Kamungoma Heritage Site Comes Alive
Besides being a Heritage Monument telling the story of the atrocities committed by the Smith Regime on innocent civilians during the country’s armed struggle, Kamungoma also becomes a Field Museum depicting relics, structures and environments where the war was fought under Mao Zedong tactic of the “people being the sea and the Guerrilla fighters being the fish”.
The combatants enmeshed themselves and fought from among the communities which rendered support in the form of food, clothing, medicines, surveillance and information passing on enemy force movements and plans.
According to the National Museums and Monuments Chief Curator, Dr Chipunza, Kamungoma tells the story of how ruthless the Regime was to the extent of killing innocent civilians including infants, women and Youths.
It also depicts how the masses Embodied and embraced the liberation struggle, the sacrifice and contribution they made towards the independence of the country.
It also stands as the exact site where the attack happened shielded amid the forage of dense forests of the Small Scale Commercial Farms away from the glare of the deforested communal Areas known as Tribal Trust Lands.
With NMMZ recording about 50 000 historical heritage sites in the country of these 201 are National Monuments with 36 are open to the public for tourism. These are placed under categories; Architectural and historical Monuments such as Great Zimbabwe and Liberation War sites such as “Keeps” and battle sites.
The latter includes sites such as Chinhoi 7, Chobondo, and Freedom Camp.
Dr Chipunza said Kamungoma has been placed under the second category and holds big significance in that it recorded one of the highest numbers of civilian deaths.
Dr Godfrey Mahachi Executive Director of NMMZ, said Kamungoma becomes a project which will be broader than the Monument represented by the Great Zimbabwe miniature with a Roll of Honour with names of those who died in the attack inscribed and Field Museum with structures and trees that were there in the 1978 attack and are still in place.
The 14 boards on site also tell the story of this fateful night when people from the surrounding Zinhata farms a d Vhunjere communal area under Chief Nemashakwe as well as those from across Deure River under Chief Chimombe perished or got maimed from the surprise attack Rhodesian Forces acting on information received from within the community termed “Sell Outs”.
The story is being told in the form of newspaper stories carried in Rhodesian newspapers and other Front line states like Zambia. Graphic artistic illustrations on how the setup of the day are also shown with detailed outlines of how the attack was carried out.
With NMMZ having taken over from where the local community led by war Veterans had gone up to, there are also a number of other developments earmarked for the place. These include putting up standard tombstones for all deceased victims some of whom are buried in mass graves of up to four people. Most of the deceased were Youths in ages ranging from 14 to 25 years with one of these a pregnant woman who had just been married.
Documentation of survivors maimed from the attack is also ongoing with some of these having lost limbs, surviving with bullets shrapnel in parts of their bodies and having been living with the psychological trauma of the atrocious day. An infant who was found the following morning suckling from his dead mother, named Svondo Hondo, is now a grown-up man who lives to be the story of the atrocities committed by the Smith Regime on innocent civilians, Dr Mahachi said.
The project also has plans to set up facilities like hotels/lodges for tourists and a hospital.
“By 1978 the Smith Regime had grown so desperate at losing grip on the war to the extent that they embarked on massacres of innocent civilians in external refugee camps in Zambia and Mozambique and took any chance to alienate masses from the Guerrilla fighters. They used victimisation, torcher, fear and atrocious attacks on civilians to gain mileage, ” Dr Mahachi explained.
He said Kamungoma will stand to tell the importance” Pungwes” had in fortifying the masses’ minds against these as well as building resilience in the social hardships faced during the war. Pungwes were used as an educational and publicity forum during the war at the same time it was a morale boosting tool.
“As such history taught by Monuments such as Kamungoma should be carried on in future generations with particularly school tourism to these sites encouraged,” he said.