UNIVERSITY OF RHODESIA Class of ‘69: The fun continues


The former University of Rhodesia students in the picture are all males because the picture was taken outside the Salisbury police headquarters following a violent strike for the release of Chief Rekayi Tangwena who had been imprisoned for refusing to let his home area be attached to Gaeresi Ranch owned by a white syndicate. It was not only the students at the only university in the country who protested against this blatant racial injustice, but secondary schools like Mazoe and Zimuto did likewise; leading to many patriots being imprisoned and caned for ‘biting the hand that feeds you’. At the university it was not only the boys who chose to fight the dangerous regime, literally with our bare hands, but as the boys fought in the city, girls led by the likes of Olivia Muchena and Sharai Chakanyuka were demonstrating against the injustices perpetrated by the Smith regime, some of them ending up in the cells with their male counterparts. As for the picture itself, although Kishore Desai, Christopher Ushewokunze, Aaron Mudekunye, John Mapfumo and Dzingai Chasura Chigiga are not easily distinguishable, they were in the group as members of the university group that first openly joined with nationalists like Comrade Didymus Mutasa and Guy Clutton-Brock (in the picture) to fight British imperialism in this country. We always knew the likes of Arthur Chadzingwa, Felix Muchemwa and (later) the late national heroes Witness Mangwende, David Karimanzira and Stanislaus Chigwedere, when we openly challenged the Smith regime on two specific occasions: · Mayoress Florence Chisholm’s racist press statement · Ian Smith calling the black students bobjaan (baboons) Mayoress Florence Chisholm: After a black cyclist was killed by a car on a street in the capital city, the Mayoress of Salisbury, Mrs. Florence Chisholm, made a press statement absolving the motorist and condemning the dead cyclist. She concluded her press statement by warning all black people to always wear white clothes when walking or cycling at night because our blackness made it difficult for motorists to see us. Whatever accuracy there might have been in her statement was cancelled by the fact that the dead cyclist actually had a white shirt on. In any case we saw no relevance in the Mayoress’s attempt to turn into a traffic officer instead of sympathising with the victim. Hence this spurred us to resist her racism. Ian Smith: Not unexpectedly, the result was a response from Prime Minister Ian Smith himself. He first made a press release telling us to apologise for what had happened. When he did not get what he expected, the oneeyed racist decided to come and address us at the university. Unfortunately, when he arrived we greeted him with oranges and other objects. Smith then left the university and went to Mt. Pleasant Hall; and we followed him there, this time unarmed for fear of the riot police. We managed to get into the hall and stood close to the entrance as Smith addressed his entirely white audience. Halfway down we began interrupting the racist Prime Minister, demanding to know what he wanted with us at the university. To our surprise, a group of white youths, some of them dressed in army uniforms, stood up and began to sing in a language most of us did not understand. The only one who did was Kishore Desai; but he was too shocked by what he was hearing to know what to do. He told us that the words of the song were: Bobjaan, bobjaan, bobjaan climbdie berg! Clim, clim die berg, bobjaan clim die berg! Clim clim! (Baboons, baboons, baboons climb the mountain! Climb climb the mountain, baboons climb the mountain! Climb Climb!” We started hitting anything that was not black in the hall. We were eventually overcome and force-marched into police jeeps and taken to the Salisbury Police Charge Office.


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