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Looking back into the future part 2

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If we all were to quantify and put a price to the contributions made towards the liberation of
Zimbabwe it would open up a pandora’s box. It then makes it absurd if not arrogant for a particular
group of people to ‘claim’ that it is their sacrifice alone that led to our independence. We are not
taking away anything from what they went through. Liberation was not for ‘one-body’, it was for ‘all-

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Looking back into the future part 2

  1. 1. Looking back Into the Future Part 2 The Last Strawby Lenox Mhlanga If we all were toquantifyandputa price to the contributionsmade towardsthe liberationof Zimbabwe itwouldopenupapandora’s box. It thenmakesitabsurd if not arrogant fora particular groupof people to‘claim’thatitis theirsacrifice alone thatledtoourindependence.We are not takingawayanythingfromwhat theywentthrough.Liberationwasnotfor‘one-body’,itwas for‘all- body’! The problemhasbeenthatof entitlement,the impressionthatwe all have tocontinue topay homage to our liberators. IbelieveIpaidmyprice throughlosttime and privileges.Insteadmy fatherpenttime andmoneydrivingaroundthe countryside supplyingthe guerrillaswithfoodand clothingunderthe guise of runninghisbusiness. To himit wasan obligationtosupportthe struggle inthe bestwaythathe could andfor that he did not expectanypaymentinreturn.Thatwas hiscontributionfreelygiven.Donotgetme wrong.I grewup inan environment where the source of ournextmeal wasneverinquestion.Yetwe were neverobliviousof the crisisthatwasfast paralysingthe country. The signswere there aroundthe citywere we grew up; the militarypresence andthe cookedup reportsand stage managedcapture of ‘terrorists’forpropagandapurposes.Yes,the mediareally playeditup,inthe white regime’sfavourof course. Iwouldnothave appreciatedthe directionthe war was goingif I hadnot beentoboardingschool at FletcherinGweru. There were occasional raidsonbeer-hallsasthe white armydredgedforcannonfodder.Noone in hisrightmindwouldhave volunteeredtofightontheirside againsttheirownbrothersandsisters. Evenin schoolsmanywere pressgangedintothe effortinthatinfamousandmuchdetestedpractice called‘call-up.’ The arrests were relentless.JoshuaNkomo,FatherZimbabwe,whoIhadthe privilegetomeetso manytimesand alsoto playa role inthe live broadcastof hisfuneral,wasarrestedanddetained.So were myfather’sfriendsSidneyMalunga,JohnNkomo,LazarusDlakamaamongotherswere also ‘restricted.’Myfatherescapedarrestbutthe dangerwas everpresent,the hushedtoneswhichhe spoke toothersabout impi and abafana wereaclearindicationof that. The Rhodesiansglorifiedwarandeverythingrevolvedaroundwhattheycalledthe ‘wareffort.’It was patrioticforeveryone topull togetherandevenwatchtheysaidbecause ‘wallshave ears.’ There wasa thinline betweenbeingatraitorand a supporter.People whosupportedthe ‘terrs’as theycolloquiallyputitwere dealtwithdecisively. Thenthere wasthe curfewdesignedtostifle suppliesandcontrol movement.We didn’thave ‘protectedvillages’ inLowerGweru unlike inMukumburayetthe trips tosee gogo MaNkiwane were gettingfarand inbetween. Protectedvillageswere glorifiedmassprisonswhere whole villages were barricadedtopreventthe fish(the guerrillas)fromgettingtothe water(the people) asMao once postulated. Gogo MaNkiwane ismylate paternal grandmotherwhowouldregale uswithtalesof war. She was the funnypersonIhave everknown,save formy motherof course.So we have funnybonesrunning on bothsidesof the family. The guerrillasstill made itahabitto leave wishlistswithourrural relativesformyfathertosupply.Itwouldbe the popular‘farmershoes’orveldskoens,khakhi outfits or medical supplies.
  2. 2. By the time I movedtoboardingschool in1978 the war had reachedfeverpitch.We gotfirsthand reportsof the war fromvariousparts of the country throughschool mates.We evenlearnt Chimurengasongssungat Pungwes.The camaraderie acrosspolitical lineswasinfectious.Such revolutionaryfireswere stockedbythe externalradiostationsthe pumpedupthe ante fromZambia and Mozambique. Some of our schoolmatesliveddoublelivesasinnocentlookingschoolboysattermtime and as daringmujibhas orinformersduringthe holidays.Othersnevercame back to school eitherhaving beingabsorbedintothe busharmiesorworse.Whatwas plainandobviousevenatthistime was that the war affectedeveryone indifferentwaysandthatwe all contributedinone wayor the other. It isin thiscontextthatmy father,asI intimatedlastweek,becamedisillusionedwiththe liberators whoassumedthe monopolyof havingbroughtindependence tothiscountrybypersonalisingthe revolution.The modestmanhe still is,he welcomedall mannerof political activisttohis doorstep whenwe eventuallywonourfreedom. His hospitalityevensawthe likesof ThaboMbeki,JacobZumaand ChrisHani,thenstayingat RichmondandTrenance come to our shopko J Tembain Gwabalandaasthe ANCof SouthAfrica preparedtheirfinal assaultonthe apartheidregime.Ihadthe privilege andhonourtomeetthemin the flesh. Nextweekwe discoverthe final strawthatbroke myfather’sdirectinvolvementinpoliticsandhow the seedsof rebellionwere transferredtothe son. Ends//