ABOUT two weeks ago, I had visitors in my office whose heart-rending story left me feeling drained. First to visit me was mukoma Huckson Conoria Kanyera, then came tete Mirian Muzarugwi and Angel Chandiwa Muzarugwi. I have received countless requests for interviews from relatives whose family members died during the liberation struggle and so when these three visitors came to my office, I just said there goes that ordinary story. But I was wrong.
Mukoma Huckson Conoria Kanyera is the young brother to Cde Concert Conoria Kanyera whose Chimurenga name was Cde Jani Musungwa while tete Muzarugwi is sister to the late Zanu member of the High Command Cde Bobby Muzarugwi whose Chimurenga name was Cde Tinzwei Goronga. Chandi is the daughter that Cde Goronga had with the Cde Catherine Mutandadzi.
Tete Muzarugwi and Chandi wept uncontrollably as they narrated their efforts to bring home the remains of Cde Goronga from Mozambique. Cde Goronga together with Cde Jani, driver Cde Ndebvu Six and two assistants, Cde Gogoni and Cde Osiman were ambushed by the Rhodesian forces in Tete province in August 1979. They all perished in this ambush and were buried together in a shallow grave.
Some of the comrades who buried these five comrades are still alive and are prepared to go and identify the shallow grave, but since 1980, the Kanyera and Muzarugwi families have failed to go and exhume the remains of their relatives. The families are now being haunted by the spirits of these two comrades and as tete Muzarugwi and Chandi wept uncontrollably narrating their story, I kept saying to my self; “so the liberation struggle is not yet over for some families?”
Read excepts below from my interviews with Tete Muzarugwi and Chandi.
Munyaradzi Huni (MH): Let me start with you tete. Can you briefly tell us who was Cde Tinzwei Goronga?
Tete Muzarugwi: Bobby was born in 8 August 1953 in Shurugwi, kwaNhema. Our father relocated to Zambia around 1958-59 and we later followed with our mother in 1960. Bobby did all his education in Zambia and he went to school with people like David Mnangagwa, the young brother to Vice President Mnangagwa. I also went to school with some of VP Mnangagwa’s sisters because we were all staying in Mumbwa. After finishing his A-level, Bobby got training as a miller engineer and later worked in Lusaka.
As he was working, suddenly Bobby started playing music from home despite the fact that we had grown up in Zambia. We just thought as a grown up person he was now missing home and music was the closest he could get to home. The other thing was that our parents had divorced and this made Bobby very angry. He always told us that he wanted to go back to Rhodesia to look after our mother.
One day Bobby went kuna sekuru vedu baba vababa and he said sekuru pane kwandiri kuda kuenda ndichadzoka. Akabva avarimira munda wese netractor and went away. I only got to know about this when he was already gone. This was in 1973.
After this I never saw him again. In 1980, we were back in Harare and the late VP Muzenda came to our house in Glen View with Cde Catherine Mutandadzi. He said tauya nemwana, Chandi Muzarugwi akasiyiwa naBobby pamwechete namai vemwana uyu, Catherine Mutandadzi. We later went to VP Muzenda’s offices to sort the child’s welfare being assisted by Cde Mayor Urimbo. Arrangements we even made for us to go to Mozambique to see where Bobby was buried, but then later Cde Mayor Urimbo said we couldn’t go because kwakanga kune hondo yanamatsanga. So everything was put on hold. I think this was around 1981-82.
So Bobby’s child Chandi was sent to school by the Government and I really want to thank the Government for that. Chandi’s mother later passed away.
MH: How would you describe the Bobby you grew up with?
Tete Muzarugwi: He was a quiet person but aine hasha. He enjoyed exercising a lot nekugara mudondo achipfura shiri.
MH: When you heard that Bobby had gone to join the liberation struggle, how did you receive that?
Tete Muzarugwi: I was devastated. I was really really devastated. (Tears rolling down her cheeks) Up to this day I can’t believe he just went and I never saw him again. I still feel like achauya mwana wamai vangu. I feel like that because I never got the chance to see where he was buried. Of course I know many people died during the liberation struggle, but zvinondirwadza.
MH: After all these years, why do you still think he will one day come back?
Tete Muzarugwi: (weeping) Isu vanhu kana munhu akafa, mukamuviga unoona kuti uyu tamuisa apa. Zvino mwana wamai vangu handina kumuona paakaisiwa. Handitozivi kuti akaiswa sei, tinongoita zvekungonzwa. Hongu yakanga iri hondo but uuummm, zvinondinetsa.
