A quick look at 1974 (ca. 1974)

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This is a digitised version of the editorial from The Zimbabwe Review Vol. 3 Quarterly No. 4/74. 

1974 is coming to an end, Soon we shall be entering the new year. A brief glance over the past twelve months will help us to draw up a balance of our set backs and achievements. In a situation such as ours where we are laying down a foundation and, at the same time, seeking to cover new ground and defend our gains against such a rapacious enemy as the Rhodesian and South African facists set backs are to be expected. In our situation it must be born in mind that we are not always in possession of the necessary means to meet the immediate demand.

We began 1974 with the spirit to forge ahead. We vowed that we would never give ground to our enemy. We inflicted several losses on the enemy. Never will the racists forget the ZAPU attack on the fishing camp at Kandahar in which a whole unit of South African forces was wiped out without as much as a single drop of blood being shed by the gallant Zimbabweans, That was a blow that both Smith and Vorster will live to remember. For as long as we are denied freedom in our own land, more Kandahar incidents should be expected. Both Smith and Vorster will have yet more incidents to remember in their sad lifetime.

We are not unaware of certain very desperate acts mounted by forces of oppression in certain areas against absolutely innocent souls as reprisals against our many successful onslaughts to free Zimbabwe. We regard reprisals against harmless civilians as expressions of craven cowardice. We do not only criticise such measures, but condemn them with all the violance at our disposal.

While our national task is long and arduous, we do not lose sight of its urgency. We are acutely aware that the enemy is not standing idly by but is trying to consolidating his position daily.

We feel a sense of sharp exasperation at repeated reports at some arms deals between nations (whose bitter experiences and losses are not unlike ours) and the Rhodesian regime or the South African facists. We are not aware that those nations who have consistently claimed to be with us, but make occasional arms purchases from South Africa, can be serving their interests, long-term or short-term, in view of the changing political panorama in Southern Africa. We appeal to them to reassess their priorities correctly.

The world is divided between anti-imperialist freedom forces and those of anti-freedom Reacetionaries forces. It is not realistic to claim to stand between the two without a national stand point for one or the other. With the passing of 1974, we appeal to all those who claim to support freedom to show it by their actions which must always constitute a blow against the oppressive dictatorships of Southern Africa.

We cannot take statements at the United Nations or the Organisation of African Unity or by certain members of the nonalligned grouping seriously if the actions of the speakers both before and after the statements show a clear partiality for South African or Rhodesian trade, finance or products. We hope that 1975 will bring about a change in this regard.

The change in Mozambique is a lesson to those who based their external policies on expediency rather than on principle. Without excluding any friend or supporter, we would be failing in our international obligations if we did not mention the great role played in our struggle by countries like Zambia, Tanzania, the USSR, the German Democratic Republic, Somalia, Botswana and others.

At this crucial stage we need international material support and facilities. We cannot but feel greatly encouraged by the tangible and visible help from those of our brothers and sisters whose geographical situation and ideological obligations place them in the same camp with us vis-a-vis oppression and exploitation, We kindly request those whose sympathy is neither visible nor tangible but only audible to acknowledge that sooner than later they will have to deal with us from effective positions of power than with the present South African or Rhodesian racists. We are the forces of the future. The oppressive regimes are only but a passing phenomenon, whose connection with history is as short lived as it is maintained by armed violance.

It is not easy to define absolute commitment to the struggle and the sacrifices involved and demanded of all of us. Commitment to the armed struggle means simply engagement to the liberation cause, in this case to the liberation cause of Zimbabwe. The sacrifices are many and high, and so are the stakes which are freedom, justice, equality, human dignity and rights denied which we presently live under violent oppression and exploitation in our own land. The situation in our country calls for utmost commitment and the highest sacrifice from each of us if we are to achieve our cherished goal as a nation. Some of us are in the struggle just because we are Zimbabweans and have been caught up in a situation from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Some of us are in the struggle for what little excitement we can get from it. Some of us are in it because it is fashionable to be so involved these days. Some of us joined because we could not get jobs or school accomodation. Yet some of us joined voluntarily because we realised the national necessity to fight for the freedom of our country, which means, in effect, for our own freedom. Some joined for mere positions. We can illustrate the case about those who are in the struggle because it is fashionable by quoting an incident which occurred in the United States in 1965 after Smith had made his ill-fated unilateral declaration of independence. African students in the USA staged demonstrations one of which was joined by four American students who did not know why the Africans were demonstrating, or where Zimbabwe was. On being asked why they had joined the demonstration, one of them replied: “It’s a demonstration, isn’t it? If it’s a demonstration, then it must be for something good and we don’t want to be left out of it!*

