Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Remembering the Battle of Chinhoyi
April 28, 2016
Opinion & Analysis
Cde Joseph Musambasi
Political Writer
Zimbabwe Herald

The Battle of Chinhoyi, which was fought by seven gallant guerillas who had infiltrated the country from Mozambique at the beginning of the Second Chimurenga, has a status of legend in Zimbabwe.

It is mainly reckoned as the earnest beginning of the second and decisive stage of the liberation struggle dating back to the First Chimurenga/Umvukela of 1896, where the prophetess and revolutionary matriarch (Mbuya Nehanda) warned of the demise of white rule by invoking her “bones” to “rise again”.

And the famous Battle of Chinhoyi, which took place exactly 50 years ago, is the poster of the fulfilment of this promise — along with its heroes, David Guzuzu, Arthur Maramba, Christopher Chatambudza, Simon Chingosha Nyandoro, Godfrey Manyerenyere, Godwin Dube and Chubby Savanhu.

Yet, there is an even more poignant significance about the area of Chinhoyi.

The famous Chinhoyi Battle didn’t die, or end there — not least the significance of Chinhoyi, as a frontier area of Mashonaland West province was a theatre of war.

Immediately after the famous battle, two other revolutionary groups were deployed to the area.

One man who was captured after deployment is Cde Joseph Musambasi, whose Chimurenga name was Cde David Tendai (popularly known as Cde Davie).

A few months ago we caught up with him and he narrated how some members of his group were shot and how he stared into the barrel of the gun as Rhodesian soldiers took positions to finish him off.

After capture and imprisonment, he was facing the ultimate.

He was badly wounded and was hospitalised and then came the interrogation.

“Some CID officers started asking me where I had received my military training. I lied that I had received military training in China but I could not remember the name of the place,” he related.

“I came up with all sorts of lies but that is where I lost it. I thought this was the best to protect myself but I forgot that some of my comrades had also been arrested.

“Remember I said three of my fellow comrades had been arrested in Kariba and there were those other two groups that were also arrested upon crossing into Rhodesia.”

Cde Davie says during his interrogation, CID officers came with one of the comrades from the first group after the Chinhoyi Seven heroes. The comrade had been tortured and was looking wasted.

“The officers said just look at your fellow comrade. He has told us everything. They brought the comrade (name supplied but cannot be disclosed for now to protect him) closer and he said ‘Talk, friend. When you disclose everything you will not be tortured.’”

He was taken to Harare Central Police Station.

“This is where I saw the comrades from my group who had been arrested in Kariba. We just greeted each other and spoke for a few minutes. They were surprised that I was still alive. They actually told me that they had sent word to Zambia that I had died.”

At the same time, says Cde Davie, President Mugabe, was there and a number of detainees including the late Enos Nkala.

“Even President Mugabe came to see me . . . We stayed with these comrades till our trial.”

Then came the trial and the Chinhoyi connection loomed again.

“(It was) The three comrades who were arrested Cde Muzorori, Cde Jokonya, Cde Tasisiyo Takawira and myself. This was now at the end of 1966. We were detained at Salisbury Central Prison.

“The comrades who were arrested from the other two groups had been given life in prison sentences. However, one of their commanders called Nhema was given a death sentence.”

A further coincidence took place.

There were two cadres from the famous Crocodile Gang that had killed a white man in Melssetter.

These comrades had been sentenced to death.

There were quite a number of comrades from Zapu who had been arrested after committing sabotage crimes like throwing petrol bombs in shops belonging to whites, burning white farmers’ crops.

Ancestors and treachery

Some of the common themes of the liberation struggle were the role of spirit mediums and how they aided guerrillas.

On the other hand, there were also traitors and sellouts at hand.

It is widely believed that these two factors militated against the Chinhoyi Seven and their brothers-in-arms.

“That is very true,” says Cde Davie. “You see, nyika ine varidzi and Mwari anozviziva izvozvo. We were supposed to respect that, but I think during these early days, we were not quite aware of this.

“What I know is that people from Mt Darwin and the surrounding areas are the ones who kept tradition.”

He concluded: “The Chinhoyi Seven were sold out by fellow comrades.”

The other problem that befell the guerillas and the military push at the time of Chinhoyi Battle.

Cde Davie said: “I think there were quite a number of mistakes. There was pressure for zanu to be seen to be doing something by the OAU and other countries. zanu was under pressure to show that after leaving Zapu, it was existing. This compromised the planning process. The other mistake that we saw was that the party was supposed to send people for reconnaissance and these people were supposed to spend lots of time studying the movements of the Rhodesians.

“After this, we were supposed to be deployed in batches and by this time, we were supposed to have done mass mobilisation.

“We needed to learn about the art of war.

“Reconnaissance and mass mobilisation had not yet been done so this created serious problems.

“The strategy was very poor but I understand because kutangisa chinhu kwakaoma and there were bound to be mistakes.”

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