Tuesday, January 08, 2013

(TALKZIMBABWE) Memoires of a real Zimbabwean freedom fighter

Memoires of a real Zimbabwean freedom fighter
This article was written by Our reporter on 8 January, at 03 : 28 AM

A FREEDOM fighter is a person who contributed to the liberation war through several means, be it as a soldier, information provider and activist among other relevant contributions that were helping in the winning of a waged war.

Several people think that for one to be called a freedom fighter or a hero they should have gone into the bush to fight the colonial force but no, anyone who contributed to the fight is also a hero.

This week reporter Professor Tshuma (PT) spoke to one of the silent but immense contributor to the liberation war, Cde Gilbert Chakaendepi Simon Majiri(SM) whose Chimurenga name was Cde Chabudaishudhu Kufahakuurai from Shamva on how he joined the liberation struggle, his arrests and detention.


PT: Cde Chabudaishudhu Kufahakuurai I welcome to our offices and I would like to thank you so much for visiting this office and ZANU PF headquarters at large.

SM: You are welcome mwanangu.

PT: Can you tell us who Cde Chabudaishudhu Kufahakuurai is.

SM: My real name is Gilbert Chakaendepi Simon Majiri, born on 13 September in the year 1938 in Shamva district under chief Bushu.

PT: Your education and employment history?

SM: I attended my lower primary at Bushu Primary School before I enrolled at Bradley Institute for my Upper Primary both schools in Shamva. After completing my upper primary education, I got a job at Central Dry Cleaners in Harare, and that was between 1957 and 1958. By late 1958, I left Central Dry Cleaner and joined Lion Matches till the end of 1958 and joined Chiweshe Holdings in Highfields towards the end of 1958.

PT: Why were you so nomadic?

SM: The employers were so frustrating and there was abuse of some sort so as someone who was too emotional, I would change jobs from time to time.

PT: Ok, so how were you being viewed in all these companies you worked for?

SM: What happened was that, after realizing that there was a lot of abuse, I joined the Municipal and Local Government Workers Union and within a few weeks, I was elected the organizing secretary and that was when I started to be very active in politics.

PT: Very active, how? Can you explain further?

SM: During those days, trade unions were the ones that were updating the workers in the industries and that made us targets of the white settlers. We as trade unionists, we would update all the employees in the industries and this made the movement of politics very fast and flow very smoothly.

PT: For how long did u serve in that association?

SM: I did not serve much there, in fact I can say I briefly served in the MLGWU in 1962 and by 1963, I joined the Engineering and Metal Workers Union holding the same office and later on I was asked to be the principal delegate to the National Employment Council representing the engineering sector and that was in (1963-4). I later realised that it was vital for me to join the mainstream politics by entering in the conventional politics.

PT: When was that?

SM: That was in 1963 but I started participating in fulltime politics in 1964. I was elected the district chairman for Highfields and Waterfalls in the youth league. That gave me a chance to attend the first ZANU congress in Gweru in 1964. Unfortunately our leaders were arrested on August 20 in 1964 for forming a political party and were referred to as vagrants. By that time, ZANU was led by Ndabaningi Sithole while the late Cde Joshua Nkomo was leading the People’s Caretaker Council. In fact, after the ban of ZAPU, its leaders most of them were outside the country and the remaining members decided to find another name which was going to replace ZAPU but the leadership did not change. That is how the PCC Party came into being.

PT: This was in which year Cde?

SM: It was in 1964 and during the same year, I decided to leave the country to go for training because I was developing more interests in the liberation struggle and I could not wait anymore. We mobilized each other together with other Comrades like Cde Edison Sithole and Simon Muzenda among others.

PT: Heading where?

SM: We were going to Ghana but due to shortage of funds, we had to pass through Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia then Ghana. Because I was well know in the trade unionism, Cdes Mzenda and Sithole said I should use Cde Watson Chihota’s identification card so that I was not going to be caught because I was already on the least of the wanted vagrants and trade unionists.

