He fought our battle, that is why we are grateful to him
Podcast by Taiwo Akinola (Movement for National Reformation) – January 4, 2011
How do we measure greatness and what do we want to be remembered for?
As we commit Mr Harold Smith to mother earth today, he follows in the footsteps of other men of history, such as Galileo, Tom Paine, Socrates, among others who had the courage to tell the authority the truth, and then were punished for it. The stories of these great men are not complete without references to those who oppressed them; they had their moments, but today they are remembered for all the wrong reasons while history has vindicated the punished and their contributions are cherished.
If Mr Smith had not lived for something positive, our gathering today would have simply been a commemoration of a beloved father, husband and friend which would have more than justified the sombre mood of all gathered here today. However, Harold lived a principled and righteous life which affected many lives, and thus as we celebrate the end of his earthly journey we are consoled by the fact that his ideas will live on through future generations. Harold who treated his conscience as a judge, witness and friend serves as a current and future model for humanity to follow.
Mr Smith was a true believer in the truth. He stood as ‘a firm reminder and caring presence of what ought to be and can be, in this world’; ‘an incorruptible man who was unusual in his passion for the truth.’
Sir James Robinson was said to be great but Harold did not try to copy his so-called greatness, which only merited no more than the curses of humanity and he’s remembered for the anguish he spread in Sudan and Nigeria where he served as the last Governor-General.
Harold you lived for your ideas that goodness is just; inhumanity is unjust. You were right in those beliefs. Your ideas will live after you. Harold, forever we will remember you.
Rest in Peace.
by William Bowles • Saturday, 24 June, 2006
“You know why you’re here, Smith. And I want you to know that all your worst fears and suspicions are absolutely correct … I am telling you this because I want you to know how much trouble you are in … Smith, I want you to know that I personally gave the orders regarding the elections to which you objected … If you will keep your mouth shut, I can promise rapid promotion and a most distinguished career elsewhere … but you will not be allowed to work in the UK. You must understand that you know too much for your own good. If you don’t give me your word, means will be found to shut you up. No one will believe your story and the press will not be allowed to print it.” – Sir James Robertson, the then governor-general of Nigeria to Harold Smith in 1960.
Y’know it astounds me (though I know it shouldn’t) that ‘our’ governments have gotten away with so many lies over so many decades and we’re not talking about little fibs here, we’re talking about events that determine the lives-and deaths-of millions of people. Indeed, the fate of entire continents hinged on the engineering of massive lies about events and their causes.
Airbrushing the crimes of capitalism has reached new heights with the invasion of Iraq, but make no mistake, it is by no means new, it is merely the latest and the most brazen. The major difference is that the latest Big Lie was revealed even as it took place. Earlier crimes against humanity and equally as horrendous in scale have, with the complicity of the media, been hidden from view.
Without exaggeration successive British governments, whether Labour or Tory have proved to be the most cunning at weaving a web of deceit about the way they have manipulated our perception of events. This includes engineering election results, frame-ups of politicians, murders, bribery and corruption that extends to the highest levels of government.
But crucially, none of it would have been possible without the active connivance of the media, both corporate and state in the deception (and more often than not, parallel crimes of omission). This particular story has been buried for fifty years in spite of innumerable attempts to get the media to report it.
Entire histories have been completely erased from the record. Take for example the British role in Nigeria. Last week a friend sent me a copy of New African magazine from May of 2005 which contains a complete account of one of the many ‘hidden histories’ of British machinations on the ‘dark continent’.
This particular history haunts Africa to this day and one that the British Establishment have yet to pay for, for it resulted in the deaths of millions and almost led to the break-up of Nigeria. The results determined the nature of the Nigeria of today including all the talk about post-colonial ‘corruption’. And, it should not surprise readers that lusting after oil was the primary reason.
The author of this story, Harold Smith, has been threatened, offered a knighthood, ostracised, poisoned and finally blacklisted for fifty years for trying to tell the truth. He was a loyal if na�ve servant of the state, who obviously believed all the myths about the ‘neutral’ civil service- until he tried to live by them.
