Reliving the liberation war

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A People’s Fight

By Fred Hombiro 

Hombiro Media Company (2019)

ZIMBABWE is celebrating 41 years of independence this year. 

Commemorating Independence Day is a reminder to every Zimbabwean of the sacrifices made by the gallant sons and daughters who selflessly fought in the protracted liberation struggle.

One is also reminded that the struggle for emancipation was a fight against discrimination, racial segregation and colonial rule.

Despite the many lives lost during the liberation war, every year Zimbabweans celebrate independence as an appreciation and reminder of the sacrifices made by their kith and kin.

To talk about the sacrifices made is A People’s Fight, a book on review this week by Fred Hombiro.

The book carries with it a story of Zimbabwe and her quest to attain independence.

It presents a narrative carefully written and a story of the effects of colonisation, the liberation struggle and the attainment of independence.

Centred in a remote village, the story, though fictional, is a reflection of what transpired in Zimbabwe during the liberation war.

The narrative is not only captivating but allows the reader to connect and relate to what was transpiring during the war.

In other words, one can say Hombiro’s narrative evokes different feelings in the reader.

Characters in the book, such as Tumirai, remind us how some joined the war at a very tender age. 

Ruvimbo and Beaulah stand for the resilience of women war collaborators, while others, like Lofias, were betraying their kith and kin.

Powerful about the book is that it also manages to capture historical narrations and events that are crucial in the history and present circumstances of Zimbabwe.

The writer reveals the unfair portrayal of blacks by the colonialists.

Blacks are not only viewed as uneducated but are likened to criminals and animals that cannot successfully execute a war against ‘civilised’ colonialists.

“They want to try and copy what happened in Mozambique where a pack of mad dogs and communists have recently taken over the country and already busy destroying what civilised men built over the years,” writes Hombiro reflecting on the whiteman’s judgment of blacks.

It is through such narratives that current and upcoming generations can grasp and understand reasons for the blacks taking up arms against the colonial regime.

Hombiro further reveals the perception and false portrayal of blacks by whites:

“These bandits are armed with a few guns, and are likely to request for food and shelter from you. They are magandanga –man eaters – and some of them are said to have tails. They are not to be entertained at all. They do not bath. And if anyone entertains them they risk having their daughters and wives raped.

I warn you that anyone who is caught assisting them risks going to prison and having all their cattle and goats taken away from them by the government.”

A People’s Fight is a story written to set the record straight and to highlight how, through unity, the black majority managed to win against white minority rule.

It is a book that shows resilience and courage by sons and daughters of Zimbabwe.

Many of them stepped out of their comfort zones to liberate Zimbabwe.

Hombiro writes about teachers leaving their careers, boys and girls putting a halt to their education as well as husbands leaving their families to join the liberation struggle.

Writes Hombiro: “In the early hours of the morning, George rose and parted his wife who had not slept the whole night. He wore his warmest clothes and went out of the door. With that one small step outside his door, Teacher George Nyajezi joined the armed struggle.”

Hombiro clearly describes the discrimination the blacks suffered in their own country.

It is through his protagonist Mugove, who operates as a war collaborator in both the rural and urban setting that one is able to understand how the liberation war was executed.

“Mugove looked around him and for the first time noticed something unusual. White people were walking on the sidewalk, and blacks were walking just on the tarmac. He realised his mistake and apologised, ‘I’m sorry sir. I did not realise my mistake,’” writes Hombiro.

The disparity between the blacks and whites during the colonial era not only highlighted the tension that existed between them but also reflected the need for the black majority to fight for their emancipation.

As Zimbabweans continue to celebrate their independence, books like A People’s Fight are a must-read.

While readers are reminded about the liberation struggle, they must also cherish the gains of independence that come in the form of social, economic and political freedom.

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