Bobby was my only brother and we were very close. I told you kuti Bobby akanga aine hasha but kwandiri he was very soft. He loved me and I loved him. We had a strong bond. I don’t even know how to describe it. I really loved my . . .(weeping uncontrollably) Ndatadza kuti ndimukanganwe. I have so many relatives who passed away, but each time I look at Bobby’s picture, it pains me.
I have never stopped dreaming about Bobby. Unouya kuhope dzangu achitaura zvaanoda kutaura. After 35 years he still comes to my dreams.
MH: What does he say when he comes to your dreams?
Tete Muzarugwi: He started coming to my dreams when his daughter Chandi was still very young. He would come to my dreams and ask ‘waenda kunoona mwana here?’ At that time, around the 1980s, Chandi was staying in Kutama namaiguru vake. Ndikarota like that iye Chandi ikoko kwaKutama anenge achitopenga kuti handei kubus stop. She would be saying ‘tete kubhazhi,’ and by the time I got to Kutama, I would find Chandi waiting for me at the bus stop.
MH: When you think about Bobby what usually comes to your mind?
Tete Muzarugwi: I always say dai mwana wamai vangu anga aripo ndaiwana wekuchemera.
MH: But some people would say why keep on troubling yourself, the liberation struggle is now a thing of the past.
Tete Muzarugwi: My wish is that as a family we go and get Bobby’s remains in Mozambique and bring my brother home to rest. Many comrades talk about Bobby and what he did for them. I want him to come home and rest. To me the liberation struggle is not a thing of the past. Its current. A very painful current (weeping). I was given hope that we would bring him home but that hasn’t happened. I am in pain. I want to give Bobby a descent burial.
Sometimes when I have problems, he comes to my dreams advising me what to do. But over the last few months, Bobby anga avakuuya akatsamwa. I would talk to him but he would not respond. He would just look at me ndobva ndashaya kuti chii.
MH: What do you mean anenge akatsamwa?
Tete Muzarugwi: If I talk to him in my dreams, he won’t say anything. In the past we would talk for sometime.
MH: Why do you think he appears angry now as he comes in your dreams?
Tete Muzarugwi: I really don’t know. Maybe ipfungwa dzangu because I think about him everyday.
MH: You said arrangements had been made that you were going to Mozambique to exhume Bobby’s remains and everything was put on hold in the early 1980s due to the Renamo war. After all these years, what have been the other challenges you faced in trying to bring Bobby’s remains back home?
Tete Muzarugwi: As you know my brother was buried in a shallow grave with four other comrades. So one of the families whose relative was buried together with Bobby, the Kanyera family had problems in their family. Vana vaigara musango, vachipenga and so on. So vakada kutsvaga kuti what was causing all this and they were told kuti its their relative, Concert Conoria Kanyera whose Chimurenga name was Cde Jani Musungwa who is fighting so that he is brought home. He was buried in the same shallow grave with Bobby.
Vafamba they were told kuti their relative was buried in the same shallow grace with Cde Tinzwei Goronga and three other comrades. They were advised to look for Cde Tinzwei Goronga’s family for them to be able to exhume the remains of their relative. That’s how they looked for me. We joined forces and started running around to get all the documentation to exhume our relatives.
We went to the Zanu-PF offices several times. We were referred to the Zimbabwe Fallen Heroes Trust where we were introduced to people like Cde Motsi and Cde Rutanhire.
We approached Cde Perence Shiri and Cde Zimondi because we were told these were Bobby’s friends. VaZimondi vakachema kuti munoziva here kuti ndairara in the same poshto naCde Tinzwei Goronga? He said Goronga was his friend and pledged to assist me. VaZimondi then took me in his car to meet Cde Solomon Mujuru. VaMujuru said zvamauya zvanaka. He said he wanted someone who knew where these five comrades were buried.
We went around looking for these comrades. We went to Mt Darwin and found Cde Chiweshe. He actually told us that ‘ndini ndakavaviga. I know mavigiro andakavaita.’ He told us that he buried these five comrades in a shallow grave and he narrated to us how they arranged the comrades in this shallow grave.
In this shallow grave there is Cdes Tinzwei Goronga, Jani Musungwa, driver Cde Ndebvu Six and assistants Cde Godoni and Cde Osiman. This ambush happened in August 1979 in Tete province.