“We thought the English were lawful and decent people.” – Harold Smith
In fact it’s a case-book example of British colonialism’s ‘divide and rule’ tactics. It epitomises just how devious the British ruling class are, they have had after all, centuries to invent and perfect every trick in the book. It should also put paid to any illusions the ‘left’ have about the Labour Party which was entirely complicit in the many crimes committed by British imperialism including the events that took place in Nigeria.
By 1956, the demands of the Nigerian people for independence were unavoidable. It was the year of MacMillan’s ‘Winds of Change’ speech, made in South Africa (of all places). But the British ruling class were determined that at best, a light breeze would waft through Nigeria and if change was to take place, it would be the kind of ‘change’ that would essentially change nothing, except the colour of the ruling elite.
“We had betrayed the Nigerians and undermined their democracy! We had taken millions of slaves from this area of Africa and shipped them in dehumanising conditions to America, and now we were pretending to be decent, the good old British were giving independence and behaving properly, but we weren’t! It was the same bloody dirty games we had been playing for centuries.” – Harold Smith
To this end, the British colonial rulers utilised the ‘special relationship’ they had established with their local administrators in the North-dominated largely by the Hausa and Fulani-who were more than willing to collaborate with the British colonial authorities in order to maintain their own, personal power, that of the Emirs.
Harold Smith, a low level administrator, was directed to make sure that a British creation for maintaining colonial power, the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), won the upcoming elections, an order he refused to carry through labelling it a “criminal act.”
The NPC was funded by the British-created Native Authorities and according to Smith
“it was difficult to detect in the North where the British administration ended and the Northern rule began. Thus through a cynical display of horse dealing, the 1959 Federal election became a mockery, because the outcome – Northern domination of Nigeria after independence – was assured before a single vote was cast.”
When ‘independence’ came, in 1960, British control and domination through a rigged election was assured with a government dominated by the North, a situation that led directly to the Biafra war, a war that resulted in 2 million deaths.
When opposition leaders objected to the rigged election they were simply framed on trumped up charges and thrown in jail.
But the story of this lone colonial administrator’s opposition to British manipulation of the ‘independence’ process reveals a far more insidious process at work, the connivance of the corporate and state-run media in the cover-up.
When Smith returned to England he attempted to get the ‘liberal’ press to publish his story, but as Sir James Robertson had predicted, neither of the two leading ‘liberal’ newspapers, the Guardian and the Independent initially would even reply to his letters.
“This is dynamite, we dare not touch it.” – Harold Smith on journalists’ responses to why the story was unprintable.
Smith relates the forty-five years he spent trying to get the press to tell the public his story including the hundreds of letters he sent over a 45-year period, all to no avail.
Eventually, he wrote a book about his experiences but this too was ignored. Eventually he published it on the Web for free (www.libertas.demon.co.uk).
Smith’s exchanges with the newspapers indicate the nature of the relationship between the media and the government.
“Reading through the written material … it occurs to me that perhaps there is a simpler explanation of why your story has not been published. Maybe in an earlier period, pre-1990 when the 30-year rule would have bitten, you had some cause to feel that the authorities were trying to suppress something and the newspapers were their allies – but I stress I have absolutely no knowledge of any involvement on the Guardian’s part.
“Now however, it is at least possible that the problem is journalistic. Is the Nigerian election of 1960, however corrupt, a story our readers would be interested in? – Hugo Young, the Guardian, 2 June 1993, to Harold Smith
Predictably, Mr Young resorted to smearing the indefatigable Mr Smith with the following dismissive note,
“Dear Mr Smith (1) I have not the least idea what the Guardian did or did not do about Nigeria long before I joined it. (2) You seem to be in a state of demented obsession, which causes you to defame me (and others) to all and sundry. Please desist. (3) This will be last communication. Do not trouble our fax machine or our secretaries.” – Hugo Young, The Guardian, 13 May, 1994 to Harold Smith [my emph. WB]
Thus we read why the one of the alleged ‘experts’ on Africa, Alastair Hetherington, could not find space in his book The Guardian Years on the first and at the time most devastating calamities to befall Africa, the Biafran War, a war that came about as a direct result of the rigged elections of 1959-60,
“Dear Mr Smith … I am sorry that you did not find any reference to Nigeria and the Biafran situation in my book The Guardian Years. The omission may well be because the book was originally 120,000 words long, and had to be cut down to 80,000. … I am afraid that I cannot become involved in correspondence on the subject now.” – Alastair Hetherington, former editor of the Guardian, 10 June 1994.
