The Sunday Mail
LAST week, Cde Deria Minizhu, whose Chimurenga name was Cde Georgina Chakanaka narrated how her father and five other villagers were killed at Teresera Base after her father’s young brother lied to the comrades. She narrated how her father was beaten to death and how this babamunini later came with some Rhodesian forces who bombed Teresera Base leaving many comrades dead.
In this interview with our team comprising Munyaradzi Huni and Tendai Manzvanzvike, Cde Georgina narrates how some comrades later hunted down this babamunini and killed him in gruesome ways that will leave many speechless. Despite, all the horror, torture and pain that she went through, Cde Georgina later became “simbi yebasa” during the liberation struggle. Read on …
SM: Comrade Georgina, let’s continue your gruesome story. You said after causing the death of your father through lies and bringing Rhodesian forces to bomb Teresera Base, your babamunini was killed like a dog. Explain how he died.
Cde Georgina: When he was being hunted nemacomrades, babamunini vakanga vakugara vakahwanda mumuti kusvika vanhu vemuraini vati munhu wamuri kutsvaga mumba anotiza okwira mumuti. The comrades would come to the homestead ransack the house looking for babamunini and for quite a while they were failing to locate him. One day, some villagers tipped the comrades that munhu wamuri kutsvaga anorara mumuti. One day the comrades came during the middle of the night and they found him right up the tree. They ordered him to come down.
SM: Who was telling you all this?
Cde Georgina: I was told all this by mother and other villagers after returning from the liberation struggle. I was told kuti baba vako vakafa zvakanaka panefiro yakazoita babamunini. Babamunini vangu vakazofa vachipamhurwa sembudzi. Zviya zvekudimburwa musoro, kubviswa ruoko, gumbo and so on. Mainini vakatama vakanogara mumaraini because her husband’s body parts were strewn all over the yard. Musoro wababamunini wakagadzikwa padoor remba maziso akabuda kunze. One of his legs was in one corner of the yard, maoko in another corner. The body parts were left in the open like this for two days. After two days, macomrades then came nemujobo vachijobora maparts ababamunini vaya vachiisa musaga. These body parts were then thrown into Mukumbura River. That’s how this babamunini died. When I was told this, I didn’t feel much for him because he had lied to the comrades who killed my father and in addition he also brought Rhodesian soldiers who massacred many people at Teresera Base.
SM: Comrade Georgina, listening to you one gets the impression that these comrades were now tormenting the people they were supposed to free.
Cde Georgina: Like I told you, these comrades later discovered that babamunini had lied to them about my father and as a result the comrades had killed my father and five other villagers. In addition, babamunini had brought Rhodesian forces who bombed Teresera Base leading to the deaths of many comrades. What did you expect them to do to such a person?
These comrades wanted to free the country and free the people but babamunini had to be dealt with that way because he had caused the deaths of many innocent people.
SM: Now, let’s go back to your journey. After the bombing at Teresera Base, you said you went to Chifombo. How long were you at Chifombo and what exactly where you doing there?
Cde Georgina: Like I told you, when we got to Chifombo I was very sick after days of walking. My legs were swollen but after some weeks I was fine. I received treatment. Later, I joined other comrades carrying materiel (ammunition) from Chifombo to Zambezi River. We were the first female comrades to carry materiel from Chifombo to Zambezi River where vana mukoma would then take the ammunition and distribute it to other comrades at the front. You know sometimes we would get shoes, but walking from Chifombo to Zambezi and back waidzoka usisina bhutsu yapera yese. Taikwira makomo ainzi Makwira Wadya. Waiti mukadzi ukakwira uri mberi, murume ari mumashure aiwona zvese zviri mukati mehembe yako. Taiva simbi dzebasa. I remember some comrades who were coming from Tanzania after military training, they would faint along the way isu tichienda. Sometimes, we would be instructed to go ahead of the group so that we would find time to cook for the comrades.
SM: You went to the struggle when you were 13 years, you didn’t volunteer to go to the struggle, your father had been killed while you watched and as you were walking to Chifombo you got very sick. Now you are saying makanga mava simbi yebasa. Where had you gathered the courage to do this? It’s as if the past didn’t matter anymore?
