LOWDOWN HOAD AND THE HELL OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
Post date: Apr 29, 2009 5:07:56 PM
“Recently Minister Inniss came out with the equally inflammatory and irrelevant – “Massa day done”. … Nelson Mandela sought reconciliation with those who imprisoned him.” Lowdown Richard Hoad in his column on Friday 24th April 2009
Some how or other lowdown Hoad has a certain popularity but so did George Wallace. I have long since stop taking him seriously. When we first met he had then not shown his true colours - we took to one another because he seemed to be bucking the system and as writers, we were going against the grain.
Amazingly lowdown Hoad gets away because people do not see through him. Like the Americans that put their right hand on one shoulder and the left one goes into the pocket. Fear Greeks even when they come bearing gifts. Donas offered the Romans a wooden horse and they accepted it but they did not know inside were soliders.
A lot of people are like that – “Some of my best friends are Jews. “Some of my best friends are black.” This is of no philosophical interest it is just language, style meaning nothing. These talked about are most probably the ones with whom they grew up. I do not know about the genuineness of the Hoads, they could have played for Harrison College but they chose to play for Pickwick. They could have been slumming like Prince Harry.
Reality is what is heard and learnt in the drawing or dining room and servants, who served and suckled were considered loyal but it is an economic thing. It was alleged that whites talked around a dinner table and a black maid brought out the tale from Spooner Hill about the plot to kill Grantley Adams. Some say that a bullet hole is still in the wall in Tyrol Cot.
One has to be genuine. Where are genuine people found in a white crowd? White people that take a principled stance get the same grief. It is an aspiration for whites like Hoad - not to kill them in a passion but to restrict their racism - it is nothing personal and I will use my words as weapons to beat the crap out of racist arguments. White people will make amends and I will say that and write it and I do not care what is done to me.
And win I will for Hoad is not capable to argue through any point that is raised; he has never showed that he can follow through. He side-swipes. Aristotle said an argument has to be carried all the way to ad infinitum.
Snakes do not stalk their prey, they watch and position themselves in its path, wait and strike. A side-winder coils its body like Sss and propels itself in a straight line by following a crocked path. Some side winders in Guyana are side-swippers ,they fly through the air and go straight for the jugular to sink their fangs but the Amerindians deal with them like hush puppies.
Two of my articles on this website are “What you Sew so you Reap” Hoad’s reply is: “Sew the wind and reap the whirlwind.”
Hoad’s ancestors sewed the winds of African slavery and also of the genocide off my ancestors of the Americas and unless they do as the Bible says and earn the Grace of God, which means own up, say sorry, ask for forgiveness and make amends to the victims – cut out the inequality created by the white man - other wise they will continue to live in iniquity – iniquity meaning unacknowledged sin – and the sins of the fathers will continue to come down through generations.
“ Nelson Mandela sought reconciliation with those who imprisoned him.”
A piece of crystallized crap and an insult. Nelson Mandela sold out that is why the Western press makes him a hero. It is a weakness when in a certain position. White people have a history of using psychology and the people of colour are not accustomed of dealing with deceit.
This is something that is imbedded in so many white people. Study disturbances and rebellions, when whites captured they torture (‘interrogation methods’ Bush calls it) - in those days it did not matter for blacks were not human. Confessions are got probably under the promise of life. In order to stop pain they compromise and talk and do a lot of damage.
Conditions in South Africa are appalling and not reported, where so many drown their feelings in strong drink – inside and outside Africa - so many cannot deal with past horrors and so many need justice.
How many South African black friends does lowdown Hoad have? Does he have any that have committed no crime but to go back means death.
Here is a letter from one friend to the another dated 2003 - 09th September.
My dearest Lindiwee.
The crime is so high and rape of small babies, man, goats, dogs are raped too and people cook people and eat them and sickness. I have one eye being very sore and Lindiwee I regret myself coming home. I am even thinking of going to old age. Oh! Lindiwee I miss you and as I have forgiven you not wanting to come home.
There is no happiness. We cannot laugh any more and people are dying like flies. I am not writing a lot as my eye I should not tire it so much. I have to go to the optician Thursday. I just miss you so much if I was not too old I would pack and go back to Europe but it is too late for me. So I am just try to do best with what I have.