Those of us who have analysed our situation and understood it have rightly concluded that nothing short of the utmost sacrifice can correct the injustices meted out to us by the white minority regime. The conclusion was made without losing sight of all the sacrifices and hardships encountered on the way towards freedom. Families left without bread-winners; wives, children and relatives go naked. Riches and comforts are given up for the sake of the nation. Some of us left trappings of leisurely lives. Some have adequate qualifications to earn lavish wages as doctors, lawyers, teachers and even commercial entrepreneurs, By giving these examples, we are not implying that some people have more reason to shun the armed struggle than others. What we mean is that some people have resisted the meaningless temptations of life to join the meaningful patriotic forces fighting for our national freedom.

Fighting for our national freedom means choosing the Gonakudzingwa and What Wha detention camps. It means choosing jail; it means the hangman’s noose; it means physical beatings and humiliation at the callous hands of the fascist regime and its brutal agents. Those who are shooting it out for freedom in the hills and bushes of Zimbabwe have chosen to live with snakes, lions and mosquitoes as unwelcome daily companions. This means living virtually with disease. All this some of us chose knowing very well that we were staking our lives as the highest form of sacrifice we can and should offer for our liberty. The situation in our country demands nothing less than this. It demands self-denial. Lest we are misunderstood, we must hasten to point out that parents whose children have joined the armed revolution must be commended for encouraging their children in this regard. This is indeed a tremendous sacrifice because it is not easy for a parent to remain calm when their child goes off to fight a war for no material pay but national freedom. Parents with children in the front spend many sleepless nights thinking and worrying. Some parents have actually seen their sons sentenced to death and subsequently hanged in the Salisbury Central Prison. Yet these parents have maintained an iron will by showing absolute determination to resist the enemy. They understand fully that for Zimbabwe to be free, Zimbabweans must fight and in fighting some of them are bound to fall. This is what we mean by absolute commitment and sacrifice. Those whose children are at home and are earning what little they can under this vicious system, have a solemn duty to console and comfort the bereft. They have an inescapable duty to support those who have no bread-winners, They must realise that the system demands a change, and that the change can and will come about only through our own effort. They must realise that nobody is responsible for anybody’s hardships in the armed revolution. We would like to state very strongly that the possession of such objects as cars, television sets and a few other visible signs of material wealth is absolutely nothing if one does not understand and fight the evil system in Zimbabwe for the benefit of all people for all time.

We are opposed to any tendency towards living in order to acquire riches at the expense of the revolutionary changes occurring around us. Such a tendency makes one blind to the changing scene. We do not want colonised minds whose aim in life is to emulate the white exploiters. We want an anti-colonial mind which strives for a radical change in our society. This radical change for the benefit of all people will come about only through the armed liberation struggle. Colonised minds are dangerous to this struggle because they are submissive, docile and subservient to the enemy and his oppressive laws Zimbabweans had better realise that this is a time when everybody must rise up and strike a blow for the cause of freedom. We should not sit back while our enemy continues to plunder the riches of our father-land. We should not sit idly by while our sons and daughters are executed by our avowed enemy. We should not stand by while our dedicated leaders languish in prisons for fighting for justice and equality. We should not watch quietly while our livestock is being stolen from us in broad day-light. We should not fai! to fight when we are removed from our land to make room for our white enemy. We should stand up and join the armed revolution under ZAPU. This is a duty we must perform with, pride and conviction.

Let us spread the revolutionary struggle through a revolutionary spirit throughout our land. Let us stand firm in spite of all this suffering and deprivation, Let us shew confidence in ourselves by fighting for ourselves. We should not falter nor fear. We should all forge ahead with absolute commitment and make whatever sacrifices our serious situation may demand, It is only through that course of patriotic action that we shall free our Zimbabwe from white minority domination. That course of action needs us all, at all times, all over Zimbabwe.

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Chaminuka Ndimambo

A military strategist, warrior, prophet, musician and a poet, Chaminuka is one of the most revered