Freedom Mutanda and Sifelani Tonje Post Correspondents
After the 1979 ceasefire agreement between the belligerents, many Zimbabweans waited expectantly for their loved ones to troop back from the front.
It was a time to enjoy the fruits of independence after a protracted war where the Africans fought to regain their dignity in the face of a regime which had vowed to oppress the indigenous people until kingdom come.
The Manica Post team comprising Freedom Mutanda and Sifelani Tonje went to Chikore to gather views from the people on their memories concerning the advent of independence and the pain, agony and joy that accompanied them as they waited for their boys and girls who had gone to war.
Simon Chimbetu sang about “gamba’’ back in the eighties; interestingly, as the cadre dies, he exhorts his fellow fighters to continue the fight against oppression. He sang again about the unsung heroes when he sang, ‘pane asipo.’
Today, as we mark the 37th anniversary of independence, we are reminded of the presence of thousands of unmarked graved through-out the length and breadth of this beautiful country bequeathed to us by our great- grandfathers to cherish until we leave it as a legacy to our children.
Chikore community went down memory lane as our team asked the members if their nostalgia brings tears of joy to them.
Chikore residents greeted the coming of the ceasefire with incredulity, apprehension and anxiety. He told the comrades that the cessation of hostilities was there to stay. Godfrey Khumbula remembers Cde Aggrey Chaminuka vividly as someone who loved smartness.
Cde Chaminuka came to Pfidza Protected Village and tried to convince the comrades to come out of the bush and converge at Chinaa School. He got the shock of his life when he failed to get the response he expected. Up stepped the local leadership which had been working hand in glove with the guerrillas during the war.
Lyman Dundu and Henry ‘Cowboy’ Dube had endeared themselves to the guerrillas because of their deeds as the liberation war wore on. As local businessmen, they were at the forefront of providing much needed supplies to the guerrillas. Together with Obed Samuel Bandama, Kasedwa Mhlanga, Chiseedze Dhliwayo among others, they had been faithful to the ideals of the liberation struggle up to the end of the war.
Thus, when the businessmen went about telling the comrades to come out, their exhortations were heeded by the ‘boys.’ They came from Mugondi, Murenje, Dzika, Fumhanda and many other areas within the vicinity of the Musikavanhu chiefdom.
Chikore Secondary School teachers offered their cars to ferry comrades to Chinaa. From there, they went to Mutandahwe and Tongogara Assembly Points.
The Kasedwa Mhlanga family had two boys who had joined the war. Clifford was the first to go and word had it that Clifford met Moses who was learning at Gideon Mhlanga and told him that he should finish his education before he can think of joining the war. People wanted to see what a ‘gandanga’ or ‘terrorist’ looked like; hence, they flocked to Chinaa to see for themselves.
The Kasedwa family went there too expecting to see the brothers who had gone to war; they saw a sea of faces and they looked closely among the faces hoping to smile and embrace the boys after they had stood up and be counted among the liberators of this great country.
Some of the comrades looked away when asked about Moses; it appeared Moses had not made it back to Zimbabwe. Clifford checked in at Mutandahwe but the family kept hoping that Moses would appear and tell the family that everything was all right. It was a dream that never materialized.
It was time for Chikore residents to leave the inappropriately named Protected Villages and go back to their original villages. Those who had gone to Mozambique as refugees in areas such as Nyabanga and Chikwkwete came back to start life anew in an independent Zimbabwe. Building homesteads made everyone busy but for the comrades, it was mission accomplished.
Voting came and went. On the voting day, there was a carnival atmosphere. It was a day to cherish.
News filtered that ZANU had won and through-out the night, wild singing and jubilation was the order of the day.
The new government went about detoxifying the nation and Chikore residents saw the reopening of Chikore Secondary School and the expansion of education. White farmers who had fled left their farms for the new resettlement programme. As they enjoy the fruits of independence, they are aware that a number of comrades paid the ultimate price.
They remember Reuben Chokochoko, Henry Jenya and Titos Bangira among the hundreds of cadres who did not make it home. However, they know the departed did not die in vain.
Sifelani Tonje and Freedom Mutanda are indebted to MBuya Nyemudzai Kondo, Mbuya Irene Dundu, Mbuya Kasedwa, Mrs Elizabeth Manyuni, Benny Chikangaise, Marshall Mtetwa, Vukile magwaba and Godern Jambaya. They re-visited the past and the nostalgia was evident.
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