I must apologise to you all because, actually, if you didn’t get distracted last Sunday– I did! I’d not set out to talk about Berlusconi, innocent soul, but, rather, the Berlin Wall.
However, every time I want to talk about the Berlin Wall, I get distracted. Like now, for instance, I am thinking of Khrushchev. And no, in fact, now I’m thinking of that word, “like”!
The word “like” has acquired such lots of meanings as to completely confound me. Ever heard “I was feeling like what should I tell my father”? Granted, languages evolve all the time. Still, this one is beyond me!
Anybody could tolerate it when two negatives were unnecessarily used in a sentence but, at least, they produced a positive. If you said you hadn’t exactly got nothing; it would mean that you had something!
That, however, was before language was turned on its poor head. Today, you don’t even have to go to the USA to hear: “Nah, men, I ain’t gat na cuppatea.” That, bizarrely enough, is perfectly normal and it means you have no cup of tea!
Even more strangely, though, that cup of tea won’t be your perfect Englishman’s cup of tea, complete with its saucer. No, it will be a mug the size of a beer pot, the sight of which would drive an English gentleman to commit suicide!
Never mind that that, too, drives Old Patriarch, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, bananas to hear that an Englishman who has no single tea plant to his name in his land, can claim tea to be his invention.
However, I was talking about Khrushchev, remember? Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was leader of the USSR from 1958 to 1964.
What in the dickens is USSR, you may ask, and with good reason because that was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that is long extinct. When it crumbled, the USSR split into Russia and other tiny states whose names invariably end in “—stan”.
Khrushchev was one of a breed of behemoths of leaders of the USSR who straddled the socialist countries like colossuses. That was the time of the Cold War, when the Axis Powers were on a collision course that happily, was cut short.
The Cold War was a time of political conflict, military tension and economic competition between the Axis Powers.
This period started just after World War II, 1945, and ended when the USSR crumbled and split up in 1991.
The two Axis Powers were the USA and her allies, the West, and USSR and her allies, the East. The war between them was ‘cold’ because it never actually took place. Still, it cost lives and wasted materials.
It involved strategic conventional force deployments, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda and technical competition. In those proxy wars and in seeking military coalitions, the powers hunted down all imagined enemies.
That is how the ripple effects of this Cold War reached our Great Lakes region and changed the course of our history. To put this in context, imagine where Rwanda would be if King Rudahigwa hadn’t been assassinated.
What course would D.R. Congo have taken if Patrice Lumumba hadn’t been killed? And where would Burundi be, if Prince Rwagasore had been allowed to consummate his vision for his country?
However, again I beg your pardon. For, if you remember, I set out to talk about the Berlin Wall. On the other hand, you cannot talk about it without talking about the Axis Powers, because the Berlin Wall was the face of the Cold War.
And Khrushchev put his finger on it when he told Mao Tse-Tung: “Berlin is the te***cles of the West”, referring to a male human twin-organ. “Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze on Berlin.”
Little did he know, of course, that the ominous predictions of a later-day lone ranger cowboy president of the USA, Ronald Reagan, would be borne out! Reagan said: “The Soviet Union is an evil empire and it will be left on the ash heap of history.”
It would be the same man whose voice would ring out, as he stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The citizens of East Germany didn’t wait for Mr. Gorbachev; they brought it down a year later.
Yet, what exactly did the wall mean for the ordinary Germans? Klaus Dieter Hauser was an East Berliner, a printer by trade, who was working overtime in West Berlin on 13th August 1961 when the Wall was erected.
Hauser couldn’t go back, and so he didn’t see his wife and son until 10th November 1989!
Rudolph Braun was an East German jack of all trades. On 13th August 1961, he was in West Berlin repairing a farmer’s mowing machine and wouldn’t be through until the following day, 14th August 1961.
It was not to be! He did not see his family until 10th November 1989.
Lucky for us all, humanity has a way of correcting its own mistakes.