We have oft been told that reading history is very important so that we don’t make the same mistakes or foolhardy choices that our ancestors made (hopefully). History was the one subject that I failed dismally at “O” level – I was more interested in Maths and French. My lack of interest probably stemmed from being taught the history of Europe at Junior school. I was sort of enamoured with the Great Treks in South Africa but each war that we were lectured on seemed just as boring as the last – well to me anyway – fidgeting at the back of the class looking out the window whilst our teacher Andre wasn’t looking.
In days gone by historical information was passed on from one generation to the next listening to dads relating their version of events whilst the family sat quietly around the campfire. In more recent times children have learnt their history from teachers with varying amounts of understanding or passion using prescribed books determined by the bias of the government of the day.
Last week I came across an excellent book called “Fighting and Writing” by an American lady, Luise White – Professor Emerita of History at the University of Florida. Luise came over to Africa in 1995 and has clearly spent many a day researching and analysing our Liberation war through the eyes of “The Rhodesian Army”. She has listened to, and read memoirs, from many participants giving her own interpretation of the good, bad, and the ugly. Subject matter includes topics like
“Why / How did they fight?”; “Discipline and Morale”; “Selous Scout techniques”; “Regrets”; and “AKs vs FNs’.
In Luise’s eyes, not all memoirs can be taken at face value: some are 100% true; others embellished to suit the “author’s” target audience; and, then there are those written by 3rd parties adding or removing important snippets because of their particular interpretation. There are, unfortunately, many in our midst who know very little of our country’s history-making broad statements that have a tendency to “Tar everyone with the same brush”.
We, at Bindu Books, are selling copies of Luise White’s Book for just US$30. Why not read (yet) another opinion.