Cde Georgina: I told you that kuhondo taigarwa nesu pasi tichidzidziswa. I had been told that this was part of the war and there was no reason to keep mourning. I told you that Cde Bethune was one of the comrades who sat down with me and explained things to me. Taigariswa pasi everyday and they would give us political orientation. With time I understood that ndatova comrade and my duty was to fight for my country. So as we carried materiel, I told myself kuti macomrades who were kufront havafanirwi kushaya mabullets to fight the enemy. This is what gave me the strength. During this time, everything to do with how my father had been killed went to the back of my mind. We now had a task ahead and there was no time to continue crying.
I can’t remember exactly how long I was at Chifombo. From there, together with other female comrades we were taken to the Zanu farm in Lusaka. Kwakanzi we needed rest. From the Zanu farm that’s when I later went for military training.
SM: Who are some of the female comrades you were with at Chifombo?
Cde Georgina: I remember there was Cdes Dadirai, Chisungo, Mationesa (she later died), Mavis, Tendai, Muchaneta, Steria and many others. Like I told you when we got to Chifombo, there were 13 female comrades and we joined them. Now we were 16 but other female comrades kept coming. At the farm, there were so many farming activities. While at the farm, it was announced that kuri kudiwa the first female comrades to go for military training. I was among this first group that was taken to Nachingweya Camp in Tanzania. I think we were around 74 female comrades in this group. I can’t remember the exact figure. I remember one of the female comrades got pregnant and she was taken back to Lusaka. I actually think this comrade joined us when she was already pregnant.
SM: What was the name of this female comrade?
Cde Georgina: I can’t remember exactly her name. I think our instructors, Cde Khumalo and Cde Elias Hondo can remember her name. I also remember another female comrade got sick and passed away. We received military training at Nachingweya. Like I said, we had two Zanla instructors, Cde Khumalo and Cde Hondo. There were also two instructors, a male and a female, from Frelimo.
While at Nachingweya, we later discovered that this is the camp where former Mozambican President Samora Machel was staying. During our pass-out parade, there was vaMuzenda together with Samora Machel among the top dignitaries. I remember during our parade, Samora Machel took it upon himself kutimachisa because he was very proud of us. He told our Zanla leaders that takanga tamudadisa so he wanted to show them how good we were with all our drills. If you talk to any of the female comrades who were there on this day, they are still very proud because takadadisa. Hapana chaunondiudza about pfuti up to this day. I can assemble any gun with my eyes closed.
You see, Samora Machel was saying we were going to train other female comrades so we were supposed to be very good and we excelled. Samora would tell us you are going to be the instructors so ndinoda kuti mubve makanyatsobikika.
At Nachingweya were taught political orientation, mass mobilisation, how to assemble different types of guns and how to use the guns. This was a rigorous exercise. We received training just like our male counterparts. The training was for about six months.
SM: After receiving military training, where did you go?
Cde Georgina: From Nachingweya, takaiswa at different bases as instructors. I became a member of seguranza, meaning security intelligence. My job was to make sure that I detect sellouts with the recruits. Ndakatobata quite a number of people vakanga vatotumwa naSmith. These people would come pretending as if they wanted to join the struggle yet there were spies. I remember a group of comrades who came with bags filled with clothes. When I saw them, I quickly sensed that there was something wrong. These comrades were so smart as if they were going for some holiday. Kuhondo kwaisaendwa like that. So our commanders vakanditi chimbotamba navo tione.
I was still a cute little girl. So ndakenda and started mixing with these comrades. One of the comrades akabva andinyenga. He started saying musikana akanaka sewe so anogara musango sei? Ngatidzokere kumusha unogara muSalisbury uchidya zvinonaka.
SM: When this comrades proposed did you say yes?
Cde Georgina: Yes, ndakatoti ndinokuda and the comrade became very comfortable with me. He told me everything and I was busy reporting back to my commanders. I remember one of the commanders actually went to Lusaka to buy me a mini-dress, kuti zvidya zviende panze so that vakomana vadyire. At one time, this comrade told me kuti ngatisangane kumatoilets avarume in the middle of the night so that we could sneak out and go back to Rhodesia. I remember my boss kusecurity at that base was Cde Takawira. I told him kuti ndava kuda kuendwa neni back to Rhodesia. He told me to go to the toilet and wait for this comrade. This comrade came with his friends and just as he was about to grab my waist kuti handei, the other comrades who were laying in ambush vakabva vati “hold!” Takabva tasungwa tese. Ndaiva nenhamo yekusungwa because this had to look real.
