Patriotism: Zim’s dilemma– Part One

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PATRIOTISM has been variously described as love of one’s motherland (land of one’s birth) and identification with and special concern for its well-being and that of compatriots (fellow countrymen). 

The passion which inspires an individual to serve, to show loyal and often zealous support for one’s country also is evidence of patriotism. 

Patriots will show loyalty, good citizenship and allegiance to their country. 

Often patriotism dovetails with nationalism, the desire to compete with other nations, for example, in the economic and social sectors such as sports.

In this series of articles, we shall analyse patriotism in the Zimbabwean context, citing historical and contemporary events and actions of those individuals who can legitimately be described as Zimbabwean patriots. 

The patriotism of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe is best illustrated by the protracted liberation struggles dubbed Chimurenga wars fought against foreign invaders. 

All these wars were inspired and guided by the great ancestor spirit of the people of Zimbabwe, Murenga Sororenzou, whose shrine is located at Njelele in the Matobo Hills in Matabeleland South.  

Chimurenga literally means ‘done in accordance with Murenga’s guidance’. 

The essence of the Chimurenga approach to fighting war is secrecy, essentially guerilla war tactics where the fighters strike the enemy and disappear into the surrounding country or mingle with the general populace. 

Murenga seemed to appreciate that the enemy had superior weapons and could not be confronted openly.

The Zimbabwean nation came into existence through a series of Chimurenga armed struggles against European foreign invaders. The First Chimurenga was waged against the Portuguese in the 17th Century (1675-1695), the Second Chimurenga was a war against British settler-colonial invasion led by arch-imperialist Cecil John Rhodes at the close of the 19th Century (1890 -1898) and the Third Chimurenga is the 16-year armed struggle against the British settler-regime, led by Ian Smith (1965-1980). 

The Third Chimurenga ended with the defeat of the British settler-regime which surrendered the country to its legitimate owners, black Zimbabweans, under the onslaught of the patriotic ZIPRA and ZANLA guerilla armies backed by the millions of oppressed Zimbabweans.

It is important to point out the correct sequencing of Zimbabwe’s liberation wars. 

The First Chimurenga was the anti-Portuguese war which led to the rise of the Rozvi Empire, the Second Chimurenga was the war against the British South Africa Company-led colonisers in which Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi featured prominently. 

The Third Chimurenga is the latest armed struggle which brought about the political independence of Zimbabwe from Britain in 1980. 

The Third Chimurenga was the third liberation war fought by all Zimbabweans under the inspiration of Murenga. 

It is officially (but wrongly) referred to as the Second Chimurenga. 

Why, because, in fact, it was the third countrywide liberation war inspired and guided by the great spirit Murenga. 

The most recent Chimurenga, as these struggles are called, occurred between 1965 and 1979. 

The liberation wars represent the greatest patriotic acts of the gallant sons and daughters of our motherland, Zimbabwe. 

In the First Chimurenga (1670-1695) the patriots were united under the secret code ‘Moyondizvo’. 

The great spirit Murenga, who inspired that war, ordered that top secrecy be maintained to protect the fighting patriots who waged what was essentially a guerilla war against the Portuguese who had invaded literally every corner of the country looking for gold. 

All information about the movements and intended targets for attack was to be kept secret, in the heart (mumoyo). 

The fighting ‘patriots’, when asked about their movements and activities, only replied: “Zviri mumoyo,” or “Moyo ndizvo.” Eventually, they all identified each other by the name ‘Moyo’ regardless of their own totems (mitupo), hence the ‘Moyo/Moyondizvo’ people constitute the majority in terms of totemic identity among Zimbabweans. 

When probed further, these people will reveal their original totem/dzinza saying: “Ah! Ndiri Moyo yakati.” 

Moyo Chirandu will be the commonest as these were already of the Moyo totem before the First Chimurenga. 

The Moyo-Bhebhe are not Chirandu, but acquired the Moyo label from their participation in the patriotic struggle against the Portuguese invaders.

Today we identify the descendants of these great patriots by the name they acquired from the way they dealt with ‘sell-outs’ or ‘vatengesi’, as we called them in the Third Chimurenga. 

On the orders of the great ancestral spirit Murenga, our anti-Portuguese war patriots punished sell-outs and those Africans who collaborated with the Portuguese, not by killing them but by total destruction of all their property which in Shona is ‘kurozva’. 

The fighting patriots came to be known as ‘Varozvi’. 

European writers, seeking to demean the heroic acts of our patriots, have sought to tarnish the image of our gallant fighters by calling them ‘destroyers’ as if they indulged in wanton senseless property destruction. 

They fought a guerilla war against the Portuguese and secretly (zviri mumoyo) hunted for sell-outs and reduced their homesteads to ashes, collecting and sharing the property of their victims (kurozva) to demonstrate that it did not pay to join the Portuguese against the African people of the land between the Zambezi and the Limpopo. 

But all Africans who actively fought on the enemy’s side were treated the same way as the Portuguese.

Today, we identify the descendants of the great patriots of the anti-Portuguese war as ‘Varozvi’. 

That their ‘Rozvi’ identity has endured for more than two centuries speaks to their great patriotic acts of fighting and dislodging an enemy who had entrenched himself in our motherland. 

That our ancestors established the Rozvi Empire through a protracted war against Portuguese invaders bears testimony to the gallantry and patriotic spirit of the people of this great country under the spiritual guidance and inspiration of the great ancestral spirit Murenga.

The Portuguese had established fiefdoms called ‘prazeiros’. 

This is the origin of ‘mapurazi’ (farms) from the Portuguese name. 

Murenga said no to Portuguese invasion! 

Murenga said ‘go drive out the enemy’! 

And the spirit of patriotism filled the people of Zimbabwe! 

And, under the secrecy slogan, “Zviri mumoyo ndizvo zvatinoita,” the patriots rallied behind Mambo Dombodzvuku, coincidentally himself  of the Moyo (Chirandu) totem, in a guerilla war that lasted many years (1670-1690) and drove out all the Portuguese, freeing every square inch of the motherland we call Zimbabwe! 

Patriotism par excellence!

If we revisit the various definitions of ‘patriotism’, we can see that the anti-Portuguese war carried out by our gallant ancestors was a patriotic war inspired, guided and driven by the ultimate desire by our forefathers to free and defend the territorial integrity of the motherland. 

We see national pride, love, devotion, sense of attachment and commitment to sacrifice life and limb to save the motherland.

In the next instalment, we shall continue to highlight the patriotism of the people of Zimbabwe by focusing on the Second Chimurenga in which great patriots like Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi and Chief Chingaira featured, among other heroes.

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