MH: According to this Cde Chiweshe, what had actually happened to Cde Goronga and his team?
Tete Muzarugwi: He said they were ambushed by the Rhodesian soldiers as they were going to see whether there were any survivors after the massacre at Tembwe. He said their vehicle was hit and it went up in flames. We were told that Cde Goronga actually got out of this burning vehicle and died a few metres away from the vehicle. The driver was burnt in his seating position. Cde Jani Musungwa died while holding the door after he had disembarked from the car.
That’s what we were told by Cde Chiweshe. He is still alive and is ready to go with us to Tete to identify this shallow grave.
MH: Was this your first time to hear what had actually happened to your brother and his fellow comrades?
Tete Muzarugwi: Yes, this was my first time to hear this story in such graphic ways. Zvakandibata zvisingaite. This was in 2010. I wept like a little child. It was as if Bobby had just died.
Some comrades had told me about the ambush, including Chandi’s mother because she was also a war veteran but no one had given me these graphic details. Ndakabatikana because for the first time it dawned on me that Bobby akafa zveshuwa (tears rolling down).
MH: We hear that some families after independence in 1980, conducted rituals to appease the spirits of their relatives who died during the liberation struggle. As a family did you do anything in this regard?
Tete Muzarugwi: Takabika doro tikaita zviya zvekusutsa guva. Takaviga musoro wembudzi tikaita magadziro. We did this soon after independence baba vachiri vapenyu.
After speaking to Cde Chiweshe, we wrote letters to the Politburo and we are told the Politburo deliberated on this issue. VaDidymus Mutasa is the one who was handling the issue and mwanangu ndakambotsvinyirwa hangu in my life but vaMutasa vakanditsvinyira zvandisati ndamboona (weeping). He said to us ‘ndimi murikuda kuti vanaGoronga vadzoswe? Pavakaenda kuhondo vakakuudzai here? Did they tell you kuti vachadzoswa kumusha? Ini kwangu kwaMutasa ndakafirwa stereki handina wandakambonotora.’ He said so many hurtful and painful things.
I was with mukoma Huckson Conoria Kanyera, the young brother to Cde Jani Musungwa. Ndakaita hasha. I stood up and said to vaMutasa, ‘ini muno handingagari ndava kuenda. Makatirega tichiita mapepa ese aya kuti mugozotiudza rough yakadai?’ VaMutasa then said ‘haa, garai pasi, garai pasi.’ I then sat down and he said ‘Zanu-PF has no money to bring people like Goronga back home.’ He added that ‘hatina zvimbo yekuvaisa’ and I said to him Goronga anekumusha. We will take him there. Isu hatisikuda zvekuHeroes Acre. We want Bobby to come home and rest.
VaMutasa then said ‘we can give you money yekuti munogadzira guva racho ikoko kuMozambique.’
MH: Tete, as I am conducting these interviews under Chronicles from the Second Chimurenga, I tell all comrades not to be emotional because of current politics. Now, are you not saying this against vaMutasa because he was expelled from Zanu-PF?
Tete Muzarugwi: No, no, no. You can bring him here. I will say this to him face to face because that is exactly what he said. I have nothing personal or a grudge against him. All I wanted was assistance but rough yavakatiita shocked me. I just said to him if you knew this was not possible why did you leave us wasting money and time?
MH: So where is this issue at the moment?
Tete Muzarugwi: All we want now is the go-ahead to go and exhume the remains. We don’t have the resources but we can look around. Some people have offered petrol and so on to go to Mozambique, but we want authority from Zanu-PF to go and exhume the remains.
MH: You can’t go without authority from Zanu-PF?
Tete Muzarugwi: I don’t think it will be proper. Bobby was a member of Zanu’s High Command. It won’t be proper. We have all the documentation but we don’t have the go-ahead from Zanu-PF.
MH: Clearly you have tried everything as a family. What are some of the problems you are facing as a family because of this issue?
Tete Muzarugwi: Tine mwana mukoma, Manson from the family pfungwa dzake hadzisisiri right. He can just be violent but munhu akadzidza. Vana baba vasati vafa vaiti vakafamba vaiudzwa kuti imhepo dzaBobby. Vaiudzwa kuti pane munhu akafira kunze kuhondo he wants to be brought home. This boy is very intelligent. As he was growing up, he had to skip some grades because he was intelligent. Izvozvi rangova benzi kumusha nenyaya iyi.