After this we were taken to a parade where the commanders said tabata vatengesi ava. Some comrades who knew me were surprised. Later this comrades were taken to our cells ataiti mapidigu. Raiva jeri repasi that we dug. Muma pidigu ndimo mataiisa vatengesi.
I later became company commander, then battalion commander in charge of security. Later I became a member of the General Staff. When I became a member of the General Staff I had a secretary who would write down things for me. Most comrades knew that I had not gone to school so they made sure they assigned a secretary to do the writing for me. Sometimes when they wanted my signature, I would just put an X. Of course later I went to night school and now I can write very well.
Because of the nature of my job, I was assigned to many bases in Mozambique. I could not stay at one base for a long time. I ended up at Chaminuka Base, which was responsible for security. Chimoio Camp was bombed while I was at Chaminuka Base. Handiti you know kuti Chimoio camp had many bases. So Chaminuka was one of the bases in charge of security.
SM: You are saying when the bombing at Chimoio happened while you were there. How did you survive?
Cde Georgina: I don’t really know how I survived because I have never seen such kind of bombardment. I got shot during this bombardment (showing the scars on her body). I remember taking cover under a thick forest while bleeding profusely. While in that position, I saw a very big snake coming in my direction but I didn’t move. Nyoka iyi yakafamba nemukusana kwangu ichiita seiri kuda kupfuura. It then turned and looked at me. After a short while, yakaisa musoro wayo pasi and I knew it was giving me a message no to move from this position. I knew kuti mudzimu waindiudza what to do because the commotion at the camp was just something else. I remained in this hiding place until very late in the evening. That snake was in that position the whole day. In the evening, yakatanga kumononoka and it went away. I knew it was time for me to move. As I started walking, I met some comrades and one of the comrades used his shirt to bandage my wound.
SM: So after the massacre at Chomoio, where did you go?
Cde Georgina: I was taken to hospital in Chimoio town and was admitted for several weeks. After this I was taken to Tembwe. Tembwe was also attacked ndiripo. I survived again. Later, I was taken to Maputo and attended rufu rwaCde Tongogara. We used to call him Cde Tongo Mukono waidzvova. I tell you when that comrade died, it really affected many comrades.
After attending rufu rwaCde Tongo, a few months later, we were flown into Zimbabwe during the time of ceasefire. I came together with Cde Muzenda, naiye Teurai uyu (Mai Mujuru) and many others. We were taken to Mushandirapamwe Hotel in Highfield. Later we were taken to Highlands until Cde Mnangagwa came. He took me kuimba yaPresident Mugabe yekuWaterfalls along Derbyshire Road. Sometimes the President would come to this house, especially during weekends. He would say “ndati ndimbozorora Georgina ndiri kuno kwako.” Later, I was moved to State House. I got very close to Amai Sally Mugabe during these days. Both President Mugabe and Mai Sally understood my history and they welcomed me into their life as if I was their own child. While others went to Assemble Points, I didn’t and handidi kunyepa, ndakambochengetwa navaMugabe and Mai Sally. I am forever grateful.
We later were sent to go for campaigns in Mt Darwin and I went together with Teurai (mai Mujuru), Cde George Rutanhire and other comrades. The party said as comrades we were supposed to go and campaign in our home areas so that povho could easily understand why they had to vote for Zanu.
SM: Comrade Georgina, there is an issue that many female comrades talk about that people don’t understand. The issue about menstrual periods. How far true is it that some women, especially the first groups stopped having their menstrual periods during the liberation struggle?
Cde Georgina: I can tell you that I went for something like two to three years, without having menstrual periods. I had my first periods when I was 14 years that is one year after I joined the liberation struggle. But I just had the periods once and it stopped for years.
SM: How did this happen?
Cde Georgina: I was taken kunaMbuya Nehanda. By this I mean homwe yaMbuya Nehanda. Together with other female comrades, takapihwa mushonga wechibhoyi and we drank. Takapihwa tumidzi twataka tsenga tikamedza nemvura. After this ritual we all stopped going for our periods. This is when I started believing kuti hondo yaitungamirirwa nemasvikiro.
Of course, after some years some of us started having menstrual periods and I tell you it was a nightmare. There was no cotton and waisvika pakutora dhende woisa pakati kuti ubatsirike.