MENU

Rhodesian crisis
The Rhodesian crisis

Alec Smith and Arthur Kanodereka address a meeting in Rhodesia

In 1980 pre-independence Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe, was a country ravaged by civil war between white settlers and black nationalists. After a chaotic journey through rebellion and drug addiction, Alec Smith, the Premier's son, had an experience of God that radically transformed his life. Driven by his new Christian convictions, he took part in multiracial meetings organized by Moral Re-Armament (as Initiatives of Change was then known). As a result he became friends with a black leader, Rev. Arthur Kanodereka.

The two men travelled the country speaking together and demonstrating that a change in attitudes was possible. Together with others, the small IofC team took the initiative to form a ‘Cabinet of conscience’ composed of men from both sides trying to help their leaders during the transition to black rule.

After the Commonwealth-brokered agreement to transition to majority rule there was an election. Tensions rose as the results came in pointing to a victory for Robert Mugabe, and there were rumours of a coup by white army officers. At the last minute, the ‘Cabinet of Conscience’ managed to arrange a private meeting between Alec’s father, Ian Smith, the outgoing Prime Minister and Mugabe. The coup didn’t happen and both Mugabe and Ian Smith surprised everyone by giving conciliatory speeches the next day, with Smith urging his fellow whites to stay and support the new nation.

Further information can be found in these books:

Now I Call Him Brother, by Alec Smith, published by Marshalls, London, 1984

Religion, the missing dimension of statecraft, by Douglas Johnston et al, Oxford University Press, 1995