Revisiting the Past

My father died on 13th August 1995. In 1996 I went back to Zimbabwe with my two-year-old daughter. My plan was to scatter my father's ashes at the superintendent's house. I found the houses we'd lived in at Ingutsheni virtually derelict. After a visit to Rhodes Grave, I took my daughter to the Hillside Dams. There we found a tranquil spot and scattered my father's ashes into the dam. Afterwards, we each threw a red rose into the water.

I've included a photograph of the bronze Zimbabwe bird that can be seen on top of Rhodes House in Oxford. The legacy of Cecil John Rhodes lives on. There is a statue of Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford in recognition of the lucrative endowment that he bestowed on the college. Researching the past enabled me to confront my own racism in terms of the prejudicial language we all used during the colonial era. Writing the book allowed me to question the power of my father's profession and to raise concerns about its effect on him as an individual, Ingutsheni was an experience of refuge and also exclusion from the social world that most of my friends took for granted. To me the hospital was simply my home.

As an adult I can't help thinking that such institutions mirror the madness of the society in which they exist.

Below is a work of art titled 'The Spark of Life' which I have used as the cover for "The Secret World of Shlomo Fine".

© K.M.R. Smythe

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