Let us remember Chimoio

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 ON November 23 1977 the Chimoio Camp was bombed, in an act of genocide.

It was an act meant to discourage and demoralise the freedom fighters.

The attack had the opposite effect.

It fired up the sons and daughters of the soil.

Let us remember this attack.

Let us not allow the day to pass by, unnoticed. 

When the foreign press arrived at Chimoio, after the operation code-named ‘Dingo’, and saw rows of bodies lying on the parade ground, it is said, “reminding one of a field of mowed corn, nearly a 100 young teenagers being buried, there were remains of 20 young teenage girls in one grave”.

Over 2 000 people were reported dead.

This year marks the 44th anniversary of the Chimoio attack.

To many Zimbabweans, the attack is personal and 44 years on, the memories are still fresh.

We have all lost someone we knew or at least shared a conversation with a survivor.

Let us pause and take a moment to think of the people whose life was cut short and never had the opportunity to see Zimbabwe’s birth.

Some were just civilians caught up in a war situation, others we had rubbed shoulders or shared a joke with.

Forty-four years on, I interact with a group of youths as a heated discussion on the war legacy builds up.

We, the generation that is fast being reminded of our mortality, we who carry the burden of history especially the significance of the Chimoio attack want to know if that legacy is dying with us or whether the next generation will carry on, on our behalf.

So I pay attention to their sentiments and correct the narrative where I can.

After all, they will be the ones telling our story long after we are gone.

We fought and our children seem not to fully grasp why we did it in a world that is constantly telling them to look ahead and forget the past.

For some of them, Chimoio will remain in their text-books, a simple illustration of genocide in Zimbabwe.They fail to find a connection with it 44 years later.

Know that there is a mother, a father who looked in the horizon for a son or daughter to return home and they never did.

We remember the wife who waited for her husband who had gone that day to work in an area near the attack and was shot on his back as he tried to pedal home as fast as his bicycle would allow him.

That is what that day means. It must never be forgotten.

Some of the survivors of the Chimoio Massacre, even though they escaped without a scratch could not speak for days, and up to now, do not want to go back to that time.

To date there are people who do not sleep well.

Chimoio is an important and significant place that will always and forever feature in the discourse of our country.

It is not the duty of Government alone or certain departments or political party to take care of places important to us as a country or to remember this awful and cowardly act.

Men and women, boys and girls that left the country to join the liberation struggle did not leave to fight for a political party but for Zimbabwe.

Thus it is the responsibility of every Zimbabwean to ensure that places like Chimoio, Nyadzonia, Freedom Camp and Tembwe as well as many others, are taken care of and constantly remembered.

These are our hallowed grounds.

These are our permanent memorial sites that must forever exist in our mental space.

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