Libertas is dedicated to issues of freedom of information and in particular to treason by the British in Nigeria at the time of Independence and up to the present day.

Contents:

   Harold Smith’s Introduction to his site

   Introduction by Carol Smith

  Essays

   Autobiography – “A Squalid End to Empire: British Retreat from Africa

  African Verse

Harold Smith wrote:  

I witnessed this. The truth was concealed from the British people. I thought one family should hold true to Britain ’s proclaimed values and hopefully reveal all to the peoples of Africa , the victims of so much cruelty and injustice inflicted by totally dishonest and criminal British political leaders.

            My story is being told in Africa . It is free and now has a life of its own, thanks to some great African journalists, and particularly Baffour Ankomah.

We have had a rough old ride since 1956 when I refused orders and took a stand for civilised values in Africa .   This is the tale of one British family’s odyssey.

Please Note: ! New since previous version posted on site in December 2011

Last Revised: 16 October 2012

Carol Smith writes:

Harold was taken ill on 25 December 2010, rushed to hospital and died there on 3 January 2011. I wish to thank all those who have been in touch with me and our daughters over the last months for their kindness, sympathy and support. As a tribute to my beloved husband, I am introducing this site with a selection of  the Humanist Funeral Ceremony that took place in Bath on 20 January 2011.

A Humanist Funeral Ceremony to celebrate the life of Harold Smith

                   Born on 29 April 1927. Died on 3 January 2011

            Address by Janet Pryke, Humanist Celebrant

“ Harold will be remembered in so many ways, but especially, as his family have told me, as a man of big, big spirit. The memory of this spirit will continue through his death, as part of our humanity that grows and endures. He will continue to be remembered through his life, and as part of all your lives.

His life began in Manchester , the son of Henry and Margaret Smith, the fifth of seven children. He was always a hard worker, and as a boy had several jobs. As a good son, in those difficult times, he gave all his money to his Mam. Then he had to leave school to work, and became an engineering apprentice. He became interested in the union movement, and he became a Labour Party activist. The war years arrived, and he joined the RAF as a fitter in 1946.

Back at Manchester he worked at the factory, but heard through the Trades Union about a scholarship to study at Ruskin College , Oxford . He worked for that and was successful, studying for a diploma. It was at this time he met Carol in December 1950.

They married in 1952. Carol continued to work for her degree in London , while Harold applied to take a Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree at Magdalen College , Oxford . He was once again successful and completed his degree in 1954.

Their first daughter Helen was born in 1954 in London . Harold then saw an advertisement for a Labour Officer in Nigeria , a country on its way to independence at the time. He went there in 1955 with his wife and baby, and his passion for Nigeria developed. He was successful in his time there, during which he wrote a Factories Act, introduced a National Provident Fund, and opened the Port Dock Labour Scheme.

However during that posting Harold was asked to be part of some pre-election organisation that he recognised as corrupt and undemocratic. What could a man like him do but protest? He did. He did go back to England after his two years, with a commendation. The implications of that action followed him as, shortly after obtaining employment here, he lost it, after a recommendation from the Colonial Office. Carol and Harold’s daughter, Louise, was born in 1958. So there he was, with his wife and two daughters, - but no job. The family moved in with Carol’s parents, and he got temporary work.

He then went to the Colonial Office. His story was checked, and he was able to go back to Nigeria . But everything was not forgotten. It was then the time of the national elections and things got difficult again. He sent his wife and daughters home . Then eventually he had to go home to England himself.

This all took a great toll on him, and he was also affected physically, as he developed coeliac disease. But he continued to be positive and constructive. Carol worked and developed her career in education, and he acted as house-husband – unusual for those days - and cared for the children. Alongside that he wrote novels and plays and many other things. He continued to be active politically, with his work, and together with Carol. This partnership continued to be so important to him. They lived their life in their love.

It was a happy family life. His daughters could tell him anything. They loved going for walks and playing in the garden with him and listening to his stories. He was later a wonderful grandfather to Helen’s son Tom. He was tender-hearted and was always so generous.

He also remained close to his brothers and sisters and I will now invited his nephew Gordon to speak about his uncle.”

My Uncle Harold

It was in the 1950’s when I first became aware of an Aunty and Uncle who lived in Nigeria . We regularly received an update of all Harold and Carol’s family news from Africa , and as a five year old it was always exciting when a blue airmail letter came through the post box.

Harold’s involvement in international affairs and his concern for people is well documented. However, alongside this, I know Harold loved and cared for all members of his own family.

Our large Smith family were spread around the suburbs of Manchester ,  the dynamics of families often left contact between brothers and sisters quite spasmodic.  However, Harold maintained contact with each of his brothers and sisters, and became the hub and conduit for all the family news. Worries and concerns regarding any member of the Smith family were passed through from Harold to those who could give support and assistance.

The strength of the blue tissue paper of an airmail letter, and the words written on it, had the strength to help a family stay together. It’s strange to think that most of the family news from just five miles away travelled a round trip of seven thousand miles.

Upon visiting Harold in Hospital, where he had been moved to the intensive care unit, I was joined by Carol and we spoke a while before the nurse indicated we could now go on in.