He finished A-Level and actually worked at PG but akazongoramba basa. Akada kungorova vana baba kutengesa zvinhu pamusha. Its really sad. Sometimes he can wake up in the middle of the night, otora chitanda pretending to be holding a gun. This is someone who never experienced the war but if you see some of the things he do, you will think he received some training or something.
MH: Tete is this real or you are just making it up?
Tete Muzarugwi: As you can see, this issue has been troubling us for years but we never made it public. But as a family tirikunetseka. Mweya waBobby unogara uchitiudza kuti arikuda kuuya kumusha. We have so many other things troubling us.
MH: What message would you want to give to those who are supposed to assist you to bring Bobby home?
Tete Muzarugwi: My wish is for Government to assist us ndinotora mwana wamai vangu. (Weeping) Ndoda auye avigwe panababa vake. Handisikuda zvakawanda. I don’t want money or anything. I want my brother. That’s the only way I am going to rest.
So many people have died in my family but Bobby anondirwadza. Ndichatongozorora nekufa. (Weeping uncontrollably) I have a heart problem and I think it was caused by thinking Bobby too much. I can’t stop thinking about this. I can’t. Ndatadza kuwana zororo.
MH: From wherever Bobby is, if he is listening, what would you want to say to him?
Tete Muzarugwi: (long pause) Bobby you chose to die for your country. Ndakarwadziwa mwana wababa vangu. I am trying all I can to bring you home. Ndichafa ndichiedza Bobby kuti dai watorwa ukadzoka kumusha. (Weeping) Usanditsamwire mwana wamai. I will die trying asi kana zvaramba hazvo, tosangana kudenga.
I am doing all I can Bobby. Handina chandiinacho but you can see I can go to the last cent kana ndanzwa munhu anoti tinoda kuti tiite zvaBobby adzoke kumusha. Shungu ndinadzo mwana wamai vangu. Zvinhu zviri kungondiomerawo hazvo. I have never stopped loving you and I know you still love me. Tichasanganiswa namwari.
MH: Now coming to you Chandi, let’s talk a bit about you then we later talk about your father.
Chandi: My name is Angel, Chandi Muzarugwi but I grew up using my mother’s surname Mutandadzi. I am 37 year old. I am married and I have three kids. All boys who ask me a lot about their grandfather. I have been staying in Canada for ten years now. Chandi is shortcut for Chandiwa which was my grandfather’s name. I was given the name by my father soon after birth. My mother told me before she died that if my father hadn’t named me Chandiwa, it would have taken DNA tests for my family to accept me.
MH: You obviously have heard a lot about your father, Cde Tinzwei Goronga. From what you hear, what kind of father do you visualize?
Chandi: You know growing up, talking about my father was a very sensitive issue to me. During the early days, whenever my relatives saw me, they would cry and that really confused me. As a result I never grew up talking about my father. Like you saw, tete is always crying because of this issue. This has affected me psychologically. Even gogo was like this until she died. She was always crying about this issue.
Even if you ask tete, I would never ask much about my father because I knew it was an issue that brought pain and tears. (Tears rolling down her cheeks) Even talking about it now still pains me. The picture I have of my father is that of him standing by a burning truck holding a gun. That’s all that comes to my mind. I am very emotional today because this is the first time I have had the opportunity to hear his story from tete in full.
You see hapana guva rekuenda to see for me to have closure. I have fantasies that one day someone will knock on the door and it will be my father. There is no closure.
The memory I have is that one day, when I was staying at Harare Children’s Home, tete came to take me kumusha saying tirikuenda kunoviga baba vako. But when we got kumusha, vakaviga musoro wembudzi. As a child, you wonder what is going on. Ko vaigoviga baba vangu vari musoro wembudzi how? They tried to explain but it all didn’t make sense. Now if people ask kuti where was your father buried, I can’t even talk about it.
My mother passed away so I am an orphan now. I remember giving my mother a torrid time always saying ndiri kuda kuenda kunababa vangu when I was young. My mother would cry because she didn’t know what to say.
As a child you think vanhu vese vakafa vanemakuva and I haven’t seen guva rababa vangu so he is somewhere and he will come home. I used to think maybe they made a mistake. My mother later re-married and I would continue telling her kuti you are married but my father is coming.
