Forged in the fires of hell.

Paul is perhaps the one person on this earth who understands me in a way nobody else can.  He joined the British army, strong and vital, full of piss and vinegar.  Completed his training as a paratrooper, special ops and a hard man, ready to do as Churchill infamously said would go into the night to fight so that others could sleep.  The call came in to HQ to send in a special unit to run black ops interference in a war that would be airbrushed from world history: Rhodesia.

Kissenger was busily meddling.  As was the USSR.  Britain was flouncing around gently asking its petulant children, those white surpremacist aristocrats and retired military types living in Rhodesia, to BEHAVE for the love of god and accept that black people can vote, that they have a brain (current occupant of the US Presidency perhaps the exception to that one) etc.  Presidents come and go but their meddling echoes through the ages.

Why would a small child be left in the care of bodyguards and nanny on an isolated farm on the border of Rhodesia and Mozambique, with the entireity of the borders of that coffee estate strewn with booby traps, mines and everything the ingenius Sappers could facilitate, if not to ensure the involvement of US and British paratroopers to step in and save those white skinned angels born into a world of horror, degradation and brutality?  Were we used as bait to entice involvement of the US and Britain? I believe so.  To read those sappers blogs now is to have my soul seared afresh with the pain of seeing those that I loved raped, murdered, hacked to pieces with machetes whilst trying to save my life: they were black and white skinned.  Read those blogs (google Rhodesia Selous Scouts Sappers, especially “Thrasher”… lovely read, without even a hint of responsiblity for the continuing human carnage that those mines and boobytraps continue to harvest.)

Paul lived through hell.  Came across lost comrades who had been captured, tortured, testicles and penis sliced off and shoved in their mouths, stomachs opened before death…  This was the reality of that war.  If you think that the brutality was one sided you’d be sadly mistaken.  Certainly not meted out by the poor bastards like Paul and Joe (@JeBusse56) who fought to save the likes of me from certain death and torture; but by my own people, the white aristocrats and retired military of Britain, France and the US.

An aquantaince once said to me “Why do you flinch when you meet a black person?  Are you really that prejudiced still?  Do you hate them?”  I looked at her trying to make sense of her words.  “No.  I just expect one of my family to turn up and kill them.”

What a dumb thing to say.

Yet.  It is I guess what most assume.

I am often crippled with guilt.  Guilt of my ancestry.  Guilt of the things I witnessed.  Guilt of survival.  I am told at these times that I shouldn’t take on other’s actions as my own, that I’m not responsible, blah blah blah blah …   Nice words that mean sweet FA.

There is a moral injury so deep it can never be healed, nor should it be.

One child needs to remember and mourn those that lost their lives in that madness.  One child needs to remember that she saw through the hell and the ones who saved her are precious beyond words.  I can’t go back and kiss the others goodbye.  I can’t go back and stop any of it.  But I can call the likes of my Father out and say, “Hell no.  You did that.  You stood there and you did that.  That war was not right, it had no reason.  You idiots in Rhodesian Internal Affairs singlehandedly destroyed everything through your ignorance and stupidity.  Your utter lack of humanity.  The colour of a peson’s skin does not determine their value.  You drove into a camp of thousands and didn’t stop firing until no man, woman or child was moving.  You mowed them down.  4 of you were slightly injured.  Thousands buried in mass graves.  Madness breeds madness and man’s misery, man’s cruelty to others builds blindly until there is nothing but hate left.”

Introspective Art was born of this pain.

It is through the works of artists that I found myself.  I spent forty years lost and in pain.  Because of one child who challenged me to find it, I found my artistic voice through what I call Introspective Art: building on those that have come before, it seeks out the truth that lies out of sight and slaps it on a canvas.  Demands that the viewer connect, see and feel: it twerks reality using the Surrealists skills of the past to shove it ever so slightly, realism turned pop art, Expressionism made abstract but contained.

Introspective Art is a new art movement of my own creating, for me it is a place of internal peace and truth seeking.  A raw and very aggressive art that takes no prisoners, but openly says Look at my Scars.  Moral Injuries. Stigma around mental health challenges and injuries has a flame thrower stuck under its feet.   That is Introspective Art. It is storytelling at its greatest and brutal as it is beautiful.

Kate Gillie
Author

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