Chimurenga is the war of National Liberation in Zimbabwe, which ended in 1980. Lindewee (Mimi) Tesle, a Khosa, was Miss Africa South in the 1960s and then official secretary of the London ZAPU leadership under Samkanga. She witnessed, at firsthand, the ZAPU-ZANU split with all its disastrous personal and political effects. In South Africa, her young husband went out without a pass card and for that was killed. Her son had five uncles and they were also all killed. Ms. Tisele is still a dissident in exile.
Here are some excerpts from her book Zimbabwean Women in Chimurenga published by our company. These are mainly interviews - April 1980.
MAMA MILLO - Born Diodlo Ka Mtembu, aged 82 –
(Mother of Sunny Takawira, also interviewed)
“I was born emfazweni yamuva (during the last war) between blacks and whites and the last of five children. I had three older sisters and one brother. My parents had originally come from So-Shangana in Gaza. They arrived at Mzingwane with me as a baby from the chieftaincy of Lobengula, the son of Mzilikazi.
We all grew up at Engodlweni near Bulawayo, where my brother and I spent the better part of our childhood looking after the family’s livestock. My father had fifty cattle, a dozen sheep and a few chickens. Nobody really bothered about the ownership of chickens because chickens in the neighbourhood belonged to everybody. Whoever wanted eggs went out to get them, where the chickens laid them. It was the same with fruit. Fruit was there on the trees for whoever wanted some. Ownership was one of the least important things that is something I still distinctly remember from my childhood.
There was no sale of goods as there is today. Meat was certainly never sold. A family that lived well slaughtered as and when it became necessary. The rich slaughtered a cow quite regularly, say once a month and in between they slaughtered a sheep. Sometimes for variety the men had a chicken but women and children were not supposed eat chicken, though as children we always got some chicken gravy. Fortunately not many people cared for chicken because its flesh was thought to have an unpleasant smell.
…. Europeans came into our lives asking for land, there seemed no problem .. kanti bathi nizakaula (they meant to teach us to stop being naive). They disturbed us all until now that we have become these land hungry specimens that we have become because of their laws.
The things European have done to us are not of this world. We can never pay them back in their own coin, all the damage they have done to us! Amakhiwa, indaba yabo kayi khulunywa yeyomlimi. (Europeans, their case is beyond discussion. It is for God’s judgment.) Such cruelty!
Europeans used to get milk and eggs from us until they occupied our land by force. Then we had to buy from them as our stocks began to diminish. First they arrive in small groups and asked to build schools for us, convincing the Kings, Mzilikazi, that schooling was a good thing for us. When he agreed he pointed to the bottom of the fields and said enyatini (down there), hence the place name Nyathis. Richard – and his brother Robert from the London Mission, I think – lie buried down at Nyathini. Unfortunately I never knew their surname. Part from hearing about these white people, I personally did not know them.
During Mzilikazi’s time, we were told, soldieries were kept in regiments according to age and the highest honour was to be an Isidlodlo (a head ring) my father had one, being the oldest man in his community an a warrior. Here in Shonaland was the center of all the kingdoms and people came here every year to honour the kings.
I went to school when I was about 17 years old and attended classes until I was in standard three, I think. Those that wanted to teach went onto standard five at Mtombotembu at Nyathi and Hope Fountain near Bulawayo.
I got married in 1920 when I was about 23. It took me two days to reach my husband’s home as I had to go via the place, where Reverend Moyo lived to receive his blessing. Reaching him meant a day’s journey from my place. Reverend Moyo was quite a powerful and influential man. He really was someone to look up to in the community and I always felt that extending my travel by a day’s journey was worth the trouble.
Our marriages were something quite elaborate. European marriages could never be the same thing. First there was the small ceremony for the arrangement of the request to marry. Then there was the second ceremony for the actual request, and finally the marriage ceremony. One was never left alone at the home of one’s betrothed like they do these days. There were always people that accompanied you to help you in every way and these left you gradually as you got more and more used to your in laws.
The first asking or request was always some smallish ceremony, almost as it is still is today… Since there were hardly any divorces, an unhappy marriage was a tragedy.
