‘How heavy rains saved us from ‘killer ugly birds’ after we ambushed a convoy in Madziwa’

Rhodesian warplanes. Cessna Lynx - Spotter Attack Aircraft

IT was in November 1978, in Madziwa, Mashonaland Central Province.

I am proud to have participated in an ambush that saw us, Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) forces blow up a Rhodesian convoy. I carried out the mission together with fellow guerillas from Madziwa B Detachment which was in the Chaminuka Sector.

Chaminuka Sector was in ZANLA’s Tete war province which was under the command of Cde Perence Shiri.

I was with Cdes Teddy Nyatsanga, Savage Magondo, William Bvunzawabaya, Mazorodze, Davi, Chikomba, Jose Zondai and Takawira.

At that time, Rhodesians had become desperate as they were losing ground.

They had resorted to travelling in convoys to avoid surprise attacks.

I recall, by then, we had many liberated zones and our fighting skills were advanced with each encounter, while the Rhodesians were strained.

While hundreds, on a daily basis, crossed borders to join the liberation struggle, Rhodesians were conscripting high school boys into their army. Madziwa was among areas in the semi-liberated zones.

One day, a senior war collaborator informed us that Rhodies would be travelling to Bindura from Mount Darwin to purchase food supplies.

They were going to travel in a fortnight, thus giving us sufficient time to plan the ambush.

We were based at Gorge Farm.

On the day the settlers were to travel, we left our base before dawn.

We knew they would pass through Shashi Pass. We travelled in heavy rains for two hours to the pass.

White settlers would be accompanied by a convoy of Rhodesian forces.

I was a bazooka expert and the plan was that I would hit the lead vehicle, a mine detector, with the bazooka.

I had to be accurate because missing the target would alert the enemy and expose our ambush.

There was a lot of cover since it was the rain season, making it easy for us to take cover in our assault positions.

We arrived at Shashi Mountain at around 3am to avoid detection and patiently waited for the enemy to come into our killing bag.

We knew they would definitely pass.

I took my position and anxiously waited for the enemy to come into view.

The mine-detector that led the Rhodesian convoy appeared in all its ugliness at around 7am.

I took aim and let loose a ‘booze’.

I blasted the wheels of the mine-detector that led about eight trucks.

There was confusion and pandemonium; as expected, my fellow comrades opened fire at the shocked Rhodies.

It was indeed a surprise attack.

The Rhodesians managed to call for reinforcements from their military base in Mount Darwin and Bindura and the sky was shortly filled with ugly birds of kill.

Paratroopers were dropped behind the mountain while the Air Force dropped bombs like confetti.

I was hit by fragments on my left thigh.

I bleed profusely and death was written all over. I slowly crept to a huge boulder where I sluched, waiting for my last breath.

The dark and heavily preg_nant sky let a sudden down pour which sent the Rhodesian Air Force retreating to their camp.

Cdes Bvunzawabaya and Second Goal Mabhunu came to my rescue.

Cde Bvunzawabaya tore his shirt and bandaged the wound to stop the bleeding before taking me to the gathering point.

It took us four hours of trudging and sneaking through farms to evade detection from the infantry.

We managed to get to our base which was along the thicket of Ruya River.

I was detained at the base for eight days receiving medical treatment from our medic before I was transferred to Mozambique for further treatment.

Meanwhile, a massive manhunt in the community had been launched by the Rhodesians.

They never anticipated to be hit so hard by people with no sophisticated weaponry like them, people fighting for freedom whom they ironically called ‘terrorists’.

The story of Cde Kennedy Chidavaenzi, alias Cde Tamuka Mabhunu,
Compiled by Emergencey Mwale-Kamtande/The Patriot

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