Memories of a big Rhodesian bird in the sky

10 Jul, 2021 - 00:07 0 Views
Memories of a big  Rhodesian bird in the sky The Rhodesia army had the advantage of air power during the struggle.

The Herald

Isdore Guvamombe-Saturday Lounge Reflections

Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, thunder rumbled. 

A lightning bolt stabbed the air, cracking the sky into uncharacteristic pieces. Again and again the sky was violated and the earth echoed. Everything shook. 

Mountains almost moved. 

Quickly, dark rain clouds started building up in the sky. And, within minutes the sky started weeping. Villagers and their livestock rushed to safety. 

Hard rain tears dropped. 

Grandfather owned a farm in Nyakapupu African Purchase Area. The purchase areas were for Africans trained in agriculture. 

This particular purchase area was squashed between Muzura Mountain Range and the Chimufombo communal lands in what was then the Sipolilo (Chipuriro) Tribal Trust Lands (TTL). 

The war was at its height. Gunshots had become music to the ears. Cultured by the vagaries of war, the ears could now differentiate the sounds of each artillery.

It was an acquired skill. 

It rained silly for an hour and before the skies cleared fully, I found myself carrying food to share with Cde Kapfupi. 

Cde Kapfupi was a liberation war fighter who was for several days now operating as a lone ranger in the area. 

He stayed in the area with his gun, an AK47 rifle. He spent his day between the banana plantation and an anthill near Mupinge River. 

At night he disappeared and hit many Rhodesian targets in and around Sipolilo centre, the Rhodesian district administrative centre now known as Guruve. 

Age was on my side, young enough not to partake the war as a freedom fighter, but old enough to be send around on errands. 

That is the age Rhodesian soldiers never suspected on anything and yet the freedom fighters used that age group for reconnaissance missions. 

It was a kind of borderline age. My short stature made it worse, for, I had also failed to make it into Grade 1 after failing to touch my ear over the head. 

That silly Rhodesian schools inspector antic. I was short and stout. 

Grandma, had just finished preparing a meal and wanted me to take it to Cde Kapfupi, our latest family member, who lived in the bush to fight for us against white supremacy. 

Grandpa and grandma had drilled this war thing into us big time, and we understood the cause, we understood the struggle. 

We were part of the struggle, the young and the old. 

There I was carrying food in the basket, past stunted shrubbery right into the thicket then to the anthill. I found him shivering with cold. His clothes soaked in rain. 

I looked at him from toe to head. His hair was unkempt. He had unusually big eyes and nose for his frame. He somehow still managed to pull a smile. Instead of washing his hands with hot water, he drank it. It was not tea. He wanted to heat up his system. I watched with awe. 

He spoke in a whisper. Soon we started eating together. There was something on his mind today. Yes, he was drenched and he was somehow uncomfortable. He ate very fast and urged me to speed up. 

An eagle flew past and he stopped eating. It was brown in colour and had a distinct white chestnut collar. He looked at it as it perched on a huge tree and turned its head round and round. Round and round, then made a loud call. 

He stood up, corked his gun and left me eating. I stopped immediately, looked for him, but he had disappeared into the bush. 

I packed the plates in a huff and set off for home. I did a combination of trots and runs. Hard, slow and fast! Hard slow and fast. Pace! I looked back and sideways. 

Fear gripping me. 

The clouds were beginning to build up rain again. Lightning stabbed the air, followed by rumbling thunder, but there was another unusual sound.

It soon increased in tempo and speed. It was a Rhodesian helicopter. I looked around and dropped the basket in the bush. I took off at great speed on the path. Being a small boy, I believed if I did not carry anything, I was safe. 

The helicopter got really low and dropped some literature. It was about Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s United African National Congress (UANC). 

The pamphlets, abhorred the relationship between spirit mediums and the freedom fighters. The pamphlets, discouraged black people from supporting guerrillas and the freedom fighters were called. 

Within seconds there was gunfire a few hundred metres away by Mupinge River. It was a sporadic exchange of small artillery. The guns shouted obscenities at each other. Then there was a loud bang. Small shouts, then bang. Silence, silence, silence . . . bang! Silence. Bang! 

Small artillery started shouting again, but in a shifting tapestry that indicated movement from the original combat place. Then there was a deafening and defining bang. This was followed by noisy silence. A silence that spoke loudly about death. I discovered I was hiding under a shrub, sweating. 

Within minutes, a white soldier came running for dear life, Cde Kapfupi in hot pursuit.

It was a hard run that could have easily left Usain Bolt green with envy. Hard boots pounded the ground, but soon Kapfupi closed the gap and tripped the Boer, as they were called those days. 

The white soldier bit the dust, woke up and sat haplessly pleading for mercy.

Kapfupi grabbed him by the collar and dragged him to the banana plantation. I had not seen a white man from close range. 

His eyes roved. Cheeks turned red. Soon people gathered to see the spectacle. Youths were assembled to guard him as captive of war. 

Kapfupi went back into the bush and soon returned carrying on his shoulder another injured white soldier.

He had been shot in the leg and was bleeding profusely. Together with the villagers, they tied the wound and managed to stop his bleeding. 

Cde Kapfupi went into the bush again, never to return. We heard one fresh gunshot. Yes, one gunshot! That was it.

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