The story of Cde Michael Usayi
THE torturing of my father in 1975 at a Rhodesian base, notoriously known as Masaga in Borrowdale, Harare (Salisbury), drove me to join the liberation struggle.
My father had been picked up by the Rhodesians for supporting the freedom fighters.
I was 17 years old.
My desire to join the liberation struggle was fanned into a blaze at a pungwe where we were given political orientation by one Cde Gun Fighter, the political commissar of a group of ZANLA liberation fighters operating in our area.
Alongside my young brother Darlington and Alexander Chikorondo, I began working with the freedom fighters in our home area of Munyawiri, Domboshava, covering Nyakudya and Masembura in Mashonaland Central.
This was not an easy job because our area was heavily patrolled by Rhodesian soldiers and we were close to the Rhodesian Alfida Barracks and just 40km from the capital.
Our area was also heavily infested by Muzorewa’s military wing, the infamous Pfumo Revanhu.
Thus, we became the eyes and ears of the freedom fighters.
The freedom fighters told us we were more useful as mujibhas than going to Mozambique for military training.
Organising food, delivering letters to business people who supported freedom fighters with food and clothing as well as monitoring the movement of the Rhodesian forces were some of our duties as collaborators.
We had to be extra careful as we did not have guns, though we were very active at the war front.
My feet were my only carriage.
In 1976, a fellow collaborator was spotted by Rhodesian soldiers who were in a mountain at their observation point in Senzere Village.
The collaborator was going to collect a goat from a villager who had offered it for relish to the freedom fighters.
It was in October and very hot, I vividly remember. I will never forget that day.
The spotted mujibha was captured and, after interrogation and torture, sold out our base which was right in the middle of our family cemetery.
The graves were scattered around a huge anthill which was surrounded by a lot of trees and we maintained long grass to provide cover.
I remember a spotter jet, popularly known as alumanya, flying past our base.
It was around 2pm and that was a clear sign of an imminent attack.
In the base were Cdes Gun Fighter, Patience, Forbes, Magejo, Tendai Vadzimu and Teddy.
Comrade Gunfighter shouted instructions to take cover and all ZANLA combatants to fire at the enemy.
Since we had been taught basic military skills, I managed to crawl towards a contour ridge.
I was fortunate because the contour ridge was filled with dried leaves.
I covered myself with the leaves for the next five hours.
There was an exchange of heavy gunfire.
To be honest, I was scared because it was my first time to be involved in an attack.
I do remember hearing explosions.
I kept still in that position because helicopters dropped some ground force. Surprisingly, they failed to see me.
Fear struck me when some of the ground forces jumped over me and did not spot me in the dried leaves.
The attack lasted about two hours but I kept still in that position because I was scared.
I only left that position at around 7pm in the evening because I knew it was now safe as Rhodesians did not operate in the night.
I felt it was not safe to go home hence I walked to Mazoe Citrus plantations where I slept for the night.
The following morning, I went back home.
I was delighted to realise the damage our freedom fighters had caused.
I felt happy when I saw lorries of Rhodesian forces ferrying their dead.
I learnt from other villagers that many Rhodies had been killed by ZANLA forces and three helicopters had been gunned down.