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Another liberation struggle narrative

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The Chosen Generations (2020)

By Thomas Sukutai Bvuma

Independently Published

ISBN: 979-8-5850-9124-7

THE CHOSEN GENERATION, a book by former ambassador Thomas Bvuma, will definitely get mixed reactions. 

Like any good piece of literature, it will educate some and make others uncomfortable. 

Bvuma’s book, although a work of fiction, humanises the guerilla. 

He takes the reader along to feel the highs and lows of the struggle; the uncertainties, the humour, the fear, the misery, the urges, the horror, the anger and every other emotion in between.

It is an honest story of sacrifice, victory and also disillusionment.

As l was reading the book, l coincidentally received a chain message that talked about the glories of Rhodesia, “…the beer at the pool deck at Monomutapa, the French bread and polony sandwiches during tea time at Mukwati, Portugal shoes from Laloos and Seville Rows from HM Barbour…,” as compared to Zimbabwe.

One is not certain where these messages come from but they are often misleading to the unknowing where the author (assuming he/she is black) cherry-picks aspects of Rhodesia then teleports himself/herself to that past, assuming that he/she would arrive there with the same status and freedoms enjoyed now. 

He/she would realise that those suits and shoes were for a selected few and in that past, he/she would most likely be in some ‘Protected Village’ in Chiweshe or a Reserve in Mount Darwin or Guruve where the colonial administration did not bother to build schools and those that were available were built by the communities.

Should the author have wanted to come into Salisbury to sleep over, he/she would have needed permission from the authorities. 

The nostalgic chain message senders would not be able to walk along certain streets or use certain washrooms at the Monomutapa or Mukwati offices and they definitely would not be allowed to vote.

I also found it interesting that Nyika Yababa, the protagonist and young guerilla in Bvuma’s book, like many others at the front and rear of the war, dreamt of going to Rhodesia to enjoy all the things the whiteman was enjoying exclusively. 

Nyika Yababa was working in a factory in Mutare when he had a fight with Mr Bulloch, his white supervisor. Knowing the repercussions he fled into the mountains to join the struggle.  

Every guerilla who went to join the war had his/her reason; for some it was the euphoria or the ‘Nehanda’ spirit that seemed to have gripped the country at that time; or the constantly shrinking farmland to sustain livelihoods, or the racial discriminatory labour practices, while for others it was an escape, as in the case of Nyika Yababa. 

Malnourished, lice and flea-ridden, they dreamt of taking over Rhodesia and all the things the whiteman was enjoying: “Braaing tons of meat and drinking tanks of beer and whiskey, while the owners of the land die of starvation and dehydration.”

They told themselves that: “There is nothing the whiteman is doing that we will not do better. We will produce more maize, more wheat, more pigs, more beef, more milk, more everything. No one will sleep on an empty stomach. We will even feed the whole African continent…and chimbwido will have a good job and high salary and live like a whiteman…..We will make Zimbabwe the freest, richest ….”

However as the book ends, Nyika Yababa is now an old veteran whose son asks him: “Why are people in sub-Saharan Africa failing to develop their countries? Arabs in North Africa, also formerly colonised, are making big strides…what’s wrong with black people?”

Nyika Yababa fails to respond to his son’s question. Perhaps even he did not understand what went wrong or rather what goes wrong in former colonies. 

There are two things: First, the administration of African territories was a combination of cheap labour and strong financial support from the mother country.

While Africans were enslaved for 500 years, the white system was consolidating economic and military power. 

When Zimbabwe pushed for the land reform, the white capital could afford to incur losses by shutting down whole industries just to teach us and the rest of the continent a lesson.

It is interesting to note that when slavery ended, it was the whiteman who was compensated for loss of labour; when Rhodesian reign ended, Zimbabwe took on Rhodesia’s debt and today we are compensating them. 

Today we have factories and equipment lying idle because the owners can afford to lock up and get capital to start somewhere. 

The world has seen how even 700 fast-food joints can be closed by the Americans just to ‘teach’ Russia a lesson.

Secondly, the world only respects money and military strength. The blackman is yet to singularly exhibit these traits in the 21st Century, even our African Union is sponsored by the Chinese and the West. 

Just three decades or so ago, the Chinese were called ‘yellow monkeys’ but they slowly built their systems to become a world power. 

It would be foolish to call them that today.

We need a paradigm shift as a nation and as a race.

Forty-years after independence, land in Zimbabwe is still legally the queen’s land; just look at the addresses on title deeds to properties, there are references to Salisbury which we have not changed yet.

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