There is a great scene at the end of the Hollywood film, The Last King of Scotland, where the film′s white hero asks his black rescuer why he helped him escape. The black rescuer responds, ″We deserve better... Go home. Tell the world the truth about Amin. They will believe you; you are a white man.″ The scene never happened in real life and Uganda's Idi Amin never had a white doctor. However, there is some kernel of truth in the black rescuer′s statement. Nowhere more so than in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).
Rhodes, c. 1900
A little history first: Zimbabwe was first colonized by the British during the "Scramble for Africa" in the late 19th century. Like South Africa, Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia after Cecil Rhodes) attracted thousands of white settlers. They took the best land and the best jobs—naturally. In 1965, Rhodesia did something no other British colony had done since Britain's thirteen American colonies: they unilaterally declared independence. For the next 15 years a guerrilla war was fought by groups wanting a democratic and multi-racial Rhodesia.
Prime Minister Mugabe departs Andrews Air Force Base after a state visit to the United States
Robert Mugabe was born in a tiny village dominated by the local Catholic Church. A shy boy, his father left the family after the death of Mugabe's oldest brother. His surrogate father was the church priest: a white Irishman, Father Jereme O′Hea. It was O′Hea that encouraged and nurtured the young Mugabe. It was he who first saw potential in the introverted, but highly gifted, young boy. Mugabe went on to attend university and became a teacher before turning to politics. After being jailed for his opposition work, a white nun and a white priest helped him escape to Mozambique (where he could direct guerrilla groups wanting an end to white rule).
In 1980, after a civil war that cost 30,000 lives, the black majority took control. Who was chosen to lead the newly renamed Zimbabwe? Well Robert Mugabe of course. At first, it seemed everyone was going to get along. In fact, Mugabe went out of his way to reassure the country's white minority (who still held the majority of the country's wealth) that their status would remain the same. Long before whites were stripped of their land, he ordered what he called a gukurahundi—a sort of Final Solution—against the Ndebele people. Experts estimate about 25,000 people were killed. The West didn't so much as a blink an eye. In fact, a few years after the massacre, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed a knighthood on him (since revoked). Margaret Thatcher danced with him on his visit to London and the West hailed him as a great and stabilizing leader.
A 2006 demonstration against Mugabe's regime next to the Zimbabwe embassy in London
The world took notice when Mugabe went after white Zimbabweans. When thousands of white citizens of Zimbabwe started recounting their troubles on CNN, the international community suddenly noticed that Zimbabwe was slowly falling apart. That was over two decades ago. Mugabe is still in power. And even though 90% of white Zimbabweans have been stripped of their land, the largest landowner (owning 0.9 per cent of Zimbabwe's surface area) is one of Mugabe's friends: Charles Davy. The white South African has actually increased his land holdings under Mugabe's rule. His last name might seem familiar because his daughter was Prince Harry's on-and-off girlfriend. This simply underscores Mugabe's I-am-President-for-life-because-my-country's-elections-are-rigged understanding with his white compatriots.