‘It was about land…will always be’


A young man in his early 30s completed his medical studies at Birmingham University in England.
He secured a teaching post at the same university and attained an MSC in Anatomy from the same.
He had just gotten married.
In those moments, the call to the struggle reached him and he did not hesitate.
He joined others in the bushes of Mozambique.
There he served illustriously; he was at the beck and call of his fellow combatants.
Working with fellow doctors Cdes Sidney Sekeramai and Hebert Ushehwokunze, he revamped the health department in the camps, reducing the number of deaths in the worst-hit camps from a daily average of 50 to just one.
It was a mammoth task for food was scarce and could never be properly balanced. Because all food was donated, there was no way one could control when, what and how much came from the Good Samaritans.
There was malnutrition, disease due to overcrowding, stress, malaria and other parasitic infestations such as ‘matekenya’, the jigger fleas which affect the feet, particularly the toes.
As reported in this publication before, medicines were in short supply, so was clothing. In winter, the comrades suffered from cold and cold-related diseases.
Comrade Felix Muchemwa did not flinch. He worked tirelessly with other medical personnel until things were under control.
His heart was drenched with the pain of his fellow combatants as he sutured the wounds, mended broken bones as well as comforted and consoled the departing.
The vagaries of the war did not spare him either. He was branded with a red hot iron.
Chimoio missed him by a hair’s breath. Still, some of the toxins from the murderous regime’s chemical warfare did not miss him, they found their way into his body.
We came home at Independence and he threw himself into his work — doctor, military man, Minister of Health and finally the President’s Office, advising the Presidency on matters affecting the disabled.
Ever so unflinching, ever so committed Comrade Muchemwa you served tirelessly even as the poisons from the enemy’s chemical warfare took its toll on you. At first not so apparent to our physical eyes but you knew comrade, as a doctor you knew the gravity of the invisible injury to your internal system, we watched you work, we admired but we never guessed at what cost.
Overtime we perceived you might not be so well but you fought on, unrelenting, fulfilling your pledge not only to liberate Zimbabwe, but to transform it so all could be at peace and in prosperity in their homeland.
Comrade, you did not take leave from this pledge until you were recalled home, though you could have justifiably taken leave for health reasons.
We salute you!
In your last years you dedicated your time to the defence of our revolution, from those who dared spawn the sacrilegious lie that the liberation war was not about the land. You wrote a special book.
You chronicled our history beautifully, succinctly, laying everything down so clearly for all to see that it was because of the land, about the land, and it will always be about the land and so the owners of the land must be requited.
You left us an incredible heritage, a veritable, portable archive, your book, The Struggle for Land in Zimbabwe, published only eight months before you were recalled home, little did we know…
Today we stand tall because of this special archive you left us, there is no question we cannot answer about our struggle, we understand even more deeply because you researched so well, so thoroughly with the heart and mind of a freedom fighter.
No-one now can diminish the heroism of our people which you laid bare so beautifully.
Who can now diminish the heroism of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, the chiefs, all the warriors who co-ordinated this war which Mbuya Nehanda commanded to devastating effect in the first revolutionary war, the First Chimurenga, wiping out half of the British armed robbers?
For those youngsters who dared challenge the Third Chimurenga: ‘But what wrong has the white-man done?’ Your book comrade, is just what the doctor ordered.
In painstaking, heart-breaking detail, you describe the ruthless land grabbing by the imperialist, the looting of cattle, goats, sheep, even hens, grain, the massacres, the burning down of whole villages and the blasting with dynamite of thousands who had taken refuge in caves.
This total genocidal intent of the white-man awakens the patriotic soul to the dire necessity of the struggle we waged.
It is a story never told.
The story of our heroic people rising from the trauma and ashes of this brutal and ruthless dispossession to start organising themselves to uproot this diabolical menace in the Second Chimurenga.
You tell the story of every fighter who refused to have the whiteman lay claim to our land.
You tell us of the whiteman’s reprisals, genocidal attacks at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, carried out to stop us from reclaiming our land.
Your description of the atrocities committed at Chimoio, against the sick, against children, defenceless young girls and women leaves one in no doubt of the cruelty and the inhumanity of the enemy we faced.
You cast us right into the middle of the epic battles of our war of liberation, the Battle of Mapai, the Battle of Mavhonde now immortalised in a celebrated documentary which scooped a top award at the International Film Festival in Harare, in 2017.
The documentary was proudly produced by the same publisher of your book, the Zimbabwe Heritage Trust.
You leave us feeling so proud to be Zimbabwean Comrade Muchemwa, that despite all the torment, the deaths and untold suffering, we still rose from the ashes, guns smoking, to proclaim victory.
June 13 marked the second anniversary of your so untimely departure mukoma, when you left us, we had just began to savour the treasures in the portable archive you bequeathed us so graciously, so I just wanted to take this moment to thank you for your efforts.
We wish we could still sit down with you Comrade Muchemwa and discuss this great work.
Alas we have to discuss it without you, just among ourselves.
We miss you comrade!
We take comfort when we review your life Comrade Felix Muchemwa, that Zimbabwe produced such greatness which took us this far.
We trust it shall continue to give us precious gifts like you to take us beyond the horizon.
You are a legend, our Brigadier General, our doctor, our mentor, we salute you!
Makada Zimbabwe nesu tese veZimbabwe kudakara simba rapera mukufa.


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