From chimbwido to full-time guerrilla


By Thulani Kutsanza

MY late mother Emilia Kutsanza alias Cde Farai Vatuma, joined the liberation struggle at the age of twelve.
She first met the liberation fighters on her way back from school in 1977.
It was a dramatic encounter, they stopped my mother and her sister Agnes and the two little girls knew that these were no ordinary villagers.
They asked for directions to the headman’s homestead.
And from that day onwards their contribution to the liberation struggle began.
The headman entrusted them with the task of supplying food to those comrades and many others that operated in their area.
My mother told me that she would carry food on their backs like they were carrying babies.
The food was cooked at the headman’s house where it was collected and ferried to the mountains where the guerillas’ had bases.
This was not an easy task as a thorough search by Rhodesian forces could lead them to losing their lives.
My mother would also relay information to the guerrillas about Rhodesian soldiers’ activities.
The guerrillas who were operating in her home area, Nyamaropa in Nyanga, relied on them and this made my mother take her duties seriously.
Caution was critical in the execution of her duties as a chimbwido.
At one time my mother encountered Rhodesian forces as she returned from the mountains.
My mother professed ignorance when quizzed about the whereabouts of guerrillas.
It was luck, she said, to have met them on her way back.
She did not doubt she would have been killed had she met the soldiers carrying the food.
But my mother’s uncle and his wife were not fortunate as they were killed for cooking for guerillas.
Sellouts sold them out.
The whole village witnessed the murder of my uncle and his wife.
Rhodesians gathered the people to instil fear in them hoping it would deter the masses from helping the guerrillas.
But this cruel act had the opposite effect, it fuelled the people to increase their support.
No amount of beating or cruelty would stop them.
After the callous murder my mother left for Mozambique to receive military training.
That night the guerrillas held a pungwe at their base.
Cde Hamadziripi who was the political commissar told my mother and her sister that they were no longer safe.
Their lives were in danger since their uncle and aunt had been murdered.
Cde Hamadziripi and Cde Chenjerai escorted my mother to the boader where they handed them to other comrades who were receiving recruits for military training.
It was so painful for my mother who was only 14 years old to leave her family and join the war.
But she had no choice.
They travelled over the night for four hours before they reached Kairezi River which demarcates Zimbabwe from Mozambique.
At the river they met a group of 15 boys and two girls who had come from Sedze Village in Nyanga .
The journey was not easy, crossing the wide Kairezi River which was full of crocodiles was a scary experience.
They were received by Frelimo soldiers who took them to Chimoio but they rested in several base camps along the way.
She finally received her military training in Chimoio.
After military training she was posted to Doroi Base Six where she was made a security officer.
She served at the base until independence.
While in Mozambique informers told Rhodesian security forces that my mother and her sister had left the country, my grandmother and grandfather were thoroughly beaten.
My mother endured many difficulties including going for days without food
All these challenges fortified my mother’s will to fight up to the end.
After the war she joined the police and served until her death in 2007.


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