I slept at Mbare Musika bus terminus and the following morning I boarded a bus to Malawi via Mozambique. At Mwanza border post, I was unfortunate and was detained at Mwanza Police Station for three to four days because my travelling documents were only allowed in Mozambique and not in Malawi. Fortunately, I found a chance to write a letter to our representative Cde AJ Mawere in Malawi and gave it to someone whom I asked to post it in Malawi. I was again unfortunate because before I could get a response of my letter, I was deported and left a Machado border post. I decided to walk 63 miles to Blantyre so I used a trench to escape. When it was dark, I walked out of the trench and luckily, I saw a Clan Transport truck which was heading to the border. When it was around 2am, we reached the boarder and because the driver was well-known by the immigration officers, we were asked to pass scot free without being searched. I remember the name of the driver was Tsuro.

PT: Cde, were you familiar with the place where you were going?

SM: I didn’t know but what I knew was just that, I was supposed to go to Lilongwe and see Cde Mawere who was our contact person so I knew that I was not going to get lost because he was a well known someone. On arrival at around 0720hrs, we were already in Blantyre and alas, before I could ask anyone about Cde Mawere, I saw a shop written JL Mawere and I knew I was there. I entered the shops and met Cdes Marble Mundondo, William Ndangama, John Makwasha, Dave Guzuzu and Arthur Maramba.

PT: Among the comrades you met, who did you know from Zimbabwe?

SM: Almost all of them. When Cde Mawere came back, he gave us a letter to go and board a plane to Dar-es-Salaam because we had no passports. Upon arriving at the Chileka airport, we were told, ‘Jump in gentlemen, your skin is your passport in Africa.’ The same happened when we landed in Tanzania. This was soon after the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) so there was a declaration that all blacks should travel freely in Africa. In almost every country, we had representatives so we would pass through the offices to get assistance. In Tanzania, we met Cde Augustine Mombeshora and Cde Herbert Chitepo and here that was where we got passports. We made stop overs at Mombasa, Kenya and the following day we boarded Ethiopian Airways to Ghana. There we went straight to African Affairs Bureau before we could start the training.

PT: When was that?

SM: It was still in 1964 and we were given orientation before we could start military training. We began the military training after weeks of orientation and this training was conducted by the Ghanaian Military Experts and later on the Chinese trainers took over where we were trained the guerilla warfare. The Chinese taught us how to make homemade explosives and by March 1965, we came back to Zimbabwe via Tanzania. We were asked to move in groups of three and my group had myself, the late Cdes Christopher Sakala and Benard Mandizera. We entered Zimbabwe through Nyamapanda border post and upon arriving in Kotwa; we were arrested in a pharmacy where we were looking for acid which we wanted to use to make explosives. We were taken to Salisbury High Court and given ten years in prison for undertaking military training with the intention to remove a legitimate government. We were later sent to Khami Maximum Prison and that was in 1965. We were imprisoned in 1965 to 1972 and upon release; we were detained at Salisbury Remand Prison that’s where we met Cdes Robert Mugabe, Enos Nkala, Didymus Mutasa, Morton Malianga and Edgar Tekere among others. In fact, when we were still at Khami, Cde Zvobgo was released from prison to go and further his education in America. Because of the brutal condition we were living in, we were taken to Hwahwa late 1972 after they realised that we were sending letters to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) explaining how we were treated in prison. While in prison, Cde Mugabe was our Literature in English teacher, Cde Mutasa was our Mathematics teacher and Malianga was our political history teacher.

PT: Cde, what else was happening in the prison besides that?

