‘Ipi loAction: Yakatora baba vangu’ – Part Six

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By Professor Charles Pfukwa

THE high pitched whine of the Cessna drowned the sound of the several Augusta Bell HU 211s.
These gorgons had a sickly low hum that was faded into endless echoes in the steep slopes of the river valleys.
At most, they sounded like several swarms of bees on the move.
It was difficult to pick them out, it was equally difficult to determine their direction or distance before one could decide what action to take.
It was common to see one or two describing an arc overhead and by then you would be staring into a barrel of a huge machine gun and behind it a devil of bhunu opening fire on anything that moved.
It was such a fire force that descended in full force on Banhu Village that sad morning around 9 am.
The sickening sound of the heavy machine gun that was repeated over regular intervals was very disturbing.
The guns only fell silent mid-afternoon.
After some six hours of an Armageddon we could only sit and wait.
We could not pinpoint where exactly it was unfolding.
Only that it was on the other side of Nyagura Range.
The first information filtered in the evening: St Barbara’s/Nyaduve: casualties not yet known.
Full details only came on the following day.
The grim details were never fully disclosed to rank and file, but Action; Zvitunha, and Liberation: three top commanders were lost.
Then section leader Tafirenyika Gondo and several other comrades.
This was what Bazooka always described as a Hiroshima.
I did not know much about Zvitunha except that he was a veteran of 1972-74 northeast campaign.
He spoke Korekore.
That he was recovered from a fowlrun has never been confirmed, but he met a sad end indeed.
Liberation also had some history of the northeast campaign.
What I did not know is his combat experience and operations in Tete Province. Like many who fell in the struggle, their roles remain unrecorded.
They went down with their histories.
Gondo was my immediate commander.
I think I sometimes overawed him with my banal expressionless gaze which was sometimes mistaken for stupidity.
Only Sauso and Devil among that coterie of commanders could read behind the facade.
I first met Gondo as Dzasukwa’s deputy.
There was very little that was outstanding in his command, but then among our people, we do not speak ill of the dead.
These bombs would have missed him if he had led his section to collect war material in Mavhonde.
Gondos’ unit along with Mike’s and Sauso were in Dziwa Village when the bombs fell.
They had a clearer view of what happened.
Apparently none had the stomach to narrate it.
It was gut wrenching.
Muhondo munofiwa, but for detachment this was an apocalyptic experience.
No doubt the Detachment Commander was numbed beyond speech losing: three of his lieutenants in one single blow was a bit too much.
A few months later he was yet to lose a fourth one, Cooper, in a battle in St Faith’s/Maderere.
I still wonder who wrote the sad report of this if all commanders died in action. Here is a man who lived and fought a good battle.
His story remains untold as he lies buried somewhere in the mass graves of Rusape.
Probably he lies at the Butcher, that notorious Rhodesian place of slaughter. This then is my version of the story of Action.
It is full of gaps, but I do not know where I can find the others to their versions. Fife would willingly tell his side of the whole story.
I cannot trace Sauso and Devil.
These are the others who have better narratives.
I await to hear from other voices from the communities where Action lived and died.

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