“Unite for the benefit of your people
Unite for the benefit of your children
Unite for its later than you think.” – Bob Marley
“WHEN we spoke with one voice and acted as one Africa, the liberation of our continent moved forward,” said Mwalimu Julius Nyerere at the closure of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Liberation Committee in 1994.
This meeting was a celebration of the success of the OAU in accomplishing the task it set for itself on its formation, to liberate Africa.
Subsequently, the OAU Liberation Committee was set up to pursue this onerous mission of the OAU.
The OAU Liberation Committee pursued this task relentlessly until with the liberation of South Africa and its admission into the OAU in 1994, it was time to celebrate.
I am privileged to have experienced first-hand the fruits of the solidarity of Africans, the work of the OAU Liberation Committee during our liberation struggle.
On my way to the liberation struggle, I waited impatiently in Zambia for transport that would take me to Mozambique.
For a week or so, I did not know why I still remained in Zambia.
I was so anxious to get to Mozambique.
After some time, it was explained we were waiting for trucks that had been donated by the OAU, which were on their way from Tanzania.
These are the trucks that would take me and another recruit to Mozambique.
Finally the trucks arrived.
Two brand new Mercedes Benz Trucks in military green.
I was so excited, but for the first time, it sunk deeply into me that the OAU, the rest of Africa, was with us in our struggle.
This was far more real than reading about it in one’s course work.
The trucks were here, Africa was here.
We proceeded to Mozambique. Cde Boniface Pfidze, a member of the ZANLA High Command, drove the vehicle I travelled in.
I felt very honoured.
I was to experience even more closely the solidarity of fellow Africans, the support of fellow Mozambicans in our struggle during my stay in Mozambique.
Our Matenje Base, like so many other ZANLA bases in Mozambique, was in close proximity to Mozambican villages.
We went about our business of the struggle, the Mozambicans went on with their lives, but it was not so simple.
They were the invisible wall around us, the wall that protected us.
First, our undisturbed lives among them meant something very special, they accepted that thousands of people should live among them.
It is not the neatest thing to have so many people in the vicinity of your homes, fields, sharing your water sources, cutting your trees for firewood and for materials to build shelter.
Having thousands of people bath in the river which is also your source of water is not easy.
Second, the Mozambicans also knew in the event of an attack, the Ian Smith regime would not hesitate to bombard them as well.
Whenever we were attacked, they knew they had to run as fast as we ran and in some cases, we were armed and they were not.
Our presence put them at risk.
Despite this, they wholeheartedly accepted that we settle among them.
This acceptance protected us, we could be at peace.
We knew the enemy would not so easily penetrate and get to us, the Mozambicans would pass on the intelligence to us, they were our first line of defence.
Their love and respect for us and our struggle is therefore something so deeply special.
It would not have been easy for us to stay in Mozambique’s forests if the people had not accepted and welcomed us.
We lived in full view of the Mozambicans.
It would have been easy for them (Mozambicans) to sabotage us or to sell us out, but they did not.
Instead, they were warm and friendly, ever taking care of an injured or displaced comrade.
This is something not to take for granted, they were the water and we were the fish.
Without them, we would not have made it.
Yes, FRELIMO was with us.
Cde Samora Machel was with us, but this was far more than the unity of the liberation movements.
It also means the education FRELIMO gave the Mozambican people about our struggle found fertile soil in their hearts.
You can educate people, but they have to accept the education, they have to take it within their hearts.
It means the disposition of the Mozambican people was amenable to supporting us, a magnanimous gesture.
Throughout our liberation struggle, the Mozambicans assisted us.
They played a key role as Africans.
They were one with us in our struggle and we succeeded, another triumph of African unity
African unity liberated the continent.
We did leave Babylon, but we are yet to get to our fatherland.
We have yet to build an Africa in which Africans are the princes and princesses of the land, an Africa in which it is no longer that: “Almost all members of the OAU are poor and weak politically and economically; most are grappling with an unbearable external debt, and many have become hostage to the ideologies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.” (Mwalimu Nyerere: 1994)
As long as these conditions persist, the humanity and dignity of the citizens of the continent is compromised.
The challenge that Nyerere and all founding fathers of Africa left us is that we should unite so that, “we will be able to become an equal force and effective participant in world economic, political and social community,” thus President Robert Mugabe’s rallying cry at the African Union in January this year.
“Tell them, tell them we are not ghosts, that we also belong to the world, part of the world called Africa and Africans shall no longer tolerate a position of slavery, slavery by any other name.
“By denial of rights, slavery by being treated in a manner we regard as not equal to the manner in which they treat themselves.”