The story of Cde Kelvin Makumbe
MY name is Kelvin Makumbe and this is my story.
My rural home area of Chinamhora is about 30km from the capital Harare, the then Salisbury.
It was a strategic area for Rhodesians.
Rhodesian army’s patrols were frequenting Mozambique via our area as they feared ZANLA’s penetration into Salisbury.
Going to war from our area was not easy because of the heavy patrols by the Rhodies.
Most boys from our home area were conscripted into the Rhodesian army on a desperate operation infamously known as ‘call-up’.
Call-up conscripted students into the Rhodesian army since the Rhodesian forces were suffering heavy casualties on the battlefield.
The formidable ZANLA forces were using sophisticated hit-and-run tactics against the Rhodesian forces whose strength was its air force.
In 1976, Auxiliary Forces, Abel Muzorewa’s infamous army which was known as Pfumo Revanhu, established its base at Muchapondwa in Musana and launched a campaign of recruiting boys.
Unlike Rhodesian soldiers who were deployed to places far away from their bases, Auxiliaries were operating from their home villages.
The campaign was led by one Max who had deserted ZIPRA.
He promised youths a monthly salary of Rh$26, adequate food rations, cigarettes and houses at the end of the war.
The money attracted a big number of our fellow villagers and they joined Muzorewa’s army.
However, some of us were not moved.
Perhaps the political orientation we got from Cde Mikonde Mina played a major role as we remained resolute in support of the liberation war.
Auxiliaries, however, were always trailing us since the majority knew us.
That led us to join the freedom fighters and we started operating from various bases since our lives were at high risk.
I was operating as a collaborator, together with Kalian Dzimati, Alexio Mtizwa, Felix Maromba, Margarete Mandizha and Irene Mhaka.
On September 12 1977 Auxiliary soldiers who were under the command of the late notorious Selous Scout Roy Bennett apprehended villagers in Makumbe, Cheza and Mujeki villages who were accused of supporting vanamukoma (freedom fighters).
September 12 was Pioneer Day, a special holiday for Rhodesia as they honoured their pioneers who first came to steal our country and Bennett decided to celebrate it torturing villagers who were said to support ‘terrorists’.
Three days later, word came to us while we were at our base in Zhenje Mountain.
We were with comrades Mikonde Mina, Killer Mabhunu, Bone Shaker, Musoro Yatsomba, Farai and Chimimba Nzara Yabaya when a young war collaborator from Mujeki brought the sad news.
Freedom fighters excused themselves and held an emergency meeting on how to avenge the torture of our relatives.
Since we were not trained guerillas, we were not allowed to attend strategic meetings.
We were told that we were changing our base to Makove Mountain in the Matimha area, about four kilometers from the Rhodesians’ main base at Makumbe Mission.
We left Zhenje Base around midnight since ZANLA cadres moved during the night and walked for about three hours to our new base.
We woke up at around 4am and went to Magwaza shop at Makumbe Business Centre to collect vanamukoma’s clothes.
Magwaza was a local businessman at Makumbe and was very supportive.
He bought freedom fighters clothes and groceries for our mothers who cooked food for the freedom fighters.
We were told to go to another base in Ngomakurira sacred mountain after we collected our parcel and to wait there for vanamukoma because they had a special task.
We did likewise.
We fell asleep around midday only to be awakened by the sound of gunshots.
We were scared and thought that our freedom fighters had been attacked.
There was heavy fire exchanged for about an hour.
We could not descend from the mountain as the sky was suddenly filled with ugly killing machines.
The desperate Rhodesians who had been ambushed had called for reinforcements.
We anxiously waited for our freedom fighters who we knew would join us at night if they survived that battle.
At around 9pm, Cde Mikonde Mina and his comrades arrived at the base.
It was then that we learnt that Cde Mikonde Mina and his comrades had laid an ambush for the Rhodies in Matimha.
Cde Mikonde Mina told us that they laid an ambush on Makove Mountain, giving them firing advantage.
We later learnt the following week when we were in Chocha area that more than 20 Auxiliaries and four Rhodesian soldiers perished in that attack.
That was another victory for ZANLA on the battle front.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande.