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 finally 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 nightly broadcast in our home – beamed from Radio LM (Lourenço Marques) in Mozambique.
Although, I was only a little boy, those determined messages of ‘Victory is certain’, and the captivating liberation songs – such as, ‘Ruzhinji reAfrika’, ‘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 being at the top.
My father taught me well – as he never tired instilling in me these values and how paramount they were to any civilized society that wanted its people to advance.
That is why, when the day of uhuru finally came on the eve of 18th April 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, and his ZANU Chimurenga Choir – who stayed in our home during their tour of the region.
I can not describe the excitement and honour I felt, in hearing those songs I had sang-along to on Radio LM – now being sang right in front of me, by the very people I listened to on radio.
I could not help feeling the enthusiasm of the new Zimbabwe.
Be that as it may, things were to drastically and frighteningly change just a few years later – as those dreams seemed to quickly turn into a horrifying nightmare.
This came around 1984, barely four years after the exhilaration of independence and freedom – when the now ruling ZANU-PF began terrorizing innocent defenceless civilians in our small town – something that was happening all across that region of Zimbabwe…but, whose extent I was not aware of at that time.
That dark period of our country, was possibly one of the most traumatic events to ever take place in my life – on top of the repeated sexual abuse I was subjected to by someone we stayed with, and the relentless bullying at school – at the hands of bullies who took advantage of my timid manner and self-isolation, due to the abuse I endured 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-sounding names – whereby, they would burn their homes to the ground, whilst barbarically beating them up to a pulp – all this in the presence of their wailing little children.
All these things happened as I – being an eleven-year-old boy watched – albeit, hiding in the darkness of my parents’ bedroom, as we huddled together in terror of what our country had become.
As much as my father still believed in the ideals of the revolution and nationalist cause – thereby, remaining a member of ZANU-PF, and even climbing up the ranks to the Midlands provincial leadership – he, however, was conscience of the fact that what was happening was against the tenets of the liberation struggle and the independence, of which so many sacrificed their lives.
He knew this was wrong!
He also knew that simply disapproving these counter-revolutionary and anti-people acts by the ruling party was not enough.
He had to do something.
In so doing, he resolved to convey the information he would gather during party meetings – whereby, next targets for this horrendous brutality and bloodshed were identified – and, swiftly warn the potential victims, so that they could flee with their families to safety in good time.
This was another crucial lesson my father taught me.
In the presence of evil – good people have to do something – even if that means risking their own lives.
Anyone can imagine what would have become of this great man, had he been found out by his comrades!
However, he exhibited great courage and principles for justice and human rights – which I also try to live by in my own life today.
I remember him coming back home from meetings being so irate and disappointed with what had become of his party – but, still hoped to change it back to its founding values of independence, freedom and equality – which were the basis of the liberation struggle.
He would tell me of how then minister of state security, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – who always regarded our Kwekwe area as his home – had told ZANU-PF supporters that the government wished to divide the country into two areas, 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 the daylights out of them, or even kill them – and, then throw them out through the window.
If anyone asked, the government could always say, maybe these Ndebele-speakers had been intoxicated and, in a drunken stupor, possibly jumped out of their own windows, to their injury or death!
My father was so hurt and aggrieved by such reckless statements and disdainful acts – which showed a shameful disregard and betrayal of the values of the liberation struggle – which were meant to foster national unity and peace.
I will always admire my father for his stance – as that was the best he could do in defence of the cause of true independence and liberty.
At his death in August 2000, he remained committed to these principles – although, he never supported the opposition, which he correctly saw as harbouring a sinister agenda.
He went into his grave still believing that the former liberation movement could still be salvaged and restored to its original principles.
However, this required the ordinary grassroots membership to bravely stand up against those who had hijacked the people’s struggle for their own self-serving power interests.
It had become undeniable that, those who had taken over the country were not genuine liberators – but, merely there to enrich themselves through ill-gotten wealth from the plunder of our national resources.
It was now clear that the people who hijacked the struggle had already been a privileged class during the colonial era – who were driven solely by their primitive desires for personal glory, and had been craving to replace the colonial class as the new ‘black colonizers’.
No wonder when most of them were asked why they were fighting colonialism – their responses were always in the disturbing mould of citing the racial discrimination in hotels, or their prevention from drinking whiskey, or not allowed to walk on First Street in the then Salisbury.
Surely, is that what colonialism meant to these people?
Of course, it explains why the miserable plight of the ordinary citizenry was, and still is, hardly of concern to them.
They were so determined in this selfish quest that they had no qualms eliminating their fellow nationalist leaders, as General Josiah Magama Tongogara and Chairman Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, among others – so as to remove any hurdles to their deplorable objectives
Which is why, after independence till today, there has never been any sincere attempts at the equitable distribution of the country’s wealth – with the ruling elite being the only beneficiaries, at the expense of millions of Zimbabweans who are abandoned to languish in poverty.
For the political privileged clique, they are the only ones entitled to the fat of the land – whilst the rest of us, fail to make ends meet, and have to be content with street vending, or laughable so-called ‘empowerment projects’, or degrading handouts, or if fortunate enough, some low paying civil service or private sector job.
Anyone who opposes these glaring injustices is deemed an ‘enemy of the state’, and worthy of being maliciously persecuted or even eliminated – as they did to Tongogara and Chitepo.
It is time that even fervent ZANU PF supporters realized these undeniable truths.
There is nothing revolutionary and nationalist with what their party has been turned into by the power-greedy self-absorbed egotistical people in power today – who hijacked the people’s struggle for their own disgraceful ulterior motives.
Grassroots ZANU PF members should never be fooled by all this talk of having liberated the country, or fighting against imperialists threatening Zimbabwe.
That is a whole lot of hogwash!
The only imperialists threatening Zimbabwe are the people in power – who are busy parcelling out and mortgaging our country to the Chinese, Belarusians, Russians and other unsavoury unscrupulous characters around the globe.
In the process, those suffering the brunt of this cruelty and greed are ordinary Zimbabweans – including ZANU PF supporters on the ground, and even those who did the actual fighting during the liberation struggle.
Who really is benefitting from the forceful eviction of local communities from their ancestral lands by these mining companies working in cahoots with those in power?
Are the people of Dinde or Marange now any richer due to the mining of the vast deposits of coal and diamonds in their area – where Chinese companies have been awarded carte blanche powers to do whatever they desire?
So who are the real imperialists?
Zimbabweans are the real victims of this regime.
In the same breath, Zimbabweans are the only ones who can liberate themselves.
Just as my father, we do not even necessarily need to join or support any opposition party – but, bring about the needed change, and restore the real legacy of the struggle for liberation – by simply ridding the party of these cold-hearted leaders.
As much as it may be hard for some to imagine or even accept – the people can still reclaim their nationalist movement, and restore it to its founding principles.
All that is required now is to do the right thing, of removing those who hijacked the struggle and their cronies – and, putting in place genuine revolutionaries, who can take the country forward and place the interests of the people first.
My father knew that it could be done, and it is now up to those still alive today to make this happen.
Some of us just want a better Zimbabwe for all its people, and not driven by power ambitions of any political party.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: [email protected]