recently in Rusape, Makoni
IT was in Manicaland that a bold statement to the colonialists was made, in 1896, by one Chief Chingaira Makoni.
He showed that the whiteman could be defeated.
In the Midlands Province, some 68 years later, at the inaugural ZANU Congress, it was shown that MaDzimbahwe could come together as a united front and fight for the motherland.
Thus, it would be no surprise if the biggest ever crowd will descend in the Midlands Province for what is expected to be an epic final Presidential Star Rally.
The winds of change are indeed blowing across the world, in Europe, Asia, Africa, the message is bold, loud and clear, a people can determine their fate, on their own, without undue influence.
In Eastern Europe (Russia), in Asia (China), nations in West Africa and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa have refused to be bullied.
In Rusape, at Handina Secondary School, Makoni South, they came in droves to hear President Emmerson Mnangagwa speak at the Presidential Star Rally.
But it has long ceased to be about numbers but an exhibition of a deeper understanding of issues, of what is at stake.
I recently came across a very interesting tweet with regards Zimbabwe: “Yesterday, I visited a friend, who is booked at Holiday Inn Harare. Only to find out that EU has booked the entire 4th Floor, turned it into offices and Elections Information Hub. Also, EU has hired all the Toyota Fortuners from Impala Car Rental.
Furthermore, Hotels like Meikles, Bronte, Crown Plaza (Monos), etc, are fully booked with guests from Western Countries and Western Institutions. This got me thinking and I made the following Conclusions:
- Zimbabwe is very important and valuable to the West than what an ordinary Zimbabwean think.
- Westerners have more interests in Zimbabwe than ordinary Zimbabweans themselves.
- There is more into these upcoming Elections than what meets the eye of an ordinary Zimbabwean citizen.
- Zimbabweans: Wake Up!!!”
The crowds at ZANU PF rallies show that Zimbabweans are very much up and are aware of who they are, what their country means and where it is going.
In the Second Republic, Zimbabweans are more interested in their country.
In the new dispensation, Zimbabweans are very much awake.
Addressing the multitudes in Rusape, President Mnangagwa said: “In the journey to liberate the country, we had so many heroes who came from this land.
“We are still negotiating to have the heads of our forefathers, like Chief Chingaira, brought back to the country from the United Kingdom.
“You can see how Manicaland is a revolutionary province. iIf you don’t vote for ZANU PF and allow puppets to take over, you will be dishonouring our national heroes.
“You are a remarkable province. This was the gateway to the liberation struggle. You gave support, food and shelter to the guerillas.
“Manicaland was the water in which the fish survived, because of that we were able to conquer imperialism and colonialism.”
Makoni is the land where the famous warrior Chief Chingaira Makoni ruled.
Chief Chingaira figures prominently in the resistance narrative; operating in the Rusape area where he ultimately met his death.
What has not been lost to the people of Zimbabwe, young and old, is that the road to independence was an arduous one
A mistaken belief by the West is that Africans will either be discouraged by sanctions-induced poverty or simply stop appreciating their history .
Neither of the two happened.
Who was Chief Chingaira?
Chief Chingaira from Manicaland was one of the first to confront the British colonial forces as they invaded Zimbabwe, in July 1896, head on.
One Alderson, who headed the British forces, tells us the full story of his encounter with the great warrior Chief Makoni:
“In 1896 I re-joined my battalion after having spent two very pleasant years at the staff college.
I went to the war office where I learnt I was going to command four companies of Mounted Infantry which were being sent out to Cape Town which were wanted in Rhodesia.”
In Cape Town, Alderson got a telegram which said they were to proceed to Beira in Mozambique and, “…to Salisbury in order to assist the local (Rhodesian settler) forces in suppressing the MaShona rising.”
Alderson then led a big imperial force that entered Zimbabwe by way of Mutare.
In Mutare, they were told that there was a King nearby called Chingaira Makoni who had fought and defeated all local Rhodesian forces and sent them packing out of his area.
He was a courageous and fierce fighter, they were told.
So, before proceeding to fight in the Harare area, they were ordered to take on King Makoni.
On July 27 1896, Alderson and his forces were given an order to march on Makoni.
