‘War vet’ memoirs give rare insights

Dzino: Memories of a Freedom Fighter by Wilfred Mhanda

Wilfred Mhanda: makes an invaluable contribution to the country’s written history.
Wilfred Mhanda: makes an invaluable contribution to the country’s written history.

ISBN: 978-1-77922-143-8

Published by Weaver Press, Harare

Available from: www.africanbookcollective.com

“I was born on 26 May 1950, to Wurayayi Mhanda and Monika Jesika (née Zharare). … My father was a job-hopper… My earliest childhood memories are of him wearing his bus conductor’s uniform.”

By late 1975, in the détente that followed the coup in Portugal, the guerrilla war in Rhodesia was almost at a standstill. But so were the talks about a negotiated settlement.

In January 1976, frustrated with the failure of the politicians to make progress, the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) resumed the war.

ZIPA brought together fighters from both of the guerrilla forces, ZANLA and ZIPRA. One of its commanders was Wilfred Mhanda, known more famously during the liberation struggle as Dzinashe ‘Dzino’ Machingura.

His story tells of Zipa’s bold attempt to provide a more unified, radical and focussed leadership for the struggle at a time of the assassination and arrest of key nationalist leaders, intense nationalist party rivalries, and a range of imperialist interventions in the region. It also provides the most comprehensive description to date of Robert Mugabe’s rise to power in Zanu (PF).

Dzino is a compelling blend of the personal and the political, and makes an invaluable contribution to the country’s written history.

‘In this path-breaking memoir, Mhanda captures the twists and turns, hopes and fears, sacrifices and tenacity of the guerrilla fighters during the 1970s. In doing so, he casts light on one of the under-investigated ‘black boxes’ of Zimbabwe’s political history. This is a captivating expose that is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know anything about that momentous episode.’ – Professor Eldred V. Masunungure, University of Zimbabwe and Mass Public Opinion Institute.

‘This is a valuable addition to the growing body of memoirs from key figures in the liberation struggle. Mhanda has provided an important alternative reading of the history of ZANU-PF during the formative ZIPA moment of the party’s development, providing particular insights into the rise of Robert Mugabe. In the process the author has stripped away some of the pretensions of the dominant state version of the liberation struggle. Written with the passion of an individual who has continued to fight for the ideals that compelled him to take up arms, Mhanda’s story is a striking indictment of the authoritarian nationalism that has marred the politics of Zimbabwe.’ – Professor Brian Raftopoulos, University of the Western Cape

Post published in: Arts

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