Distortions of history

Surfing idly, I came across this statement:

In 1958 Arthur Lewis married Gladys and moved to Rhodesia. Their first appointment to St. Faith’s Mission in Rusape proved to be something of a nightmare. While the mission had once been very successful, social work and the attached farm had come to take over and the Gospel work was side-lined. Rev. Lewis soon discovered that the farm was also used as a front for a communist revolutionary movement. After much hard work and a determined struggle, Arthur Lewis was able to re-establish the Church and Mission as a dynamic Christian enterprise. Amidst all the trauma of St. Faith’s Mission, their first child, Margaret Faith was born.”  (Source here.)

Wait a minute!  Communist revolutionaries in Rhodesia in 1958?  The first armed incursion in what became the Second Chimurenga took place in 1967 (and was undertaken by South Africans with the ANC, members of MK, and not Zimbabweans), and the war of liberation only took off from the early 1970s.  In 1958, neither ZANU nor ZAPU had yet been formed.  Of course, Doris Lessing and her then husband Gottfried Lessing, and their left-wing Royal Air Force friends in the Southern Rhodesia Communist Party may have counted as communist revolutionaries in the mid 1940s – although they only ever talked – but they had had little impact and were by then long gone from Rhodesia.

After a moment or two, I realized that there was a clue in the location:  St Faith’s, Rusape.  This was the site of a very famous multi-racial co-operative farm founded by Guy and Molly Clutton-Brock in 1950.   In 1957, the Clutton-Brocks and their colleagues on the farm were instrumental in founding a non-racial political movement, the Southern Rhodesian African National Congress (SRANC), which like its South African counterpart (itself founded as long ago as 1912!) called for majority rule.  The SRANC was successful in convincing the then Southern Rhodesian Prime Minister, Garfield Todd, of the justice of their case, but he could not persuade his own party or his (mostly white) parliamentary colleagues.  He was dumped, and the new PM banned the SRANC in 1959.

At no point was anyone a communist revolutionary, unless you happen to believe that running a multi-racial commercial enterprise is communist.  But, of course, many white Rhodesians did!

POSTSCRIPT (2013-07-03):  Molly Clutton-Brock died shortly after this post.




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