Chimoio Attack: Rhodesian Genocide (2008)
By Agrippah Mutambara
HISTORY is recorded and stored for a purpose; it is a lesson for the present.
The November 23 1977 Chimoio attack remains in national consciousness although that cannot be said collectively.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai recalls this period, the Rhodesian era that superintended these atrocities as good time, when he got drunk on one pound.
While Chimoio Attack: Rhodesian Genocide author, Agrippah ‘Comrade Dragon’ Mutambara, was busy burying the dead, some who had begun to rot and their flesh tearing off, Morgan who had not dared join the comrades was sitting at a tavern at Trojan Mine sipping a cold beer.
Forward to the present the guerilla is mocked, vilified and told the war is no longer significant.
Morgan then rises to the occasion telling the men and women who watched their friends and comrades massacred that he too could have fought off the colonial powers even though he only reached Mutare before retreating.
Many others like him will never understand why Mutambara after three days of heartbreak and witnessing genocide writes, “In my heart of hearts, I dedicated myself to be forever faithful to the cause for which they had laid down their lives.”
At the 2013 Book Fair, a participant said it was time they removed war narratives from schools because it was about time they moved on.
And yet there is a pile which continues to grow of war stories about Rhodesian exploits and other continental wars.
They write blow by blow accounts of how they executed their diabolic acts.
J.R.T Wood in his book, Africa @War Volume 1: Operation Dingo gives a detailed account of how they dealt a severe blow to the ‘enemy’ at the Chimoio Base.
“When the Rhodesian troops reached it later, the rows of bodies lying on the parade ground reminded John Cronin of a field of mown corn,” Woods recalls.
There is no shame in Woods narration.
To them, the war was justified.
The real criminals were the freedom fighters or magandanga ‘terrorist’ as they called them.
In his book, Agrippah Mutambara chronicles the three-day attack on Chimoio code-named ‘Operation Dingo’.
The book emotionally and spell-bindingly narrates the fear, loss, devastation and barbaric massacre in those three days.
Mutambara, whose name during the war was ‘Comrade Dragon’, at the time of the attack was part of the leadership and this meant he visited casualty sites.
“You could count the number of victims, which we accurately did, by the remaining forms of their skulls-29 in the bigger hut and 22 in the smaller one, total of 51,” he writes.
“I saw in these ashes not just the remains of my comrades, but the shrieks of pain and suffering as the heat of the burning huts began to bake them alive and then violently tear away at their flesh and their very existence.”
This was after the author had been called to the Parirenyatwa Base which was a makeshift hospital not only for the guerillas, but the local civilians.
“I looked more closely at the ash remains and saw about 20 wire shackles that had tied the men’s hands to their backs,” writes Mutambara.
“I saw the barbarous Rhodesian forces gleefully watching, with guns cocked and ready lest there be some able to escape from the terrible inferno.”
After witnessing these horrors the remaining comrades are then left with the task of canvassing for bodies some of which had begun to bloat so they could accord them a decent burial.
“Cursed from the wombs of their mothers because their colour was black and condemned to a fate befitting a dog, for a crime committed and prejudged –the fight for freedom and justice, against oppression and discrimination, the quest for equality and human dignity,” the author writes.
After the massacre, Mutambara is woken up by sounds of jackals tearing away the limbs of their dead comrades whom they had buried in shallow graves.
After burying their comrades, more began to die from poisoned food.
This history should never be forgotten.
Every generation should be reminded of the sacrifices and the lessons gleaned from there.
There has never been any attempt to address these genocides by the so-called humanitarian world and they will never be.
Britain refused to apologise to the Kenyan Mau-Mau for war crimes where there were reports of castration with boiling water.
To the world, the guerrillas were simply ‘terrorists’ who wanted to disturb the prosperous status quo where a minority group decided and categorised the majority.
The reality however, is that they were not terrorists, but genuine freedom fighters.