“WHEN I die (long pause) I only want to be remembered as a comrade who fought to make people understand that Zapu was not for Ndebele-speaking people and that the struggle was not only fought by Zanu. On that front, I did my part and I will go to sleep a happy man,” said Cde Arthur Chadzingwa during an interview in April 2013.Cde Chadzingwa, passed away about a week ago and my heart sank on hearing about his death. But heroes like Cde Chadzingwa don’t die.
Below is an excerpt from the 2013 interview, which touched me during the interview and which will linger in the minds of many people for years to come. When I asked him why, as a Shona student from the University of Rhodesia, he chose to join Zapu instead of Zanu as most Shona people were doing at that time, Cde Chadzingwa said:
“As students we reasoned that the struggle is for the people. It not about degrees and, as you know, intellectuals can be developed. So that’s what made me remain in ZAPU. I also said to myself, the struggle is about fighting and yet intellectuals want to be safe. They were already talking about what positions they would occupy after independence and I was against that mentality. I want to make it clear here that there were no ideological differences. It was all about personalities and power struggle. Others thought that nyika yavakuuya that’s why there was a split of ZAPU.”
When I asked him, why Zapu was seen as a party for Ndebele people and Zanu for Shona people, Cde Chadzingwa responded saying: “This is something that came after the split of ZAPU but it was not that well pronounced in the beginning. In the beginning, ZAPU was popular in most areas around the country and when ZANU was formed, the party was a minority. ZANU was more of an urban party and a party for intellectuals.
“ZANU failed to convince people that ZAPU should be split. The majority of the people went with Cde Nkomo. When ZANU announced it’s formation, Cde Nkomo had a Press briefing at Cold Comfort Farm where he denounced those who had formed ZANU. Those who went with Cde Nkomo got so angry with those who had formed ZANU that they said Cde Nkomo should be the leader of ZAPU for life. Later there were vicious fights between ZANU and ZAPU supporters. These fights used to happen in the townships. There was this talk that Cde Nkomo the leader of ZAPU is Ndebele and so only Ndebele people were supposed to support him but there were Shona people like Chikerema, Nyandoro, Nyagumbo who built and supported Cde Nkomo.
“Cde Nkomo used to tell even the Ndebele people that I am in this position because of the Shonas. This division that ZANU was for Shonas and ZAPU for Ndebele people later became well pronounced during the armed struggle. This was mainly because of borders. Those who crossed and went to Botswana and then Zambia were mainly those who supported ZAPU while the majority who crossed into Mozambique were Shonas from Mashonaland.”
Go well Comrade Chadzingwa! Thank you for giving us the history. We will forever remember!
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