Harold unexpectedly was neither asleep or drowsy and I was surprised to see him in deep discussion with the ward sister. Harold just wanted a yoghurt, as his throat was dry, and a yoghurt would just do the trick. The nursing staff were keen to complete their ministrations but for Harold the yoghurt was more important. Eventually Harold won the day – a strawberry yoghurt – a negotiated settlement.

Carol let him know that I had come to see him. As always, even though I usually dropped in unannounced, Harold was warm and welcoming,

He really didn’t see why he was in Hospital – if he could just go home his GP would sort all his issues out, and she would do it with common sense. He had been discussing this with Carol, but she had remained silent on this issue. I suggested that when a man, lying in bed surrounded by four beautiful women, most men would be grateful their wife remained quiet. I suggested that this maybe was the time to use all his diplomatic skills and mount a charm offensive to get what he wanted from Carol and the nurses.

Harold brushed his hand back through his hair, paused and then said, “I think you could be right Gordon. I’ll give it a try” and then he laughed, which set me off laughing, which made him laugh a little more. We had a combined age of 143 years of age and we were laughing like two schoolboys.

The stories related to me of his time in Nigeria , seemed like stories from movies and novels. With the naivety of youth I could not have imagined democratically elected governments behaving in this manner. As I have got older I realise that Harold always had his finger on the pulse and had been well aware of the actions governments are capable of.

Finally I question whether, given a similar position to Harold’s, would I have had the tenacity and courage to maintain a campaign for as long as he did. To face threats and derision as he must have done. To date, I have never had to face these challenges, but Harold has already answered all and any question asked of him, and in so doing has lifted the benchmark for integrity to a new, high level.”

“In his life, Harold’s work endeavours were in a range of areas, including the Civil War in Manchester, the comprehensive education system, and nutrition, especially relating to his condition, - as well as, of course, Nigeria.

His interest in Nigeria could develop as he embraced the Internet and modern communication with all people who were interested in his views and knowledge. In 1988 the Wiltshire Times did publish his Nigeria story, a long-awaited publication that was so appreciated by him.

I will now invite his friend Taiwo Akinola to give his eulogy for Harold.”

 Taiwo Akinola speaks.

How do we measure greatness and what do we want to be remembered for?

As we commit Mr Harold Smith to mother earth today, he follows in the footsteps of other men of history, such as Galileo, Tom Paine, Socrates, among others who had the courage to tell the authority the truth, and then were punished for it. The stories of these great men are not complete without references to those who oppressed them; they had their moments, but today they are remembered for all the wrong reasons while history has vindicated the punished and their contributions are cherished.

If Mr Smith had not lived for something positive, our gathering today would have simply been a commemoration of a beloved father, husband and friend which would have more than justified the sombre mood of all gathered here . However, Harold lived a principled and righteous life which affected many lives, and thus, as we celebrate the end of his earthly journey, we are consoled by the fact that his ideas will live on through future generations. Harold, who treated his conscience as a judge, witness and friend, serves as a current and future model for humanity to follow.

Mr Smith was a true believer in the truth. He stood as ‘a firm reminder and caring presence of what ought to be and can be, in this world’; ‘an incorruptible man who was unusual in his passion for the truth.’

Sir James Robertson was said to be great, but Harold did not try to copy his so-called greatness, which only merited no more than the curses of humanity as he’s remembered for anguish he spread in Sudan and Nigeria, which he served as the last Governor General.

Harold, you lived for your ideas that goodness is just, inhumanity is unjust. You were right in those beliefs. Your ideas will live after you. Harold, forever we will remember you.

Rest in Peace.”

Period of Quiet Reflection

This recognition is so important to Harold’s life. But in all the other parts of his life you will all have your own memories of him. I now invite you to reflect for a while on what Harold meant to you personally, in your own way. Those of you with religious faith may like to use these moments for prayer. The music we will hear is one of his favourite forms, a Gregorian chant.

THE COMMITTAL

We now come to our taking leave of Harold. I will say a few words, then his grandson Tom will play “One Hand,  One Heart” on his trumpet:

Harold

                                                We rejoice that you have lived
                                                We are glad that we saw your face.
                                                We took delight in your friendship.
                                                We treasure that we walked life with you;
                                                We cherish the memory of your words,
                                                Your achievements, your character, your qualities.
                                                With love we leave you in peace.
                                                With respect we bid you farewell.

“One Hand, One Heart”, from West Side Story, played by Tom Prendergast as the curtains close.

            [ not spoken ]             Make of our lives one life,

                                                  Day after day, one life.

                                               Now it begins, now we start

                                                      One hand, one heart,

                                             Even death won’t part us now.

Closing words

Following this ceremony, our celebration of the life of Harold, you will continue with your lives. In those you will always have the benefit of having known him. His great legacy will continue as you move forward, as you let him live on in your hearts.

In doing this, your living each day positively would be the wish of Harold, and I feel this thought is very well expressed in the following piece:

                                    Look to this day… for it is the very life of life

                                    In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence.

                                    The joy of growth, the splendour of action, the glory of power.

                                    For yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow is only a vision

                                    But today – well lived – makes every yesterday

                                    A memory of happiness,

                                    And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

                                    Look well therefore to this day.                     

                                                                                    Sanskrit text

We will look well to this day.

We will now leave this room to another piece of music that Harold and his girls loved to sing together when the children were small in Nigeria .

Final Music:      “Sugar Time” sung by Alma Cogan