In 1979, the IRA assassinated Lord Louis Mountbatten, uncle to Queen Elizabeth’s husband and cousin to the Queen herself.
In 1984, they bombed a hotel in Brighton where delegates to the Tory Party Conference were staying. The goal was to essentially wipe out the entire British cabinet at the time, including then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who narrowly escaped with her life.
There was no love lost between the IRA and the British government. It was inconceivable that one day the IRA and it’s political wing Sinn Fein would talk to the British government and be part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreements that ended the conflict.
There were zero-sum gamers on both sides, as they are in every conflict. There were people with real wounds on both sides, and there were real lives that had been lost.
There were also real lives lost during our own pre-independence conflict, including during the 1976 and 1978 Nyadzonya, Chimoio and Zambia raids.
There were also real lives lost at Elim Mission in 1978 when guerrillas killed eight British Missionaries and four of their children at a school in the Eastern Highlands. In 1978 and 1979, Air Rhodesia Flights 825 and 827 carrying civilians were short down by guerrillas.
Understandably there were zero-sum gamers on both sides who believed that because their cause was just, the only choice was to fight to the death.
Thankfully there were also enough people on both sides who said: “enough is enough,” resulting in the 1979 Lancaster House Conference which ended the war.
The easiest thing right now is for all of us to be entrenched in our positions. There is a point in any conflict beyond which it doesn’t take courage to do that. The history of our country is an open book for everyone to read. No one who has genuinely fought for justice, equal rights, the rule of law etc etc is going to lose their place in history because we have all decided that it is time to do the right thing for our children and those yet to be born.
It is not the past we are trying to rewrite. It’s the future and all it holds we need to draw urgently into our present so that the needs of a despairing nation can be met and the hopes and dreams of present and future generations can be realized.
Martin Luther King in the speech in DC five decades ago where he talked about “the fierce urgency of now” also warned that in the “unfolding conundrum of life and history,” there is “such a thing as being too late.” I believe we are fast approaching that point in our unending conflict when there won’t be a country left to salvage, and that the only way to stop us going over the precipice is for as many of us to fearlessly and emphatically say: Enough is enough!
Is There Not a Cause?