THE death, last week, of Major-General (Retired) Godfrey Chanakira brings to the fore the need for those involved in the country’s liberation war to write books about their personal experiences during this crucial period in the shaping of our country.
Besides those close to him, there is very little we know about Major-General Chanakira’s episodes from 1975 when he joined the armed struggle.
Otherwise for the rest of us, it will be nothing more than the obituary to be read at his burial.
And yet this is what President Emmerson Mnangagwa said about him when he declared him a national hero:
“Maj-Gen Chanakira leaves behind an enviable history of supreme sacrifice and national commitment to serving his country ….’’
It is this history of supreme sacrifice for his country which he could have elaborated on if he had written a book about his experiences.
The late Maj-Gen Chanakira is not the only liberation fighter and national hero whose own personal narrative we have not had.
There are thousands of heroes, heroines, chimbwidos and mujibhas whose autobiographies would have enriched the history of the struggle.
From such literature we would have had a graphic picture of all aspects of the liberation war, as some acted as sentinels, cooks, teachers, while others were even recruiters and a lot more.
Imagine the value of personal accounts from all these angles.
True, there are many third parties who have written about the struggle.
But then, these are not as convincing or as exhaustive as those written by people directly involved in the liberation struggle.
The Sunday Mail and The Patriot reserve space in their publications for articles by those personally involved in the struggle.
Because of space, these articles normally highlight one or two personal experiences.
However, an amalgam of personal accounts gives us a clearer picture of what happened.
The story of the liberation struggle, as enunciated by a number of our heroes and heroines, should be able to make us understand the source of our ethos.
That’s where our unity and resilience, which have puzzled the Western world, come from.
And they are aware of it.
That is why former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray was at pains trying to convince us that the past does not matter.
The Americans and their British cousins are always referring to their past exploits to show how tough they are.
Literature about the American war of independence is abundant and Americans are proud of it.
The British never tire of retelling the story of Winston Churchill and the defeat of the Germans in the Second World War.
And all this is captured in several books which are a popular read among the British.
Why can’t our children, right from school, be able to read books about our great liberation struggle, written by the participants themselves?
The death of Maj-Gen Chanakira and his obituary should be a rude awakening for surviving heroes and heroines.
We want to read about your experiences during the liberation struggle — directly from you.
It is then possible that the psychological scars and inevitable trauma that still haunt some of you will make us grasp what you went through for a just cause.
The absence of a glut of literature on this period has its own adverse effects.
That’s why some of our misguided youths openly and ignorantly boast that if we take back the country from where it was liberated, they are also capable of liberating it.
We are sure that was the same thinking of US-backed Ukrainian leader, Vlodymyr Zelensky, before he sacrificed his country by taunting Russia to mortal combat.