The story of Cde Joseph Mudiwa aka Cde Freedom Chimurenga

AS the liberation war intensified, with the freedom fighters gaining the upper hand, Rhodesians became desperate for recruits since they were losing soldiers in huge numbers.

To cushion themselves from this desperation, they started conscripting students into their army, a system they called ‘Call Up’. 

It was this system that forced me to quit school when I was doing Form One at Saint Peters Kubatana in Highfields in August 1977, I could not fight freedom fighters to serve the colonial master whose system oppressed Africans.

I started exploring ways to escape this madness.

Radio Maputo played a fundamental role in my political orientation through its programmes which exposed the cruelty of colonisers and regular updates on how the war was progressing.

I then went to Tavashure, my home village in Buhera, where I met Cdes  Janky and Donoro, among others. 

There I received political orientation at the first pungwe I attended.

The orientation convinced me to join the liberation struggle as a collaborator.

I worked with Wonder Mapudzi, Simbarashe Gotora, Elias Mawire and Tsvukai Gotora.

Our main duty was to watch the movements of the Rhodesian soldiers and carry letters to business people who provided the freedom fighters with clothes and shoes.

I was fortunate to receive basic military training at the front.

In December of 1978, ZANLA forces had contact with the Rhodies at their base which was on a hill a few metres from Gotora Primary School and Cde Donoro was injured.

I was tasked to assist Cde Janky to ferry the injured cde to Mozambique.

It was not an easy journey. We walked for 13 days to reach the boarder since we only travelled during the night to avoid Rhodesian forces who operated during the day.

I parted ways with Cde Donoro and Cde Janky upon crossing into Mozambique and I joined other recruits and we were ferried by FRELIMO military trucks to Chibawawa Camp.

At Chibawawa, I worked with medical officers while waiting for my turn to go to Libya for military training.

On December 6 I had a strange dream. I dreamt I was being attacked by three cobra snakes but I managed to escape.

The following morning, December 7, I saw a python close to the kitchen and that was a clear sign of impending danger but I never thought of an attack at the camp.

The security cadres spotted RENAMO soldiers close to the camp and an instruction was given to evacuate all patients from the camp by Cde Thomas, a FRELIMO commander.

It took us six hours to move more than 100 patients out of the camp to Tar Base which was about 20 kilometres from our base.

RENAMO soldiers were rebelling against the FRELIMO-led Government and they were facing challenges of hunger and starvation, hence they embarked on raiding ZANLA camps to steal food. 

We patiently waited, ready for the enemy.

There was heavy rainfall which started around midnight and the enemy thought they had an upper hand but unbeknown to them, we knew they were coming.

I took position close to the kitchen and this was my first time to be involved in a contact.

Fortunately, I had received basic military training at the front.

FRELIMO had deployed its soldiers to assist us if RENAMO attacked the camp.

The enemy targeted the hospital and kitchen.

The enemy, it appeared, had gathered information about the camp.

There was heavy gunfire exchange and the contact took about an hour.

RENAMO soldiers did not expect resistance because they thought that the majority of people at Chibawawa were untrained.

We all fought valiantly to save the camp.

When the attack commenced I relentlessly fired towards the enemy.

I was shot on my left leg but I only realised it when the fire ceased.

I collapsed due to loss of blood and regained consciousness in a pool of blood after I was given first aid treatment by fellow combatants.

The following morning, we realised that we had killed 40 RENAMO soldiers.

We taught them a lesson because they never returned.

Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande.

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