|Four brothers’ tale of the struggle|
|Saturday, 23 June 2012 17:43|
For any parent, it was nightmarish to have a child abandoning school and leaving home to join the liberation struggle in the 1970s.
So it must have been with a lot of trepidation that Rameck Hwingwiri and Monica Tavashure waved goodbye to, not only one son, but four boys who had decided to take up the gun to fight the Rhodesian forces.
The Sunday Mail In-Depth managed to track down the four brothers in Mashonaland Central Province, talked to two — Simon and Timothy — as the other two — Cephas and Berrison — had travelled for business at Negomo and Chihwe respectively
The film gained critical acclaim for its brutal look at war.
And today, they are all successful farmers, thanks again to yet another war they waged, the war to reform the racially skewed land ownership pattern.
“Those were difficult times,” narrated Simon last week at his A1 farm in Guruve.
“There was also that feeling of wanting to be part of the struggle, to liberate the country. You didn’t need any encouragement because the oppression was everywhere and for everyone to feel it.”
“By 1978 there was virtually no school opened in Rushinga and because of the constant harassment that we got from the Rhodesian army, we spent most of our time with the comrades. I was of big build and would help out with some work for the comrades, especially if a battle situation arose.
“As the contacts became more often, it was decided that those who were helping the comrades at the front and had not received proper military training should do so, so that the struggle could gain more ground. So we were dispatched to Tembwe, Mozambique, for training.”
As for Cephas, his joining the liberation war was because of an encounter he had with the comrades, who instantly impressed upon the 19-year-old about the virtues of fighting for the country.
As Simon narrated, the days in Mozambique were no picnic: “It was no easy ride going and being in the struggle. We walked for several days to reach Tete, then Tembwe, where we were given orientation.
“Because of the massive recruitment exercise that was ongoing back home, you find some of the camps had many challenges, like disease and food shortages, so recruits were sent to training camps as quickly as possible.
“I remember arriving at Tembwe, on March 18, 1977, which was celebrated as Chitepo Day, the day that Herbert Chitepo died in 1975, and the air around the camp was euphoric.
“I remember we were under Cdes Bowas, George Kashiri and Teurai Ropa (now Vice-President Joyce Mujuru) as they were members of the general staff. I was then sent to Base Two training camp, under Cdes Makasha and Edwin Munyaradzi.
As much as the long and arduous struggle was full of blood and tears, there were some moments that provided comic relief,
“We were sent to operate in the Gaza province,” recounted Timothy. “That was the time when the Zanla and Zipra forces were operating as one, under the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) banner.
“We had taken shelter for the night in the Gonarezhou National Park, and around day-break a rhino was disturbed in its sleep and came charging towards us.
someone thought it was an attack and fired.
For Simon, the most unforgettable experience came when they were crossing into the country and were attacked after two of their colleagues had gone to a nearby village to seek acquaintances, since the two came from around that village.
It was after the two took long to come back that the group of comrades went in search of their colleagues killed in cold blood.
But that was to be the least of their worries.
For all the dirty and bloody moments they went through, they were only to be re-united in 1979, after going through the different assembly points.
The Mabhodho brothers, whose parents are now late, were born in a family of eight, of which all the seven brothers are surviving and enjoying the fruits of land reform in Guruve, whilst their only sister stays in Harare.