Battle of Pupu reloaded

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THE commissioning of the reconstructed Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site by President Mnangagwa last week was one concrete way of immortalising a significant event in the history of our struggle for independence.

At the Battle of Pupu, 131 years ago, the white settlers, led by Major Allan Wilson, were determined to capture and kill King Lobengula.

But they met their match in General Mtshane Khumalo, who commanded a specialist regiment of the King’s army.

Though armed with superior weapons, the white British troopers were wiped out by Major Khumalo’s soldiers.

There were no survivors.

The significance of this battle was the message to the British monarch that despite their superior firepower, the indigenes were determined to resist colonialism and everything that it entailed, whatever the cost.

The Battle of Pupu has been told in dribs and drabs but now, with the commissioning of this monument, a comprehensive report is there for all to see.

With this monument, hearsay takes a back seat in narratives of this historic liberation event.

The brave warriors of Pupu demonstrated how they were prepared to sacrifice life and limb for a just cause.

Their bravado inspired later freedom fighters to face an enemy armed with superior fire and air power during the Second Chimurenga.

And yet, even after we had vanquished the whites on the battlefield, they underplayed the achievement of the indigenes.

For instance, the reconstructed Pupu Monument replaces the colonial one, which celebrated Allan Wilson and his defeated accomplices as the victors.

That’s how far these cheeky British settlers went.

The colonialists’ mischief is further illustrated by their nerve to bury the remains of the defeated 34 settlers alongside Cecil Rhodes at Matobo Hills.

Surely, this is the height of  sacrilege and a very provocative one at that. 

Remember Matobo Hills is a sacred national cultural shrine and burying these criminals there is a calculated act of disrespect and desecration.

Just imagine the reaction of the British if an invading power were to one day turn Westminster Abbey into a brothel!

This way, our colonisers tried to deliberately distort our history and cultural beliefs as one way of entrenching colonialism.

We already know how they are proud of their liberation heritage.

An important date on the British calendar is the defeat of Napoleon, a foreigner,  at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Compare this with our own victory over Allan Wilson.

Besides the Battle of Pupu, there are several  other sites which remind us of our liberation war heritage.

True, the reconstructed Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site is something worth replicating elsewhere.

We expect to learn a lot more accurately about the history of our liberation struggle through such monuments.

These monuments need not be at the exact site where the historic events took place.

Among those that immediately come to mind are:

λ The Battle of Chinhoyi, which marked the first direct armed confrontation with the Rhodesians;

λ The attack of the Grand Reef where the enemy aeroplanes were left in smoke as a revenge for the cowardly massacre of innocent civilians at Chimoio;

λ The destruction of the fuel tanks in the centre of Salisbury, demonstrating to the Smith regime that no place was inaccessible in the then Rhodesia.

Above all, there is the famous routing of the Rhodesian forces (that actually were backed by air power) at the Battle of Mavonde during the Lancaster House talks.

The comprehensive defeat of the Rhodesians was a turning point in the history of our struggle, for Smith lost what he mistakenly thought was a strong bargaining chip. 

Zimbabwe is littered with many more historic liberation struggle sites, just as the country has development projects in all districts.

What we need, above all, are accurate accounts of our historical liberation heritage.

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