I have been told several times kuti ndikaramba ndichichema it brings munyama but there is nothing I can do. I know kuti mweya wababa vangu may not rest in peace if I continue crying but what can I do?
I want to go to my father’s grave ndichiisawo maruva and talk to him. I brought my kids from Canada but there is nowhere I can take them to show them my father’s grave.
My mother did a lot during and after the liberation struggle and I always asked her kuti you could do all this and you are doing all this but you can’t bring my father home?
MH: What would she say?
Chandi: She would say its not easy. She kept on saying we are working on it until the day she died. (Weeping) You can imagine the pain of not knowing where my father was buried and while in Canada my mother called me from hospital. She said ‘Chandi, uchengete vamwe vana.’ I said ‘what are you talking about’ and she said ‘I am now going to a better place.’ I said ‘mama don’t talk like that.’ We spoke for a few more minutes and that was it. Tete I can’t continue doing this ….(crying and long pause).
When I talk to my kids about my father they say, ‘let’s go see where he was buried’ and I tell them that for that to happen we have to go to another country. They ask me ‘how do we go to another country when he is from Zimbabwe? Isn’t it you said he died to free Zimbabwe? So Zimbabwe is free why is he not buried here?’ Its torture.
I want to thank babamunini Huckson Conoria Kanyera for running around and working so hard to bring my father home. We are now family.
MH: Sorry Chandi, did you say you once stayed at the children’s home?
Chandi: Yes I stayed at Harare Children’s Home when my mother was busy going around the country vetting war veterans and counting those who had returned alive. At this time the children’s home had very good standards so it was for my good. This wasn’t like abandonment. She wanted good care for me. She actually paid for it. My mother was a very independent woman. She didn’t want to burden other people.
MH: When you talk about your father you cry so uncontrollably. Why after all these years? Is there something troubling you in life?
Chandi: As human beings we need closure. Closure is very important. If you don’t have closure in some chapter of your life, you will never be able to move on. When I came back in 2014, I had so many problems in my life. Marital problems and so on. I just said I have to go back home pane zvinhu zvisina kugadzikana. I had closure when my father died but not with my father.
I asked around about this issue while in Canada and many people told me that I needed closure on this issue. I will never get that closure until there is a grave where I lay some flowers and say baba ndauya to say goodbye.
MH: Some people would say you are living in Canada and things are going on well for you, so why trouble yourself?
Chandi: There is nothing going on well. Living in Canada doesn’t mean all is well.
You know I always say if only my father was around. My husband married me when my father was long gone but you know unana baba vako your husband haaiti mafunnies newe. Fathers always say don’t mess with my daughter. There was no one to do that for me.
The other thing you know when I look at people who say they were my father’s associates, there are all in high places and I think maybe if he was around I would be somewhere. I sometimes ask myself, if he was alive, what would he be?
You know fathers play a big role in a daughter’s life because the father determines what kind of husband she is going to marry. The choices you make as a daughter in choosing a husband are determined by the qualities of your father. Even when men look for wives, their chooses are determined by the qualities of their mothers. I feel my father loves me and he still guides me.
MH: You must be very frustrated that efforts to bring your father home are not bearing any fruits?
Chandi: Yeah, I am. Its very painful. How come some comrades have been brought back to Zimbabwe? Why not my father? Asi pane chavakatadza? Why are some people happy kuti vagare musango? Can’t people see we are suffering? Aren’t our tears enough?
What pains even more is that my father was declared a hero but as a family we didn’t know and we were never notified. I only got to know about this when babamunini Kanyera brought a newspaper cutting saying he was declared a hero. No one told anyone anything but to me all this doesn’t matter. I want my father to be brought back home so that I can have closure.
People in Canada see me celebrating Independence Day and one day someone said to be why do you celebrate independence there is no independence in Zimbabwe?
I said I celebrate Independence every single year and I wear my Independence colours because I have good reasons to do that. My mother and father fought for this country. Ndina sekuru vangu Ndoda Hondo he did a lot for this country. I have so many relatives who died during the liberation struggle. So I have reasons to celebrate Independence Day. I don’t care what other people say. I am not political but when Independence Day and Heroes Day come, I celebrate. These days mean a lot to me. To some its time for dhindindi but for me its time to reflect.
It would be good to one day celebrate these days when my father is back home and I will not rest until this happens. I love you daddy.
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