SM: There were a lot of things my son. We wrote a documentary which was talking about Ian Smith’s character and attitude towards us. We were about to go to the review of the tribunal so we wanted that (documentary) to be debated. In the prison, after realising that we were from different army sides, ZIPRA and ZANLA, we agreed to form the Fellow Freedom Fighters (FFF). This was inclusive of all members from the two armies who were in the prison. We did this because we realised that we were fighting with one goal in mind which was to liberate the country. We went for the review of the tribunal in 1975 and I was given home restriction in March in my home at Shamva. I was now given a name called a Prisoner of War by guerillas and was asked to report to Shamva police weekly. These guys wanted to frustrate our efforts so I was lucky that one of the CID officers at the police station tipped me that I was on the list of the people who were supposed to be re-arrested. He said I should leave the place in the earliest time possible as my name was written on the top of the list in red letters. By that time I was working as a guerilla and was updating our comrades in the bush who were operating in the Shamva area. I was the person who was giving the Cdes information about how and where to go if the enemy comes in Shamva.

PT: What did u do after hearing that bad message and which area did you operated in?

SM: It was in 1976 and I finally decided to go in the bush and face the enemy directly. I operated in Mt Darwin, Chesa, Gwetera and Rushinga with the Cdes such as Chinyama, Guy Medicine, Francis Ushehunotekeira, Cleopas Marunda and Moto Chaparadza. I was asked to go to Chimoio to work at Chitepo Ideological College to correct the history which included party information, national grievances and party ideology. We conducted a pre-check and after that we entered Chimoio. I was promoted to become the base production commander.

PT: During the Chimoio attack, where were you Cde and what role did you play after or during the attack?

SM: I was not affected by the attack because we realised early that danger was approaching and we took cover. I was part of the rescue team so we went after the attack to help the wounded as well as taking the bodies of those who had perished in the brutal attack by the white enemy. We were with medico Mambo and we proceeded to all the bases and when we arrived at Takawira 2 base, we met Cde Augustine Chihuri and Stephen Chocha and by then I had developed a leg ache. I was supposed to be attended to by Cde Herbert Ushewokunze. He could not come early so Cde Jane Mutasa, wife to Cde Didymus Mutasa who was trained overseas.

PT: Ok, this was towards ceasefire isn’t?

SM: Yes, but I also went to Romania soon after the fuel tanks bombardment in Southerton to train in trade unionism for four months and this was in 1978. I was in the department of manpower and labour together with Cde Dzingai Mtumbuka who was in the department of education. After returning from Romania, I went to Yugoslavia for training in trade unionism again for three months and came back in October the same year.

PT: Why is it that trade unionism was vitalized during that time?

SM: Because it was vital to update workers in the industry about how they should behave and where our politics was going. So it was instrumental to give them relevant updates as and when they require it. In 1980, I came back home with Cde Muzenda, Patrick Kombayi, Byron Hove and Mtumbuka and we were denied access at the airport because we were told the names we had presented were not real names. We told them our chimurenga names so they refused us entrance. Cde Muzenda started singing ‘povho yaramba zvamadhisinyongo’. After independence, I was absorbed in the Ministry of Labour as a labour officer. I worked there but had to change from time to time, going in provinces to assume the same office.

PT: How did u get the farm where you said you are staying right now?

SM: As someone who was in the labour office, I attended the war veterans meeting in May 1998 which made resolutions that the independence we got was not enough as it was only political. The meeting was convened by Cde Chenjerai Hunzvi in Esigodini and we agreed that we needed economic emancipation through the land re-disribution programme which was one of the key factors that forced us to wage a liberation war. It was one of the issues that were on the main agenda during the Lancaster House Conference so we thought it was vital. After the resolution, that was when the land reform was resumed and I got a farm in Mvurwi in the year 2001 and by 2002, I was tilling land at my farm and that’s where I am still with my family.

PT: I see the road to where you are right now was bumpy and thorny, what’s your message to us as youths and those who do not know the history of the country and also, those who are selling out especially those in the opposition politics?

SM: You see it’s so painful to note that some people do not understand how painful and thorny the road was. It is vital to follow politics that support indigenous people’s views and there is need for political orientation for our youths so that they know how this country came and how to preserve the gains of the liberation struggle. Several people died and others were killed in cold blood, others were acidified by the ruthless white colonialist and we should teach our youths that it is vital to preserve this. Surely if we leave this country to be taken back by the whites through their puppets, our children will spit on our graves saying, ‘wasted efforts.’

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