By Sheldon Hakata
I WRITE the story of the last musical gala, in the Midlands Province, just before the harmonised general elections because in their way the galas, held across the provinces helped ZANU PF emerge victorious in the polls.
Chachacha was the venue of the Midlands gala. It is a rural shopping centre in Shurugwi. The place is located 24 km south-east of Shurugwi Town along the Beit Bridge Road and 60 km from Gweru.
It cannot be classified as a remote area.
The name was derived from a hotel at the township called Happy Chachacha Hotel, known for hosting Chachacha dancers during its early days.
It was an administration centre for Boer farmers and later turned into a camp for soldiers during the Rhodesian era.
The main idea was to turn it into one of the biggest towns since there was a hospital and an aerodrome nearby.
The original name was Donga Township owing to the proliferation of dongas through soil erosion.
The place was rechristened Herbert Chitepo Business Centre in 1980, but the name failed to stick. All traffic flow from Shurugwi uses one road, only to divert into different roads at Chachacha.
The main road carries on to Harare-BeitBridge Highway where traffic to Mashava and Masvingo will branch to the east while the Zvishavane and Bulawayo roads divert westwards after 49-km peg. From there, the Tongogara road takes the eastern direction.
The shopping centre was at one stage larger than some of the small towns, such as Zvishavane and Shurugwi, but things started deteriorating due to the economic meltdown induced by the illegal sanctions imposed by the US and the British.
The major business at the centre is retail; mostly general dealers, grinding mills and a few bakeries.
There are also several bottle stores and two beerhalls, making it the only best place to relax.
After Tongogara Township lost the race to be the growth point in Shurugwi due to its location, the status fell to Chachacha Growth Point.
This move has seen a Post Office and a number of Supermarkets setting up shop there. Residential stands were allocated to lure investors to develop Chachacha Township to a town status in the 1990s.
However, while modern houses are being constructed, many companies have set their headquarters at Chachacha.
Marira, Mbengo, Ndawana, Mhangami and Kuziyamisa communities, among others are all serviced by Chachacha Township. The Midlands Province is home to departed gallant sons of the soil, such as ZANLA Defence supremo General Josiah Magama Tongogara, former Foreign Affairs Minister General Sibusiso Moyo and President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, to mention a few.
These icons endured the brutality and dire living conditions at various detention centres and prisons in Rhodesia.
With much respect to liberation war heroes, heroines and nationalists, both living and departed, national music galas had to rotate around provinces, taking mega entertainment to various parts of the country.
Galas have been a common feature in places like Bulawayo, Glendale, Chipinge, Karoi and Rusape among other places in honour of the likes of Samuel Tichafa Parirenyatwa, James Dambaza Chikerema, John Landa Nkomo and Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, among others.
The Chachacha gala was special to music fans and artistes since it underlined the galas just a few days before the harmonised general elections.
The galas were beamed live on television. The Midlands Province hosted the Leopold Takawira music bira at Chachacha Growth Point.
Celebrations ran with the theme: ‘Leaving no-one and no place behind’.
Popular musicians had the opportunity to entertain the crowd gathered to celebrate the legacy of a gallant son of the soil and late nationalist, Leopold Takawira.
“We are here to commemorate, celebrate and remember the life and legacy left by Cde Takawira. We enjoy independence as a country because of sacrifice by the gallant sons and daughters of the soil. They sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the people, “said Priscilla Gono, a vendor at Chachacha Growth Point.
It proved to be the most glamorous and festive social event for the Growth Point and the surrounding communities in the Midlands Province.
The place was ablaze with the melodious sound of music by our local bands.
Some scintillating performances by the country’s popular artistes kept the crowd asking for more throughout the night.
The cast included the likes of Alick Macheso with Orchestra Mberikwazvo Band; Charles Charamba and The Fishers of Men; Leonard Zhakata and Zimbabwe All Stars; Chief Hwenje; Jah Signal; Nicholas Zakaria and Kiama Boys ; Clemence Magwaza; Tryson Chimbetu; Rockford Josephat; and Utakataka Express, to mention but a few.
Esau and Tatenda Macheso dished a scintilating breakfast bulletin on stage, with all the multitudes in attendance.
To cut a long story short, people could now be educated about the most important issues concerning the people of our nation.
In an interview with The Patriot , Sekuru John Gora had this to say: “The poverty we see in our parents in comparison to people of other colours does not mean that there is something wrong with you or your parents.
“It was deliberately created through the history of the plunder of black people in Africa over the past 400 years through slavery and colonialism.
“Much of the wealth we watch children of other colours enjoying was built on the foundation of the dispossession of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
“But through the bitter, and sometimes bloody, struggles of black people all over the world for political liberation, justice and self-determination has come’’
The late nationalist and national Hero Leopold Tapfumaneyi Takawira (1916-1970) was the Vice-President of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
He was known by his totem, Shumba yeChirumhanzu.
Born in Chirumhanzu, Fort Victoria District, in 1916, he obtained his education locally then later went to Marianhill in Natal, South Africa.
After several years as an assistant teacher, he was appointed headmaster at Chipembere Government School in Highfield, Harare.
He gave up teaching and joined Colonel David Stirling’s Africa Capricorn Society as an executive officer.
In 1959, he applied to join the National Democratic Party, formed after the banning of the Rhodesian African National Congress.
He was elected Chairman of the Salisbury branch and member of Central Executive.
In 1961, Takawira sent a strongly-worded cable to Joshua Nkomo condemning the acceptance by the NDP delegation of the proposals for constitutional change.
This all led to an emergency trip to London for the reversal of the NDP stance.
Being secretary for external affairs in ZAPU, he became disenchanted with Nkomo’s leadership.
In July 1963, Nkomo suspended him.
After joining the breakaway movement, Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), led by Ndabaningi Sithole, he was appointed Vice-President.
From the 1960s, Rhodesian authorities had already begun amending and legislating laws that allowed nationalists to be detained for having opinions that posed a threat to the maintenance of ‘law and order’.
Those suspected of supporting the liberation struggle, though without committing prosecutable crimes, risked being detained as saboteurs, agitators or provocateurs.
The oppressive white regime established three detention centres at Wha Wha in Gweru’s Midlands Province in February 1964, Gonakudzingwa in Chiredzi District of Masvingo Province in April in the same year and Sikombela in Gokwe South District in the Midlands Province in June 1965.
Apart from detaining the nationalists, the camps were all established in remote and impassable parts of the country.
Sikombela served as a ZANU detention camp while most of those from ZAPU were detained at Wha Wha and Gonakudzingwa restriction camps.
Cde Takawira was detained and confined at Sikombela Restriction Camp alongside Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole, Robert Mugabe and Edgar Tekere.
Despite the horrific and brutal conditions the detainees were subjected to at the hands of the Smith regime, they all refused to give up hope and endured the fight that would eventually bring the independence we now enjoy.
Cde Takawira was later moved to Salisbury after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) where he remained until his death. Neglect of his diabetic condition by prison authorities is widely believed the main cause of his death.
However, Cde Takawira was later reburied at the National Heroes’ Acre in 1982 with full military honours.
The post-mortem showed that he had been suffering from diabetes while court verdict was that he had died of negligence.
The late Dr Simon Muzenda penned a song for Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena Jazz Band titled:’Baba Takawira’.