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Cde Mobiliser’s independence reflection

We celebrate Independence Day differently. Those who were in combat and are still living take this day seriously. Some of the born-frees are yet to understand the significance of independence. 

Of course any Rhodie who was against majority rule does not recognise this day. They are still smarting from defeat and more than forty years later, some of them still think that their Western allies betrayed them and their dream of a white country in the heart of Africa.

We were at Zororo Bar. Fatso and Rasta were drinking heavily and by the time Baba VaTata arrived with Comrade Mobiliser at his heels, the two were inebriated.

Comrade Mobiliser was in a happy mood as he hobbled to our table. Of late, his leg was giving him problems. An enemy bullet had missed his heart during the war and instead hit his groin.

“I was in Murambinda last week at the Independence Celebrations,“ he said.

The glint in his eyes failed to hide his excitement. Of course, the independence celebrations were held the previous week at Murambinda Comrade Mobiliser would never miss independence celebrations.

“I want to tell you about one battle, I call it the last battle of our battalion because soon after, we were called into cantonment camps for demobilisation,” he said.

“I know you are a historian, these events of our struggle must be recorded,” he said, pointing with his left hand index finger at me.

More beers were bought. I was not drinking as my doctor had advised me to take a break from the wise waters. I took solace in a bottle of coca cola and prepared to enjoy the story.

I also felt pity for Comrade Mobiliser, he was so patriotic, but economically like many others, it was not yet Uhuru.

This is his story and others like him, dead or living who left everything behind and crossed into Mozambique for military training to fight against white oppression.

It was the first time to enter the village. We were warned against holding a pungwe in the area. Our contact person, Jena, a teacher at the local primary school which had been closed permanently due to the war had assured us that there were many people who were ready to offer support for the struggle.

We did not trust everyone as Ian Smith was using money to buy some villagers for information on our movements and operations.

There were many sellouts and many comrades had lost their lives in recent weeks after being trapped by the Rhodesian army. And it was not lost on us that many blacks had joined the Selous Scouts and were giving the Rhodesian army an upper hand. 

Towards the end of 1978, the armed struggle had intensified and we had made inroads in the rest of the country.

We took our position deep in Muturundundu Mountain, an impregnable mountain  fortress and we were so confident of our hideout. The cover of vegetation and the granite rocks gave us plenty of cover and as we hid at the summit, it was easy to observe all directions for any approaching enemy.  Our biggest worry though was the air defence. The Rhodesian Air Force (RAF) was a great threat to our defence and was giving us a lot of problems.

We wanted to avoid a battle as some of our comrades had travelled to Mozambique for more ammunition. We were at our most vulnerable each time we ran out of ammunition and we tried to lie low as much as possible.

What we did not know was that our position was betrayed way before we had settled down. The first sign of danger was a spy aircraft that suddenly zoomed above us and flew over the mountain summit and all nine of us scuttled for cover under bushes and rocks.

Ten minutes later, three Dakota helicopters arrived with a hail of bullets and hand grenades.  We fought bravely for the next thirty minutes and then Comrade Vision hit a helicopter at the fuselage.

 It caught fire, nosedived and hit the rocks below with a sudden bang as it was engulfed in flames. This suddenly brought the battle to an abrupt end. The other two helicopters suddenly veered off in the sky and went away for reinforcement.

 It was dark and we knew that they would be back at dawn to finish us off. We were out of ammunition; our position was precarious to say the least.

Without ammunition, we were on our own against a formidable enemy. Among us, we were left with only a few rounds of bullets.

We had to get out before the break of dawn the next morning. We took a big risk to get out and we all knew that it was even more dangerous to remain on the mountain.

Two of our comrades had died in the deadly battle, Comrade Uswa and Comrade Gaka. We could not trust the villagers as one of them had betrayed our position.

We somehow managed to sneak out of Muturundundu Mountain. By dawn, we were several kilometres away, deep in the bushes. And sure enough, at dawn we heard heavy bombardment at Muturundundu Mountain. The enemy had come to finish us off.

As Comrade Mobiliser narrated, you could not help to feel the ordeal and hardships of the liberation struggle. It was scary. The Rhodesian army, armed to the teeth, with sniffer dogs, trekked them over the Savanna grasslands on the ground and from the air for several days but that is the story for next time.

 *Onie Ndoro  Onie@X90396982

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