Know where you come from


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Fay Chung, who was active in the liberation struggle in Mozambique and later in establishing imaginative initiatives in education in the new Zimbabwe, has written an account of her experiences. Her book, Reliving the Second Chimurenga, was launched at the Book Café in Harare in early February in the form of a debate between herself and Wilfred Mhanda who also played a prominent role in the struggle.

It was a charged occasion because the two protagonists were joined by a number of others who either experienced the struggle themselves or were familiar with it second hand.

What came out of the cut and thrust of the evening was that different people have their own ‘truth’ about what happened and we are still at a subjective stage of really understanding the history of that time. We are too near to it and feelings are still too sensitive for us to really know.

At the same time it emerged that some people prominent in public life today want to hide their involvement in the war and are annoyed when their role is mentioned. No explanation for this was offered, but it could be that the ideals of that time are so different from the ideals of the present that their recall is irritating. Others, especially younger people – the born frees – are confused about it.

They are constantly reminded of the glorious struggle for freedom but they see little of its fruits today. As one speaker put it, ‘people in those days were committed to an ideal and were willing to sacrifice everything – their comfort, their education, even their lives. We can’t ask people today to be committed because they don’t know what they are supposed to be committed to.’ It is a bleak scenario.

Fay Chung was warmly congratulated for opening a new furrow. She was cited as being the first to set down her experiences and the fervent hope was repeatedly expressed that others would also do the same. A number of speakers pointed to mistakes – some serious – in her writing but all acknowledged that a debate was now open.

Many terrible things happened in the war but at its roots it was driven by a passionate desire to sacrifice everything for the sake of freedom and dignity. Another word for this is love.

‘A person can have no greater love than to lay down their life for their friends’ (John 15:13). It has often been said that war brings out the best in human beings. It also brings out the worst and this was openly acknowledged at the launch.

Post published in: Opinions

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