Readers may well be aware that similar arguments have been used to excuse why the corporate and state press have not covered similar revelations about the invasion and occupation of Iraq either because it’s merely “history” or because as the BBC stated as to why it has not covered the BRussell’s World Tribunal on Iraq. BBC news director Helen Boaden had this to say when pressed as to why it had not covered the Tribunal,
“We’ve covered the issues discussed many times and will continue do so, though we did not cover this – not least for logistical reasons.” (Email to Media Lens reader, June 29, 2005)
Only one newspaper, the Morning Star, reported on the Tribunal,
There was nothing in the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Independent on Sunday, the Financial Times, The Times or any of the other ‘watchdogs of democracy’. There were also zero mentions at BBC news online. — ‘THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE VANISHING WORLD TRIBUNAL ON IRAQ’ — Media Lens, July 6, 2005
Ms. Boaden does not have the excuse of ‘history’, merely that of ‘logistics’ though apparently there are other, unstated reasons as to why the BBC could not inform its viewers/listeners. Thus, over the past fifty years, absolutely nothing has changed, the media is as complicit now as it was back in 1960 in hiding the real state of affairs from the public. This should surely disabuse everybody of the false notion that we have a ‘free’ press intent on telling the truth either about current or past events. It also raises the issue of the degree to which the corporate and state-run media actively collude with the state in suppressing the truth, something that the unfortunate and courageous Harold Smith discovered to his cost.Source: Williambowles.info
Written by Olufemi Adefolaju – Aug 24, 2007
The man Harold Smith is not new in Nigerian history. He is one of the architects of colonial foundation that midwife Nigerian independence in 1960. I met him in a meeting three weeks ago where he opened up a bit about the lingering problem in Africa especially; Nigeria unbalanced protracted social political situations.
We asked if he could make this known to the media. His response was “I am in my 80s now; I have agreed but in the past ‘they’ did not want me to say anything, but now I don’t want to go to my grave without telling the truth about the atrocities perpetrated in Africa by the colonialists. Brothers and sisters; on Ben TV last Thursday, Harold Smith was on a program to reveal what went behind the scene before the independence. The Oxford University graduate had this to say about his role in Nigeria pre and after independence era. ‘Our agenda was to completely exploit Africa. Nigeria was my duty post.
When we assessed Nigeria, this was what we found in the southern region; strength, intelligence, determination to succeed, well established history, complex but focused life style, great hope and aspirations… the East is good in business and technology, the west is good in administration and commerce, law and medicine, but it was a pity we planned our agenda to give power “at all cost” to the northerner. They seemed to be submissive and stupid of a kind. Our mission was accomplished by destroying the opposition at all fronts. The west led in the fight for the independence, and was punished for asking for freedom. They will not rule Nigeria!
Harold Smith confessed that the Census results were announced before they were counted. Despite seeing vast land with no human but cattle in the north, we still gave the north 55 million instead of 32 Million. This was to be used to maintain their majority votes and future power bid. He stated that the West without Lagos was the most populous in Nigeria at that time but we ignored that. The north was seriously encouraged to go into the military. According to him, they believe that the south may attend western education, but future leaders will always come from military background.
Their traditional rulers were to be made influential and super human. The northerners were given accelerated promotions both in the military and civil service to justify their superiority over the south. Everything was to work against the south. We truncated their good plan for their future. “I was very sorry for the A.G; it was a great party too much for African standard. We planned to destroy Awolowo and Azikwe well, the west and the east and sowed a seed of discord among them”. We tricked Azikwe into accepting to be president having known that Balewa will be the main man with power. Awolowo has to go to jail to cripple his genius plans for a greater Nigeria. However, Harold Smith justified the British agenda of colonialism in Nigeria, which he believed was originally to help build Africa after the ruins of slave trade, but lamented that the British only looked after themselves and not after Nigerian interest. The British really let Nigeria down. When I see Nigerian been accused of fraud and from what I saw on the streets of Lagos; the British were worst fraudsters.
