The Union Jack flew again yesterday over Cecil Square in downtown Salisbury as white-ruled Rhodesia held probably its last ceremony marking the arrival here 88 years ago of the original pioneer column that founded this former British colony. By next year, Rhodesia is scheduled to become-ruled Zimbabwe.
A nearly all-white crowd of 700 people watched silently, and some tearfully, as patrol officer Colin MacLaurin, a great grandson of one of the first pioneers, slowly hoisted the British flag in memory of a dying era of British colonialism in southern Africa. A few blacks watched quietly from nearby.
A black police band wearing tasseled fezes played favorite Rhodesian songs and women wearing Easter bonnets and Sunday clothes watched from under blossoming jacaranda trees. At one point, tears streamed down the cheeks of the stern-faced white band conductor.
Prime Minister Ian Smith, the target of sharp criticism from his own white followers these days, was for once warmly applauded. One bearded gentleman was heard to say, "Good old Smithy, good old Smithy, there are still some of us behind you."
Reflecting what Smith on Sunday called "the greatest crisis" in the lives of the 230,000 remaining white Rhodesians was the prayer delivered by a Methodist minister, C. W. A. Blakeway.
"Our hearts are heavy" he said, "for there is sadness and pain, fear and war, and a terrible desire for destruction has been thrust upon us."
But he appeared to whites to be part of the solution to the crisis rather than part of the problem itself.
The emotions of whites have been stirred to a fever pitch by the shooting down by missile 10 days ago of an Air Rhodesia passenger plane killing 38 persons. Ten of the 18 survivors were then shot and killed by black nationalist guerrillas.
As a result, whites are in a revenge-seeking mood and have been generally disappointed by the limited new measures Smith announced Sunday to deal with the ever growing guerrilla war. These included the imposition of martial law in parts of the country and a crackdown on black opposition groups inside Rhodesia.
White-ruled Rhodesia is scheduled to pass into history at the end of this year with the election of a black majority government. But the war has become so serious, with no cease-fire in sight, that there are doubts now whether the election will ever be held.
The origins of Rhodesia as a British colony go back to Sept. 12, 1890 when a small pioneer column under Lt. Col. Edward G. Pennefather reached the Salisbury area, planted the Union Jack at Cecil Square and founded Fort Salisbury nearby.
The square at the city's center was named after the Cecil family, which was deeply involved in Britain's colonial history in southern Africa. But it was Cecil John Rhodes, an imperial entrepreneur and head of the British South Africa Co., who was responsible for sending the pioneer column and after whom Rhodesia was named.
Rhodesia became a self-governing British colony in 1923 but the whites, under Smith, broke away and declared their independence of Britain in November 1965. Since then, no country has ever formally recognized Rhodesia and for the past six years black nationalist guerrillas have been fighting to seize control of the country.
Six daughters of the original pioneers were on hand for yesterday's moving ceremony. Most of them are in their 80s. Asked what they thought about the situation in Rhodesia today, one of them, Muriel Baraf, replied:
"I was born in Rhodesia and I'm going to die here - unless there is a Marxist government."