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Book review: The Chimurenga Protocol, Defending Zimbabwe's sovereignty

08 Apr 2013 at 05:12hrs | Views
The term chimurenga or revolution has been in use for generations now and this column would not have started at a better juncture than looking at Dr Caleb Mtizira-Nondo's book, The Chimurenga Protocol, which celebrates the success of the struggle for political and economic independence in Zimbabwe.

Mtizira-Nondo, a medical doctor by profession, has published other books, mainly on HIV and Aids.

Titles that quickly come to mind are Lethal Virus and Deadly Twist of Fate. The Ebola Conspiracy is his forthcoming book.

The Chimurenga Protocol offers a refreshingly different perspective on the First and Second Chimurengas, which are bygone, and the third, which, many will agree, is still underway.

This narrative, a must-read for any serious scholar, represents a deviation in terms of the author's usual thematic concerns.



It is divided into three parts, aptly named: the First Chimurenga, The Empire's Treachery and, lastly, Operation "Mwana Wevhu". Mtizira-Nondo's 241-page narrative is divided into 17 chapters.

The writer chooses to begin The Chimurenga Protocol with an excerpt from Kwame Nkrumah's speech at the occasion of Ghana's independence in 1957: "From now on, there is a new African in the world, and that African is ready to fight his own battle and show that, after all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs."

Nkrumah is one of Africa's leading nationalists and the message here is crisp and clear. The new mould of African is one who is ready to challenge the bondage of yesteryear, whose worst moments are illustrated by the transcontinental slave trade.

This new breed of African stands up to fight for his own without having to enlist the services of European and American benevolence or philanthropism.

The trade in humans left Africa with a mortal wound and while it had been halted by the time colonialism took root, major European powers continued to exploit the continent through direct control, which in essence is colonialism.

The self-proclaimed Messiahnic quest by Europe to "civilise" Africa, which turned out to be a mission to "subdue and exploit", is what the First and Second Chimurengas were out to challenge.

Mtizira-Nondo's book, which gives details of these, becomes an indictment on colonialism and its related injustices.

The Chimurenga Protocol is a factual narrative based on true historical events that took place in Zimbabwe. Mtizira-Nondo views the 1896-7 wars as successful since the indigenous nationalist spirit gets rekindled in 1966 with the firing of the first shots of the Second Chimurenga.

Cecil John Rhodes's dream to establish the Cape to Cairo link was obviously driven by unbridled greed and was meant to guarantee increased imperial traffic on the continent.

The continued shipment of profits, oiled by the sweat of cheap and forced African labour, to the metropolis was, therefore, guaranteed.

The Chimurenga Protocol, therefore, must be viewed as a poignant celebration of the capacity and potential of Africans to claim their own.

Having been cheated out of land and mineral resources through the Rudd Concession, penned in October 1888, black Zimbabweans slid into abject poverty following the expropriation of land, minerals and livestock by the settler regime.

They had been relegated to the arid and semi-arid native reserves through the Land Apportionment Act, giving way to the settlers who had trekked into the country as the Pioneer Column and hoisted the Union Jack at Fort Salisbury in September 1890.

Through the granting of the Royal Charter in 1889, the settlers had eventually got full political, administrative, economic and military authority over all land north of the Limpopo River. Mtizira-Nondo seeks to challenge this fraud committed by Rhodes and his associates, which led to the loss of land and dignity by indigenous Zimbabweans.

The writer calls for a redress of the imbalances of the past and his book seeks to reassert lost dignity and self-pride in the African.

Africans had been shipped to various points on the globe to provide labour on plantations and the black skin henceforth became synonymous with second-class status.

By going through The Chimurenga Protocol, readers would have heeded the invitation to celebrate, together with the writer, the victory achieved by Africans over colonialism .

Also present in Mtizira-Nondo's narrative is the unwavering determination by Africans to extricate themselves from the yokes of economic bondage through land redistribution.

This empowerment is, in Mtizira-Nondo's opinion, the ultimate prize for waging the First and Second Chimurengas.

What we, therefore, see in the cadres that participated in the two Chimurengas is a strong nationalist drive that sought to vent off European imperial onslaught.

With the success of this ultimate repulsion of British colonial hegemony would come refreshing celebrations of independence. This, when achieved in total, would reflect the fulfillment of the nationalist aspirations of indigenous Zimbabweans.

Inhuman treatment of colonial subjects has always been one of the hallmarks of colonialism.

The 1896-7 war marks the explosion of the welling hunger and thirst for self-rule which Rhodes, the epitome of British imperial desires, sought to suppress with the success of his Cape to Cairo project.

The journey that protagonist Magura undertakes almost becomes synonymous with the struggle for political independence that Zimbabweans endured.

It was bitter and protracted and a number of luminaries as well as ordinary people fell by the wayside. The Lancaster House Agreement, on which Zimbabwean Independence was based, marks the end of the Second Chimurenga and acknowledges the centrality of the land question.

The inclusion of Claire Short's letter (pp188-90) gives the narrative an unusual realism and authenticity.

While in real life the letter marks a departure by the British government from the stipulations of the Lancaster House Agreement, it also becomes a revelation on the nature of the relations between coloniser and the colonised.

Short writes; "We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and, as you know, we were colonised, not colonisers."

The characters in the book can be found anywhere in the world where a revolution is taking place thus making them typical.

Their desire for the liberation of their country is clear.

This is indicative of the determination that was engraved in Zimbabwean minds; the determination to put aside those years of denigration, dishonour, deprivation and ill-treatment, among others, at the hands of the coloniser.

What Mtizira-Nondo does is to recreate these experiences to make readers relive the memories.

The material dispossession that Zimbabweans and other people on the continent experienced is similar both in terms of the methods used and the impact it had on the economic and social lives of the people.

What may differ is the resolve to tackle the coloniser head-on and experiences in Zimbabwe may actually provide invaluable lessons in realising economic emancipation in the long run. 

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Source - zimpapers
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