It was a pleasure speaking to Mama Mlilo because she was so articulate and of course spoke Ndbele, which is really Zulu of the first order. I say first order because, having moved from Zululand, the Ndebele have retained some original Zulu words that have since gone out of general use in their ancestral land. Also the history of the Africans in South Africa comes alive among the Ndebele because as these Zulu warriors came up north they married women from the adjoining Sotho, Tswana and Shangane people and the women’s languages blended with the men’s Zulu and produced Sindebele with all its fascinating varieties.
The mission station at Nyathi to which Mama Mlilo (otherwise Mrs. Dube) refers was established there in 1859 by Robert Moffat (1795-1883) of the London Missionary Society, the father-in-law of David Livingston. Of the Kings mentioned here Mzilikazi brought the Ndebele people to their present land in 1830’s and died therein 1868 while his son, Lobengula, ruled from 1870 to 1894. He led the first war of resistance against the British invaders in 1893. The second and more serious war, which involved both the Ndebele and Shona peoples, took place in 1896-97
Ndofeni was another young lady with whom an interview proved almost impossible because of the crowdedness of the ZANU offices and the general hustle and bustled, She, too, was one of the young ladies, who were too modest to talk about their heroic sacrifice for Zimbabwe. These children, who dared Smith’s mighty army!
“I went to join the liberation in 1975 at fourteen years of age and like all others we crossed the border into Mozambique. My initial political education was really from my father, although I did not tell him, when I left for the front. Nobody was involving parents in this. We just wanted to fight the Whites.”
“Would you do it again now that you’ve seen war?
Ndofeni did not answer. I had touched a raw nerve and the pain and the silent defiance could only be noticed by seeing her whole body turning clammy. When I quickly said: “Perhaps we leave such matters at that.” She immediately smiled and looked at me gratefully like a school girl would to her teacher after being let off lightly.
In my heart I could not help feeling ridiculous. These little babes have gone to war, while we spent valuable time attending fruitless meetings and half killing each other with criticisms on points that had been overlooked or brushed aside, thereby leaving these youngsters to face the full horror of war almost unarmed. And here they are, still happy to call us Mama and Aunt and Sisi and almost curtseying as if what they have just been through was the most ordinary of experiences.
Tendi was born in Goromonzi in the North East of Salisbury. Her father is a teacher and her mother is a community worker who is now working as a club organizer travelling around the country as an adviser on cookery, sewing and club organizing. Tendi’s primary education was at Loretto Catholic School in Que Que and at St. Alberts Mission at Mt. Darwin.
“As my school was near the border it was easily accessible to ZANLA forces and we heard that comrades were giving interesting lessons in some hidden part of the country but that only boys were wanted. Out of curiosity we followed the boys to the education meeting to listen to party policy. We also discovered that there were some girls already fighting alongside boys but that there were far too few girls.
Having been given an analysis of the way the country was run by the whites and having understood that under the Smith regime our education was useless as opportunities would never come our way, we decided to abandon school and risk all to achieve a change of government. We more or less forced our way in, as we felt we were not really fully acceptable as girls. This only made us more determined to be part of the struggle, however. Having thus forced ourselves in, we walked through Mozambique to Zambia through the bush and reached our destination after about three months. All told, our group had numbered seven girls and one boy. Our ages ranged from fourteen to eighteen. None of us had any previous knowledge of bush survival so the whole thing was nightmarish.
On arrival at a camp were taught first aid for about four months. We were then sent out as carriers. The Zambezi River was not always easy to cross, especially as the materials were often very heavy. This to-ing and fro-ing we did for something like six months. The job was quite dangerous. Sometimes we left the materials at some spot and got back to the camp for a few days before resuming our journey.
I was later sent to Lusaka to do a secretarial course. I was one of the first ZANLA girls to receive proper military training and we were deployed as soon as was possible. I was sent to Lusaka again and worked in the Publicity Department for about two years until 1975. After the death of Chairman Herbert Chitepo I was among those arrested. We were six girls detained by the Zambian Government that particular morning.
I was still detained when most other prisoners were release because it was thought that as I worked in Publicity I must know an awful lot more than I was prepared to say. I was interrogated for a further four months.
Most comrades from D.A.R.E. (literally Court of Chiefs’) were in detention for a whole year. This was a terrible isolation for us as we did not know who or where the other prisoners were or what was happening at the front. It was really awful sitting in there, imagining the worst and not able to learn a thing about anybody.
