More battles before Uhuru

10 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
More battles before Uhuru

The Sunday Mail

THIS is our final instalment with Cde Nelson Ndarasika, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Godo Tambawega. In the previous instalment, Cde Tambawega narrated how his group of 16 liberation war fighters waylaid and ambushed white farmers who were unsympathetic to the liberation cause. We round up our five-week discussion with Cde Ndarasika, narrating to our Senior Reporter, TENDAI CHARA, some of the major battles that he took part in as the war slowly, but bitterly came to an end.

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TC: Cde Ndarasika, we concluded our discussion last week with you telling us about how you ambushed and killed a white commercial farmer and his wife. What happened after the attack?

NN: Like I said, after the ambush, we went to the dead farmer’s house and looted whatever we wanted.

We were then given blankets by the povo and went to sleep on the banks of the Rusitu River.

We were very tired and as a result we overslept.

When we finally woke up, it was around 9 am.

We had the likes of Cde Sparkie, Cde Paul Nyamudeza and Cde Smoke in our group.

As we were wrapping up our blankets, Cde Smoke noticed that a huge python had coiled up around his blanket.

It was a bad omen and we knew that something bad was going to happen that day.

Cde Onai, our sectional political commissar, took traditional snuff and sprayed it on the python.

During the war, every fighter carried around traditional snuff.

TC: What about the guerrilla fighters who were not traditionalists and had different religious beliefs? Did they carry around with them the traditional snuff?

NN: What other religious beliefs? During the war, we never talked about Christianity or any other religions.

I am not sure if we had any guerrilla fighters who were practicing Christianity.

If they were there, they did not openly talk about their beliefs.

During the war, we sought guidance from Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Chaminuka and other spirit mediums.

TC: You can continue from where you were talking about the python.

NN: After discovering the python, we decided to move away from that place since we had a feeling that we might be attacked.

However, before we moved out, we noticed a spotter plane hovering above us.

We did not know that all this time, we were being observed by the Rhodesian soldiers from their observation points in the mountains.

As soon as the spotter plane passed, we immediately went into battle formation.

We were suddenly attacked by helicopters.

A fierce battle was fought that day.

We exchanged fire with the enemy from around 11 am up until around 6 pm when it was dark and we could not engage in battle.

Luckily, on our side, we did not lose any fighter during that battle.

The Rhodesian army had deployed six helicopters that were fitted with machine guns.

We shot down one of the helicopters.

We later gathered from the masses that five Rhodesian soldiers lost their lives during the battle.

We also gathered that the locals had concluded that we were wiped off during the battle.

Due to the heavy bombardment, the locals had given us no chance of coming out alive.

TC: How did you cope with the cold weather? The areas that you were operating from can be very cold.

NN: We were now used to the cold weather, we had adapted.

Also note that we had Puma blankets.

In terms of food, blankets and clothing, we were covered.

TC: Tell us about the other battles that you took part in.

NN: We fought many battles, too many battles to mention.

I remember this other battle when we decided to attack the Ngaone protected village.

During this stage of the war, villagers were now being forcibly taken into protected areas.

So one day we decided to attack the Ngaone protected village.

We wanted to show the Rhodesians that we could hit them direct at their supposed strongholds.

When the villagers in Ngaone were forced into protected areas, two families refused to go live in these protected villages.

We had the Madenya and Ndonga families.

The families lived in Chituta Village and when all the other villagers were driven into protected areas, the two families went to live in the mountains after their homes were set on fire.

So we were living with them in the bush.

The two families performed heroic acts.

One member of the Madenya family was actually shot because of us.

He was on his way to alert us of an impending attack when the Rhodesians shot and killed him in cold blood.

TC: Why were you attacking the protected areas?

NN: Since the masses had been driven into protected areas, we were at times facing starvation.

So we had to go into the protected areas and get the food and clothes.

Sometimes our food would be smuggled by women concealed in diapers.

The protected villages were manned by the Guard Force, black guards who had received basic military training, with a white person as their commander.

Most white farmers were trained soldiers who could form a battalion and go for patrols.

I remember a local woman was caught with food that she was smuggling out of the village.

That woman died a horrible death.

She was beaten to death whilst her fellow villagers watched.

This did not go down well with us and we decided to avenge her death by attacking the protected village.

We had six Mortar 60s and we laid landmines on the road that led to the protected village since we knew that the Rhodesian army would send reinforcements after our attack.

Six guards died during the battle.

One of the major ambushes that I took part in was at a farm called New Year’s Gift, which was located on the outskirts of Chipinge town.

It was a successful ambush and many enemy forces lost their lives.

Since we were fighting a guerrilla and not conventional war, we were either ambushing the enemy or conducting surprise attacks.

I remember another fierce battle that we fought in the Dzingire area.

We were ambushed by the Rhodesians after we had been sold out.

We were forced to retreat and we dispersed into maize fields.

Although we had bazookas and light machine guns, the enemy was better armed and we were forced to eat humble pie.

TC: What did you learn from the war experiences?

NN: The war taught us a lot of lessons. Yanga iri hondo yebindurazvinhu.

We were not fighting the white race, but we were fighting a system.

We had many white people who supported us during the war.

The war of liberation taught us to be united.

TC: Tell us about the last years of the struggle.

NN: In 1979, we were taken aback by the death of our commander, General Tongogara.

When we received the news of Cde Tongo’s death, we were very much devastated and demotivated.

However, we were not surprised because General Tongo always told us that he was not going to make it into independent Zimbabwe.

We lost a great leader, Cde Tongo was a great motivator.

During the war, he often addressed us and after such addresses, one would feel motivated and raring to go to war.

Even now if I am faced with some challenges, I always refer to Cde Tongo’s words of encouragement.

TC: What happened to you after ceasefire?

NN: When ceasefire was announced, I was in Rusitu. We did not immediately return to Zimbabwe. I was part of a standby force that was assembled as a measure against an attack by the Rhodesians.

From Rusitu, I was taken to Mutandahwe Assembly Point in Chipinge and from there, I was then integrated into the Zimbabwe National Army.

TC: Cde Ndarasika, thank you very much for your time.

NN: You are most welcome.

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