The story of Cde Chrispen Muzeza
I WILL never forget how I was tormented by Rhodesians in 1978.
I was born in Guruve in 1953 and raised in the farming community of Mutorashanga where my father worked at a farm.
Life on the farms was miserable.
We survived on small food rations and wages were very minimal.
However, white farmers had a provision of giving their African workers credits at the farm shops in order to maintain cheap labour as blacks would simply work to pay the credits.
There were some farmers who were extremely cruel while others ‘were not so bad’.
I was lucky to secure a job at a farm when I turned 14 years in January 1967, but quit after I witnessed the horrific murder of my friend Solomon Shoko.
He was burnt alive in a barn for failing to maintain the required temperature to cure tobacco.
I relocated to Harare, the then Salisbury
That white farmer who killed my friend was renowned for cruelty and the murder of Africans.
Vanamukoma (freedom fighters), however, later ‘meted justice’ on him.
In Salisbury, I got a job in Avondale as a cook with the help of my uncle who was a gardener.
Whites in Salisbury seemed better than white farmers but the government had its racial and discriminatory laws. The laws were hash on the black community.
We were not allowed to enter the city centre.
We were not allowed to drink bottled beer and would travel from different parts of the city to go and drink our traditional beer popularly known as masese in Mbare.
We were also not allowed to use main roads in our residential areas which the whites used, so we used sanitary lanes, especially those who worked in residential areas in the city centre, the Avenues area.
Our families were not allowed to visit us in towns and we had our own shops meant for Africans.
We were used to this and prayed for the freedom fighters to win the war for us.
We supported the liberation struggle by sending money to our respective villages.
I will never forget December 11 1978 when ZANLA forces blew BP Shell fuel tanks in Southerton, Harare.
On this particularly day, I had visited my uncle who resided in Mbare.
It was around 9 pm when we saw a huge ball of fire that lit the whole of Mbare.
This was followed by a huge cloud of smoke, and in no time, we heard sirens of the fire brigade and police vehicles.
Salisbury was under siege.
The heavy presence of angry soldiers and police officers was a clear testimony of panic and fear within the enemy forces.
Word travelled fast – ZANLA was now in the capital.
This was good news to us Africans.
Freedom was coming.
Just before I left Mbare, I was intercepted and interrogated by several Rhodesian soldiers before I got into town.
Fortunately I had the requisite documents – my Identification Card, Pass and Reference from my employer.
In town, I used Charter Road and was stopped again by three white police officers.
I did not panic because all my papers were in order, but I was shocked when one of the officers slapped me.
He said I was wearing a shirt which could only be found in an elite shop for whites located along First Street. I tried to explain that it was a gift from my ‘boss’ to no avail.
I was given a thorough hiding and escorted to Central Police Station where I was detained for two days.
They took their time to contact my ‘boss’ in a bid to fix me, but eventually I was released.
My boss told them he was the one who had given me the shirt and they cautioned him for not giving me a letter to carry whenever I was putting it on.
Although I was beaten and locked up for putting on a shirt, a gift which was considered too special for an African, deep inside I was celebrating the Southerton bombing that had crippled the enemy.
Freedom was nigh.
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande