Last night (2 August 2020), I did something I had ceased doing in quite a long time – watched something on the state broadcaster, ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation), other than the news and some selected current affairs programs – as I largely regard everything else aired on that channel as childish and pathetic, whereas the only reason I endure the torturous minutes of the shoddily researched and produced news and current affairs, is to avoid missing anything happening in my own backyard.
That being said, I will never regret watching the current affairs program screened soon after the 20:00 hrs ‘Sunday Edition’ news bulletin, which meticulously chronicled the brave and perilous journey and planning undertaken by the eight valiant ZANLA liberation struggle heroes, who were involved in one of the most bruising attacks of the whole war – the ‘bombing’ of the SHELL/BP fuel tanks, in the very heart of the capital Salisbury (now Harare).
I was awe-inspired, as some of the surviving group of this attack (with names such as, Comrade Bombs) gave in-depth step by step accounts of their risky mission – traveling from Mozambique, their stopovers along the way, challenges faced, support provided by various people, reconnaissance of the tanks, and their subsequent shooting (as opposed to ‘bombing’).
As much as all this was extremely fascinating, however, two glaring aspects of this story immediately grasped my utmost attention – the unparalleled and unflinching dedication, commitment, and bravery of these gallant freedom fighters to see their country and its people emancipated from the shackles of political, economic, and social oppression and subjugation, as well as the way their lives appeared to have never improved since the advent of that ‘Uhuru’ on the midnight of 17 April 1980, which they had sacrificed everything for.
I was nearly drove to tears, as I found myself glued to the television set – filled with indescribable emotions of admiration for these Sons of the Soil – as their unrelenting determination to see a Zimbabwe equal for all its citizens, irregardless of colour,or gender, or ethnicity, or proximity to echelons of power, permeated my very soul.
The very thought that they were doing what they were doing, for the betterment of every person who considered him or herself a Zimbabwean, was more than enough to embolden them with such focus and fortitude, that they were prepared to undertake and undergo some of the most dangerous missions – which most of us today would wet our pants just thinking of.
They went ahead undeterred, irregardless.
Nonetheless, in the midst of watching and absorbing every detail of this captivating documentary, a more disturbing thought quickly entered my mind – why did all these men and women, who gave everything for his country and its people, put themselves through all this danger…thousands even paying the ultimate sacrifice?
What is there to show, today, for these bravest of the bravest’s immeasurable and invaluable selfless actions – that saw many more losing their loved ones, limbs, homes, cattle, and so much more?
Can anyone truthfully say that the generality of Zimbabweans are better off today, as they were in those colonial days of Rhodesia?
In fact, as the documentary proceeded, my heart groaned in immense pain, as those who assisted these eight freedom fighters with places to hide, and bases to carry out their reconnaissance from, narrated their own experiences.
What agonized me the most were not so much their accounts of events – although, truly admirable – but, the realization that they still resided in the same ramshackle houses, as they did during colonial times, and still poverty-stricken under an ‘independent’ Zimbabwe, which they helped free.
Such a gloomy scene laid bare the irony of the fallacy and sham of Zimbabwe’s independence – as it presented a loud and unequivocal statement that the lives of ordinary citizens, including those who bore the brunt of the liberation struggle, largely did not improve with the advent of ‘Uhuru’, but actually worsened for the majority.
Needless to say, only a handful of those who were primarily in the top strata of the nationalist movement during the struggle, were the only ones who benefited from this ‘independence’, as they amassed unbelievable wealth – largely through nefarious corruption and pillaging of the nation’s vast resources, which they have unashamedly conducted with repulsive impunity.
Yet, the rest of the population – with those same gallant liberation struggle heroes, who were at the forefront of this most deadly war – having been reduced to pitiful beggars, barely surviving on the brink of starvation, having to lineup for food handouts, and constantly begging for a share of the national cake…considering that they do not even receive the smallest of crumbs.
And, when these millions upon millions of Zimbabweans cry out to be saved from their flood of poverty, they are branded as ‘sellouts’, ‘traitors’, and ‘terrorists’, whose only worthy reward is unbearable persecution, repression, and brutality.
So, again, I ask: “Why did all those most fearless men and women sacrifice everything in a perilous war, that took away the lives of thousands upon thousands of innocent souls”?
I rest my case.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speech writer. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org