Looking at the northern leaders now he said, “If they have any agenda in Nigeria at all, sadly it is only for the north, and nothing for Nigeria. He stated that the British look after the British people and this is so all over the world. He said the time has come now to see people of intelligent minds with an open and inclusive agenda for all Nigerians in power…people who will really look after Nigerians large population…but “I still curiously and sorrowfully see now that the British has not let go of Nigeria…her wealth,. her potentials, her future. He opined that the Caucasian people now assert themselves as the keeper of the “New Age” keys. He therefore said that it is only logical for Europeans to maintain their position of power, scientific superiority, economic exploitation, they must continue to perpetuate their lies and falsehoods and this is the most unkindest cut of all in relation to Nigeria situation!
According to him, Nigeria, a great nation was crippled not because of military juntas or corrupt leaders alone but by the British and American fear of Nigeria great future. He confessed, “The fear of the place that will be our ‘dumping ground’ really occupied our minds”. Some of the things he said were not new to Nigerians or to the whole world but hearing it from the horse’s mouth is quite revealing and established more reality zones. He finally submitted that the colonial masters have caused havoc while they were in Africa, and planted timed bombs when they finally left. What we see since independence, the administration of new internal colonial masters by fellow Nigerians holding sway in power is doing more damage to Nigeria. Instead of detonating the time bombs planted by the British, the north is planting mines. He added that ‘It was my duty to carry out all of the above and I was loyal to my country. Nigerians should try to be loyal to their country leaders and followers alike. Love your country. You have got the potentials to be great again and the whole world knows this’. I am sorry for the above evil done to Nigeria. I can’t say sorry enough……
Source: Conscience Daily International
By Barry Mason 9 August 2007
A BBC radio documentary on the events leading up to the independence of Nigeria, Britain’s former colony, charged the British government with interference in the election to ensure the result was in line with its interests (see “Rigging Nigeria”).
The programme cited two files held in the British National archives covering the period leading up to independence in 1960 that to this day remain closed to the public and will remain closed for another 50 years.
One file contains material relating to the governor general at the time of independence, Sir James Robertson, and the other material on Dr Azikiwe, known as Zik, who was leader of the nationalist pro-independence political party, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC).
Mike Thomson, the investigator on the programme, spoke to Harold Smith who had gone out to work as a British Colonial Officer in the 1950s after graduating from Oxford University. Smith was based in the then capital, Lagos, working in the ministry of Labour, then headed by Festus Okotie-Eboh, a flamboyant politician who was treasurer of the NCNC. The NCNC was based in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Under colonial rule the country was divided up into three regions, North, East and West.
One day Smith was given a secret file containing a minute that ordered him to get involved in regional elections taking place in the late 1950s in the run up to independence. He was to make vehicles, staff and other resources available to the NCNC colleagues of Okotie-Eboh who was standing in the elections. Smith was shocked at the request. He explained that the election had to be fixed because the plan was that the Northern region would hold power on independence.
Thomson asks, “Could an allegation of British government involvement to rig an election or at the least to favour a particular party be substantiated?”
He interviewed Professor David Anderson, Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. Asked if such manipulation of an election result could have happened Professor Anderson replied: “In almost every single colony the British attempted to manipulate the result to their advantage…. I would be surprised if they had not done so.”
Nigeria’s Northern region constituted three quarters of the land mass of the country and had roughly half the population. Professor Anderson explained that the North, with its Islamist culture, was very conservative and had enjoyed a close relationship with its British colonial rulers. The British had ruled through the emirs.
The British government was concerned that the result of independence might lead to partition. They regarded the Northern region as a bulwark against opposition. Professor Anderson explained that British analysts at the time thought that West Africa as a whole with its high levels of poverty was highly vulnerable to communism.
