Volunteer children fighters massacred at Chindunduma

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CHRISTOPHER Farai Charamba’s article in The Herald of November 24 2015 claims that the Chimoio attack also included Chindunduma, which was a school for ‘children of the operatives at Chimoio’.
He did not say these were children of ‘operatives’ in the various camps in Mozambique, but Chimoio only.
The majority of combatants joined the struggle from 1975 onwards after détente and those at Chimoio would have been only two years at the camp at the time of the Chimoio attack in 1977, (assuming they were permanently stationed at the base which is not possible for a guerilla force that is seriously engaged in a war).
But even in this unlikely situation, it would mean that in two years, the combatants would have produced enough children to populate a school of several hundreds.
This is an impossibility on two accounts: First, the majority of the children would have been two-year olds (at the oldest) so this would not have been a school, but a crèche.
Second, for these operatives at Chimoio to have produced several hundreds of children would mean that procreation was their core business, not the struggle and even if this had been the main pre-occupation of the comrades, this would not have been accurate because most of the children at Chindunduma were primary and secondary schoolchildren.
So these primary and secondary schoolchildren would have had to come from somewhere.
They could not be the offspring of the liberation forces.
Even if one wants to stretch the argument that they were of the combatants, one would have to remember that the main thrust of the liberation war began in 1972, with the opening up of the North Eastern border front, thus in 1977, the oldest of the children would have been only five years old.
Therefore, whichever way one wants to look at it, the children of Zimbabwe brutally murdered by the Smith regime were not offspring of the combatants.
The actual truth is very simple.
The children of Zimbabwe left for Mozambique and Zambia in their thousands, to join the liberation struggle, to free this precious land which they loved so much.
They wanted to be part of the forces that were fighting to free Zimbabwe and nothing would stop them.
They would ask the freedom fighters if they could join them and the combatants would mostly say: “Ah! no you are too young.”
The children would pretend to agree, but then they would set out on their own and thousands crossed into Mozambique and Zambia.
Sometimes the freedom fighters would catch up with them and send them back, but the children would persist.
In some cases, the freedom fighters would realise that children would never give up so they would take them along.
In the majority of cases, however, the children found their way to Mozambique and Zambia on their own, sometimes walking from as far as Gokwe to Zambia.
They braved enemy bullets, angry rivers, wild animals, starvation; they never looked back, they never looked back until they got where they wanted to be, at the rear to be trained so that they could get back home with their AKs and free the nation.
There, they would sing with the others:
“I can hear Zimbabwe calling
I can hear Zimbabwe calling,
Take your arms and free the nation?”
They would sing from the heart because that was the call they had answered in crossing to the rear.
They braved it when they were told that they could not be trained because they were below 18 years of age, but they would be put into schools until they were old enough to be trained to go home and fight.
The camp schools were run along military lines and this is what consoled the children.
The teachings were about the struggle, why they were in the struggle, what their role was during the struggle and after independence, the military drills, self –defence tactics, the parades, the toi-toi, everything was as in the military camps except that they were not given full military training and they were not armed, but they were as ready as any fighters were trained to be in our war of liberation.
This military set up, this military education, the military ethos and the teachings about the cause of our armed struggle is what consoled the children because this is why they had left the comfort of home and braved every danger and this is what strengthened them to face all the hardships and dangers of the struggle.
They were freedom fighters; only too young to be fielded to face the enemy in combat.
But they were fighters, they were part of the moral force that opposed unto death, the invasion and subjugation of our country by British armed bandits.
They were prepared to shed their blood for Zimbabwe and they did.
They were not only killed at Chimoio.
They were massacred at Nyadzonia, Pasi Chigare and Mkushi and other places in Zambia and Mozambique.
They freely gave their lives for this precious land called Zimbabwe.
This is such precious history, such precious heritage we would lose if we went along with Christopher Farai Charamba’s story of Chindunduma being a school for children of ‘operatives at Chimoio’.
Chindunduma was the school for Zimbabwe’s youngest heroes who had left the comfort of home to face a most vicious and brutal machinery, that of the Smith regime.
They bore the brunt of the enemy’s brutality, but never gave up and they still sung even as they buried their friends.
Finally, there is a question that begs an answer.
“If the combatants had been so pre-occupied with baby-making as Farai Charamba’s article suggests, would we have succeeded in routing the Smith regime?”
It was a vicious war, it was perilous even for adults, so how would you make it if you had baby after baby?
It is true people found love and some married and it was permitted.
What was not permitted was adultery, but the combatants are people who had left home to prosecute the liberation struggle so that they could free Zimbabwe.
They had made a choice not to stay at home and marry and raise families, but to fight for their country.
Surely they could not have forgotten their mission and decided to settle at the rear and have families.
The priorities never changed for the combatants.
They had left home to free Zimbabwe and that was their main pre-occupation in the armed struggle.

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