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How does Zim expect to instill pride in liberation struggle when always moaning over defeats?

11 Apr 2023 at 09:54hrs | Views
Those who follow my writings can tell how proud I am of our country's liberation history.

Even when teaching my son at home, I tackle this subject with tremendous zeal and excitement.

Whether it is because of growing up with a father who had an undying passion for Zimbabwe's independence - having suffered immeasurably as a consequence of his own activities during that era, in pursuit of this goal.

Or, maybe out of my own love for history - whereby, I can never pass up an opportunity to learn more about events that occurred in the past - in whichever part of the world that may be, more so in our own country.

I believe both these factors are at play.

That is why even from tender age, I was already reading books such as 'The Struggle for Zimbabwe' by David Martin, 'With The People' by Maurice Nyagumbo, and 'Towards a Social Ethos' by Canaan Banana.

In fact, my childhood best friend, the late Brian Murau, always found it rather peculiar how, whenever we went to the school library, I never read the usual books expected of children of our age - but, had a love for what many considered too grown up and boring.

I am also quite certain the school librarian was actually more puzzled than Brian!

As such, each time I come across a documentary on Zimbabwe's liberation struggle on national television, I eagerly find myself glued to the set - ingesting and digesting every little bit of the information.

Well, in fact, the truth is that - I used to enjoy watching those programs, but that joy has long been fading and fizzling out.


As much as I may be some sort of a history geek - however, there is a limit one can take - especially, when the story-tellers appear to always be moaning over how they were mauled by the other side.

This becomes particularly more irritating when these people being so defeatist are of my own country - whose war of independence I hold so dearly.

Thus, I find myself staying clear of these documentaries more and more - despite my passion for our history - since I find it extremely hard to sit there for half an hour or more at a time, just to be told how 'we were bombed, or shot at, or killed'.

Indeed, I fully understand that history is a true and complete account of the sequence of events that took place during a specific period, place, or in a people's lives - which should include both the good and the bad, beautiful and ugly, the enviable and not so enviable.

I observe this even when studying the histories of other nations - such as in the US, or World War II, or other African countries (although stories from our own continent are never easy to access).

However, when it comes to our own Zimbabwe, it is rather disturbing - in that, there is hardly a time when I have actually come across a documentary on the successes of the liberation struggle.

Surely, which proud patriot does not want to hear the sweat sound of one's own victories in times of war?

The only 'victory' I know of is that we eventually gained our uhuru from British colonial rule on 18 April 1980 - but, how exactly we managed to achieve this feat on the battlefield is anyone's guess.

Are those in power not so fond of telling the whole nation, and the world, how they defeated the 'racist colonial regime' - yet, we are never told of any 'victories' in actual combat?

Last night was no different.

I, as numerous other Zimbabweans, hardly sit and watch local state-owned channel ZBC - on account of not only the drab insufferable programming, but also the sickening propaganda, which is enough to drive anyone crazy.

In fact, I seriously doubt even hard-core ZANU PF supporters can stand going through such relentless torture for hours.

Nonetheless, I bumped into (by sheer coincidence) a program on the 'Ruombwe Battle Site'.

I braced myself to finally soak myself in that part of our history which had always eluded me - only to be disappointed with more sorrowful stories of how 'our people were massacred by Rhodesian forces'.

Needless to say, I immediately changed the channel - as I had recently watched another one on an attack on the Mutorahuku Base in Mhandu.

We have also been taught of the Chimoio, Nyadzonia, Tembwe, Freedom camps (in Mozambique and Zambia) air raids at the hands of the Rhodesian military.

Nonetheless, as I switched television channels, I began googling what battlefield victories we actually achieved during the revolutionary war.

I desperately needed something to feel good about our fight for independence.

Of course, I did find the much talked about attacks on fuel storage tanks in the then Salisbury (now Harare) - a contentious issue even today, with the debate still raging on - as to which side (ZIPRA or ZANLA) actually carried out that so-called 'bombing', although it was, in fact, a shooting.

This 'fight' over who should be credited with such a global headline-making event speaks volumes to the serious shortage of battlefield victories to write home about.

Yes, there were also the downings of Viscount Air Rhodesia planes by ZIPRA combatants, which occurred on 3 September 1978, and February 1979 - resulting in the deaths of 52 and 59 civilians, respectively.

This was responded to by the colonial regime with the attacks on several camps in Zambia and Mozambique.

However, I still find it very difficult to sit back and conclude that our war of independence was won in the absence of much victories on the ground.

Am I missing something here?

When we study the US war of independence, one is immediately flooded with such stories as the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, Siege of Boston, Battle of Trenton, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Kings Mountain, Battle of Cowpens, amongst a whole host - won by the freedom fighters.

This, in spite of fighting against a more powerful, as well as better equipped and trained British army - who, themselves, won their fair share of battles.

In reading this history, one can not help being so proud of this bravery by these revolutionary forces - as it becomes clear how the Americans succeeded in attaining their independence in 1776.

What about us?

Surely, is it not worrying that I am able to meticulously articulate US history - but, have absolutely nothing on our own liberation struggle.

Is this not embarrassing?

Is it not time we moved away from the irritating tendency to always focus on how 'we were bombed, attacked and massacred' during the liberation struggle - to paying more attention on which battles our intrepid freedom fighters actually won?

Should we not be moving away from what I perceive as a melancholic 'victim mentality' - to a more robust and encouraging 'victor mentality'?

Let us, then, not turn around and blame our youth for not appreciating and valuing our struggle for independence.

We need to remember that every person wants to be associated with victory - which is why even in sporting activities or other games, most people adore and support the team that is always winning.

How, then, do we expect the younger generation to align themselves with, and be proud of, a struggle that is always narrated in terms of being vanquished by the other side?

As mentioned before, I am not saying we should tell only one side of the story - as legitimate history is a true account of everything that transpired - good or bad.

However, our history appears to be mainly about how we were 'bombed, attacked and killed' - with hardly any focus on those battles that we actually won on the ground.

It will never make any sense to the nation when, on one side, we keep painting this gloomy picture of defeat - yet, on the other, we celebrate the subsequent victory of independence in 1980.

How does one reconcile the two?

It makes it most difficult for the nation to be proud of our gallant sons and daughters of the soil when we do not pay more attention to how they won on the battlefield.

We can not blame our youth for knowing more about and appreciating American history, or the two world wars, than our own - as they are told from a victors' point of view.

And, everyone loves a victor!

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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