Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Blog4Peace - Who is Your Person?

(warning: this post may carry triggers for anyone with PTSD) 

Queen Mimi has asked a challenging question...

Within the span of one's life there are those who walk the path with us - guiding, teaching, holding our hands. They shape our destinies with unconditional love. My Papa was that person for me. Who is your person?
I don't think I could ever pick one single person as "the one" who shaped my life, I have been blessed with so many good people.

But I do know who I think of when I think of peace. I do know who made me choose pacifism. He's the person I want to talk about today, but this is not an easy story to write.

This is my great uncle Cecil.  

He was a good husband and dad. He was an RRAF pilot (Rhodesian Royal Air Force) during WWII. He was funny, kind, naughty and a great teacher. He taught me to play pool like a hustler. :D

This photo was taken when he and his wife stopped by to say hi on their way from Zimbabwe to Cape Town.

They fled Zimbabwe with that car and caravan. Everything they possessed was in that caravan. Uncle Cecil had built his home on land that became the centre of much of the Rhodesian Bush War action. His wife, Aunty Veronica, was taken hostage once by terrorists/guerrillas in her kitchen. She fed them breakfast, gave them the keys to Uncle Cecil's wine cellar (he made his own liqueurs) and then she managed to radio for help while they got drunk.

That caravan was full of holes from the bullets of the battle that took place in her back yard that day. Uncle Cecil and Aunty Veronica lost their home and furniture, but they never lost their sense of humour. They told their war stories in ways that made you laugh till you cried. Like how their double bed was confiscated off that car roof at the border by an over-zealous official who said it was "too new to leave the country."

They started over again in South Africa with nothing and did so with love and laughter. They took on jobs at an age when most folk are retiring, working at a home for the mentally disabled.    They became "mom and dad" there and loved their work. They finally managed to get a little home, thanks to the help of other family, and they could relax at last.  

Then one morning in the 1990s, Aunty Veronica was leaving early when a group of young men stopped her at the gate. They were looking for work. She told them there was no work, but if they went to the house her husband would make them all breakfast, because that was the kind of open loving people they were. 

She went off for the day... 
and returned home to find her husband dead in their bedroom.

The young men had tied him to a chair, tortured him using tools from his toolbox (a screwdriver and a hammer) then they'd killed him. All they took from the house was a charity tin full of coins.  

When family phoned and told my dad I remember just crouching down and HOWLING. I've had bad phone calls since then, but that is the only one that made me weep like that. 

I'm crying now. 

They did eventually catch the young men, but this was at a time when South Africa was offering amnesty to anyone arrested for crimes that might relate to apartheid or the fight for freedom. The young men were set free with the amnesty.

Were they political freedom fighters or cruel young thugs? Does it matter? No one deserves to die like that. No one. Especially not a sweet-naughty charming old man who was only inviting in some young men to offer them a home-cooked meal.

You pick up a weapon for any other reason than protection and you are as bad as your oppressor. Violence cannot be the answer to violence. And that includes revenge. It will always ripple out and do more harm. And so the child of an abuser becomes abusive and the generation born into war grow to think of that as normal and continue lifestyles of destruction and hate. Nothing changes unless we actively create change.

No matter what the personal cost someone has to say, "It stops here."

It stops here, with me.


  1. As a refugee from Zimbabwe myself, and my ex husband was in the RRAF, I so totally feel for this post. PTSD yes, for many years. I cry with you. Yes indeed it stops here. Absolutely!!
    Blessings and love

    1. Oh Jacqui (((hug)))

      Blessings and love to you too!

  2. Tears. Love for you. Sorrow and horror. Pride. Why am I proud? Because once again you have managed to wrangle a peace passion out of tragedy, meaning out of atrocity, and bring hope to all of us by vowing non-violence. You ARE a peace warrior. You have always been a peace warrior. You will always be a peace warrior.
    Much love,

    1. Dear Mimi

      To hear that from you is an honour.

      I always had the soapbox and microphone, but you gave me the courage and cheered me on. For that... THANK YOU and bless you.


  3. Oh my goodness...I'm crying here, too. That was quite a shock to read. How could they do such a thing? Why? That is so crazy. Such a powerful and heartfull post, thank you for sharing this difficult story. (((HUGS)))

    1. ((((BIG HUGS)))

      I actually started writing this last year and deleted it. But this year I knew I needed to tell the story.

  4. Oh, my dear, dear Michelle. I feel your heartache and wish you peace and love <3 x x x

  5. That's a heart wrenching story and a powerful plea, Michelle.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story and powerful message it sends. I wish you and your family love and peace.

    1. Thank you Shannon. Peace and love to you and your family too.