The politics of the North was dominated by the Northern Peoples’ Congress Party (NPC). Britain was aware that the NPC would be unable to rule an independent Nigeria by itself and would need the support of a major party in the East or West.
This is why, explains Smith, he had been ordered to help the party of Dr Azikiwe (Zik), in the East, the NCNC. He explained: “They had to fix Zik of course, there was stuff they have got him for that could send him to prison … [they] forced him to do a deal with the North.”
Smith is adamant the orders to help the NCNC came from the top, the governor general Sir James Robertson. Smith described Robertson as “a thug and he had a terrible reputation….We loved Africans, but these people who came to do this job were a different breed, these were the ex-SOE [British Secret Service outfit set up during the Second World War] and MI6.”
According to Smith his colleagues reluctantly went along with the orders to aid the election campaign. Smith refused and asked to see Robertson.
He describes his meeting with Robertson. Robertson said, “I want you to know that everything you have alleged about the elections is correct…. You know too much and I want you to know how much trouble you are in. The Colonial Service is just like the army, you know what happens if you disobey orders on active service and that is what is going to happen to you.”
Smith added that Robertson was so angry he half expected him to produce a pistol and shoot him.
Smith showed Mike Thomson the copies of correspondence he has sent to the “great and the good” over the years in his campaign to highlight his allegations. Thomson remarked that without recordings of the conversations Harold Smith claims took place and no copies of the orders it is difficult for him to prove his case.
However, Thomson was able to quote from some documents that give a hint of what happened. One document is a letter written by Sir Peter Smethers who was a private parliamentary secretary at the British Colonial Office throughout most of the decolonization period and had been present at most of the independence negotiations, including that of Nigeria.
Writing of the Northern political class he says, “The attraction of the Kanu rulers was that they had a long and successful experience of government … offered the obvious choice to head the new experiment. It was difficult to see an alternative to the early stages of independence.”
Smethers died last year at the age of 92.
The other document was from the memoirs of Robertson, who died in 1983. He explained that in the elections that took place in 1959 to choose the government that would rule after independence, before the result was known there were rumours that the NCNC in the East and the so-called Action Group in the West were considering a coalition and would be able to form a majority in the House of Representatives.
He explained how he thought this might result in the North leaving the federation. Part of his role was to appoint as prime minister whoever he thought best able to command a majority in the House of Representatives. He invited Abukakr Tafawa Balewa, the Northern leader, to form a government even before the result of the election was known. He did so without consulting the secretary of state in the British government.
Thomson also explains how the British carried out a census in Nigeria in the years leading to independence and were accused of overestimating the numbers in the North to give them a higher representation in the parliament. Professor Anderson agrees it was certainly in the interests of Britain to have done that.
Both Professor Anderson and Mike Thomson applied under the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to the two files but have been refused.
Anderson told the programme:
“Clearly someone in the British government, when those files were classified, did not want us historians to learn something about what they contain and that raises my suspicions that those files might contain information about whatever deals were brokered between the British government and the NCNC. Because it is certainly the case that the NCNC would not have won the election it did without British support. Nor could it have formed a coalition with the NPC at independence without British support. So I would love to see what’s in those two files about Sir James Robertson and Dr Azikiwe.”
Source: World Socialist Web Site
By Don Jaide – June 28, 2009
Mr. Harold Smith was a colonial officer posted to duty in Africa. He served in many African countries including Nigeria. As an insider in the British colonial system, Mr. Smith has a lot of interesting views and ideas to provide. Here Rasta Livewire presents excerpts of his views and accounts of colonial socio-political malfeasace of the imperialist, racists, and so-called colonists:
Oxfordian lies on Africa
“Not only is Africa denigrated by the carefully nurtured fairy tale fashioned for the most part in Oxford, but with skill and cunning the British image is carefully burnished and enhanced. When did Britain itself become a democracy, if it has yet achieved that state? With universal male suffrage in 1884 or when all women got the vote in 1928? Britain’s democratic traditions are of more recent origin than most are aware. When the British removed themselves from Nigeria in 1960 (though in truth they did not really surrender power to the African people) there was not even universal suffrage, as only a minority of the country’s women – those in the South – were entitled to vote.
