SO began his life at the rear, in Mozambique.
It was difficult, there was only one meal a day, sometimes there was so little food each person could only get a certain number of mangai, that is boiled maize grain. He recalls a time when there was only powdered milk for food and each person could only get a handful of powdered milk and they would have permanent running stomachs.
Listening to him, watching him, there is no trace of remorse, regret or self pity, he just states it as it was, as he accepted it to be the cup that he opted to drink, the cup he would drink to liberate Zimbabwe.
He describes how they had to spend their days under cover because of the permanent threat of attacks from the Smith regime, and in particular, the day the regime’s planes flew over their camp dropping pamphlets announcing that Muzorewa had won so it was time for them to come home.
Although they had always known that the enemy was after them, the realisation that the regime knew exactly where to drop the pamphlets meant their cover had been blown, and for how long… was disturbing.
“Throughout all this, I was restless, I didn’t want to stay in school because that is not the reason why I had come to the struggle, I wanted to train and go home and fight so I kept making enquiries about the location of training camps,” said Cde Kanda.
In 1979, Matsanga attacked their camp, some comrades were captured and imprisoned in Chipinge and were only released after independence.
Young Kanda escaped with many others.
In the disturbed circumstances following the attack, Radhuuka Bhazuka ran away from the camp with two other youngsters.
They planned to go to Beira where they had heard food and clothing were plentiful and then proceed to training camps after stocking up.
They rode a machibhomba, that is a bus, as the Mozambicans called it and dropped off at Pika, midway between Gondolla and Dondo where they awaited the evening Komboi or train to take them to Beira.
However, before they could set out on the last leg of their trip to Beira, Mozambicans in the area recognised that they were Zimbabweans and informed the comrades who were in the vicinity.
Bhazuka and his team were immediately loaded into a Scania truck and taken to Inyamhinga where a new base was being set up.
There, they met Cde Tsuro and Cde Tipone among others.
Although one of the camps being set up was a training camp, the youngsters were told they were too young to be trained so they were sent to Mavhudzi which was a camp school.
The threesome was not deterred, they still ran away from Mavhudzi.
They planned to go to Beira as before, but before they could get far, they were apprehended and put up at the Garage in Gondolla, another base.
During their first night there, the two friends ran away leaving Bhazuka behind. While still at the Garage, he developed severe cerebral malaria.
He was so sick, he could not eat anything except condensed milk.
“I could have died,” he said.
“When I looked at trees they were white instead of the usual green.”
Cde Kanda said it was while he was at the Garage at Gondolla that news of ‘our triumph’ reached them.
“We heard that an agreement had been signed at Lancaster, we had won, Zimbabwe was free… takaridza pfuti the whole night,” he said.
“I even had my own gun, kapepesha, ndakaridzao pfuti.”
That night he went to bed with the gun by his side, and for some reason, the gun went off during the night.
It could have blown his head off, but it didn’t.
There just was enough distance between him and the gun and there was no-one else in its path.
But he still wanted to be trained, but he was still told go to Mavhudzi because he was too young, but he would not budge.
Finally he was sent to Inyamhinga, there, Cde Vigilance offered to take him as his assistant instead of him going to Mavhudzi.
That was the opportunity of a life time, the training base by then was operational and he was able to join the others in training.
His face beams as he recalls being taken to the armory every evening to study guns.
The comrades who trained him had been trained in Tanzania and he takes great pride and pleasure in repeating the Swahili commands.
His young heart touched heaven as his dream was fulfilled.
Although Zimbabwe had been liberated before he could get to the front, he was still proud that something he had struggled and suffered for had been achieved.
He was proud to be part of the reserve force that would rescue the situation should anything go wrong with the plans for independence.
When he was offered to go for further training in Romania, he refused.
Zimbabwe was free, he wanted to go home.
Back home, he resumed his studies, with the assistance of the Party and Government completed his primary and secondary education at ZIMFEP schools. After his ‘O’ Levels he could have joined the President’s office, but refused.
“Zimbabwe was free, ndanga ndisidade zvehondo,” he said.
Cde Kanda finally worked in various schools, rising through the ranks from clerk to bursar.
He furthered his studies in accounting.
Currently he is a candidate for the BSC in Banking and Finance.
This portrait reveals the single-mindedness, determination and bravery of a 10-year-old that is truly amazing.
The purposefulness that sustained the 10-year-old Kanda until it attained its goal against all odds is a profound statement about what our young can achieve if we strike the right chord in them by honouring who they truly are; heirs of Zimbabwe.
This is what they know, this is what will awaken every precious potential in them and assist them to achieve the greatest they are capable of and when that happens the future of this great country will be secured.
The freedom fighters were able to do this.
They were able to ignite a flame in 10-year-old Kanda and in many others, a flame that has never been extinguished to this day, a flame that mobilised his willpower to the extent that nothing could stop him from joining the struggle or from being trained despite his tender age.
That flame still burns today as he serves at the Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production (ZIMFEP) Secretariat, still pursuing one of the major goals of the liberation struggle, ‘to educate in a manner that liberates and empowers’.
It still burns as he serves as a Sergeant in ZRP’s Special Constabulary.
The message of the need to liberate Zimbabwe resonated with something deep in this child’s heart, and in the hearts of many other children who left the comfort of their homes for the struggle and never looked back.
The comrades, the freedom fighters were credible heroes, so they were able to inspire such great courage and commitment even in the very young thus we were able to free our country.
In teaching our children today, let us give them credible heroes, let us show them credible causes, heroes and causes that will resonate with something already deeply embedded in them; that Zimbabwe is their country and it is their honour, duty, and privilege to give it their very best and they will do everything in their power to achieve so.
Dr Mahamba is a war veteran and holds a PhD from Havard University. She is currently doing consultancy work.
SO began his life at the rear, in Mozambique.