By Dr Irene Mahamba
“Nhai Nehanda Nyakasikana
Kuchazova riniko isu vaNyai tichitambudzika
Inga taneta wani nokunwa misodzi
Mweya unoera, toshirira kusvika rinhiko
Ko inga panguva yechando miti inozvizorodza
Inokuhumuka mashizha yombowana rudekaro
Kozoti nokuchena kwokunze yodombera
Muzhizha yovawo nenhenhere inoyevedza
Shiri nemhuka nenyuchi zvokwehwa nehwema
Ko isu rugare ruchatisvika riniko.”
DURING the liberation struggle, we never knew what was correct when comrade after comrade fell.
But should we still mourn comrade-after-comrade day-after-day during peace times, 41 years after we liberated this great land.
A comrade, a war veteran corrected me: “Don’t get lost in sorrow comrade,” he said.
“It is still a war, we are still in a war, we have to understand it that way, it is what it is.”
I was puzzled.
He explained: “During the war we faced so many challenges, seemingly insurmountable.
“What did we do at Doiroi when hunger and disease ravaged us and we were burying 30-50 comrades every single day.
“When we could weep no more and death was more certain than anything.
“How did we manage in the struggle when we were struck by the strangest of diseases, such as ‘hurricans’ and you could never stand straight; once you attempted to stand, you had to keep running, unable to control your body movement until you fell or found something to break your unintended uncontrollable running, when comrades would start barking almost like dogs, and we knew not the meaning of these diseases, their origins? We knew not the solutions, we did not know what to do about them.
“How did we get out of these situations; how did we survive and ultimately triumph?
“How did we rise from the ashes when we were slain at Nyadzonia, at Chimoio; when it seemed so dark and so much we had achieved was so threatened and coming home seemed too far, not realisable so soon anymore?
“We overcame and we were able to steer the ship home and to dock it home.
“We still are in a war comrade, a war which seeks our annihilation as a nation… what is our recourse?
“What is it that has shaken the spirit force of the nation, that it is so turbulent, so disturbed that nyika hainyaradziki?
“What has made the spirit force of Zimbabwe so disconsolate that nhiyo dzayo dzopera samapete?
“This is not how the spirit force of the nation normally operates?”
I was stunned by what my fellow war veteran said. For the longest time I was in deep shock, I could not say anything.
Seri kweguva hakuna munamato, Dondipai mazano tapererwa, todini?
But after some time it dawned on me that indeed we are in a war. How is COVID-19 different from the mass deaths at Chimoio, the massacres at Nyadzonia, the death of Chairman Herbert Chitepo and the death of General Josiah Tongogara?
These were catastrophes of extremely horrendous proportions.
How could we bear to lose Chitepo, Cde Jason Ziyapapa Moyo and Cde Nikita Mangena, but neither can we bear to lose comrades Sibusiso Moyo, Ellen Gwaradzimba, Biggie Matiza, Morton Malianga the stalwart, neither can we bear the loss of Cde Paradzai Zimondi, the gentle giant yet ferocious liberator and defender of Zimbabwe.
I agree with my fellow combatant. There is much behind COVID-19, behind everything that has disturbed the spirit force of the nation such that nothing is normal anymore.
Each nation has its foundations.
What are the solutions that have kept us afloat through the worst calamities in the history of our nation, those which have enabled us to conquer and triumph against dire straits?
We cannot weep anymore, Cde Zimondi.
We do not know how to mourn you, gentle giant, fearless fighter, gallant soldier, illustrious ZANLA cadre, thank you comrade. Who can forget your part in the ‘Battle of Mavhonde’ when you, with so many others and your commander Cde Solomon ‘Rex Nhongo’ Mujuru, told Peter Walls it was ‘Game Over’.
You told us at the launch of the documentary Battle of Mavhonde that your wish is we should teach our children that we triumphed against the British; that we, unlike the Americans who falsely claim victory in Vietnam, have no lies to tell, we triumphed against the British.
Cde Moyo, fare thee well illustrious son of the soil!
Words are not adequate to describe your love and commitment to this land of your fore-fathers; we are eternally proud of you.
Cde Gwaradzimba, you proved the mettle of Nehanda.
Go thee well our special heroine!
Comrade Malianga, fearless founding father of Zimbabwe, did you perhaps whisper into someone’s ear what we should do about what travails the nation so treacherously in this moment? It is what our forefathers always did, they whispered fundamental secrets to those who would take over the reins. Thank you comrade for letting your shadow protect us for so long.
It was a special reprieve from Musikavanhu.
Cde Matiza you bring tears to our eyes.
You prove as many have so many times before that the mettle of Zimbabwe is born in our young, like so many children, young boys and girls, you chose to leave the comfort of the hearth at home to fight for this great gracious land of yours, though still only a boy. We thank you comrade for remaining illustriously faithful to the very end.
Till we meet again in the land of Musikavanhu.
Go thee well comrade!
It was not yet time comrades, it did not have to be.
Perhaps Mbuya Nehanda will open our eyes.
This is not correct anymore.
We can weep no more!