After three decades of silence, people in Zimbabwe are finally speaking out about the brutal civil war that followed independence. It’s no longer taboo to mention the ethnic massacres of the 1980s – even though President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ousted Robert Mugabe last year, was head of the security services at the time. As survivors tell their horrific stories, young people discover their parents’ suffering. Reconciliation may depend on how Zimbabwe comes to terms with its painful past.
Our reporters have been talking to the survivors of one of Zimbabwe’s most violent periods, a time when former president Robert Mugabe‘s forces brutally attacked fellow citizens. Between 1983 and 1985, the army carried out numerous massacres in the western region of Matabeleland. At the heart of the matter was a catastrophic falling-out between Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, an erstwhile ally, before Mugabe became president in 1987.
Today the memory of that time is still all too vivid in the minds of survivors, and its legacy is ever-present in popular songs and even theatre. Meanwhile, bodies are finally being exhumed and examined so that families can find out what happened to their loved ones. FRANCE 24’s Caroline Dumay and Stefan Carstens report from Zimbabwe.