Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (3)

Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (3)

KathyBy Kathy Martin…

 

Further rambles written by Alistair for initially the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum

Both Kibris/Cyprus and Rhodesia, where I grew up, experienced trade and political embargoes, but there were (many economic) differences.

Immediately after the Rhodesian government declared unilateral independence (UDI) Britain championed sanctions and embargoes on Rhodesia. This was despite the declaration being in full accordance with the law of the land in Rhodesia. Admittedly, the law favoured the 750,000 whites over the 7,500,000 blacks (both figures approximate), but nonetheless it was the law, and Britain and the rest of the world, bowing to pressure from black Africa, applied sanctions for political expedience. I remember the words of “Rule Britannia” being parodied as “Britannia waives the rules”!

Every male, white, Rhodesian citizen was liable for military call-up between 18 and 39 years old. National Service was a requirement for anyone who had completed full-time education. The terrorist (or independence) war started in 1967, with the assassination of a few white farmers, but then died down until 1972 when it re-started in earnest. Rhodesia is about half the size of Turkey, with a white population (then) of less than a million. Assume that half the population were female and 60% of the remainder were either under or over “call-up” age. This meant there were very few troops available, to police (oops, army) such a large area.

Men (and their women) drank heavilyThese “call-ups” started at the rate of one month in, three out, then one month in, two out etc. When I left Rhodesia, in 1978, it was one month in, one month out. Some relationships didn’t survive under these conditions. Men (and their women) drank heavily because a call-up had just ended or was about to begin. Some women felt that they couldn’t live without male companionship during a call-up. Long before my marriage, I got a “Dear John” letter from my then girlfriend, whilst I was on call-up. She said that as she couldn’t live without me she was getting engaged to someone else! This confused me, if she couldn’t live without me, why was she making such an effort to do just that?

During the early years of the war, the terrorist/freedom fighters were ill-trained and ill-equipped. As such, call-ups for the whites in the Territorial Army were not very perilous. However, as time progressed, white casualties started to mount. Radio and television announcements that stated “The Ministry of Law and Order regret……names have not been released as the next of kin have not yet been informed…” became more frequent. These would send a shiver up most people’s spines, as everybody had a husband/son/family member/friend or work colleague under call-up. It was the increasing danger and disruption to family life over longer and longer periods that caused many white Rhodesians of call-up age, including myself, to take what was derisorily called the “Yellow Route” out : Customs had just introduced the Red and Green routes for people entering the country!

However, a white male of military age trying to emigrate had to meet and overcome a number of bureaucratic hurdles. Firstly, he must not be under call-up. That is, he wouldn’t be allowed an exit visa if he had received his call-up papers. This was virtually impossible, as before being released from a call-up, all equipment had to be cleaned and returned to stores. Then, in alphabetical order, proceed to a table where the papers for the next call-up were issued. Then, and, only then, proceed to the table where the army pay was given (the regular employer didn’t pay, while the employee was in the army). Then, get out of the barracks as quickly as possible!

The second major hurdle was tax clearance, records had to be checked that the hopeful emigrant didn’t owe a cent. After three call-ups during which I had literally escaped with my life, twice due to skill and once due to pure chance, an administration error meant that I didn’t get my call-up papers. So we went to the Tax office for clearance. There were hundreds (a slight, but only slight exaggeration!) there waiting for documentation that could take up to three weeks to produce. We had been there for about ten minutes when a man came out from a “staff only” door. He saw me and asked what I was doing there. I told him and he returned through the door. A few minutes later he came back and handed me my clearance documentation! My wife asked in an awestruck voice “who was that”? I told her that he was my first possible future father-in-law; his daughter was my girlfriend before I joined the police and was transferred from Salisbury to Mount Darwin! = It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know!

We landed at London Heathrow on August 8th 1978, and heard a small child on the aircraft say “it’s raining”! It was!

Written September 2013

A sombre local matter in Kibris. We seem to be making every possible effort to retain a world record. As it is the highest road toll deaths per capita in the world it is not one we should be proud of!

I am not saying that “European” ex-pats, residents or tourists are as pure as the driven snow, if this phrase can be used in this climate! But the names of the drivers who “lose control”, “veer onto the other side of the road” etc, appear to be of Turkish or Turkish Cypriot origin.

Those involved blame, as does the media, “dangerous” roads, intersections, corners, or the absence of crash barriers etc.

Tarmac road

Passive Road

Let me make it very clear, roads, intersections and corners are passive. They stay very still in one place and wait to be used (or abused)! It is the active users, the drivers, who are “dangerous“.

Motor vehicles are only the instruments that, since their introduction just over a century ago, have been instrumental in the killing and maiming of more people, than all the wars throughout the world, during the same period.

But, like a loaded firearm, they do not do the killing by themselves. It needs human involvement to squeeze a trigger or to put a foot on the accelerator.

Driving tests must be made more complex to include and “drum home” the requirement to concentrate on safe and considerate driving during every journey. Drivers must spend more time learning where the brake pedal is, and especially what its purpose is! Psychiatric help must be provided to those who have a phobia about using one!

There is another option, increase the minimum driving age to a more mature one, say 103 or thereabouts!

Previously, I rambled on about the political and economic embargoes imposed upon both Kibris and Rhodesia. I stated that although the embargoes imposed on Rhodesia affected the poorer section of the population, they had little effect on the financial stability of the country as a whole. The continued existence of Kibris after nearly 40 years of embargoes again shows that, providing a friendly country provides a trading gateway, embargoes don’t work!

I mentioned the war in Rhodesia, which happened after the embargoes, while here the war was before the embargoes! I have a Turkish-Cypriot friend who lives in my village. No, I will re‑phrase that, I am a resident ex-pat and as such a guest (albeit a welcome one) in this wonderful country, therefore I live in her village!

When she was asked if she had any memories or experiences of the war, she described the following:

hunting rifles, axes, pick-axe handles, rocks

hunting rifles, axes, pick-axe handles, rocks

At night the men of the village where she was brought up would lie in a defensive ambush around the village perimeter with whatever weapons they could find: hunting rifles, axes, pick-axe handles, rocks etc.

 

The women and children would spend the night in a building in the centre of the village with a firearm and “sufficient” ammunition. She was, at that time, a young teenager but she noticed that each time the ammunition was given to the firearm holder it was the exact number of the villagers occupying the building.

She presumed (and this was later confirmed) that the ammunition was “sufficient”, not to shoot Greek Cypriots, but to kill themselves should the enemy reach the door! No-one wants that as a childhood memory!

Sadly, she still suffers occasionally from fits of depression, which may well have their root cause in this memory. If so, both my wife and I (we have also lived through a war) can empathise with her.

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

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