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Reliving Gukurahundi and need for reparations by

23 Jul 2019 at 14:33hrs | Views
It is now nearly four decades after the Gukurahundi genocide that saw more than twenty thousand people killed in a seemingly ethnic cleansing act in the Midlands and Matabeleland north provinces. Ghostly shadows of the thousands of innocent victims still wonder restlessly in search of the truth and why they were killed. Thousands more people remain holed up in foreign countries afraid to go home and such is my fate.

I was ten years then when I experienced the horror of what changed my life, today holed up in a foreign country I still relive the horrors of what I saw when I was young hence the need for reparations for victims and those who survived the senseless genocide.

Although former President Robert Mugabe acknowledged the genocide opting to call it moment of madness to me it was more than madness. In my childhood innocence I strayed away from our village in Mtshabezi  in search of some wild fruit, my sister had refused to join me opting to do other household chores, my father had been summoned to the headman's homestead for some errands and my mother was busy with her chickens feeding them.

Two of my elderly brothers had gone to South Africa in search of work and it was some time since we heard from them. As I was picking up some umbunzu I heard a cracking sound and some muffled sobs, In between the bushes I peeped and the horror I saw makes my stomach rumble with disgust.

I had never seen a soldier before except in books we read at school, but there he was standing astride. Underneath him was a middle aged woman half dressed and screaming for mercy. The soldier who seemed drunk pulled out a knife and stabbed the woman several times he seems to have been enjoying what he was doing.

My mouth was agape in disgust I wanted to scream but I was afraid I might be his next victim. I ran home but to my horror I saw more than ten soldiers at our homesteads my mother and other women had been rounded up. Men were beaten some homesteads were already on fire. I retreated to the nearby bushes watching the horror unfolding before my own eyes.  Everyonewas being beaten including my friends and some pregnant women were assaulted. Too weary from the beatings everyone remained quite, they had resigned their fate to the soldiers.

I tried to run away but was spotted by one of the soldiers who pointed a gun at me I fell down and a heavy hand picked me up and was dragged to where other villagers sat. The smell of burning flesh from our kraals filed the air, goat and some of the cattle had been shot and were burning.

In the confusion a middle aged soldier who looked like the leader of the murderous group summoned a group of men to follow him Women and children were asked to stay where they sat. As the soldiers drove away the men to what we later learnt was that they were digging a mass grave, we stood up and ran for our lives.

We hid in the bush during the night and we later walked to the main road where we were picked by a small lorry. We arrived in Bulawayo and were sheltered at a Catholic Church in Makokoba. That was the last we heard of our fathers and relatives.

Today as a grown up woman in some foreign country I still relive the horrors of Gukurahundi and still see the shadows of ghosts still moving in our former village.

The Peace and National Healing team has been collecting views on what people thought of Gukurahundi and the general sentiments have been that people especially survivors are still afraid and are haunted by what they saw. They also want the government to compensate and pay reparations to those who lost their loved ones in the state sponsored genocide.

The survivors just like my self are also not satisfied with the composition of the commission since some of the people are tribally biased and have no intentions of seeing the commission as a reconciliation and nation building exercise and nation building exercise.

Although President Emmerson Mnangagwa's ploy to try and unite the people of Matabeleland and Midlands the victims do not trust him. While chiefs and other peace loving Zimbabweans have chosen to take a more reconciliatory route around Gukurahundi. Opposition parties such as the MDC have dismissed these efforts as mere grandstanding.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi who oversees the Peace and National Healing Portfolio in Cabinet has also assured the nation that issues surrounding Gukurahundi would be addressed in an amicable way but the snail pace at which the commission is working raises eyebrows and throws a damper on the survivors' hopes that the issue will be resolved.

Gleaning from "Breaking Silence, Building True Peace: A Report on the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands 1980 to 1988 By the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe one can tell the of how the government has tried to exterminate the Ndebele minority tribe.

However according to the CCJP Report this situation was not unique to Zimbabwe alone: As countries in Southern Africa began to gain independence from 1975 onwards, the ruling government had an increasingly coherent policy of distabalising the Ndebele tribe in order to prolong its power.

Today I am alone in a foreign country together with other millions of Zimbabweans afraid to go home, afraid of the memories of the past, afraid of our own people and afraid of the ghosts of the Gukurahundi still roaming my village in search of answers that are never coming.  

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Makho Precious, I write my personal opinions as a free spirit standing for human rights and space in society

Source - Makho Precious Moyo
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