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Who are the real imperialists?

Opinion & Analysis
Tendai Ruben Mbofana

EVERYTIME I teach my son about the history of this country, I feel a deep sense of pride and respect for our nationalist movements, in their intrepid quest for the independence and freedom of Zimbabwe.

In those lessons, my mind is always taken back to the time I also spent with my beloved late father, as he taught me many things.

He was a fervent nationalist in his own right — having been actively involved in independence politics during the colonial period — leading to his subsequent blacklisting by the Rhodesia regime from the teaching profession he loved so much.

He was only reinstated after Zimbabwe attained her independence in 1980.

Nonetheless, I still recall, as if it were only yesterday, sitting around the radio in the late 1970s — as we quietly, but fearfully, listened to the Voice of Zimbabwe’s nightly broadcast in our home — beamed from Radio LM (Lourenço Marques) in Mozambique.

Although, I was only a young boy, those messages of determination such as “Victory is certain”, and the captivating liberation songs — Ruzhinji rweAfrika, Maruza Imi, Nzira dzeMasoja, Munyaya Dzedu Dzekuzvitonga and so many more — still ring in my mind even today.

Understandably, I was caught up and sold out in the cause of our freedom and liberty,  and a Zimbabwe where every single one of us was equal, shared our national resources equitably, and the respect for human rights is paramount.

My father taught me well — as he never grew tired instilling in me values and how important they were to any civilised society that wanted its people to advance.

That is why, when the day of Uhuru finally came on the eve of April 18, 1980 — he and my mother ensured that they attended the thunderous celebrations in the then Salisbury (now Harare) at Rufaro Stadium, as this marked the fulfilment of a dream, and the dawn of a new era for the people of Zimbabwe.

Of course, due to my age — being only seven at that time — they could not take me with them.

Nevertheless, I did not miss much, as the fervour and exhilaration of our newfound liberty was to soon come right into our house in Redcliff — with the visit by Comrade Chinx (born Dickson Chingaira) and his Zanu Chimurenga Choir — who were our guests during their tour of the region.

I cannot describe the excitement and honour I felt, in hearing those songs I had sung along to on Radio LM — now being sung right in front of me by the very people I listened to on radio.

I could not help being engulfed by the enthusiasm of a new Zimbabwe.

Be that as it may, things were to drastically and frighteningly change just a few years later. The dreams quickly turned into a horrifying nightmare.

This came around 1984, barely four years into independence  when the ruling Zanu PF party began terrorising innocent defenceless civilians in our small town — something that was happening across that region of Zimbabwe... but, whose extent I was not aware of at that time.

That dark period of the history of our country, was possibly one of the most traumatic events to ever take place in my life. It was worse than the repeated sexual abuse I was subjected to by someone we stayed with and the relentless bullying I endured at school — at the hands of older boys who took advantage of my timid manner and self-isolation, due to the abuse I suffered at home.

This was around the time I had to watch, in utter horror, Zanu PF hooligans going around our community savagely attacking all those with Ndebele names. They burnt their homes to the ground, while beating them to a pulp. All this happened in the presence of  their wailing little children.

I watched all this at the age of 11, hiding in my parents’ bedroom as we huddled together in terror.

My father still believed in the ideals of the revolution and nationalist cause, thereby remaining a member of Zanu PF. He even rose to be part of  the Midlands provincial leadership. However, he was conscious of the fact that what was happening was against the tenets of the liberation struggle and the independence, which so many sacrificed their lives for.

He knew this was wrong

He also knew that simply disapproving of these counter-revolutionary and anti-people activities which were being perpetrated by the ruling party was not enough.

He had to do something.

He resolved to convey the information he would gather during party meetings. He alerted next targets of the impending horrendous brutality so that they could flee with their families.

This was another crucial lesson my father taught me.

In the face of evil, good people have to do something even if it means risking their own lives.

We can all imagine what would have become of this great man had he been found out by his comrades!

He exhibited great courage by adhering to the principles of justice and human rights — which I also try to live by in my own life today.

I remember him coming back from meetings so irate and disappointed with what had become of his party, but still hoped one day it would revert to its founding values of independence, freedom and equality — which were the basis of the liberation struggle.

He would tell me of how then State Security minister, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa — who regarded Kwekwe as his home — had told Zanu PF supporters that the government wished to divide the country into two — one for Ndebele-speakers and the other for Shonas.

In this way, the Shonas could easily identify who was Ndebele  so that on their (Shona) way back from a beer drink, they would pass through the Ndebele neighbourhood, and beat up or even kill them.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com

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