Reliving Kamungoma Base massacre…we must tell our story

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ON May 14 1978, Rhodesian forces attacked civilians who were gathered at a pungwe in Kamungoma Village in Gutu.
A year later, on the same day (May 14), while people were commemorating the deaths of their beloved ones in Gutu, the enemy struck Kangara Base in Murehwa, killing more than 100 innocent civilians in broad daylight.
At Kangara, Rhodesian forces, using napalm bombs, raided the Base where freedom fighters and villagers were camping at lunch time.
It was a massacre.
At Kamungoma Village, a three-week-old boy suckled his dead mother’s breast until the following day when he was picked up by a Good Samaritan.
In an interview with The Patriot, Hondo Svondo Makorovodo, born on April 21 1978, and whose mother Sveneterai Chatindo was killed in that horrific attack, said he will never forgive sellouts and Rhodesians.
Barely a month did Makorovodo suckle milk from his mother.
“I was raised by my aunt, Swededzai Chatindo, at her rural home in Gondwi here in Gutu,” he said.
“I am made to understand most of the people who died here were children and women, hence the British must be held accountable for this genocide.”
Kamungoma Base is about 120 kilometers to the east of Masvingo Town.
The Base, according to a survivor Cde Luckmore Masarira alias Cde Chipere Chemunyati, was attacked after a sell-out sold out to Rhodies.
Cde Masarira was about five metres from Cde Killer Mabhunu when the first bullet, which killed Cde Double Killer, was fired by the enemy, marking the beginning of the attack. A Rhodesian soldier of the African regiment, Rhodesian African Riffles (RAR), one Manase Chigatse who had come to visit his wife who had given birth was the culprit.
Chigatse was based at a Rhodesian military camp, Mupindimbi, in Gutu.
Cde Killer Mabhunu, the sectorial political commissar, sent some comrades to capture Chigatse but he escaped.
According to another survivor, Cde Afonso Chayengera alias Cde Trymore Kelvin, comrades who went after Chigatse were tracked to the base by Rhodesian soldiers.
Loise Mapfumo, who lost her hand in the attack, said villagers were summoned by vanamujibha to attend a pungwe at Taruvira Farm.
“When word came that vanamukoma wanted people at the Base, we were also told Sabhuku Makombe wanted us to prepare food since it was our duty to cook and wash for them,” said Mapfumo.
“Vanamukoma had tried to capture a sell-out from Sengai Village, one Chigatse, but had failed. Vanamujibha, however, brought Chigatse’s family to the pungwe and they also perished together with the over 100 innocent villagers who were massacred by the Rhodesian forces.”
Cde Loise, said, surprisingly on that horrific night, the morale at the Base was very high.
She said the Rhodies struck around 9pm.
Said Cde Loise: “They (Rhodesians) attacked at a time Cde Diamond Dombo was dancing, approaching Cde Double Killer.
“People were in a jovial mood.
“I noticed Cde Diamond Dombo whispering something to Cde Double killer.
“Suddenly the enemy struck as Cde Double Killer was shot.
“Cde Diamond Dombo then shouted to the povo to lie on the ground, but there was great panic as the enemy fired relentlessly. I don’t know how I survived that attack as I lost my hand. I also lost brothers and sisters at this place.”
According to Cde Musarira, other guerillas who were on security positions returned fire, while others managed to escape only to meet at a gathering point somewhere close to Gutu Mission.
The damage, however, had already been done and 40 years later, efforts are being made to remember victims of this genocide.
The newly established National Enshrinement Committee, whose main agenda is the proper documentation of liberation struggle history, establishment and maintenance of national monuments, recently facilitated the building of Kamungoma Shrine.
The committee constitutes several Government organs, notably the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Ministry of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and ZANU PF departments of war veterans, gender and culture.
The committee is also working with elders Father Emmanuel Ribeiro and Raymond Mazorodze, among others.
Speaking at the official opening of Kamungoma Shrine, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira said they were engaging communities in the building of shrines.
“Our liberation story is dying, hence there is every need to swiftly work on building of the shrines as this will help preserve our history,” said Min Mupfumira.
“This is a thing being done all over the world. We started here in Gutu and we are then going to put up a shrine at Chinhoyi for the famous Chinhoyi Seven. We are also going to work on the Trabablas Trail and put a monument on the site where His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa bombed a train in 1964.”
Minister Mupfumira said the committee was also going to cross into Mozambique and Zambia to improve the state of shrines like Chimoio and Tembwe, among others.
Enshrinement of liberation history sites, she said, will help children understand the liberation struggle story while having an enhanced appreciation of the war for independence.
“I therefore urge everyone in our communities to help with identification of these historic places,” said Minister Mupfumira.
National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe executive director Dr Godfrey Mahachi expressed his gratitude to all involved in the project.
“This place must be transformed so as to maintain the heritage for our young and future generations,” he said.
“We are going to have a documented story of the attack of this place so that our young generation can learn undistorted history.”
Cde Victor Matemadanda, who spoke on behalf of war veterans, said the massacre at Kamungoma was touching.
Said Cde Matemadanda: “What I saw here is a true reflection of the Rhodesians.
“They have no respect for human life; imagine killing more than 100 women and children. If one American is killed, it will be on headlines of all news channels, but here, more than 100 women and children were killed by Rhodesians and its life as usual (sic).
“These places must be identified and comrades let us tell our story as we are dying every day and that is how our story is dying yet the British are busy documenting their lies which will be fed to our children (sic).
“We must tell our story.”

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