By Dr Masimba Mavaza
Feel Proud! As Zimbabwe immortalised the spirit of Chimurenga through several statutes erected and more recently the one for Nehanda Charwe Chihera the fighting spirit.
For here you are now. At a comfort zone uncomplainingly busy with personal goals and aspirations. The everyday troubles that you face, you call them miseries.
But there are some souls who have endured worse. They selflessly laid their lives for the country so that you can lead a fearless life, a carefree life where you don’t have to suffer at merciless hands of alien enemies. Those freedom fighters who fought with just one focus- to see a free Zimbabwe.
Our struggle for independence was a long crushing battle that had started way back in 1950s with a patriotic goal of And to accomplish the same, there weren’t only the freedom fighters of Zimbabwe whom you know but also the heroes who fought as much but didn’t fall in the limelight.
It’s time we remember them The unsung heroes who have given us the greatest gift of all times- OUR FREEDOM.
Forgotten heroes of the second Chimurenga.
Over thirty thousand people were deployed into Zimbabwe providing frontline and auxiliary aid on and beyond the Front.
ZANLA troops encamped in Mozambique in 1966. Over the course of the war, thousands of our soldiers would be sent overseas to train how to fight. Reception was undoubtedly positive during the war, given the advantages of extra forces for the revolution. The Medium spirits MBUYA NEHANDA and others and chiefs of zimbabwe,sent a message to greet them on their arrival: “I look to all my Heroes to uphold the Zimbabwean dream against an aggressive and relentless enemy. I know with what readiness my brave and loyal soldiers prepared to fulfil this sacred trust in the field of battle, shoulder to shoulder with their comrades from all parts of the country.
To the Comrades
One particularly interesting letter to the newspaper a month later recognised their participation, urging Zimbabweans not to forget the soldier’s personal tastes: “The freedom fighters would greatly value chicken no okra they would demand tea with milk bread cut in thin slices, cinnamon, and cloves. These things were all highly appreciated by the comrades. We grew to know that Gandanga haridye derere mukoma.
The villagers were more than willing to give their all to the comrades vana vevhu. It was a great honour to participate in freedom fighting. The spirit of revolution was hovering above everybody’s soul. Yes the spirit of war was all over Zimbabwe. It was so thick in the air that you can feel it. We were told that tichaitora ne hondo. We even put this in a song. Nehondo nyika taitora. Taitora nehondo.
Being a comrade became a sense of pride. Imagine us we were just small boys. We heard our parents being promised heaven and earth. They were promised milk and honey. It was heaven and heaven. If only they could see the future maybe we would not be here.
The combative qualities of the guerrillas certainly took the Rhodesian army by surprise. In a letter home published by the Herald a Rhodesian soldier wrote: “Today for the first time we had to fight against the Zanla forces and the Devil knows those brown rascals are not to be underrated. At first we spoke with contempt of the Guerrillas Today we learned to look at them in a different light … With buttends, bayonets, swords and daggers we fought each other, and we had bitter hard work.”
The Herald reported the first two on 27 January 1978 Mukonde mina, one of the machine gun handlers who single-handedly stopped a Rhodesian army attack during the battle of Murewa at a place known as pa 44. he was the first of his regiment to help overrun Shavanhiwe Army camp near, Pa Cross despite being wounded twice in the head.
Zimbabweans were not the only ones from which comrades were recruited to aid war efforts. Somewhat less discussed is the Mozambican side of the story, despite a large loss of human life and major consequences for the future of the African continent. There were those Mujibhaa as well. They were called carriers
The primary responsibility of carriers was to carry supplies such as food and ammunition for comrades on the front line. One young carrier Takawira spoke of his recruitment and experience: his story is for another day.
Almost forgotten perhaps are the Chimbwidos who defied gender and fought like men. The Chimbwidos established to provide support, freeing troops for front line duties.
The war’s forgotten Chimbwidos to get recognition at last is it a dream or will they??
Despite such a large contribution gender prejudice and stereotypes contributed to an anxiety amongst many leaders then. Amongst these ‘difficulties’ was the question of the war’s after-effects.But having come to Europe they and others will come again.
More recent commemorations have, however, endeavoured to create a deserved space for non-soldiers and battlefields in the war narrative.
If anything can be certain in this present time of doubt, it is that we shall never quite get back into the old groove after the war”. The war had, after all, “gripped ruthlessly into the lives of millions of men”. It is only right to acknowledge that the men whose lives it affected extend beyond the battlefields and soldiers of Freedom to thousands of Chimbwidos and Mujibhas.
Now that some war veterans occupy the seats of glory they have quickly forgotten their comrades. They bask in the glory of others completely with no thoughts shared. For the past.
Toiling in the corridors of poverty swimming in the pools of suffering are thousands of those who are true heroes and are already forgotten.
Zimbabwe is this free because of the forgotten heroes. Can any one pay a thought for our heroes. Those not decorated those who are now despised those who have no names to remember.
Our heroes are everywhere. This heroes day must be a day with a difference. Where the true heroes can take their place.
The children of these heroes are not employed. They are surviving on pittances. If you tell them about the heroics of their parents they will vomit in disgust. Heroes are forgotten and our history is distorted. Now they have looked up with pride to the honour bestowed on all the fighting spirits. We will surely be doomed because of those who insult mbuya Nehanda.
Can the powers that be recognise the true heroes. Those attacking the honour bestowed on Mbuya Nehanda are not Zimbabweans at heart. They cherish the foreign culture and despise their own.
Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and it is the only country we can call ours in the whole world.