|Declare April Zim history month|
|Wednesday, 04 April 2012 14:58|
IN February 1899, British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands” in which he urged the US to take up the “burden” of empire, as had Britain and other European nations when colonising Africa.
Theodore Roosevelt, later to become president, described it as “rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view.” However, not everyone, particularly in the developing world, was as impressed as Roosevelt. African-Americans, among many others, rapped the notion of the “white man’s burden.” And one of the prominent responses to Kipling’s poem was “The Black Man’s Burden,” written by African-American clergyman and editor Hubert Johnson and published in April that same year. Hubert Johnson argued that the mistreatment of brown people in the Philippines was an extension of the mistreatment of African-Americans at home. There was nothing noble in imperialism.
The bottom line is the black man has a burden of ensuring that his history, which has over the years been misconstrued as being synonymous with the history of the white man’s arrival in Africa, is corrected and captured for posterity. It is a history of not being seen nor heard; a history of being manipulated and subjugated.
I have said it before and I will say it again. If ever there is a month that deserves to be called Zimbabwe history month, it is April, a month littered with numerous milestones stretching from the First, Second to the Third Chimurenga wars.
Mbuya Nehanda along with Zindoga, Hwata and Gutsa wrongly stood accused of murdering a brutal white native commissioner, one Henry Hawkins Pollard of the British South Africa Company who lived near Mazowe and terrorised people in that district.
The four along with Sekuru Kaguvi were arraigned in the High Court of Matabeleland that sat in Salisbury on February 20 1898 and were subsequently convicted on March 2 1898 in a case entered as “The (British) Queen against Nehanda”.
The execution was authorised by the (British) High Commissioner for South Africa, one Alfred Milner, and endorsed by the (British) Imperial Secretary on March 28 1898. The presiding judge was Judge Watermayer, with Herbert Hayton Castens Esquire, as “the acting Public Prosecutor Sovereign within the British South Africa Company territories, who prosecutes for and on behalf of her majesty”.
The warrant for Mbuya Nehanda’s death commanded that she be executed within the wall of the gaol of Salisbury between the hours of 6 and 10 in the afternoon. A Roman Catholic priest, one Fr Richertz, was assigned to convert Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Hwata and Zindoga. It is said the hapless Catholic priest failed to make headway with Mbuya Nehanda but managed to convert Sekuru Gumboreshumba, whom he baptised as Dismas, the ‘‘good’’ thief.
Gutsa, Hwata and Zindoga were also converted and similarly hanged.
Fr Richertz, however, conveniently forgot to mention the other words Mbuya Chahwe said to him, that “Mapfupa angu achamuka (my bones will surely rise)”.
Sixty-eight years later, Mbuya Nehanda’s prophesy came true when seven of her bones rose up in style on April 28 1966 to fire the first shots of the Second Chimurenga war.
They struck just five months after Smith announced his Universal Declaration of Independence (UDI) and 20 months after the Rhodesian regime banned the nationalist movements Zapu and Zanu in August 1964.
The seven cadres — Simon Chingosha Nyandoro, Godwin Manyerenyere, Christopher Chatambudza, Arthur Maramba, Chubby Savanhu, Godfrey Dube and David Guzuzu — who entered the country from Zambia struck near Manyame River in Chinhoyi.
Lack of proper equipment and explosives saw the cadres fail to bring down the pylons near Lions Den, the Rhodesians got wind of the operation and descended on the people who were harbouring them.
The seven commandos gave as much as they took as the battle lasted from about 9am to around 4pm. Eyewitness accounts say several helicopters and scores of Rhodesian soldiers were gunned down and littered the battle scene when the seven cadres were finally wiped out. It is important to note that they were only overcome because they had inferior weapons and ran out of ammunition, while the enemy was armed to the teeth and had the advantage of going back to base to replenish both ammunition and manpower.
The bodies of the seven cadres were never seen again after the Rhodesians took them.
In the intervening period, another milestone again occurred, on April 4 1975, when Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who had just been released from an 11-year incarceration by the Smith regime, crossed into Mozambique in the company of Cde Edgar Tekere.
“There was this big boundary road they called Bhinya. It was also so called after the name of the person who was chief native commissioner . . . I will think of it. We had to cross the broad road, not tarred, but just a dirt road, gravel, not tarred because it was meant to facilitate the vigilance that the Rhodesians kept on the people.
“So we crossed that, after looking at both sides of the road, we moved on and at night we had to cross rivers. There was a small river that we crossed and upon putting our shoes back, I could not distinguish the right from the left. Ndakaita sambuya vangu vaimbouya kuchurch vakapfeka matennis vachiti yekurudyi yoenda uku (laughs indicating his left foot). Ndakatozoona zuva ratobuda kuti that was the disaster that had attended my feet.
nemabullets kuti vabve, their children were all taken away to a school somewhere, but they resisted. We got to a village where two headmen vekwaTangwena decided to get away from this problem and settled on the Mozambican side, and two headmen had remained. So they were four.
from that place word was sent ahead that we were there and we then got to a base that was close to Tete, this place was called Vam-Vam.
“That is where we met vanaChamu (Oppah Muchinguri) vachiri vadiki and many others. We had some students from university, vana (Zororo) Duri, vana (Christopher) Mutsvangwa vana Gula Ndebele, vana (John) Mayowe, who had left university, we met them there.
“So that was the journey, and all the while we were with Chief Tangwena, right up to the end taive naChief Tangwena, and when we came back, we came back with him also. He was quite a gallant cadre, very strong,” President Mugabe said.
Constitutional Conference of September 10 to December 15 1979 that paved way for the first democratic elections in March 1980.
This was the day that defined us as a people as the then Prime Minister-elect, Cde Mugabe, laid out the policy of reconciliation in his maiden address, much to the amazement of terrified Rhodies who thought they would be made to account for their war crimes.