All we had for human company were the Zambian prison officers, who were very cold and hostile to us. Then one day as we were being moved from one area to another with our hands on our heads, the Zambian police fired at us in cold blood without any provocation at all, and killed eleven of us, wounding another twelve. Two other girls died. Of the two girls one was our Commander, Pedzisai Mazorodze, aged 24.
In the meantime up in Tanzania, the comrades rejected Sithole’s leadership and demanded our release. It was a year before we were released and flown to Tete Town in Mozambique. In Mozambique I was sent to Nyadzonia Camp. There I was appointed to teach other comrades the emancipation of women in capitalist society, the role of women in the revolution and in a socialist society and general political education.
The Nyadzonia massacred on 09th August 1976 left something like 900 comrades dead, I think. All because of ex-comrade Nyathi who had defected to the Smith regime and brought back the enemy troops, painted in black paint or polish and driving dressed in Frelimo uniforms and waving Frelimo flags. The whole thing was nightmarish. I hope never to see the likes of it again as long as I live.
I was then deployed to Tengwe Camp, also in Mozambique, and was political commissar for another six months before being transferred again to Chimoi Camp, where they had set up Chitepo College. The main subject taught there was political philosophy. This camp also got attacked and ZANLA lost 150 cadres at a go. The lessons were bitter. I do not know how we survived. On 23rd November 1977, during another raid on the same camp, the victims were elderly men, school children and hospital patients.
Soon after that I was transferred to the Publicity Department where I had been first. I went to lessons in photography and cinematography. After that I started going to the war front, taking pictures and working for our war communiqué magazine, Zimbabwe News. I was appointed a delegate to the Lancaster House Conference in London as a press officer under Comrade Zvobgo.
In eight years I have seen my father once and my mother a few times. My parents thought that I was long dead because of the total lack of communication during all those years. But I could not even risk dropping them a line for fear of endangering their lives, as they could have been arrested for my independent decision to join the ZANLA forces. I am one of five children, with two older brothers and two younger brothers who are still at school.
My parents had also moved house, so really locating them became too risky. And what was the point of locating them to say I was all right and then perhaps be dead then very next minute? My mother told me that she learnt by a chance meeting in the country that I was still alive and had been seen. That was after two years silence and then all went quite.
Now that the nightmarish years are over I too, like everybody else, am looking forward to building Zimbabwe into a country where we will all have chances of improving ourselves instead of one with education and jobs for only a handful because they are white and nothing for the rest of us because we are black.
At the moment, though, there does not seem any point in moving to another department. I am the only one left in the Publicity Department of our former team. Everyone else has been moved to other jobs. Perhaps later on the Party will decide to change me for some reason. I was once sent to Germany to do a course in Cinematography and would not mind going back there for further studies, but that is for the party to say. They may even decide to transfer me to administration or whatever. They decide and I do as I am advised.”
I asked Tendi if this did not bother her. “Not at all,” came the assured answer. “We live for the Party because of the tasks ahead. Maybe people, who have not been to the war front would be bothered by the feeling of ‘self first’, but not us, not anymore. We are all for the Party first.”
Muchatama went to school at Mabvuku in Salisbury. “My mother is now in Umtali; my dad died in1964. My mother has a small plot and sells her little products such as mixed vegetables to the local people. My dad was a domestic servant in Salisbury and I am the youngest of six children.
I was sixteen when I joined the military. We ran away as a group from Mabvuku school. We planned to go to Mozambique so we went to Umtali and found someone who told people the way to Mozambique and followed his instructions, traveling on foot. It took us two days to walk. We bought bread and butter and some tinned food for our journey. Some of the others had money on them and we all shared. We headed for Zhunda in Mozambique and then to Tembwe for training. We got separated at Zhunda but this did not disturb us because we made friends easily with all other comrades. Our original group numbered about twenty, the youngest being about twelve and the oldest about eighteen years old.
Military training lasted for three months. We were trained as carriers. This we did for six months. Then I was taken to a secretarial course at Chimoio and that took another six months. Soon after that we were raided at Chimoio this was towards the end of 1977 and most of us ran away. Our commander gave us a place to put our typewriters and we started working again as if nothing had happened such was the pressure of work. We worked for about two months before being sent to Gondola in Chimoio. At Chimoio we were attacked quite heavily almost daily. It was serious.
