Joshua Nkomo's book (the Story of my life) serialisation: Part 1
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From my earliest youth I thirsted for freedom. When I became a man, I understood that I could not be free while my country and its people were subject to a government in which they had no say.
In middle life I fought for national independence, and I was 63 years old when, in 1980, Zimbabwe emerged as the last of Britain's African colonies to win nationhood. Yet even then the cause of freedom for the people had not prevailed.
We had won our national right to independence, but our human rights were still suppressed.
This book is not a history - one day if I am spared, I may contribute to the writing of one with a happy ending, but this story has no end.
Instead it is my personal record of a life that has played a part in history, and it is also the work of an active politician who wishes to see things change for the better in the lives of ordinary people of his country.
I have been called Father Zimbabwe. Whether I deserve that title is not for me to say.
But by a dozen years in prison and a half as many in exile I believe I have earned the right to speak for freedom while it is still endangered - this time not by far-off colonial rulers, nor by a settler population who will, I hope, now play their full part as citizens of a new nation, but by my former colleagues in the liberation struggle.
Our war of independence was longer and more cruel than any yet fought in Africa, because it was unnecessary.
The white people of Southern Rhodesia, outnumbered at least twenty to one by the blacks whom they refused to acknowledge as their fellow-citizens, must have known in their hearts that they could not in the long run perpetuate their rule.
The British government had the constitutional duty to make the settlers obey the law, but declined to do so. We had no alternative to taking up arms.
By their prolonged resistance, the settlers themselves fostered bitterness not only between themselves and the black majority, but also between the various African factions struggling for justice in prison or in exile.
Hardly a family in our country was unaffected by the bloody war that was forced upon us.
Tens of thousands of young people grew up knowing nothing but chaos and disruption-living in danger, in the bush, in exile, in makeshift camps, outside the steadying framework of established communities, the focus of their lives the false glamour of the gun. The war was necessary, and I do not regret my part in it.
The price of freedom can never be too high. But the end of the fighting, and the start of the task of building a nation, was the time to draw the divided people back together again, to emphasise the work that can only be done in unity.
Instead Zimbabwe's first government, born out of the rivalries of those years in exile and in prison, set out to impose a narrow sectarianism. It did not really attempt the task of binding up the nation's wounds.
The leaders of the party that won (by questionable means, but let that pass for now) our first elections believed that I symbolised the national unity that they rejected. So I became the focus of their anger, perhaps of their envy.
The party I lead was repressed; the people who look to me for guidance were brutally treated.
After a direct attempt on my life, which seemed likely to be repeated and to be successful, I was persuaded that I could best save my country by surviving-and that meant leaving it for a while.
The greatest irony of my life is that I have written this record of it in Britain, the country that for many decades refused people the freedom they fought for. But the right to publish my memoirs is one that I gratefully claim even from my former oppressors.
CHAPTER 1 - Read More
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