Reliving 1980 celebrations
Isdore Guvamombe Reflections
Back in the village in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve no sun sets without leaving behind its own piece of history. The sun is so crafty and inherently stubborn that between dawn and dusk of each day, history is written.
Last night in April 1980 and under the silhouette sunset horizon village herdboys tethered goats to the pegs with sisal ropes and closed cattle in the kraals. Soon the goats and cattle started chewing the cud, resigning to their boring routine nights.
Momentarily, the village was alive with children playing in the dusk, their sturdy legs caked with a mixture of cow dung, mud and dust. They were indeed bidding farewell to the day and unbeknown to them, bidding farewell to an era.
Each child knew exactly what time to go home for the war had just ended, but there was still a possibility of the war coming back. The night suddenly went oppressively silent.
The only sound the villagers could hear was screeching crickets, the distant hoot of the owl and the howling of the jackal. Even the night was dangerously quiet and pregnant with the anticipation of the next day’s activities.
Tree branches sang in harmony with the easterly winds. Men sat around fires, discussing a major event that was about to change the fortunes of the black majority.
It was an event too good to believe — a chance too good to miss and a destiny all and sundry in the black community of Rhodesia was waiting for.
But as the norm in the village, it was taboo to discuss matters of grave importance on dry throats and equally taboo to participate in serious matters while sloshed. So, they drank a little from their calabashes, leaving room for tomorrow’s job. Suddenly the village went to sleep, everyone no longer milking from behind the ears, promising to wake up early and fulfil a promise to endorse his or her liberation from colonial bondage.
Rhodesia was a forlorn affair, very few people would go back to it. Maybe only sell-outs and die hard Rhodesians. The villagers had, made sure Rhodesia was dead and buried.
At dawn today in 1980 or the time when elephants normally bath in Dande River, many a villager came out of the stupor of sleep and partook domestic chores in preparation for the celebrations.
Then, the sun shone brilliantly and villagers gathered at Muzika School, greeting each other effusively, cheering and enjoying the dawn of a new era. Villagers went into a frenzy of celebrations the whole day. Cattle, goats, sheep and chicken were slaughtered. Drums of food boiled on huge bonfires, whose tongues of flames licked the exterior metal with historical touch.
Pemberai Pemberai vakoma
Hiyaho hiyaho hiya pemberai!
Nyika yababa . . . Tichichangozvitonga
Nevachatevera, nevana vevana . . . vachangozvitonga . . !
Inhaka yababa . . . Pemberai!
Sang a youngish and spike-haired Thomas Mapfumo from the gramophone! Villagers danced and raised the dust. Their bodies needed to shake off the oeuvre of Rhodesia.
They sweated it out through bump-jive, kongonya and chamusasura dances. There was deft footwork, body shaking and waist wriggling.
When night fell it was as if that was dawn. No one went home. The dancing and feasting continued. Robert Mugabe, then euphemistically referred to by villagers as Jongwe or the Lion That Roars From The Bush (Shumba inodzvova yoga musango) and his colleagues had done it.
Other gallant sons and daughters had sacrificed their lives for Zimbabwe.
In the aftermath of the celebrations, the grounds had nothing but dust and gnawed bones, empty and half-empty bottles and the villagers were seen snoring in various corners and postures. On such occasions, like these, some virgins were deflowered.
Some members overcome by drink and fatigue, sprawled in various corners, for in Rhodesia all they had enjoyed was forced labour, dehumanising treatment and suffering.
Now, 34 years after independence, Zimbabweans in their broad totality should today pour out of their shells and celebrate our nationhood, more so, after successfully implementing the land reform programme and indigenisation, things that are taking the people’s revolution to its logical conclusion. If mere independence sent villagers into frenzy why should success stories of indigenisation, empowerment and land reform not send us mad?
This villager wishes every Zimbabwean good health and excellent independence celebrations. Let us enjoy the peace prevailing in our country and pray for those who have lost their moral compasses.
Long live Zimbabwe. Long live the villagers. Long live our independence and long live everyone.