Take a moment and think about Nehanda

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SHE stands as she is ordered, posing for a photograph together with fellow comrades. Like a sacrifi cial lamb, quietly and obediently, she waits for the next instruction. She seems dejected and her conviction dampened as she was backstabbed. The image above shows Ambuya Nehanda with Sekuru Kaguvi, the prominent fi gures of the fi rst Chimurenga. The other two wearing the same regalia, probably their aides are fl anked by the members of the British South Africa Police (BSAP). One white settler enjoying his cigarette and seven Africans holding guns is a clear illustration of the manipulative and oppressive nature of the settler regime. Ambuya Nehanda “Nyakasikana” and Sekuru Kaguvi “Gumboreshumba”, were captured and executed in October 1896. They were mercilessly murdered in their quest to free Zimbabwe. The fi rst Chimurenga was clandestinely organised through these spiritual leaders, who were the hub of the uprisings. Sekuru Kaguvi was in charge of the Chegutu and Chivhu districts, formerly Hartley and Charter respectively under Chiefs Chinamora, Chikwaka, Nyandoro, Zvimba, Mangwende, Mashayamombe, Rusike and Seke among others. In Mashonaland, Ambuya Nehanda coordinated uprisings in areas including the Mazowe valley where the settlers were taken by surprise after being attacked. It is believed that there were some misguided individuals who led to the arrest of the two cadres and subsequent hanging for it was not easy for white settlers alone to penetrate the Shona without sellouts. Chiefs would send messengers to Ambuya Nehanda or Sekuru Kaguvi, pretending to be seeking a cure for an epidemic, but instead communicated Chimurenga messages. As soon as the message was conveyed, mountain tops were illuminated in order to send the Chimurenga word across. The settlers’ divide and rule policy however saw them recruiting Africans into the BSAP, to police their kith and kin. Their system was inapplicable without the black Africans whom they would abuse to oppress their fellow kinsmen. These policemen who became unpopular with the black majority, only acted upon instruction. Their misguided actions were very painful as it defi ed logic to fi nd a black man abusing a fellow countryman. Some people do not appreciate the sacrifi ces and gains of the revolution realised due to Nehanda and Kaguvi’s efforts and such people have sometimes been labelled as enemies of progress as they seek to thwart any progressive initiative for the benefi t of the black majority. History will always prove that although there were sellouts during the liberation struggle, the black majority still managed to rebel against the settler regime in order to regain sovereignty. The white man is said to have been shocked when the Shona in particular attacked them as they often referred to them as cowards and docile. As the uprising in the Matabeleland slowly died, the war in Mashonaland erupted in June 1896 from Chief Mashayamombe’s area, present -day Chegutu district. The timing was good as more of the soldiers were deployed to Matabeleland to quell an uprising there. The settlers, however, failed to establish why the Shona waged a war against them. Mbuya Nehanda, whom they derogatively called the ‘witch’, had warned the Shona that a series of diseases bedevilling them were caused by the settler’s occupation of the country, insisting that the ancestors were not happy. It was against this backdrop that the war was fought against the white oppressors. As the old adage goes, united we stand divided we fall, both wars in Matabeleland and Mashonaland could have produced better results. However, having learnt from previous experiences, the second Chimurenga was tirelessly fought and won after the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army The Patriot 13 – 19 May 2011 Feature 5 (ZANLA) joined hands to outwit the enemy. It must be noted that sellouts in any revolution are not tolerated. The Rhodesia Front relied on sellouts as innocent villagers were tortured and others killed for feeding sons and daughters of the soil and though in the second Chimurenga, hundreds of the black majority lost their lives because of sellouts, Ambuya Nehanda’s words before she died came to pass. “My bones will rise,” were her last words and truly the black majority triumphed in a protracted liberation struggle that resulted in the harmonious Zimbabwe existing today.

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