Recently in Chimoio, Mozambique

WE were in Chimoio, Mozambique, last week, after a very long time.

The trip was organised by the Cde Allen Nemaunga-led Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators (ZILIWACO) Trust. 

ZILIWACO Trust chairman Allen Nemaunga.

Members of ZILIWACO Trust from the country’s 10 provinces descended on the Chimoio shrine to honour the heroes and heroines who were gruesomely murdered by the Rhodesian forces over four decades ago.

It was November 23 1977 when the Rhodesians, in an operation codenamed ‘Dingo’, massacred thousands of Zimbabweans at Chimoio Refugee Camp, among them children, women and the elderly.

In an interview with The Patriot, Cde Nemaunga said Chimoio must never be forgotten, hence periodic visits to the shrine. 

In a show of respect, the 400-strong delegation arrived at Machipanda Border Post and was escorted to Chimoio by the Mozambican police. 

The escort was arranged by Mozambican government officials.

The delegation arrived in the evening and was warmly welcomed at the shrine by Mozambican government officials, among them, provincial director Freedom Fighters for Manica Province, Joseph Mario Cento Maulinganiza and Sebastine Cangena officer-in-charge Matsinho Constituency, Vunduzi District.

Sabastin Cangena officer-in-Charge of Mantsinho Constituency, Vunduzi District, and Joab Pedro Amade, Vunduzi District Adminstrator (right).

Vunduzi District Administrator Joab Pedro Amade was to address people the following morning.

The Mozambicans supplied 10 000 litres of clean water, a generator to power lights and firewood for cooking. 

That same evening, Cde Carryon Bure, the secretary-general of ZILIWACO, instructed everyone to go to the assembly point where Cde Choga Tichatonga addressed people while the Mozambican police took their security positions.

Villagers started trickling into the camp after they had heard Chimurenga songs that were being belted out. They said they knew their brothers and sisters from Zimbabwe had come home.

A brief history on the Chimoio massacre was narrated before the singing and dancing continued. It was an extraordinary evening. 

The following morning all delegates were addressed at the parade before the tour of the shrines led by comrades Choga and Nemaunga.

The tour started at the centre of the shrine where there are 11 mass graves for most victims of the attack.

The delegation proceeded to the north of the museum which was the headquarters of the camp before it was attacked to see a mass grave there before they went to the eastern side of the camp where there are four more graves. 

Among the graves were those from the Parirenyatwa section, another one by the gate where members of the garage section were exterminated and other two for the women. 

The final visit was further north outside the perimeter fence where there is yet another mass grave. Having seen the mass graves, all delegates went back to tour the museum which was reconstructed by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.

There was dead silence as people read information and viewed pictures displayed in the museum. The information brought home how organised the liberation struggle was.

Lunch, prepared by one Cde Pombi and his team, was served – sadza and beef stew. Food was equally served to the Zimbabwean delegation and Mozambican villagers who had by now swamped the camp in their numbers to grace the occasion.

A Mozambican delegation of government officials, community leaders and war veterans arrived soon after lunch time.

The first official to address people was Sebastin Cangena.

He said the visit to Chimoio by young Zimbabweans was imperative, particularly in the month of August when Zimbabwe celebrates its cadres.

Zimbabwe and Mozambique, he said, are one people who were simply divided by Europeans when they colonised Africa.

“We share the same cultures, values and, most importantly, blood,” he said.   

“The first thing Mozambique did when it attained its independence after fighting the Portuguese was to help Zimbabwe fight Rhodesians.

“It is now the responsibility of the young generations of Mozambique and Zimbabwe to unite and safeguard our independences.”

The principal director of Freedom fighters for Manica province, Joseph Mario Centron Maulinganiza, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to Zimbabweans who frequently visit the Chimoio shrines.

“We are gathered here to pay our respect to the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who were cruelly murdered by Rhodesians for fighting for Zimbabwe’s independence,” he said.

“The people killed here wanted to live but they died for us and that alone must be honoured. The only way you can honour these comrades is refusing to sell out to the European imperialists.

“Everyone knows that ZANU PF and FRELIMO have a long history, therefore, selling out ZANU PF is selling out FRELIMO, selling out Mozambique is selling out Zimbabwe, hence we will not fold our hands.”

He further said Zimbabwean youths must take the lead in protecting their sovereignty because the elders who fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe are slowly departing this world.

In his address, Vanduzi District Administrator Joab Pedro Amade said liberation movements are under siege.

“The enemy is using puppets as opposition parties in order to reverse the gains of our hard-won independence,” he said.

“We must be very careful, united and alert. Mozambique and Zimbabwe are inseparable and you can’t separate ZANU PF from FRELIMO. 

“Many Zimbabweans and Mozambicans died here in Mozambique because of the war to liberate Zimbabwe, so we will stand with Zimbabwe as we have always done.”

He wrapped up his speech by coining a new slogan:

“President Filipe Nyusi – Mudanga medu!

“FRELIMO – Mudanga medu!

“President Emerson Mnangagwa – Mudanga medu!

“ZANU PF – Mudanga medu!

ZILIWACO’s Nemaunga told The Patriot that he was organising tours to shrines and historical battle sites in order for the younger generations to appreciate the sacrifices of those who liberated Zimbabwe from colonial bondage.

“We realised that a lot of youths are selling out because of ignorance,” he said.

“As ZILIWACO, visiting shrines is a way that brings out the element of reality in our liberation narrative.

“We have managed to visit Freedom Camp and Chimoio, and every time we bring a new group, the results are tremendous because the political transformation after such visits is amazing.”

Vice-chairperson for ZILIWACO Trust, Matabeleland North, Sibongile Ncube said: “To be honest I am one of the few youths privileged to step on this sacred place. People from Matabeleland hear stories of Freedom Camp and Mkushi.

“I have a message to carry home because what I saw here is frightening and sad.

“It is my suggestion that the Government introduces trips to shrines as part of Heritage Studies.”

Such trips she said, if carried out nationally, would promote unity among Zimbabweans because they show that our liberators fought as one family, for the same cause – to liberate Zimbabwe.

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