As much as the highly emotive Gukurahundi genocide has never ceased to be one of the most central issues to grip Zimbabwe for the past four decades – being indisputably the darkest blot on this country’s post-independence history – the recent tribalistic vitriolic ranting by the minister of information Monica Mutsvangwa, and the subsequent government, and pro-government activist, reaction to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference (ZCBC)’s Pastoral Letter, has further heightened tensions over the matter.
What made this issue ignite such outrage and fury within the country was the reckless, cruel, and very dangerously ill-thought clearly tribally-charged assertion by Mutsvangwa and her administration, and those blindly supporting their stance, that people demanding justice for the over 20,000 innocent men, women, and children cold-bloodedly massacred by the Zimbabwe military between 1982 and 1987 in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces – as well as, unborn babies gouged out from their pregnant mothers wombs by gun bayonets, numerous women mass raped, men who had their limbs cut off, families burnt alive in their homes, and much more gruesome atrocities) – were merely opening up ‘old wounds’… effectively telling the nation to leave the past in the past.
This was after the ZCBC has raised this unresolved genocide in their pastoral letter, as part of their bravely honest and open rebuke of the regime, for its countless and unending devilish brutality and repression against a largely defenceless and innocent population – ever since the country attained independence from Britain in 1980 – with shameless unrepentant impunity.
As had become the norm with this arrogant and self-righteous ruling elite – which always regards anyone who fearlessly speaks out, and stands up, against its anti-people and sadistic acts as ‘enemies of the state’, further labeling them ‘terrorists’ and ‘dark forces’ that need to be flushed out – it embarked on a caustic campaign of vilifying those calling it out for its apparent insincerity in addressing this nefarious genocide – by, acknowledging its role, holding those responsible answerable, apologizing to those affected, and negotiating any restitution…as both the victims and perpetrators are mostly still alive.
Without delving into the other subjects raised in the pastoral letter, and the harsh government response – coupled with the customary denials – what touched me more than anything else was the repeated demand by those in power for the nation to somehow ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ – claiming that bringing up these atrocities was ‘opening up old wounds’, and potentially leading to renewed tribal tensions and animosities.
Firstly, let me put the record straight – considering that the Zimbabwe government has a despicable track record of involving the rest of the population in its own divisive and barbaric activities – by categorically stating that, this was never an inter-tribal conflict, in the same mould as the 7 April to 15 July 1994 Rwanda genocide – whereby, the majority Hutu mercilessly massacred the minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu – but, rather a purely state sponsored atrocity, spearheaded by the military’s North Korean trained 5th Brigade, against a largely Ndebele population.
I personally witnessed aspect of this satanic genocide in my own hometown of Redcliff (in the Midlands province), at the tender age of eleven years in 1984 – homes of Ndebele speakers being razed to the ground; children wailing as they helplessly watched their parents being beaten to a pulp with logs; others being made to climb very tall trees or posts, and forced to jump to their injury; and some who died, were tied to a local railway line, so that the evening goods train could crush them, and cited as suicide or a drunken accident – and can vouch this was arguably the most traumatizing period of my entire life, that I will never forget, since the memories are still very fresh in my mind, as if it happened only a few years ago.
What then puzzles me beyond measure is, why the regime would honestly expect Zimbabweans to simply forget and forgive this most evil part of our history – something even I would not be able to do, although I was but a little child at the time – especially, with the perpetrators never bothering to humble themselves, acknowledge their crimes, be held accountable, and make restitutions.
Let us never forget that, as much as those in power would want to wish their sins away, this will forever be an integral part of our shameful legacy as a country – because, history is defined as, “a continuous, usually chronological, record of important or public events”, and, as such, can not be omitted or trivialized, but has to be told, and will be told for as long as this world exists…just as we still learn about the Nazi Holocaust, which happened far away in Germany, over seven decades ago.
The hypocrisy and irony of this elitist military junta’s vain attempts to wipe their own dastardly past under the carpet, is that – since the country is celebrating our liberation struggle heroes and heroines in this month of August – they never waste any moment in repeatedly reminding the nation of the numerous heinous bombings, mass killings, and brutality committed by the White Rhodesian regime on the Black population.
Of course, such incidents should be told, as they are a part of our history – so, why not talk about the Gukurahundi genocide in the same manner, and provide it similar prominence?
Which wounds should, or should not, be opened? If Gukurahundi incites tribal tensions – which, it should not, as the Shona never fought the Ndebele, but rather, the regime fought the Ndebele – why would the highlighting of our colonial history also not rouse racial tensions?
Is the government telling us that, racial hatred in the country is preferable, than tribal conflict? If that is the case, then we have a more demented regime that previously assumed.
History is history, and it can never be wished, or washed away – but, needs to be confronted in a genuine manner – as opposed to the cosmetic, and clearly insincere shenanigans that we have been witnessing, lacking the seriousness such an emotive issue demands.
In fact, the overtly and undeniably tribal tirade by Mutsvangwa towards the ZCBC – with the peculiar targeting of the only Ndebele signatory to a document, Archbishop Ndlovu, yet signed by several other bishops – infested with pernicious statements as, “the righteous Ndebele minority”, and unnecessary references to the Rwanda genocide, betrayed a continued unrepentant anti-Ndebele prejudice within the ruling political hierarchy – a iniquitous spirit that should actually encourage more Zimbabweans to demand justice for all the victims of this barbaric evil…
…forcing the rest of us to question, who is actually inciting tribal conflict amongst Zimbabweans?
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on Whatsapp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: email@example.com.