Of tollgates, jingles


Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence was a long and costly affair. It was never for the faint-hearted. While common belief is that the fight for self determination started when some seven Zanla guerrillas were involved in combat somewhere near Chinhoyi and were subsequently annihilated in mortar and gunfire, this writer categorically refuses to accept this as fact.
On the other hand, some amongst our heroes want us to believe that the Second Chimurenga/ Umvukela started after the first Zipra cadres returned from training abroad to engage the Smith regime in armed combat long before Zanu was formed. Some such prominent names of the 1962 group include Cdes Sikhwili Moyo, Charles Chikerema, Maluzo Ndlovu etc, followed by the 1963 group of Cdes Dumiso Dabengwa, Ackim Ndlovu, Ambrose Mutinhiri etc. History also claims that the above are the pacesetters of the Second Chimurenga/Umvukela. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The struggle for independence, in particular, the Second Chimurenga/Umvukela was initiated by the members of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress (Sranc) and later the National Democratic Party (NDP), before Zapu and later, Zanu was formed. The warriors in this first phase of the struggle were largely the youth league members.
Their lack of armoury sophistication was well complemented by their sophistication in strategy. In their armoury, they had cow dung and matches (Yes Lion matches).
Later, in place of cow dung they improved to using tissue paper. The main target for these warriors during the “matchstick warfare” was mainly farms in and around Harare and many peri-urban areas. While many have called these activities “sabotage”, the only difference this guerrilla warfare with that of Zipra and Zanla was its lack of advanced weaponry, otherwise both phases were sabotage in that besides targeting and eliminating human life, infrastructure was the main target. Some of the heroes of this era of struggle are Baba Gutu in Mufakose, Baba Dombe, Baba Magwaragwara, Baba Banda all in Dzivaresekwa to mention just but a few. Some of the victims of this era of settler resistance include an RF minister DuPont, who woke up to find his piggery burnt to ashes (or is it oil) because the whole yard was flowing with pork fat the next morning. History has it that this incident caused the enactment of a raft of draconian pieces of legislation as a result.
Unfortunately, as the nation commemorates and celebrates Heroes’ Day, these heroes and heroines have been forgotten and their legacy thrown to the dustbin of political history. These heroes have not only been forgotten politically, they have also been condemned to abject poverty and many die living a life of misery despite the fact that many are ex-detainees who spent years in prison fighting for our liberation.
Very few, if any, ex-detainees were bona fide members of Zanu. They were all NDP, and by extension, Zapu members. Consequently, none is a member of any of the MDC factions. Therefore, it follows that their definition of a hero is based on the period 1963 to 1980 and 2000 to date respectively. This is a dangerous distortion of history. This is aptly demonstrated by the ongoing fight between Zanu (PF) and MDC over jingles by the Mbare Chimurenga Choir. Several very important lessons must be brought to the fore. First, song and dance were an important aspect of the liberation struggle and that legacy must be preserved, even by more gyrating and waist breaking moves if necessary. Second, these songs were and are still inspirational and are loaded with praises to a common cause and sometimes to individual leaders. Third, one beneficiary of the praise singing, President Mugabe is the founding President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and no one can dispute that fact. He led Zanu and Zanla to defeat, together with Zapu, the colonial regime of Ian Smith. On that score only, he earned the praises, at least to Amos Mahendere, Mbare Chimurenga Choir and a sizeable section of the population. Just like PM Tsvangirai has earned praises with such ballads like “Mogie, Mogeni, Mogeni Tsvangirai Ndizvo……” or such slogans like “SAVE, SAVE, SAVE” the PM’s totem. In fact, that is the diversity and democracy that Baba Gutu was detained fighting for. That is why Gutu and his youth brigade torched fields full of tobacco and maize in order to achieve such pluralism. It is the democracy that Joshua Nkomo sacrificed his life for, to ensure that if a jingle on national radio or TV is not palatable to consumers, they should have a choice to switch off that station and choose another one. But that is the reason why the MDC was formed, to fight Zanu (PF) until the airwaves are freed. It is for that reason that this writer urges compatriots in the MDC to use cabinet and other government fora to cause the freeing of airwaves for many players in order for them and many others to freely advertise and kongonya their “Mogie, Mogeni” tune. This is not only desirable, but a sign of political maturity instead of radicalism reserved only for student politics.
After all, successes have been scored, by the MDC, by the way, in freeing the print media and so on. This noise about jingles like Nyatsoterera can only be done at the risk of being served for breakfast by the likes of Prof Jonathan Moyo. Instead of jingles, one would expect the MDC to be discussing scandalous developments that are quietly unfolding. The first one being the distribution of tollgate income.
How on earth does Mashonaland West earn the highest votes for funds earned from national tollgates? No wonder why we are saying devolution of power today, not tomorrow.
lMso Ndlovu is the Zapu secretary for administration (Northern Region)
Views expressed above are personal

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