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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ZIPRA CAMPS REVISITED



Extracted from new zim situation.com


In Bulawayo A group of ZIPRA liberation war veterans has toured Mkushi war-time guerilla Camp in Zambia, to pay homage to more than 420 of their colleagues killed by a Rhodesian bombardment on the Camp on October 19, 1978. On arrival following a two-day Zambian expedition, the Mkhushi camp survivors broke into war-time ZIPRA revolutionary songs. They toyi-toyed, they chanted ZAPU slogans, there were also prayers and choruses – in all languages – reverberated through the dense forests, and should have awaken the spirits of the dead cadres sleeping in the mass graves and defence pits. The atmosphere was really somber. Even the crocodiles in Mkushi River should have noticed that this was a different day. Two buses full of ex-fighters who survived the bombing endured a two-day journey from Zimbabwe to Mkushi. The trip was the veterans’ own initiative and was funded from their own pockets, with assistance from some well-wishers. Mafela Trust, an organization that researches and documents the political and military activities of ZIPRA during the liberation war, sent some of their officers on the trip to assist with records and other information. "Mafela" was the liberation war name of the last ZIPRA commander Lookout Masuku (late). The Trust was registered in 1992 and hasMade remarkable progress in researching and recording the role of ZIPRA during the war of liberation. Mkushi camp was exclusively for female ZIPRA cadres. Female guerillas administered and commanded the camp. Mafela Trust national coordinator, Nkomo ... Latest News and Pictures">Zephaniah Nkomo said the trip was successful from the point of view that it enabled the ex-guerillas to fulfill their long-standing desire of going back to the camp to pay homage to their departed colleagues. He said while the ex-fighters appreciated efforts by the Department Of Museums And National Monuments in looking after the place, they felt more could be done to improve the shrine. Mafela Trust urges the department to also erect sites at ZIPRA camps in Tanzania, Botswana ... Latest News and Pictures">Angola And Botswana where hundreds of other freedom fighters were killed in bombings by the Rhodesian Regime during the struggle. "We appreciate the efforts of the department of museums to construct shrines in Zambia and Mozambique, Mafela Trust feels the exercise must move to erect similar shrines at camps in Tanzania and Angola," Nkomo said. He added that there was also need to recognize Botswana’s role in facilitating the struggle through their invaluable support with transit camps, Food and other utilities. Mkushi camp was raided by the Rhodesian forces on the 19th October 1978, killing hundreds of trainees and trained cadres, leaving hundreds others injured. The raid was supported by helicopter gun ships, paratroopers and ground laid ambush enemy forces. The camp, located 130 km from Kabwe Mining Town North East in the savanna grassland along Mkushi river banks became a potential target in the height of the liberation war targeting ZIPRA Camps in Zambia. Those who survived the raid continue to Live with memories of the traumatic experience, 31 years after the incident. It is this sad memory that Made the survivors to undertake the historic memorial visit to Mkushi. Survivors of the Mkushi raid, Mrs. Gift A.Basutu and Mrs. Sebenzile A. Mazinyane among others, initiated the trip and mobilized others for the tour. Mafela Trust, an organization that documents Zapu and Zipra history, was brought in at the final stages of the trip, and assisted with some logistics. The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, the custodian of all shrines, and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation were taken on board. Report compiled by Zephaniah Nkomo Despite challenges with resources, transport, fuel and immigration issues, the trip succeeded. Two buses left Bulawayo and picked up other cadres in Gweru and Harare. The traveling party arrived on the 17th and put up for the night at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Lusaka, before proceeding to Kabwe. Zambian authorities provided police escort and security to the entourage to Mkushi Camp. We arrived at Mkushi Camp at 7 pm on the 18th of October 2009. On arrival, survivors marched to the fenced shrine gate in solemn files. War cries, songs, and traditional salutes were performed as a way of announcing arrival at the shrine. More war songs, church songs, toyi-toyi, slogans, prayers and choruses – in all languages – reverberated through the dense forests, and should have awaken the spirits of the dead cadres sleeping in the mass graves and defence pits. The atmosphere was really somber. Even the crocodiles in Mkushi River should have noticed that this was a different day. As it was getting dark, candles were lit amid ritual dances, heroes’ praises, poetry and sobs by some of us as we remembered our colleagues who Lost their lives at Mkushi. It was time for the survivors of the last Mkushi ZIPRA last detachment to give their personal experiences of the attack. Their tales were harrowing. Joshua Tsharu, a local Mkushi community resident told the touring party how he and fellow residents participated in the collection of skeletons and scattered bones of the bombing victims after Zimbabwe museums authorities promised that they would be paid for their efforts. Tsharu said that a Zimbabwean delegation that visited the camp 2002 identified him and other community leaders to search and collect human skulls in the Mkushi surroundings. For every skull they found, they would be paid 50 thousand kwacha, they were made to believe. He said he collected five skulls from Camp B. His wife collected three skulls and another four along Mkushi river. Three 50kgs bag full of loose bones were collected. The Mkushi residents called off the search after no payment came from the Zimbabwean authorities. An emotional Mr Tsharu said he was bitter over the issue, and complained that no cleansing ceremony had been done, in line with tradition. In addition, the Mkushi community was further promised that a clinic and a school would be built as a thank you gesture for their support and suffering during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. This also has not been fulfilled. On the following day (19 October) a prayer and singing of the national anthem opened the day. The tour proceeded to inspect the grave sites, identification of memorial features at the Mkushi river banks, the old clinic site, kitchen, and defense pits. The tour revealed that bones and skeletons were still scattered in the defense pits and had not been removed for a decent burial. Mr Tsharu indicated more than 30 defense pits and shelters that have been covered by soil, where bones could be buried. These defense pits and shelters stretch on an area of more than 300 meters. The travelers were later addressed by ZRP Commissioner Nonkosi Ncube, a survivor of the bombings. She expressed profound gratitude to all stakeholders involved on the pilgrimage, in particular Mafela Trust and the Government for efforts to project the role of ZIPRA in the liberation struggle. Observations on Mkushi camp site The tour observed that the shrine has been mash-wire fenced enclosing 10 mass graves of bricks and cement. One mass graver has an inscription which says "411" lay there. A large quantity of expended cartridges litters the parade square zone. Another grave within the fenced area has not been properly marked and constructed. The biggest mass grave is outside the fenced area and has apparently not been properly identified and marked because thePeople who constructed the shrine did not know about it, a museums official admitted. There is need to address this urgently. The official noted that efforts were in progress towards raising the shrine to accepted standards. He also admitted the anomaly on the mass grave left outside the fence and agreed to take up the matter with Head Office. He also concurred with the delegation that there was need to redo the boundaries of the shrine regarding findings in Respect of identified defence pits and shelters and the mass grave left outside the fenced area. The delegation also called for the inscription of the Mkushi Role of Honour with the assistance of Mafela Trust, which has the personnel and records. Mafela Trust has on numerous occasions discussed with the Director Of Museums And Monuments Of Zimbabwe on the partnership projects as relating to the liberation war time archival material and information with a view to adopt user-friendly means and ways to strengthen partnership and hope the long awaited M.O.U. between the two parties will be signed and implemented soon. "Mafela" was the last ZPRA commander Lookout Masuku’s (late) liberation war name. The trust was registered in 1992 to research and document the History of Zapu and ZPRA.