The honourable comrade

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SOLO naMutsai…  is the story of Comrade Joseph Dzumbunu non de guerre Mukoma Peter Mukadota and Sheila Mhere, whom he met kwaGutu during the armed struggle. 

He was a section commander, operating in the Gutu Nyazvidzi area, little did he know the struggle would bring him his soulmate. 

Since 1976, he had persistently been loyal in the liberation struggle as a ZANLA commander. Towards the end of the war in March 1979, fate smiled on him and Comrade Dzumbunu has never stopped smiling since. 

Sheila was only 16 when he told her his heart’s wish, “Ndinoda kuti uve muroora wamai vangu.” 

No true girl would dispute Leonard Dembo’s rendition of this feeling which he captured in his hit ‘Chitekete’ because those are the gilded words any girl dies to hear, not that you are beautiful, inga there are so many beautiful girls wani, with many being born everyday? 

And what would happen when the beauty begins to fade, but when a man says:

“Ndinoda kuti uve muroora wamai vangu,” anenge atopedza, anenge akuudza kuti unozadza mukombe.

Kwanzi ‘Solo naMutsai, vana vanodana ava, nyange mukaita jerasi hapana zvinombobatsira’. 

Vakaomesa kwaGutu zveshuwa, and the prophets of doom did not leave Mutsai alone. 

They told her “unoda kuroorwa negandanga uchadzoka musoro wagurwa wava mubhokisi.”

But Mutsai listened to her heart and the heart is never wrong, it is endowed with the wisdom of the ancient of old.

In her heart she decided: “munhu akanga akazvipira kufira ruzhinji, munhu anerudo, saka tinokwanisa kuchengetana.”

And their minds were consonant, had the war continued, she was prepared to go to Mozambique with him. 

She was as much in love with the struggle as he was, she was equally committed to die for Zimbabwe.

Your mind pauses when you listen to something like this, it breaks down all the morass, the mind is cleared of all cobwebs about what really matters in life, you are transported to a place where spring water gently seeps to the surface and flows in refreshing and invigorating rivulets.

She was not drawn by money or class, possessions, there were no material considerations here… does love get purer, does it get sweeter?

Mukoma had nothing, the freedom fighters had nothing, they depended on the people for food, clothing, everything, even their security depended on the people, but Sheila went straight to the heart, she was trounced by the heart that was so loving it was prepared to die for the people of Zimbabwe.

She took her time though, she pondered before she gave him her heart. 

Being a special girl, well brought up, musikana ane unhu which is what drew Comrade Dzumbunu to her, she was not looking for anything other than the real thing, she wanted to be sure he had not left a wife behind when he went to the struggle.

But Mukoma Peter patiently wooed her, writing her incessantly from the Assembly Point in Chiredzi, for the two years they were apart 1979-1981, he never stopped writing. 

She wrote back, at first not as fervently as he did, gradually she warmed up to him.

He rejoined her in 1981 when he came back from the Assembly Point and he initiated marriage proceedings.

Their marriage was carried out according to the traditions and values of our people. 

Everything went through vana vatete, Sheila and Joseph visited each other’s homes, lobola was paid in October of 1981 and in February of 1982, Sheila was ceremoniously taken to Chiweshe kwaDzumbunu (wakaperekwa). 

To welcome her, Joseph Dzumbuni’s uncle (Joseph’s father died when he was 13) slaughtered an ox to welcome muroora, Sheila. 

Their first child was born in November 1982, it was a girl, they named her Tracey.

Sheila lives and works with her husband on their farm in Centenary. 

Her beautiful, silky smooth skin, totally unblemished, tells the history of their love more eloquently than words. 

It belies her 52 years. 

There are no creases of sorrow or hurt on her face neither are there bruises, her face does not reflect working on the farm under all kinds of weather. 

She is very relaxed and poised and when she sits next to her husband, something special happens. 

She had been accurate when she surmised that with such a special male, one who had the heart to die for the people of Zimbabwe she could build a life. 

Indeed it takes great love to sacrifice your life for others, and he has spent the last 34 years being true to this character, being loving to her. 

Those who had prophesied that her head would come back chopped off in a coffin because she had married a ‘gandanga’, noone knows what they are saying now. 

Sheila’s sister also married a comrade though the couple is now late.

“He is generous like his father,” she compliments Joseph, referring to the uncle who slaughtered an ox to welcome her to the Dzumbunu family. 

From the time their relationship began, Joseph goes out of his way to spoil her, always the cosmetics are there, but most memorable, when they were dating, he bought her a ‘costume’ so beautiful, when she came to Harare many stopped her to ask where she got it.

Is it any surprise that anyone who can be generous with his life can be generous to his wife? 

Can one love the masses of Zimbabwe and fail to love his wife?

Thirty-four years later, grandchildren from four of their five children frolick around them, they have a beautiful home, a big four-bedroomed house is under construction, they farm tobacco and they are at peace in a Zimbabwe they liberated. 

The lovely puppies and exquisite kittens signify a home.

The peace, harmony and oneness between the two, words cannot adequately describe, their story needs to be filmed.

Sheila says after 34 years of marriage to a comrade, she feels proud to have married someone “akatisvinudza nezvehondo yenyika yedu. Zvakakosha zvakanyanyisa izvozvo,” she says.

The two symbolise true undying love. 

Mukoma Peter, represents what the comrades were made of, a solid character, a true heart, that is why he did not approach Sheila with frivolous words, he wanted her to be his wife, “ndinoda kuti uve muroora wamai vangu”, true as gold. 

Sheila on her part was not attracted by anything except the great heart that was set to die for others.

This is the kind of gold that was found in our liberation struggle, for anyone to dare systematically denigrate such preciousness, means one is very, very scared of the ethos that drove the liberation struggle.

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