I AM proud to consider myself part of Robert Mugabe’s awakening of African education in Zimbabwe at the outset of his presidency, and however mixed are the international judgments on his 37 years as head of state in other spheres of his rule, there is much unanimity as to the outstanding rise in literacy in Zimbabwe during his time in government.

As twice a teacher there, in the early 1980s and again in 1990, I hope this literacy has persisted and not become a casualty of events.

I know when I was a teacher there, having emigrated a few months after attending a recruitment interview in Manchester, and being accorded permanent residence too, I found the welcome from the then Ministry of Education and Culture in keeping with what I was told by my recruitment team interviewer, a white Zimbabwean – that the first focus of the new government immediately after they took the reins of power was the schools. Until then the white population was the main beneficiary of the educational system that had existed under Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government.

During my first spell in Zimbabwe as a teacher I was joined by some Australians whose government was committed to them going there to the extent that it continued to pay them salaries in Australia which awaited their three-years-contract return from Zimbabwe. Not to mention that their home salaries were much greater than those in Zimbabwe.

This contrasted with my situation, as I was entirely dependent on my Zimbabwe pay and had indeed emigrated with my wife and two of our three children, having ensured the wellbeing of our oldest daughter in Scotland as we were best able. There was no programme by Britain in support of the new Zimbabwean Government’s drive to open up its schools to all that country’s children. Hence I went there knowing that I was going independently and had my one-way flight, and that of my accompanying family, paid by the Zimbabwean Government.

Despite which I was delighted to enjoy my time there and look back on both occasions fondly. I could easily write a book about the many funny and otherwise experiences I had, though they were so many and sometimes so complex that maybe this is why my book remains unwritten.

As with reactions to the death of Robert Mugabe among Zimbabweans themselves, there is every indication of the complexity in such matters, and my experiences were likewise.

I do know I was fortunate in being in that country twice when it enjoyed relative prosperity, even though I did encounter the difficulties of petrol stations running out of fuel etc, but am also aware that there was as well much hand-to-mouth living among many of the black African people, though not at all on the scale as now reported.

It is regrettable that politics is too often unable to ensure prosperity and that some of humankind’s uglier behaviour prevails in the power of government. But it is also right to say that this not only a problem in some countries of Africa but in all the inhabited continents, including our own.

Ian Johnstone

THERE is nothing the dangerously deranged mob in charge at Westminster would like more, during the current Brexit crisis, than to foster division between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The British state has had centuries of practice in this particular dark art, with successive military deployments pitting Celt against Celt.

While no-one in full possession of their senses would ever risk provoking any reactivation of these centuries of bloody colonial and religious conflict in Ireland for fear of being labelled an “enemy of the people”, someone has had the brilliant wheeze of deciding to send Scottish police officers to Northern Ireland to deal with any disorderly post-Brexit scenario.

This, we are told, may be a necessity. Is this perhaps someone’s idea of “soft” policing? Or does someone need his or her head examined (Letters, August 28-29)?

If, as it would seem, the Scottish Justice Secretary at Holyrood has no power under the devolved settlement to prevent such a scenario (or would rather wash his hands of it), he should clarify the situation immediately, or face charges of criminal negligence further down the line if tragic consequences ensue.

No matter whether it is under orders from a UK Home Secretary or by request by a chief constable, Scotland must refuse to comply. We will no longer play their lethal game.

Joan S Laverie

SAVE our tax havens, dump democracy, to hell with climate change, and don’t forget, God Save the Queen. The current comedy in a single sentence. A wealth of news and articles in this weekend’s Sunday National. I got this copy with a free token, courtesy of The Hub in Inverness, but never miss a week anyway. Thank you.

Iain R Thomson