Are we ready for the full liberation struggle story?


RECENTLY I was on holiday with family at a local resort.
Towards sunset and appreciative of the good views setting us up for a romantic evening I playfully enacted a naughty scene whereupon I uttered some words of affection to my wife.
For our five-year-old son who was quietly witnessing this scene, it was eureka moment as he went into delirium with excitement.
Ever since that moment, at most inappropriate family gatherings, he is quick to remind us of that evening.
Each time, in the presence of visitors, my son goes, “Dad do you remember what you told mum that day?” and wife quickly banishes him away.
If we are so troubled by a romantic truth what more if this were a piece of dark history?
Nearly 60 years since the beginning of our struggles for freedom and 35 years after independence, the production of history remains dominated by Rhodesian voices.
Only a few of the struggle participants have dared share their stories.
These include Ndabaningi Sithole, Maurice Nyagumbo, Vesta Sithole, Josiah Tungamirai, Simon Muzenda, Fay Chung, Edgar Tekere, Wilbert Sadomba and Dzinashe Machingura.
And in the majority of these, you detect the hand of contemporary politics in determining the level of self-censorship.
The adage goes; “History is written from the perspective of winners.”
Yet you find that the bulk of available literature on the Second Chimurenga has been written by Rhodesians.
There are very few biographies on icons of the struggle.
Why have our historians conspired with participants of the struggle to keep this history away from public eyes?
Often some veterans of the struggle have counselled me that, 50 years on, it’s too soon to write the history of the struggle.
Just listen to the emotion and venom that characterise debate on patriots and traitors from the Second Chimurenga.
With regards the First Chimurenga, the same debate is fairly straightforward.
For example, in Chikomba we know our First Chimurenga heroes like Bonda, Maromo and Chiwashira/Mutekedza.
We also know those that collaborated with the enemy.
Collaboration in 1896 manifested itself in the provision of fighting men, intelligence and in keeping supply lines to the south open.
Some Africans chose collaboration in-order to settle old rivalries with fellow African groups while others were motivated by monetary or material gain.
In Chikomba we saw this in the conduct of Chiefs Chivese, Musarurwa, Ranga and Marara.
Over a century later, we can safely write about this without much fear of reprisals.
However, with regards the Second Chimurenga, the counsel ‘it is too soon to write the history of the Second Chimurenga’ holds true.
This is particularly so with regards treacherous collaboration.
It is a can of worms that should remain fully sealed.
For how do we handle the treacherous part of a decorated son of the struggle?
What is the sum total of a life of 99 percent heroism and one percent treachery?
A cousin of mine who spent some time in Romania during the struggle brought back one great lesson he leant there; the ability to distinguish between wanted and unwanted truth.
Can we extend this lesson to history, historical sources?
Should we distinguish between wanted and unwanted archives?
We come close to opening closed archives, unwanted truths; each time a request for hero status is turned down.
At times it’s straightforward and the issues are contested in the public domain as in the case of Ndabaningi Sithole, Dzinashe Machingura, James Chikerema, Henry Hamadziripi and others.
Others leave little for imagination as in the case of Washington Malianga and Edward Pswarayi.
Yet others boggle the mind as to what is going on as in the case of Peter Manyani, Samuel Munodawafa and Sheba Tavarwisa.
In this we lump together patriots and traitors under failed hero status requests.
Perhaps even more disconcerting are a few instances when serial informers make it to the revered shrine ahead of illustrious servants of the struggle.
Perhaps it is too soon to write the history of our liberation struggle.
Imagine what no holds exposes would do, especially to the minefield of contemporary politics.
It is too ghastly to contemplate.
Let us forget unwanted truths for now, but as they say, “Rina manyanga hariputirwi.”


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