After the Wankie campaign of 1967, the joint ZAPU MK alliance planned a second mission into Northern Rhodesia in an area then called Sipolilo (now Guruve) in Mashonaland West. The campaign ran from December 1967 to July 1968. The group crossed the mighty Zambezi river on 29 December 1967 using rubber dinghies or rafts and ropes to descend down the steep cliffs. For the Wankie Campaign earlier the crossing had been under the direct supervision of Joe Modise, Oliver Tambo and Dumiso Dabengwa. This time, military supremo Dumiso Dabengwa supervised the crossing, shaking the hands of all the fighters , an act that thrilled MK guerrilla captain Eddie Sisulu aka Johannes Ncube ( South African General Abu Sishuba). The Pyramid detachment as the group was called, was made up of 74 ZPRA and 24 MK guerrillas commanded by Moffat Hadebe a great ZPRA hero. That unit included comrades Felix Gcayiya, Jimmy Mopedi , Ike Maphoto, Raymond Chitambo, Ralph Mzamo among others whilst reconnaissance included enormous characters like Boston Gagarin and a frogmen called Guluva.
My father (Mayisa ) went ahead of the expeditionary force in a reconnaissance double act with Mbejelwa Moyo. After the whole detachment this time called the Pyramid Detachment had crossed the treacherous crocodile infested Zambezi, my father and his colleague were given orders to retreat to the rear base in Zambia as they had successfully completed their reconnaissance mission that included transporting 61 crates of ammunition, 10 bags of rifles and a box of explosives along with the 100 freedom fighters across the river from Zambia to Rhodesia, done using the flimsy rafts. The Sipolilo battle had commenced. When they returned to the crossing point, alas the Rhodesian army had captured the dinghies and laid an ambush. Mayisa and Moyo were stuck! Any false move they were dead! Then something almost mythical happened. According to the account of his friend Vash Mpofu , cde Mayisa dozed off briefly and had a dream where he was told to get up and walk across without trying to fight their way out. He shared this with Moyo and they decided to make their move at 10pm that night. They were hidden in a cave under the steep cliffs of the Zambezi. There was no way they could climb into Zambia. The only way was to walk across the Chirundu bridge past the heavily guarded Border post. Nothing short of a suicide mission. Heavily armed they would stand out like a sore thumb and would be sitting ducks for Rhodesian shooters. They made the move and walked across the bridge past the Border post. The sentries only spotted them as they crossed into the Zambian side of the border, the alarms went off, but it was too late, comrade Mayisa and Moyo sprinted into the safety of the Zambian border, like shadows across the Zambezi.
My father turned 84 last in 2020; his memory is still sharp, graphic and vivid. The newspapers have been interviewing him and publishing in the Sunday News. After 40 years of being muted, he is finally telling his story and we are arranging for a book of his memoirs to be written. These are our Living heroes. Children of freedom fighters in Zimbabwe and South Africa, we owe it to our heroes living and departed ourselves and to posterity to tell the stories of the gallant partnerships, of battles fought side by side by
ZPRA and MK , South Africans shedding their blood to liberate Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans shedding their blood to liberate South Africa all for the freedom of the two great nations.
Mayibuye i Africa!