Friday’s Piece

“We are indeed in the totalitarian grip of frightened men. Things were made worse by the non-intervention policy of the country’s commercial and industrial community. In their hearts these men must know that all is far from well in Government.”

(Pat Bashford – April 22nd, 1969)

John Lentell

24th April, 1969


Pat Bashford was the leader of the Center Party in Rhodesia. He died in 1987 in Harare at the age of 72.

The Rhodesian General Election of 1970 was the first under the revised, republican constitution of Rhodesia which provided for 66 members of the House of Assembly, with 50 seats reserved for voters of European descent, 8 seats for voters of African descent and 8 seats for “Tribal Chiefs”.

The ruling Rhodesia Front headed by Ian Smith won all 50 “European” seats. The Center Party gained 11% of the vote and zero seats.

My father ran as an independent candidate in the Salisbury City constituency. I was 9 years old at the time and recall his refusal (I’m sure due to limited funding) to plaster posters all over the Jacaranda trees that lined the streets of Salisbury. Instead, with the aid of my mother, he produced 8 or so hand painted wooden boards and tied them to a few trees. Still vivid in my mind is one of the boards in black and orange colours that had a picture of a dog with the slogan “Please leave some room for my dog, vote John Lentell”. He drove us kids into town one evening to show us his board posters on display.

He polled 24 votes.

I always remembered that number and now due to the wonders of the internet, amazingly, there it is documented on Wikipedia in the link above!

I’m sure there’ll be a ‘piece’ about it coming up – we’ll see, in about a year’s time…

2 thoughts on “Friday’s Piece

  1. I really wish we had some pictures of the sign “Please leave some room for my dog”. John (and Sylvia) were really one of a kind and totally unique.The world needs more characters like John Lentell.


  2. I really smiled at this lovely reminder of how much colour and fun John bought to life. Isn’t Wikipedia astonishing? What a shame Johns political career was so shortlived. I feel compelled to think that only 24 people had “My dog is missing” signs on the trees. If only more pets had left home, perhaps he may have won a seat.


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