By Lloyd Msipa
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Last updated: 12/01/2008 21:41:05 IT WAS with great interest that I read an article by Gibbs Dube in The Standard, titled Nkala to name Tongo, Chitepo murderers.
The story says former defence minister Enos Nkala intends to write or is writing a book naming those that where either responsible or implicated in the death of Zimbabwe’s nationalists before and after independence, namely Josiah Tongogara, Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, Herbert Chitepo and others.
He also proposes, according to the article, to finger those that ordered the massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland.
What I found rather disheartening and would be unfortunate is that the former minister says he will wait until his death before the book could be published.
Any attempt to tell a story from the grave will be met with vicious denials and any attempt by those living to legitimise the story will meet the same fate. In short, one cannot defend their story from the grave. The former Minister will do Zimbabweans a great injustice if he where to tell his story from the grave. I would urge him to reconsider.From 1975, Zimbabwe’s history is dotted with many dark periods and inconsistencies. The fact that so many nationalists lost their lives at the dawn of our independence has been a difficult fact to comprehend, rendering any meaningful attempt to teach our children the true history of Zimbabwe impossible. Our children have for the better part of the Zimsec curricular been fed the historical untruths that have manifested and reproduced themselves in the form of the dreaded Border Gezi youths. A cursory analysis of the pre and post independence relations between the nationalists on both sides of the political divide suggests something sinister did happen.
It is therefore imperative that a post-Robert Mugabe regime establishes a commission with a mandate wide enough to look into all aspects of our history. Our history books need to be rewritten to accommodate the truth. We cannot have our history books teaching our children that one of the greatest nationalists ran away to Botswana in a dress at the height of the findings of the arms cache. This is where the former defence minister Enos Nkala’s story will come into use. It will provide an invaluable premise for an appointed commission to do its work. The importance of his story now emanates from the fact that Zimbabweans will need to cross-examine him on the facts after reading it, so he can clarify any grey areas. This cannot be done from the grave.
It is important that this process takes place in order for us Zimbabweans to restore our dignity and prevent future atrocities and historical untruths. It is important to understand what occurred before and after independence and why. Who did what and when? The Gukurahundi massacres represent one of the darkest periods in our history. It is important to uncover the precise details of the questions that remain unanswered. What happened to husbands, sons and wives in the hands of the 5th brigade?
I for one can unequivocally say I have a Sekuru (Ukhulu) who at one time, as a teacher, had a beautiful modern home, a large herd of cattle and a car in the Lower Gweru rural area. Today he is a broken man, a mere shadow of himself. This man had his property burnt down, children killed, beasts slaughtered by the 5th brigade. Today he tells his story to anyone who cares to listen. The question is how many others are still alive out there. That is why it is imperative for the former minister to quickly write his book as I think he owes it to all right thinking Zimbabweans to tell his story.
The fact that the contents of the Inquiry ordered by the President on the Gukurahundi massacres was never made public gives more gravity to the urgency of the former minister’s side of the story. It is not enough for us to be content with the response “it was a moment of madness”. History shows and tells us that for nations to make any meaningful progress forward, we need to deal with the mistakes of the past. It is up to the victims to forgive and request we move forward. The perpetrators cannot do it on their behalf.
Lloyd Msipa is a Lawyer and writes from Barking, East London. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org