Paradise Plundered (2007)
By Jim Barker
Published by Jim Barker ISBN 978-0-7974- 2446-2
JAMES Melville Barker was born in Malawi on July 21 1932, the first born in a family of four. His family moved to Rhodesia in 1942 and settled in Nyazura where his father was employed. He went to Mutare for his primary education and later to Prince Edward where he did his secondary school education. After school, he worked on several farms before he managed to acquire a piece of land from the ministry in Rhodesia that was distributing ‘Crown land’. Jim served in the police for eight years and proudly declares how his information allowed the successful killing of ‘guerrillas’ in a war he felt was unjustified. He has since left his farm in Nyahoa which was taken under the land redistribution programme and now resides in Harare waiting for a time when the ‘rule of law’ returns. It is interesting that the writer should declare that the white community waits for a time when the rule of law returns as if the laws of Rhodesia were anything but fair. The laws of Rhodesia served the white community which was a minority group as compared to the blacks who were pushed to the periphery in their own country. Then one would wonder which ‘rule of law’ is to return and who stands to benefit if it does? The black man had attained nothing by being meek and polite and the land had to be restored by ‘any means necessary’ as it became obvious the white man was never going to give it back willingly. Barker writes that the white farmers knew that one day they would have to share the land and they were prepared as there were farmers who owned 20 farms or more. If they knew that the day was coming, why write books of lament about it and why was the liberation war necessary? It is important that the white community remembers that a few of them might have purchased that land through banks but the land had been grabbed at no cost in the first place. This is how most whites got the land. The writer, however, exhibits emotions of anger and betrayal towards the British for allowing the ‘winds of change’ to change the situation in Rhodesia to Zimbabwe where men reigned in honour and integrity. His anger could be his belief that the Crown was an authority to be reckoned in Africa and when that illusion was shattered, they had nothing to hold on to except their frustration. Barker admired Ian Smith and the policies of the Rhodesian Front to the extent he named his son Ian Douglas Barker. But we all know Ian Smith was an unashamed racist and unapologetic supremacist. Where then does that leave Barker? His comment, “as bwanas and donnas, us whites had to keep up some semblance of prosperity…” concurs with the colonial myth perpetuated by the white community to assume a supremacist stance. It should come as no surprise to the reader that a man who helped build Lomagundi College should boast that his worker compound was complete with a crèche, primary school and a beerhall. The illusion that ‘his people’ were the happiest is shattered when his workers voted for Mugabe at independence in 1980. When his storekeeper sacrifices his life for the bwana’s family, he is described as “a loyal and trusted servant”, and a ‘servant’ he would remain for the rest of his life, nothing more nothing less. The author struts his police achievements where he was awarded a prize by Rhodesian President Clifford Dupont for being able to get information on terrorist locations in the area. The reader should note that Rhodesians did not refer to the guerrillas as freedom fighters, but as ‘terrorists’. The dictionary defines terrorism as an act of violence to instill fear in the public or the innocent. This was what the colonisers did to attain land as they eliminated anyone who was a threat to their imperialistic ideologies. The Rhodesians failed to see their own like the Royal Air Force as terrorist just as the Americans do not see themselves as terrorists in Afghanistan where they are inflicting terror on civilians and attempting to justify their presence. They even created funds like the Terrorist Victims’ Relief Fund that would allow them to be compensated for attacks or losses during the war while one is yet to hear of a black person who benefited from the funds. The story therefore can be summed as the mourning of a Rhodesian policeman and his desire for Rhodies to be recognised as heroes. He openly weeps when he visits a monument in England questioning whether anyone out there will remember and recognise them as White farmers hold a field day at one of the farms in ‘Crown land’. – Picture from digital.lib.ecu.edu heroes.