Reliving the battle of Mavhonde …’we have no lies to tell’

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THE Battle of Mavhonde, a documentary of one of the epic battles of the liberation struggle was screened at the Zimbabwe International Film Festival on September 1 2017 in Kensington, Harare.
On September 26, it will be exactly 38 years since this heroic battle for Zimbabwe.
It was a treat to watch this film, an 88-minute-long special moment for the ardent patriots who cherish the struggle that redeemed Zimbabwe, for the students of military science, for the freedom fighters who at the time of this battle were in the field at home and abroad and have since longed to hear the details of this epic battle, for scholars, students and their teachers it was a thirst quencher, providing moments they never thought could be with in their reach.
Cde Josiah Tongogara had warned the combatants at Mavhonde Base that General Peter Walls would come after them, would attack them.
He had emphasised the need for vigilance as he left for the Lancaster House Conference.
The combatants heeded his warning under the command of Cde Rex Nhongo (the late Retired General Solomon Mujuru), the Chief of Operations who deputised the Chief of Defence, Cde Tongogara.
They maintained an impregnable defence and when General Walls came after them at Mavhonde, the ZANLA Headquarters only 20km off the Rhodesian border, he was repulsed fiercely.
Both ground and air assaults were arrested as the enemy lost aircraft and many soldiers.
One is humbled by the bravery, fearlessness and ingenuity of the ZANLA combatants – the heroism leading to the ultimate triumph of ZANLA at Mavhonde, putting the last nail on the coffin of Rhodesia, as the film aptly announces: ‘Game Over General Peter Walls.’
The Rhodeisans had planned to deal ZANLA a major military blow so as to strengthen their bargaining position at the Lancaster House Conference, but the result was that their position was worse off than when the talks begun at Lancaster.
After Mavhonde, the writing was so clear on the wall: ‘It is not possible to defeat ZANLA militarily’, thus their terms of surrender were not going to be so glorious after all.
ZANLA was the superior military force.
They had to make it at Lancaster or ZANLA would walk into the office with a smoking sub-machine gun and it would be too late to negotiate.
The battle of Mavhonde inadvertently proved for the Rhodesian aggressors what they knew but never wanted to admit – that they had long lost the war.
This time around it was not possible to hide their heads in the sand.
ZANLA was home.
There was an inexplicable feeling while watching this film, and at the end of it, actually talking to some of the illustrious combatants who trounced the Rhodesians at this battle who are featured in the film.
Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi, the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services was one of the people featured in the film.
In his remarks at the end of the film, he expressed his gratitude to the Zimbabwe Heritage Trust (ZHT) for capturing this great historic moment and making it available for posterity, especially for our young.
He said while the Americans posture themselves as the victors in their war of aggression against the Vietnamese when in fact they lost it, we, Zimbabweans, did win our war of liberation against the Rhodesian usurpers and unlike the Americans, have no lies to tell but only the truth of our triumph.
His wish was that the young of Zimbabwe would know and appreciate what it cost to redeem Zimbabwe so they would never let it go.
For how can our young feel proud of themselves when they do not know how heroic their history is, how great their people are?
They are so schooled in the history of the Europeans.
They can write the best essays on the achievements of Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, but they cannot sing their own praises, not because they do not want, but they do not know.
Cde Zimondi’s sentiments were echoed by others who had also watched the film.
Teachers in the audience wished materials such as in this film would be availed to their history students for this is just what they need.
Others called for ZHT to show this film across the nation’s schools.
Many others applauded the film as a great heritage any Zimbabwean would be proud of and asked for more and more of this type of documentaries.
The excitement about the Battle of Mavhonde, the overwhelmingly positive response to this film underlines something that has always been true but which the enemies of Zimbabwe have tirelessly refuted; that the people of Zimbabwe fought for their land from their hearts and minds and no-one coerced them.
If they had been coerced, stories from the struggle such as the Battle of Mavhonde would not be received with so much joy, acclamations and accolades.
ZANU and its ZANLA arm were branded communist terrorist brutes and rapists by our enemies from the West and their lackeys among us, but how can these brutes be so warmly welcomed? Wouldn’t stories from the struggle awaken the pain from the brutality?
As Cde Zimondi said: “We have no lies to tell, only the truth about our triumph.”

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