Reflections of a war veteran


TO the war veteran, commemorations such as the Heroes’ and Defence Forces Days vividly bring to life images suppressed.
War is unpleasant and fighters carry gruesome experiences.
Fighting, one cannot help, but wonder if they will live to see another day, especially as friends and comrades fall. And as things get tough thoughts of giving up start creeping in, but they can never be entertained for long for they are counterproductive.
The stench of death becomes common.
When one closes their eyes images of gaping wounds, blood gushing out and lifeless bodies are projected. The abnormal becomes normal, one celebrates hitting a target which is in fact killing another human being.
The sound of the mortar hitting a chopper becomes something exciting. And the message to stop fighting comes, the ceasefire message, before celebrating there is a huge sense of disbelief.
And then the smile comes, joy floods.One has survived and is happy to be alive, but the memories will never go away.
One man who relived such experiences during
the Heroes’ and Defence Forces holiday was Cde Samuel Muchakati.
Joining the liberation struggle with fellow friend, Cde Wilson Nyabanga at the tender age of 15, Cde Muchakati aka Muchairadhuze experienced the horrors of war.
“All I thought about during training was my brothers and sisters who were dying at the hands of the Rhodesians,” said Cde Muchakati.
“It gave me all the vigour I needed to face the enemy.”
Cde Muchakati after being chosen to go for training in Mozambique later specialised in the motor 82.
His first mission was to attack Mutare then known as Umtali.
The mission was unsuccessful as Rhodesians attacked before they got to their targets.
For 10 hours, the mountain in which they were camped was ablaze as Rhodesians pounded them.
A total of 450 men and 50 women made up the mission.
Cde Muchakati said discipline and loyalty were the hallmark of the liberation struggle.
“Soldiers have to be disciplined and loyal and I am happy that those are the attributes of our Defence Forces today,” he said.
Cde Muchakati said pain channelled correctly can yield unimaginable positive results.
“In one incident, we were ambushed by Rhodesian forces and in the process of fighting, I was shot in the leg,” he said.
“It was only after we had successfully escaped the ambush that I realised I had been shot and began to experience excruciating pain.”
Cde Muchakati urged aspiring soldiers not to fear the profession because of the pain that one endures during training.
He said the pain is the very thing that makes the average soldier stronger physically and mentally than the average civilian.
Cde Muchakati served in the national army for two years after Zimbabwe gained its Independence in 1980.


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