According to Alderson, his men consisted: “Two companies Mounted Infantry with maxim guns, royal engineers, all the detachment royal artillery with the two seven-pounder guns (these, by the way, were the biggest artillery pieces in the country at the time). Mr Honey’s scouts Umtali (Mutare) rifles, all the native contingent (mapuruvheya anga atovako) and medical staff.
I explained to them what the object of the parade was (to attack Makoni’s town and destroy it, and if possible, capture Makoni himself)…”
And on the day of the attack, Alderson explains: “The night was fine with sufficient moon to enable us to pick our way but not enough to show us to the enemy any distance off.
The first hour or so passed uneventfully with only occasional halts to let the force close up.
About 5am Mr Rose told me that he was afraid that he had miscalculated the distance.”
But eventually they arrived at King Makoni’s town which they decided to take by a two pronged attack.
A Captain Jenner led one part coming from the southern part of the town, “…with the rifle company Mounted Infantry, the Umtali rifles and machine gun.”
And the other part, led by Alderson himself, “…with the Irish company Mounted Infantry, the royal engineers and the seven pounders to the north-west side.”
And then it was action time!
“It soon became evident that the enemy could shoot straight,” explained Alderson.
Makoni men used their cave fortress to their advantage and every time that the British tried to get into the caves, they were hit from inside.
And one of their captains, one A.E. Haynes was killed. The British forces eventually retreated and they built a fort called Fort Haynes in memory of their slain captain.
And when the battle came to an end, the British had failed completely to capture and destroy Makoni.
Their balance sheet reads as follows: “Killed – Captain A.E. Haynes, Royal engineers No. 5231 Private W: Wickman Royal Irish regiment No. 8075 Private S. Vickers 3rd Battalion of King’s Royal Rifles. . Severely wounded No. 4231 Private W, Mackey, Royal Irish regiment, No. 7825 Private R. Broad, 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade, Trooper D. Young Umtali Rifles.”
The British imperial forces left for Harare — and Chief Makoni had won a great victory.
Some months later, Makoni was killed in the sickening and cowardly way ever seen.
The Rhodesians used one of their own, Native Commissioner called Ross who lied to Makoni that a ceasefire had been declared and that Ross and his people wanted to meet Makoni to discuss peace.
Makoni fell for the trick and accepted to meet Ross.
However, once the two sides were seated, they were surrounded by Rhodesian soldiers and Makoni was then captured.
Then the deceitful racists put out an official statement saying Makoni had surrendered.
After capturing the deceived Makoni, the racists immediately shot him by firing squad right in the centre of his town, decapitated him and sent his head to England as a war trophy.
The settlers had used deceit and guns to rob us of our land, natural resources, justice and dignity.
The sustained resistance by the indigenes, both in Matabeleland and Mashonaland regions, in the face of superior firepower has been enough evidence for posterity to show how settler-rule was hated right from the beginning.
The Second Republic, under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has ensured that the nation, the citizens, know who they are, where they are coming from and where they are going.
Makoni, King Lobengula, Mapondera, Mashayamombe, Mkwati, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi gave the imperialists a headache and the nation has not forgotten, hence the thousands and thousands rallying behind ZANU PF.
In the Second Republic, these names, huge in deeds and ideals, no longer have limited space in the country’s physical and psychological realms.
The colonisers desecrated these heroes of the First Chimurenga and what they stood for in every way possible.
While not a single grave or shrine exists to identify the final resting places of these heroes and heroines, in the Second Republic these names are being resuscitated.
What annoyed Chingaira most was the pegging-out of the whole of his territory for farms or gold claims.
Chief Chingaira was incensed by the arrogance and cruelty of colonialists who grabbed his cattle and drove men and women as well as children into forced labour (chibharo).
Whites underrated Chingaira’s army.
When war broke out, Chingaira held his own.
Several whites were killed, some of whom are buried in the cemetery at St Faith Mission.
Chingaira made a significant contribution to an anti-colonial war that claimed 372 settlers, a tenth of the settler-population of that time.
And his progeny, the rest of Zimbabwe, are also annoyed by Western interference and arrogance.
Like the rest of our nationalist leaders, the dead and the living, capitulation was no option.
That is why resilience is writ large as an integral part of the national character and ethos.