Remembering Chimoio: 34 Years Later
On this day 23 November1977 the Ian Smith’s Rhodesian forces launched an attack on 14 guerrilla and refugee camps, killing 5,000.
It was the mass murder of innocent refugees at Chimoio by the Rhodesian forces on that fateful day when the world woke up to the shock news of the atrocity we now know as the Chimoio Massacre.
One of the survivors of this horrible act, Cde Oppah Muchinguri, who is ZANU(PF)’s Secretary for Women Affairs, says the Chimoio massacre remains indelibly stamped in her memory.
I was a member of the General Staff where I worked as Secretary of the High Command. We had several bases at Chimoio – farming, medicine, commissariat etc – and Chimoio was the headquarters.
We saw planes, about ten initially, flying towards the camp. We did not suspect anything as we thought they were Mozambican. We had been attacked before at Nyadzonia… The planes started dropping bombs and parachutes.
Rhodesian ground forces had already been dropped and had us surrounded, so the planes were targeting their bombs at our camp. As the bombs fell those who tried to escape faced helicopters which were targeting the outskirts of the camp.
When the bombing was over, the Rhodesians rummaged through our things, food, clothing etc. those who survived and returned to the camp discovered that there was no food; if they found it it was poisoned. We lost a good number of survivors to food poisoning. Some who could not flee as a result of severe injuries were killed by the enemy.
As Secretary I was responsible for the safekeeping of all party and war documents so I dug a hole and buried them in the ground.
The liberation war was real. People sacrificed themselves to bring independence. People suffered to set Zimbabwe free.
Sometimes we do not realise the atrocities that liberation fighters had to go through to give us the freedom we have now. We have many people pretty much spitting on the memory of the many who sacrificed themselves to give us the chance that we have nowadays
As Cde Muchinguri said, the war was real. Many men and women faced it head on and laid their lives on the line so we could have a country we call Zimbabwe. As time moves on some of these things are consigned to folklore and the weight of the sacrifice is lost on those who are its greatest beneficiaries.
As long as we live, we must never forget