In June 1978 I was sent to Maputo to work as a secretary to Comrade Zvobgo in the Publicity and Information Department. I was working on the Compo-graphic machine until the whole of ZANU came back to Zimbabwe on 19th January 1980.
I felt really afraid after the attack at Chimoio in 1977 because we lost so many comrades, such as ‘Do it’ Mtshazo and Tongai, both of who were 18 years old. It is easy to remember them because they belonged to our Chimurenga Choir of about nineteen members.
From Mabvuku village three of us left and luckily all three survived the war. That is Tafire Njika, now 23 years old, Rugare, now aged 22 and myself. I now work at ZBC as a secretary. I’ve though of getting married and having children because I like the ideas of starting family. I think ideally, I would be happy with four children. I am presently engage to be married next month to a fellow comrade Nicky Nyika (26), who has also been to the front as a commander.
Muchtama, like most of these youngsters from the front, was very reluctant to talk about her role and only lit up when we started talking about her hopes for the future. We teased her quite a bit about her future role as a domesticated housewife. “Can you imagine Nicky washing napkins, though?’ I asked. She shrugged her shoulders and simply said: “That is not impossible.”
Yvonne was born at Gutu near Fort Victoria where her people owned a general dealer’s shop. She was not politicized at all so much so that she only became aware of the war raging on the eastern and northern borders as late as 1972. By 1975, however, she at college in Bulaway doing designing could not concentrate on anything except the war. She thought about it for months on end and one day she felt that she had to escape and go the way everybody else seemed to be going. She took a bus trough Birchenough Bridge and went on foot with some mates to Chipinga, arriving there around 8:00 p.m.
In her own words: “Our group was unlucky because of the curfew, which meant that we could not get any buses. We found a fellow, also on his way to the border, who fortunately had some money with him. Otherwise we would have had to foot it to Mozambique. Having hired a special service bus we drove to the Mozambique border in relative comfort, even though the bus was full to capacity and one could hardly move a leg. The whole journey was only possible because of the support we got from the local people all the way, right through to Mozambique. The people at the border were also very helpful and offered us food and overnight accommodation.
The old man in whose house we slept during our last night in Zimbabwe woke us up early, before dawn. I think we crossed the border somewhere around 2:00 a.m. at Spungabera, before anybody was up. There we met Frelimo comrades who kept us for a day until contact had been made with our comrades in Mozambique. Together like that, making do we went along, we stayed with some Frelimo some of us for a whole month and then were finally sent to Torongo Refugee Camp, where I received a month’s light infantry training. After that we were sent to the front to carry supplies until the end of 1977. I was sent to a military camp where I helped teachers who were teaching literacy.
In 1978 I went to Ethiopia for training as a medical auxiliary for roughly nine months, basically in maternity and childcare. We were also trained in giving medicines independently because of the scarcity of doctors. The medical training had to be done on the spot because there was simply no time for conventional practices. We had to learn very quickly how to write out prescriptions. These were mainly for antibiotics, antihistamines for rashes, Panadol (aspirin, etc) for headaches and Lasix with potassium supplement for water retention. We gave Fusix for itching body and other antibiotics such as tetracycline and penicillin injections. When training for injections we were give a … as one became more and more competent one had duty to pass on training to new cadres as they came in. Attacks were numerous and always shocking; as we were in the war zone, death was something expected yours and that of you patients yet it was always depressing.
Yes we felt fear but there was no pointing being constantly afraid. We were in a war and we took it as it came. The Nyadzonia Massacred on 09th August 1976 and the raids on Chimoio on 24th November 1977 and on Tembwe the next day were horrifying. In all these camps Smith’s soldiers had a field day because they were attacking comrades who had not yet been trained. In fact, they were refugee camps. And at each camp we lost some four to five hundred comrades from about 9 years of age to 20 or sometimes 25 years of age. At one camp Smith’s soldiers came during the day with armoured cars with our former comrade Nyat. And all our comrades were shot in cold blood! What followed that was …., too horrible.
The whites are dirty! These massacres showed us in no uncertain terms that Smith and the whites were not joking. They meant to kill us all. At Chimoio and Tembwe there were at least trained comrades who could retaliate by shooting down planes and returning fire. Yet even at those camps we lost hundreds of comrades.”
