Dr Muzenda’s love for poetry
THE nation’s soul, guardian and revolutionary spirit, late Vice President Dr Simon Muzenda had a great interest in poetry and story telling.
During his spare time at his rural home in ZvavaHera Village in Gutu District, Dr Muzenda would invite children from the local community for story telling sessions at his home.
At public gatherings he would sometimes recite one of his favourite poems, Nehanda Nyakasikana, which was written by Professor Solomon Mutsvairo in his blockbuster novel, Feso.
The poem also had a great nostalgic influence on Dr Muzenda because some time before independence, he was arrested in Zvishavane after he recited it in public.
The poem denounces social injustice, white misrule and oppression so Ian Smith’s regime believed that anyone who recited it was acting in a subversive manner.
Dr Muzenda was tried for that and convicted by the High Court and sentenced to a 12-year jail term although he successfully appealed against the jail term, which was reduced to two years. Below is the poem in full: O Nehanda Nehanda! Kunozove riniko Isu vanyai tichitambudzika Mweya unoera kunozove riniko Isu vanyai tichidzvinyirirwa Ko toshingirira kudzamara kuve riniko? Ko inga panguva yechando miti Inozvizorodza Inokuhumuka mashizha yombowana rudekaro Mashizha yovawo nenhenhere inoyevedza Shiri nemhuka nenyuchi dzokwezwa nehwema Ko isu rugare ruchatisvika riniko? Vana vacheche vatinobereka vawakatipa Iwe samasimba vanova ndivo vadyi Venhaka dzedu, nhasi vokura vakasunzumara Munyika yavo; voshaya nzvimbo Dzokurarama Nokuzvidekadza? Apa nepapo pazere
rufuse Makumbo avo ava nematazu nokupfuviswa Neriripfumojena. Ko vosvikepiko? Mudzimba dzose nomumisha yose Vari kutandwa pamwe nokurohwa Munzvimbo dzose nomumatare mose Avanotongerwa, vari kungourayiwa senhunzi Pasina chikonzero, pasina mhosva Pfuma yenyika nhasi yakatorwa Vakagovana pahukama hwavo vePfumojena Nhasi vari kudya mafuta ayo nyika Isu tichidya nhoko dzvezvironda Nhasi vari kudya vakora sehochi Isu todzipwa toondoroka sembwa ine gwembe Nhasi vagere murusununguko Isu todzipwa huro nemajoto Rusununguko Nehanda ndorupi? Hamungaburuki rewo kwatiri here? Harahwa dzedu dzobatwa sepwere Munyika yawavapa, musiki mugoni! Havasisina panyika; Havasisina chavanacho Dambudziko guru ndiro ravawira Baba mutsvene Gomo rine ngoni Hamungotinzwawo kuchema kwedu here Tine chitadzo chakakura sei Chokubva matiramwa zvakadai? Nehanda Nyakasikana!Kunozova riniko? Isu vaNyai tichidzinyirirwa Neriri Pfumojena rasvika munyika (Adapted from Feso, by Solomon Mutswairo, 1956) rukudzo
The poem, penned by the late literary guru, Professor Solomon Mutsvairo, denounces social injustice, so the paranoid regime of the day thought that those who recited it were indirectly attacking colonial ideals.
He was tried and predictably convicted by the High Court and sentenced to a 12-year jail term. He however successfully appealed against the jail term, which was reduced to two years.
Out of detention, he again engaged in liberation activities and helped in galvanising the nation against the (Ian) Smith-Home proposals during the time of the Pearce Commission in 1972.
Three years later, he became a member of the Zanu Central Committee. During that time, he fled the country for Zambia where he looked after more than 16 000 Zanu cadres in Lusaka.
Later he went to Mozambique, linking up with President Mugabe to plan and execute the liberation war.
He also settled with his family in Mozambique. As a result, he lost one of his daughters, Theresa Muchapedzei, who died on the war front when Rhodesian forces attacked Chimoio Camp in 1977.
In that year, the selfless cadre was elected Vice President of Zanu at the Chimoio party congress and was a key member of various delegations that took part at various meetings such as the Geneva, Malta and Lancaster House conferences.
In 1980, he was elected to Parliament and later appointed to the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Seven years later he was appointed, together with Dr Nkomo to the post of Vice President following the signing of the landmark Unity Accord.
In 1986, as chairman of the Cabinet committee on the hosting of the Non-Aligned Movement, he successfully dealt with the complex and high level preparations for the NAM Summit held that year.
In recognition of his immense contribution to the socio-economic development of the country before and after majority rule, the University of Zimbabwe conferred him with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on November 20, 1999.
A humorous character, Dr Muzenda had guests at his graduation party in stitches when he declared that the honorary degree bestowed on him by the University of Zimbabwe had made him “Y2K compliant”. His life and legacy shall always be remembered fondly.
Late Vice President Dr Simon Muzenda