“NDAKADA Zimbabwe dakara simba rapera mukufa.”
This is the pledge comrades Simon Chingoza Nyandoro, Godwin Manyerenyere, Christopher Chatambudza, Arthur Maramba, Chubby Sawana, Godfrey Dube and David Guzuzu made when they left for the liberation struggle.
They are the famous ‘Chinhoyi 7’ who battled Rhodesians on April 28 1966, the 68th anniversary of Mbuya Nehanda’s murder by the British.
In astrology they say there is no coincidence.
Mbuya Nehanda had promised her ‘bones would rise’ and drive out the white menace and indeed it happened.
It was time to let the whiteman know the resolute decision the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe had made with the formation of ZANU in 1963; that the only language the whiteman could understand was the armed struggle.
In 1964, ZANU’s jailed leaders empowered Cde Herbert Chitepo to organise the armed struggle against the whiteman and by 1966, he had quite a force of trained guerillas.
The Chinhoyi 7 were some of the first fruits of his effort. They crossed the Zambezi River in April 1966 and set camp at a farm near Chinhoyi town (then Sinoia).
According to Henry Ellert (1989), a former member of Rhodesia’s Special Branch, after the seven were betrayed by an undercover policeman: “A large force of police commanded by chief superintendent John Cannon and detective inspector Dusty Binns and Bill Freeman, the seven moved in to attack.
As the uniformed policemen encircled the guerilla position, Binns and Freeman and a team of Criminal Investigation Department detectives of the Sabotage Squad initiated the attack with a heliborne assault from above.
The detectives fired at the guerrillas using automatic shotguns and 9mm sterling sub-machine guns.
Hopelessly outnumbered the ZANU guerrillas fought to the last.”
There were at least 40 police and several helicopters.
The battle lasted several hours.
Eye witnesses say ZANLA killed about 50 enemy troops and downed several aircraft.
Characteristically, Rhodesians claimed casualties were all on the guerillas who ran out of ammunition.
How can you sustain a battle for the whole day against an enemy outnumbering you in dozens, assaulting you with air and ground force and not cost the enemy a single casualty? You cannot be such an effective force and yet totally fail to cost the enemy.
The seven heroes did not surrender.
Before they left for this mission, it was clear they would not survive.
Seven people would never believe they could overwhelm a whole government with its police, military and weapons of air and ground assault.
Being among the first few guerrillas to be fielded, these seven sacrificed their lives.
They had come to the front prepared to die.
It would take hundreds if not thousands of them to defeat the enemy, but they were prepared to be the first ones, the ones who would surely die so that others might live.
Rhodesians themselves admit the seven ZANLA combatants fought to the last although they were outnumbered in terms of the forces surrounding them but also the weaponry as the enemy had the advantage of both air and ground force.
For the battle to have lasted so long, seven hours at least, it means Rhodesians had met their match.
How can it be called victory for the Rhodesians if seven guerillas and in seven hours killed 50 of the enemy and downed several aircraft?
Why do they not salute the calibre of fighters who could sustain a battle for seven hours, only falling after exhausting their ammunition.
ZANLA are legend, let it be acknowledged and saluted!
It was a ZANLA victory and it set the tone for the rest of the battle for Zimbabwe which was to last the next 13 years.
The struggle ended in spectacular fashion and victory for Zimbabwe.
This is the mettle of Mbuya Nehanda.
She never surrendered and never allowed the white menace to have power over her.
During the liberation struggle, we celebrated the Battle of Chinhoyi singing:
Ndiwe muroi ndiwe,
Ndiwe Smith ndiwe
Ndiwe wapedza hama!”
Yes, this was the first armed direct confrontation with Rhodesia’s terrorist gang forces.