Through this interview Yvonne had been quietly composed but her eyes now became glassy. When I asked if she would rather that I stopped now, she sniffed, shook herself back to her former composed self and said very quietly: “What does it matter now?” We cannot bring back from the dead.” Being an Azania I know that our own dirty job still has to be face unless a miracle saves us. However there does not seem to be any miracle on the horizon and the Namibians have long started their Chimurango.
My mind stood still watching this twenty year old who had matured with the sight of so much blood and become philosophical about death. How much longer do the white South Africans hope to keep us as their subordinates?
Yvonne particularly remembered Muchazotida, aged 21, who was a singer for the struggle. Her songs were still selling around Zimbabwe as Chimurega songs, especially an LP called “Ba Chitepo kufa vahitaaura’ (Chitepo died saying …) Everyone like Muchazotida’s songs because through them she gave the comrades so much encouragement to fight on, as the future was ours.
There was also Ita meaning ‘Do It”. Do It was a young albino girl aged about 18 years old or so, who sang with Muchazotida and died at the same time as her. Do It was also very intelligent. She was a political commissar, teaching others politics and would argue very intensely and convincingly about political principles.
There were so many people at the camp that one can never forget. There was Brown, aged 22. He was a brave young anti-aircraft military instructor: He was cornered by the Rhodesian forces, who wanted to capture him but instead he shot himself to avoid giving information under interrogation. Comrade Serbia, aged 22 years, was a military commissar (instructor). She appeared in ‘Zimbabwe News’ as a very brave soldier. She started in the operational areas but died as Mundzingadzi Camp near Chimoio in Mozambique. She was on a mission when she left the front only to be killed on the morning after her arrival from Gaza Province where she had been operational. Comrade Goronga, a field operations commander aged 24 years, was killed in 1979 in an ambush on his way from Tete Province to Chimoio. He had returned from commanding in the war in Manyinka Province. There were many such deaths of very valuable people.”
We had begun the interview quite happily but when Yvonne came to recall so many deaths and relive the massacres it had seemed almost pointless to ask further questions. However we did end on a happier note when she told me about the end of the war.
“Towards the end of 1979 I was sent to do journalism in Yugoslavia but came back in January 1980 to help in the campaign or ‘Jongwe’ the cock, emblem and symbol of ZANU in the elections which of course we won. I would now like to work as a journalist or in medicine, but as it is ages since I did anything medical and I may not qualify for training in that field I should perhaps look towards radio or television journalism:
When I asked her what she would really like to do, ignoring such practicalities as training and money, she replied:” Oh well, I dream of being a film maker but I don’t know if I could ever be accepted anywhere for training. But really, the Party allocates duties as before and it is the Party that has final responsibility for whatever I will do in the future in Zimbabwe.
MAUD MZENDA - Born Matsikidze, aged 52
(Wife of Venegesai S. Mzenda, Deputy Prime Minister)
Maud Mzenda was born of peasant farmers in Fort Victoria. She went to school at Gokomere Mission and did her Nursing Training straight after standard six for three years at Makumbi Mission Hospital near Salisbury.
“I worked for only six months and then got married. My husband was a carpenter and had spent some six years in South Africa, at Marran Hill in Natal. When he qualified he taught in Durban for a while before returning home.
I first worked in Balaway Municipal Hospital for about four years during which I had my twin daughters Tsitsi (Mercy) and Tariro (Guardian) in 1950. They were born prematurely at Mpilo Maternity Hospital in Bulawayo. I had worked right through my pregnancy up to the seventh month when they were born. I had to take my twin babies to relatives back home literally as soon as I could stand up. I think it must have been only some six weeks before I had to go back to earn a living, this time at Mpopoma Municipal Hospital, also in Bulawayo, where I worked for two years.
We had decided that my husband had better prospects for his carpentry business at Umvuina and so we moved there. Soon after our arrival my daughter Tendai (Thanks) was born. I can’t really say at what point it all happened but my husband dropped his carpentry business and was going from place to place on political matters for as long as I can remember. He was finally arrested in 1962 and held for two years, then released for six months before he was arrested again. This time he was jailed for eight years. After being released for two years he was rearrested, first for about one year and then again for another two years. This time he went straight to Maputo. That was around 1977 and we just kept on hoping that he would return home one day, which he did in January 1980.