As for tribalism, that well-worn cliché of colonial histories, the pre-colonial societies found in Nigeria were quite sophisticated and could be seen as city states or nations. And it is the British who have been at war with rebellious Irish tribes for centuries. Can any savagery in Africa equal the Belsens of civilised Western Europe? And the tribal skirmishes, often quoted as an excuse for the British armed occupation, pale to insignificance beside the massive bloody conflicts between the European powers. I refer of course to the two Great Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.”
British Perenial Involvment with Rigging of Nigerian Elections:
“When I suggest that the British Government meddled with the democratic elections in Nigeria, I write as an authority. I was chosen by his Excellency the Governor General, Sir James Robertson, to spearhead a covert operation to interfere with the elections. The laws of Nigeria were a sham and largely window-dressing to conceal, not mirror, the reality of where power lay. I drafted some of those laws.
I look at that in the light of the recent outcry about Nigeria’s allegedly rigged elections, and I think cheating and dishonesty are a question of perspective, and that in this regard, while I do not wish to be seen as excusing corruption in any way, our greatest critics live in enormous glass mansions.”
The Blindness of Nigerian Socio-Political Critiques
“Unfortunately most of the early scholarly works on Nigeria did not choose to raise the curtain to see what was happening backstage, so that all too often the analysis is curiously superficial and lacking in bite or significance. Of course, academics or others who were seeking to teach or work in Nigeria, not only before but after Independence, would need to be very careful not to bite the hand of their colonial masters if they were not to be branded unreliable or unsound.”
Source: Rasta Livewire
The man Harold Smith is not new in Nigerian history. He is one of the architects of colonial foundation that midwife Nigerian independence in 1960.
I met him in a meeting three weeks ago where he opened up a bit about the lingering problem in Africa especially; Nigeria unbalanced protracted social political situations. We asked if he could make this known to the media. His response was “I am in my 80s now; I have agreed but in the past ‘they’ did not want me to say anything, but now I don’t want to go to my grave without telling the truth about the atrocities perpetrated in Africa by the colonialists.
Brothers and sisters; on Ben TV last Thursday, Harold Smith was on a program to reveal what went behind the scene before the independence. The Oxford University graduate had this to say about his role in Nigeria pre and after independence era.
‘Our agenda was to completely exploit Africa. Nigeria was my duty post. When we assessed Nigeria, this was what we found in the southern region; strength, intelligence, determination to succeed, well established history, complex but focused life style, great hope and aspirations… the East is good in business and technology, the west is good in administration and commerce, law and medicine, but it was a pity we planned our agenda to give power “at all cost” to the northerner. They seemed to be submissive and silly of a kind. Our mission was accomplished by destroying the opposition at all fronts. The west led in the fight for the independence, and was punished for asking for freedom. They will not rule Nigeria!
Harold Smith confessed that the Census results were announced before they were counted. Despite seeing vast land with no human but cattle in the north, we still gave the north 55 million instead of 32 Million. This was to be used to maintain their majority votes and future power bid. He stated that the West without Lagos was the most populous in Nigeria at that time but we ignored that. The north was seriously encouraged to go into the military. According to him, they believe that the south may attend western education, but future leaders will always come from military background. Their traditional rulers were to be made influential and super human. The northerners were given accelerated promotions both in the military and civil service to justify their superiority over the south. Everything was to work against the south. We truncated their good plan for their future. “I was very sorry for the A.G; it was a great party too much for African standard. We planned to destroy Awolowo and Azikwe well, the west and the east and sowed a seed of discord among them”. We tricked Azikwe into accepting to be president having known that Balewa will be the main man with power. Awolowo has to go to jail to cripple his genius plans for a greater Nigeria.
However, Harold Smith justified the British agenda of colonialism in Nigeria, which he believed was originally to help build Africa after the ruins of slave trade, but lamented that the British only looked after themselves and not after Nigerian interest. The British really let Nigeria down. When I see Nigerian been accused of fraud and from what I saw on the streets of Lagos; the British were worst fraudsters. Read more …….