‘It was all about love’

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangangwa made it so easy for many to join the liberation struggle because of his great love for this dear country, Zimbabwe.
Starting so early in life (1963) to fight for his country, he knew, it could be the end of his life, a very early end, but he never thought twice.
It nearly happened, when in 1964, he was arrested for his activities as part of the Crocodile Gang.
He escaped death sentence by a whisker.
For the next 17 years, he worked tirelessly and fought relentlessly to free our country.
That at independence in 1980 when everything was topsy-turvy, when Rhodies had booby traps everywhere, he was made Minister of State Security. That was a statement that he was a most trustworthy cadre, an unparalleled one.
That he has lived up to this day, is not because he has skirted hardships, dangers, but it is because Musikavanhu protected him throughout.
It’s important to note that young Zimbabweans were so fortunate to have such great forebearers as Cde Mnangagwa and it became easy for them to join the liberation struggle.
He and his compatriots lighted the way.
They lit an eternal flame that still shines in all those who love Zimbabwe, which like a homing comet, still guides each, to the greater service of their fellow Zimbabweans.
Whenever Cde Josiah Tongo, led the song: ‘Nyika yedu yeZimbabwe ndimo matakazvarirwa’ you wanted to walk with him, to follow him netsoka zvakadaro ‘kudzamara tinosvika kunaZambezi, kudzamara tinosvika kuZimbabwe.
The fire burning within him for Zimbabwe consumed one’s soul and one could never be apart from him in pursuing the mission of liberating our country, our Great Zimbabwe.
This is what happens when you have great leaders who love their country.
Nothing can go wrong, even as your fellow combatants fall by your side, you contain your pain, you still rise up, carry your gun and continue with the struggle.
These first combatants, Cde Mnangagwa and crew, lit the light in each soul that loves this country and after them, thousands could not be still until they joined the great war to liberate Zimbabwe.
After them, thousands took the gun, thousands fired the gun, and because of them, a thousand hearts still burned brighter with love for dear Zimbabwe.
It is the love in these first brothers which drew so many of us, which won the hearts of the greater Zimbabwe.
Our mothers and fathers could not turn their back on such great sacrificing souls, on the greatest love there is.
It is their great love for dear Zimbabwe which recruited not only the young combatants, even the children, but all those who could not keep still until they lend a hand to our struggle, even those outside the country beyond the seas.
For how can you keep still, when seven freedom fighters face the might of the Ian Smith regime at Chinhoyi and die heroically having withstood an enemy a thousand times mightier than them without retreating?
Their heroism is in their great love which made them not fear death or pain; great love which made them give the ultimate sacrifice, not for themselves, but selflessly for others who would live after them.
Young Cde Mnangagwa knew each day could be his last, when as a teenager, he embarked on the liberation struggle, as a freedom fighter, so young, so dedicated.
As a young freedom fighter, Cde Mnangagwa and his compatriots on the liberation war trail, engraved in the soul of Zimbabwe a very special message, that: “There is no greater calling than to love your country unto death, kuzvipira zvachose.”
Each true son and daughter of Zimbabwe got the message, read it and held it close to their hearts for ever.
As a young student studying outside the country in the early 1970s, something courted my heart for the liberation struggle.
Whenever I went home for the holidays, my mother could not stop talking about Vanamukoma (freedom fighters), who had so much love.
They came all the way from Manicaland (as she could tell from their dialect) and fight in Gutu, far away from the region of their birth.
What trounced her heart was, their selfless dedication in being prepared to die for others, who were not even their blood relatives.
That they transcended tribe and region was very significant to her and she emphasised this so much to me.
She also fell in love with the freedom fighters because of their impeccable manners, always asking for each thing with so much respect.
They became close friends with her.
The way they carried themselves was their greatest ambassador for their cause.
Thus, long before I decided to join the liberation struggle, this love of our liberation forces was already beginning to work on me.
It was only a matter of time, I had no idea how close.
When in early 1978, Cde Chademana came to the University of Botswana and Swaziland, Gaborone campus and gathered us (young Zimbabweans) and talked about the Chimoio attack which had just taken place a few months back, the casualties of that genocidal attack and the need for money, clothing, medicines and food, it was a reality check for me.
Thousands had been killed including children.
I could not keep still, I could not be at peace.
Although Cde Chademana was not on a recruitment drive, he was looking for assistance to deal with the catastrophe of that November 23 1977.
Something within me changed.
His candid portrayal of the Chimoio massacre, and what was happening in the struggle struck a chord.
Here was a comrade in the thick of our liberation struggle, harsh and cruel as it was, he was not lamenting.
He was not playing for sympathy, he was not bitter, he was not playing the hero, he was just simple, a son of Zimbabwe doing his part, fighting for his people, totally unassuming.
When you meet someone so special, so brave, you have to be at peace.
I was going to follow in his footsteps and the footsteps of all those who were confronting the monster to liberate our land and our people, all those who had just laid down their lives at Chimoio, for all of us.
It is the love and dedication of these great freedom fighters which recruited all of us across the nation to join this epic battle for Zimbabwe. Their selfless dedication sustained us until final victory, still sustains us today.
It has always been about love unto death.
It is a great love story, a great romance, a tradition of love in the footsteps of Nehanda Nyakasikana, who would not renounce her love for Zimbabwe, but remained faithful unto death.
It is a tradition of love in the footsteps of the Chinhoyi Seven, of all freedom fighters, in the footsteps of the Crocodile Gang where Cde Mnangangwa, our President started his journey, the journey he has pursued all his life, serving Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans and sacrificing all for them.

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