A well-oiled military machine

The colonial reference to the Second Chimurenga as “the bush war” lulls some people into thinking Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle was a disorganised, disjointed effort that saw guerrillas somehow overcoming Ian Smith’s army.

Such perceptions change once one steps into the almost complete Chimoio Museum, whose unveiling is pencilled for November 23, 2018.

The museum is a record of the camp that Smith bombed in 1977.

Chimoio was the Zanu Headquarters during the war. When Mozambique won independence in 1975, many residents of Portuguese extraction chose to leave the country. One of them was Adriano, whose farm the Frelimo government gave to Zanu for its use.

Even today, the site is still referred to by some as “Adriano’s”.

When the 1977 attack happened, Adriano’s farmhouse was razed to the ground.

Now a massive reconstruction exercise has seen the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe putting the structure back together in as much likeness as possible to how it stood before the massacre.

The rebuilt farmhouse is a museum that retells the November 23, 1977 while also taking visitors on a journey into how Zimbabwe came into being.

Besides serving as Zanu’s HQ, Chimoio had 13 sub-camps.

Parirenyatwa Camp was the clinic, named after Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa, who was killed in a suspicious rail-road accident at Heaney Junction just outside Bulawayo in 1962.

Takawira Camp, named after Leopold Takawira, consisted of Takawaira I and Takawira II. The former specialised in military training whilst the second specialised in engineering and anti-air manoeuvres.

The two camps were manned by experienced cadres who had trained in countries like China, Tanzania and the then Yugoslavia.

At any given time, the camp had about 200 occupants; and had an underground bunker, which also served as an escape route.

Some survived the 1977 attack because of this bunker.

The Chitepo College of Ideology, also at Chimoio, was a centre for intensive ideological and political orientation.

Chimoio prided itself for its school, which did wonders with the bare minimum resources. Among its staff were Dzingai Mutumbuka, who was to be Zimbabwe’s first Minister of Education, Fay Chung (also a future Education Minister) and Shebia Takawira, who ran the Chindunduma Camp that housed the school.

Mbuya Nehanda Camp, named after the spirit medium famous for the words “mapfupa angu achamuka” and “tora gidi uzvitonge”, was also subdivided into two.

It was mainly for female occupants, and had military training and a maternity wing.

Percy Ntini was a member of the Revolutionary Council and was one of the first freedom fighters to be injured in the war. For that, he was honoured by having a camp named after him. This camp was for rehabilitation of the war wounded.

Chaminuka, one of the spirit mediums who led the initial rebellion against white settlement in the 1880s, had a camp named after him at Chimoio.

This was the headquarters for security, intelligence and counter-intelligence. It also doubled as a prison for infiltrators (vatengesi).

Zvido Zvevanhu was the logistics hub, where food provisions, clothing and vehicle records were kept.

The liberation struggle was not just about war, it was also about equipping freedom fighters to be self-reliant. Hence the creation of Mudzingadzi, an agricultural hub which thrived on self-help projects like piggeries.

Because resources were limited and that movement of people was restricted, it was necessary to be as self-reliant as possible when it came to food.

One of the most common narrations from the liberation struggle is that Josiah Magama Tongogara foresaw his death, that he mentioned on a number of occasions and at different times, that the day that he dies, Zimbabwe attains independence.

Such narrations show how closely the spiritual realm was closely interlinked with the liberation struggle.

Pasichigare Camp was thus the home of spirit mediums and traditional healers.

Their teachings centred on sexual purity, discipline, protection of the environment and the existential importance of the land question.

From time to time, Pasichigare also foretold imminent enemy attacks.

Sekuru Kaguvi, another eminent spirit medium from the First Chimurenga, was honoured with a camp in his name, which was a home for the elderly.

At the centre of all these camps was Adriano’s farm house, which was referred to as White House or Zimbabwe House, and it housed the General Staff.

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