A thought for April

“April 18, writes Lovemore Chikandiwa, “reminds me of the struggle for independence, which was not like a walk in the garden.

It reminds me of my father being arrested at our home in Tafara township of Harare (then Salisbury) for his activism in 1976, leaving us to be thrown out of our residence by the Salisbury municipality for just being the family of a terrorist. He escaped and quit the country, leaving us traumatised by the worry of whether he was alive or dead.

That is when uncle Julius also disappeared to join the liberation struggle, and saw us leaving to rural Mwenezi (then Nuanetsi) where I had to continue with schooling at Mwanezana. In 1978, the base close to the school was bombed and by God’s grace we survived, but the school was closed.

I went to our rural home in Chikandiwa village and continued with my schooling at Musaverema primary school but as if fate was following me wherever I went, the base near the school was bombed again. The area became known as Chamatehenya (the place of the skulls), as many people and soldiers from both sides – freedom fighters and Rhodesian forces –perished.

I did not wait for the school to be closed, but went to another school, Shazhaume, where I later completed my primary education. In 1979, just before the announcement of a ceasefire, a Bedford truck belonging to the Rhodesian forces hit a landmine and Rhodesian forces were brought in. The freedom fighters escaped and left people to be subjected to untold torture by the forces.

A few weeks later, the ceasefire was announced followed by the sad news of the death of General Tongogara, and finally the elections that led to independence.

April 18 reminds me of all this and many more events that need a book to contain. Now, 34 years down the line, after all the struggle for independence, we have very little to show for the determination and endurance we showed in that struggle. May God bless Zimbabwe!

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