter's family joined him here, but he can't get into the teaching system for reasons that weren't explained. He was not using his skills but at least he felt safe. It was a perfect illustration of what happens when a country is taken over by dictators. Mugabe, a creature of the British government's Lancaster House agreement, has been allowed to destroy a country which, when he took over, had an excellent infrastructure despite the years of sanctions against the Smith regime. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.