“You will talk!” he screamed. The voice was maniacal. “No one can stand this for long. I promise we will make you talk soon!”
The scene was surreal. I was lying stretched out and face down, with the two heavy hoods covering my head and face, making it difficult to breath. I was on the hard, back seat of what seemed like a Jeep or similar vehicle, with someone sitting on my back and legs so I couldn’t move.
My shackles had been moved from my hands behind my back to my hands in front of me, with layers of cloth wrapped around my wrists and the shackles tightened as far as they could go, without cutting through the cloth wraps. The thin cotton shirt and pants I had been wearing since the secret police had picked me up two weeks ago offered no protection from the cold or from what was about to happen to me.
Suddenly, my shirt was lifted, and I felt needles being pushed into my back; first at the base and then at the top of my spine. Later I would learn that these were advanced methods of electric torture, whereby breaking the natural resistance of the outer skin to allow the electric current to flow through the fluids in my body, providing much more effective shock and resulting in significant spinal contortions and pain.
How had it come to this? At the time of my arrest, I was the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and had been confirmed to be promoted to the Commander of the Air Force within a few months. How could anyone be the Chief of Staff of the Air Force one minute and a tortured prisoner in shackles the next?
Things had changed. The newly elected government had brought with it the most significant and far-reaching change in the 100 year history of our country. The country and its people had changed over the past three years, beginning with the much publicized independence of Zimbabwe (previously Rhodesia). But these people, who seemed intent on doing me harm, were supposed to be my co-workers, helping the fledgling Zimbabwe to get on its feet; not the enemy we had been fighting for the past 15 years in a vicious and ugly war.
In an effort to understand this more fully, we have to go back in time to earlier days in Africa, Southern Rhodesia and in particular, Rhodesia itself. Those earlier times were very different; a different country, a different Government and a different life for all. This is where my story begins.