IN recent weeks, Newsday has been irate about, berating and denigrating, the accreditation of war veterans of the liberation struggle; lobbying and insisting they should not get any assistance, that they are dumb tools of ZANU PF and a dire threat to the economy, insisting that in the past assisting them financially sent the economy crashing.
It is no longer correct nor excusable to be ‘His Masters’ Voice’ 42 years after independence.
No-one can be at peace as long as they trust someone else outside themselves to define them and chart their destiny.
If you have no compassion nor honour for those who have suffered every conceivable sorrow, unfathomable pain to free you, how shall we classify you — are you Zimbabwean?
To be Zimbabwean is to be at peace.
You don’t have to feel low and hurt when everything good is happening to those who sacrificed their all so that you could have everything.
You don’t have to feel so hurt that others are finally being recognised for the great work that they did for you and many others.
It is not about money, it has never been about money; it was about love and making the ultimate sacrifice for the great love of kin and country.
It was their country or their death.
‘Ropa rangu muchazoriona pasi peMureza…,’ they sang during this journey of self-sacrifice, the armed struggle.
Leaving home, they knew death was certain, while survival was the remotest chance.
If you have no heart to recognise that this is the highest man can rise, the stage of martyrdom, then it is a tragedy for you and the nation.
The nation can only be built by incorruptible gold edifices, on a foundation of stone not by sand which can be formed into any shape depending on the mould.
Comrades died under the most excruciating circumstances; so did the masses; from bullet wounds, they were scorched to death, engulfed in napalm flames, they died from multiple shrapnel wounds.
If you have never given any attention to what the liberation struggle entailed or what it means to be a freedom fighter, the details below should awaken your conscience:
“The carnage was worse than at Nyadzonia,” describes Comrade Felix Muchemwa, one of the five medics who were part of ZANLA and was at Chimoio during the massacre of November 23 1977.
“The majority, over a thousand, had died on the parade grounds from high velocity shrapnel from the bombs. The bodies were mangled, with injuries to the head, neck, and abdomen resulting in blown out chests, and eviscerated bowels.
Ghastly traumatic amputations of limbs were also common among the dead, and almost all survivors of the bombing had shrapnel injuries to the the limbs.
The effect of napalm bombs was also devastating.”
The toll of the Chimoio massacre was at least 2 000 dead and thousands others injured. It took two medical doctors three weeks to remove shrapnel from thousands
of survivors of the massacre.
Comrade Muchemwa also describes how hundreds of school children were decimated by napalm and cluster bombs while on morning parade on this fateful day, and that the survivors were finished off in the afternoon, each by a pistol bullet between the eyes.
Amputees were also slaughtered by napalm and cluster bombs while on morning parade, more so because they could not get away quickly enough, and the survivors were later ambushed and executed, all of them.
And still other comrades were buried alive in drums of boiling porridge, while hundreds of patients at the Parirenyatwa Hospital Base were burnt alive, while still in the barracks, from napalm fires as well as ordinary fire.
At Mbuya Nehanda Base, hundreds of young girls and women were executed most brutally: “For almost one hour, from about 1400 hrs, their (SAS mercenaries) M16 rifles had been heard firing non-stop. The hollowed, airfilled war-heads of the 5.5mm M16 rounds yawed on impact so that the entry wounds appeared ghastly and bigger than those caused by ordinary rounds,” wrote Cde Muchemwa.
This is the price they paid for Zimbabwe.
This is just a synopsis of what happened at Chimoio. But there was also Nyadzonia — August 9 1976.
Alexander Kanengoni aka Comrade Gora, the late Deputy Editor of The Patriot and most illustrious war veteran, was one of the freedom fighters dispatched from Chimoio to attend the Nyadzonia Massacre on the morning of August 9 and what he witnessed defies understanding, it was a clip from hell.
“There were corpses here, corpses there, and corpses everywhere. There were corpses of babies strapped on their mothers’ backs, there were corpses of small boys and girls. There were corpses of young men and women, there were corpses of old men and women. And the corpses had all sorts of mutilations — decapitated heads, shattered jaws, crushed or missing limbs, disemboweled entrails, scattered brains gouged eyes, everything,” recalled Cde Kanengoni.
Below is the most heart rending encounter that tore his heart forever…:
“A small girl of not more than eight whose chest had been ripped…with part of her lung now exposed asked me as she sat calmly in a donga: ‘Do you think I will survive Comrade?’
Strangely, all through that nightmare, I had not cried, not a single tear. I stood up, looked away and wept for something that was much, much more than the tragedy of the little girl.
When I at last turned, the little girl had died. And then something inside me went out like a flame in the wind.”
This is the story of how Zimbabwe came to be and yet, whenever comrades were dying, their last thought was not for themselves, not their families back at home, but for Zimbabwe.
Always they said: “Comrade I am dying, leave me, go on with the struggle, be brave, carry on comrades.”
Simon Chimbetu captures the same in his song: ‘Ndarangarira Gamba’.
This agony was replicated throughout Zimbabwe and at the rear, at Mkushi in Zambia, Freedom Camp in Zambia, there is also the agonies of Doiroi, Chibawawa, Tembwe, Kamungoma in Gutu and many other places at home and at the rear — throughout it was a tale of untold suffering, dedication unto death.
This is the spirit and ethos each Zimbabwean can, and should, appreciate, venerate and not denigrate nor berate.
To be aggrieved that the number of war veterans has quadrupled, unfortunately, is to be the enemy of Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans.
Many left home and everything precious because they loved Zimbabwe.
And to be hurt that so much love should have been lavished on Zimbabwe is to be on the side of those who work for Zimbabwe’s demise, vaya vanoti ‘pasi neZimbabwe’, — it is to partner with the Rhodesians, it is to be an ensconcement of the British.
And the question is: Why?
Is it because of veneration of the whiteman; the classic internalisation of the whiteman that Fanon writes about?
Is it because of money, muka chizvarwa cheZimbabwe!
To demean and denigrate the registration of war veterans and reduce it to dollars and cents is to invoke the spirit of Cecil John Rhodes the architect of colonisation of this land.
In the first place, it is not possible to pay anyone for their love and sacrifice in waging the armed struggle to free Zimbabwe — it is non-quantifiable.
It is ridiculous to reduce their sacrifice to dollars and cents because the freedom fighters did not fight for money, it was a free gift to Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, gladly given, and never regretted against all odds.
Hapana akaenda achiti achandobhadharwa, hapana akabhadharwa, kwaiva kuzvipira chete, zve hapana aiti kana ndasvika kumusha ndichabhadharwa; that was neither the purpose nor the intention.
Zvino iwe unotsamwa kuti vozobhadharwa, kubhadharwa kupi? Kana ukanzi wakasiya zvose ukarwira vamwe, ukarwira nyika vamwe vachienda kuchikoro vamwe vachishanda, zvino tochikubatsiravo kuti ukwanisa kuenderera mberi neupenyu hwako usingatamburi somunhu wakaita basa guru guru, kubhadharwa here? Ungaikwanisa kuihwerengedza ukaibudisa mari yemunhu akaita basa guru guru rakadaro. Ungahwerengedza ukabudisa kuti imarii kuti wakanga azvipiria kukufira?
Be at peace, be Zimbabwean!