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Zimbabwe Struggle, The Delayed Revolution: an Autobiography

01 Nov 2018 at 12:29hrs | Views
The need to account for multiple narratives in the history of the liberation struggle compelled Andrew Ndlovu's autobiography to proffer his narrative from the front. The book serves to demonstrate the continuation of the 'struggles within the struggles' during the liberation struggle from the nationalists and the disappointments which culminated to war fighters from the front. The emotive land redistribution issue forms the main theme which manifested as "the delayed revolution" in which Andrew Ndlovu was among the pioneers and or leading figures in kick-starting the farm invasions with the late Dr. Chenjerai 'Hitler' Hunzvi. Ndlovu demonstrates the experiences of a war veteran who formerly served within the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) forces and later on more conflicts which led to the revival of revived Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU).

The first to third chapters account for the "volunteer" which fits well with Andrew Ndlovu's war name "volunteer." Ndlovu's call to join the struggle was that of responding to the 'patrolling of Rhodesian police with dogs on leash' in Magwegwe formerly Curtis Farm (p.14). The journey to Botswana and its role in assisting in the cause for Zimbabwe's liberation struggle was accounted for. Regional countries which Ndlovu travelled include not only Botswana, but also Zambia and Tanzania. More notable is that in 1975, Ndlovu was trained in Tanzania and later on moved to Ukraine Republic for further training. It is also the Soviets who gave Ndlovu the name "Volunteer."

The fourth to eleventh chapters brought to the fore the entry of Ndlovu into Rhodesia using the Zambezi River route until ceasefire in 1979. Some challenges encountered in the execution of the struggle are addressed but with the hand of the peasants and role of nature, some of the problems were put down. The Tinda battle in Binga received attention. The experiences of surprise attacks from the Rhodesian forces, survival, avenging, loss of guerillas and enemy counter-attacks characterized the complex unpredictable events in the struggle.

In chapter twelve to fifteen, Ndlovu's narrative remained complex in that conflicts continued mainly as a result of the need to integrate into the Zimbabwe National Army. The author was suspicious of the way ZANU PF won the 1980 elections pointing to the involvement of an external hand mainly Britain and the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] (p.51). Soon after independence, the arrests of Dumiso Dabengwa and the late Lookout Masuku caused intensified tensions between ZAPU and ZANU. The role of the Fifth Brigade in Midlands and Matabeleland regions are dealt with. The events which followed pushed Ndlovu to exile in countries such as Botswana and Liberia. Experiencing being a refugee as a security threat in Liberia also made it complex for Ndlovu to survive  as he was perceived as a spy in the civil war which had erupted in that country. However, other skills of dealing with conflicting war spaces empowered Ndlovu to leadership roles and studying in Liberia was made possible as well. The story of a consultant in demobilization and rehabilitation programs back in Zimbabwe emerged and leading the war veterans with the late Dr. Chenjerai Hunzvi.

Chapter sixteen focuses much on Ndlovu the leader, being 'instrumental in conducting and directing the farm invasions' (p.64). Also formerly a human rights founder of the ZIMRIGHTS, Ndlovu served as a treasurer for five years. Among other prominent leaders within these circles included Garfield Todd, Nicholas Ndebele and the late former Prime Minister Morgan R. Tsvangirai who served from 2008-2013. The issue of who is a national hero also emerged with Ndlovu disappointed by the ZANU PF bias in according hero status. The conflicting narratives on the impact of war veterans in land invasions were articulated. The death of Chenjerai Hunzvi was another blow which however gave him chance to be at the helm of leadership for the war veterans.

The last two chapters focused on Ndlovu's views on first, reflecting "the marriages of convenient" from 1987 Unity Accord and 2008-2013 Government of National Unit (GNU) and the resolution to pull out of ZANU PF. From page eighty three of the book, over thirty photographs were inserted showing Ndlovu and his family as well as some notable experiences he had in and outside Zimbabwe. Some of the photographs of figures in Zimbabwe's national memory include the former President Robert Mugabe speaking at Dr. Hunzvi's funeral, and the late vice President Joseph Msika, among many.

The book positively contributes to narratives of the armed struggle in Matabeleland North and covering districts such as Nkayi, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Binga and Hwange. This adds to narratives which demonstrate the supportive role that the peasants played in the liberation struggle, confirming K. D. Manungo's (1991) observations that the guerillas and peasants where like fish and water. The Sunday News in a way possibly fulfills Andrew Ndlovu's quest for narratives from the front and especially coming from former ZPRA cadres.

However, the work suffers from sketchy narratives on some aspects such as the everyday life in training camps, the almost fictional narrative which the author survived an arm bush in 1978 manifests (p.34), and some claims are made without substantiated evidence (p.51).

Although Andrew Ndlovu is a professional accountant, his book is an important contribution which academics, students of history, general readers with interest in Zimbabwe's war history and heritage studies experts can benefit from. The autobiography has pointers to some areas that professional historians can research more on, such as the voices of Zimbabwean war refugees in unexplored countries such as Ukraine, Botswana and Liberia.

Brian Maregedze is a historian, author and columnist.
Author of, A Guide to Sources of African History: For Advanced Level Examinations (2018).
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Source - Brian Maregedze
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