During all this time without him we had to survive and, as with every fatherless family, things were very hard, almost impossible sometimes. I had all these young children to feed and clothe on an African nurse’s salary. The situation was really trying. It seemed that I was chosen by fate to have almost all my children while their father was either in prison or on the run from the police. My son Vengisai (hate the conditions) was born in 1954 and another son Taiti (Discussion or debate) in 1956, and then a baby girl, Teresa, in 1959. Teresa finally joined Chimurenga in Maputo in 1978 and died there the same year in one of their big bombings. Chikwereti (Retribution) and Tonga (Rule), both boys, were born in 1962 and 1965 respectively while their father was imprisoned.
Throughout those years the doctors at the hospital sympathized with me and allowed me to work though my pregnancies; this meant that officially I did not break my service. All told, I worked for 25 year at Umvuma Hospital. That meant of course that I had to resume work within six weeks of delivery, but with some of the children I felt too low and allowed myself to stay at home for up to eight weeks. We needed the money so badly, I simply used to drag myself out of bed and go on duty to look after sick people when I was sometimes as sick as my patients.
Through all our married life my husband was there without being there, if you see what I mean. My children were educated by the kindness of some Swedish friends who paid for their education, as their fees were out of the question on my salary. As it is, my daughter completed her B.A. General here in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia. One daughter went to Tanzania, one son is in Ethiopia training to be a pilot, and another daughter is in Germany.
My worst years were when my husband was imprisoned, because of the repeated beatings. I did mange to visit him with permission from the then government. It is hard to explain exactly what we went through during all those years. The short time for visiting hours was mortifying, having traveled for hours on end on public transport that was never completely reliable, only to be allowed to talk to one’s husband for five or sometimes ten minutes, always in the presence of an officer.
I couldn’t visit regularly because of our financial position, but one glorious year I did mange to get all of us to visit him together and another year I managed to repeat that feat twice. It made me feel good because at other times I either went alone or with just one child. Permission from a central office was vital. One simply could not take chances, as the money would have been complexly wasted. There were too many reports of children and relatives crying at the prison gate but not being allowed in because they had either not got the permission to visit or had forgotten their visiting permits.
On one of those visits when I took all the children we were lucky. The prison warder actually allowed two of the children, Tongai and Chikwereti, to sit on their father’s lap. We were so pleased, every effort of preparation seemed to have been worthwhile just for that moment of shared emotion. We took a lot of food and clothes because we knew that there was a lot of sharing of provisions with other prisoners, especially those whose families could not come for whatever reason.
“All these deprivations made the children very militant. Four of my children went to Maputo and of course Teresa was out there with her father and died during that notorious Chimoio Raid. In fact Teresa went missing after the raid and since she ha not been seen since we all presume her dead, but her body was never found. So many bodies are said to have been mixed up that we simply conclude that she too was amongst those dead bodies.
”The girl, who went to Germany did at least come back home in January before flying out again but the boy in Ethiopia did not come home at all. Tsitisi is here at home now. She traveled a lot between Maputo and Tanzania during those dreadful years.”
I did not have time to talk to Tsitsi, only the pleasure of seeing her as she brought us tea when I went to her temporary home to interview her mother. I say temporary home because it was a ZANU house and th whole family still shared everything with other Comrades just as they had done in the war zones in Mozambique. (Tsitsi, like all the youngsters from the war front, was very mature. There was none of the self-assertive arrogance one encounters in Europe among both black and white youth. And yet their achievement was so great and so enviable)
I asked Maud how she was coping and she shrugged her shoulders and said: “Well, we are all doing our best. These young men are no more children and that makes my role very light because they are no bother to me. We all understand that these lives we are leading are a necessary part of our times. The bloody war is over and now we have to tidy up our lives as best we can.
“Personally before the Lancaster House talks I had not seen my husband fo some five years. I was pleased to be able to visit him in London, and now having won the elections, like all other Zimbabweans during this war, I am so grateful that it is over and am looking forward to a positive government. We are all tired of the things that went on here between us and the white people’s government.”
Maud is one of those very homely women who seem to wear their cloak of misfortunes as if it wee the most natural thing to wrap around one’s shoulders. She say very little for herself but is full of quiet, undemonstrative determination, making one feel like a paper waif for one’s ramifications every time life gets impossible.