Assembly points deserve respect


A MAJOR drawback in the story of our liberation struggle is the tendency to leave it to memory as a way of recording for posterity this illustrious history.
For instance, one of the most important benchmarks of the liberation war was the transition from hostilities to peace.
This saw the establishment of assembly points following the Lancaster House Agreement in December 1979.
This was a delicate exercise fraught with latent danger.
It is these potential hazards which make this exercise very significant in the history of the liberation struggle and therefore deserving documentation.
The Rhodesian soldiers realised they had lost the war.
What with the impending one-person-one-vote elections with ‘terrorists’ Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo leading ZANU and ZAPU respectively in a poll they were assured of victory.
The Rhodesian soldiers, who were left intact with token supervision from their kith and kin from UK, who made up the bulk of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force, could have easily been tempted to attack their ‘ill-equipped’ ‘enemies’.
Guerillas were expected to surrender their guns to their commanders on entering the assembly points.
Imagine the carnage if the loosely supervised Rhodesians had decided to launch a full-scale surprise attack on Dzapasi which had about 15 000 geurillas.
Would the ceasefire have held?
Definitely not!
And indeed the Rhodesian soldiers had breached the ceasefire by attacking geurillas en route to the assembly points.
On the other hand the freedom fighters might have been tempted to retrieve their guns and burst out of their assembly points and attack anyone who stood in their way, including the Commonwealth Monitoring Forces.
Mind you Dzapasi was only one of the 16 assembly points which could have been affected by either of the above scenarios and probably simultaneously.
This is just to show how the fragile ceasefire could have easily broken down.
We must accept the situation was volatile with simmering emotions since memories of war were still very fresh.
Thus the assembly points were a live powder keg.
If the ceasefire had broken down, the results might have been ghastly.
What is shocking, however, is that most of the born-frees do not know anything about assembly points.
A team from The Patriot that recently visited what was once Dzapasi Assembly Point told of a neglected area with no recognised focal point to remind people of what once was.
Maybe a plaque, well protected from the vagaries of the weather, with events of note when the assembly point was in use jotted down.
Who knows, the villagers who became part of this assembly point and worked closely with the freedom fighters might develop the place into a shrine.
This way the centre might provoke interest, making the recounting of the story of Dzapasi Assembly Point an ongoing exercise.
Mind you, this could apply to all the 16 assembly points.
We also expect the new education curriculum to include the story of assembly points in the history textbooks.
The Patriot team that visited Dzapasi found the villagers there very enthusiastic to give their oral accounts of the assembly point from memory.
This could be dangerous.
Let the history be documented.
Colonialists and their agents are cunning.
They are always thinking of ways of discrediting the liberation struggle by offering their own distorted versions.
They may even create ‘freedom fighters’ to give false eyewitness accounts from what they will claim to be their ‘memory’.
We expect the country to be dotted with focal points that remind us about our liberation struggle.
We have argued before that the place along Tongogara Avenue where Mbuya Nehanda is purported to have been hanged be turned into a shrine.
Let it be a unifying point regardless of where her death sentence was actually carried out.


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