A massacre few talk about

Nyangahu is not spoken of with the same frequency as Chimoio, Freedom Camp, Mkushi or Nyadzonia; yet it is here that hundreds of freedom fighters perished as Zimbabwe marched towards liberation.

The shrine, where a mass grave of those callously murdered in 1997 lie buried, is 12km outside Beira, just off Nyangahu suburb.

With the war front hundreds of kilometres away in Tete, the first question that strikes someone is: what were freedom fighters doing in Beira?

Nyangahu was a training and transit camp.

During Portuguese colonisation of Mozambique, Nyangahu was a notorious prison, which the new Mozambique government closed at independence.

The facilities were extended to Zanla, Zanu’s armed wing, to use for military training.

Hence the birth of Nyangahu training and transit camp, which at its peak had a population of about 600 cadres.

It was through Nyangahu that some cadres would be sent abroad, especially Romania, for training. And those coming back from training would be based there, waiting for deployment to the front.

In 1976, at the height of the senseless bombing by Ian Smith’s regime of refugee, training and transit camps around Mozambique, Nyangahu fell victim to the same.

Laurenco Thomas, who was 17-years-old at the time of the attack, remembers vividly the events as they unfolded that day.

“It was around lunch time as the freedom fighters were lining up to get their food rations that smaller planes were dropped off the big one. Within minutes the whole place was up in smoke and we could see the bombing from our homes,” he narrated.

Given the secret location of Nyangahu Camp and the massive bombing it received, leaving it almost without a survivor, there is strong suspicion that sellouts had infiltrated the facility.

The timing of the attack conducted as cadres milled in one place to get their food rations — butresses that belief, ringing echoes of how Morrison Nyathi that same year helped the racist regime attack Nyadzonya.

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