By Moeketsi Kaitse
The road to independence was an audacious one, very long and protracted. It needed only those with a calling to partake in it, not the ‘faint hearted’ as patience, resilience, tenacity and a compete strong heart were the attributes needed so as to hit the finishing line.
When he was born in the Mzila area of Kezi, no one doubted that Mzila, his grandfather was a great community leader who had the area and later a school called after him. When he left as a mere 20 year old, it was just normal (he had to search for a job like all the boys), but he chose a dangerous trade of joining the early birds to oppose the dangerous white settler regime in, what was the basis for resistance, until independence was attained in 1980 18 April.
Former war veterans Minister Rt Col Tshinga Dube in all his interviews about Zipra, Zapu and the struggle talks glowingly about Matshimini, highlighting him as a commander par excellence who fearlessly led from the front.
“We were deployed to cross the Zambezi River in 1966, with the motive of going to attack Rhodesians’ posts in Tjolotjo. We must have been twelve. Among the twelve were Rodger Matshimini Ncube, David Mongwa Mongwa Moyo(Sharpshoot) who had been tactically drilled in North Korea. We were to stage some attacks on Rhodesian outposts. Sharpshoot and Matshimini were wounded in the ensuing exchange of fire with Rhodesian forces near Chief Sikente’s compound,” writes Dube on page 68 of his book, Tshinga Dube-Quiet Flows The Zambezi.
Matshimini is to feature prominently in the book as the man who was part of the first group trained at the USSR together with the likes of former VP Phelekezela (Report) Mphoko & all time supremo Dumiso Dabengwa. The incident where Matshimini was injured(in 1966) points to the first shots that were fired against the Rhodesians, arguably so because Zipra exploits are somehow not ‘magnified’ yet they faced the dangerous Smith regime head on after the UDI.
The Tenacity Post spoke to Matshimini’s son Nkululeko Mzila who recently visited the Nkulumane Heroes’ Acre where his father’s remains are interred and he sang praises for his father saying his father was a big man that he shall always remember.
“He loved his country, loved his people. We shared him with everyone. We discover new things about him everyday, his vision shall not die but live on. The struggle continues and I will work hard to fulfill his wishes that all people be treated equally in an independent Zimbabwe’ said Nkululeko who is the ZAPU Dumiso Dabengwa branch chairman (Johannesburg).
The Mzila area and neighbouring communities in Kezi recently came together in numbers to remember the son of the soil, who was their community leader as well, through song and dance and Nkululeko says it shall be a yearly event for a man who left an indelible mark.
Retired Brigadier general Abel Mazinyane was quoted as saying: ‘ Roger Matshimini i remember him very well. He made us run barefooted on top of thorns. I could not say no; he was our commander. I thanked him later as the drill saved my life later. I was tough and agile thanks to Matshimini’.
Clack Mpofu , who died two weeks ago and was buried where his peer Matshamini’s was laid to rest, Jack Mpofu his comrade, and Historian Phathisa Nyathi have at most points not left out ‘the brave soldier’ Matshimini in the struggle tales. A lot is to be told including his compatriot’s narration ‘Matshimini would ‘dream’ the path taken by the enemy and say if you want to believe lets go there, or lets take a different route to avoid confrontation for now. All proved to be true.’
Matshimini Mzila Ncube died on the 10th of September 1999 at the age 60, having spent his entire youth and life fighting for the emancipation of all his people. He was laid to rest at the Nkulumane Heroes Acre.
His son’s call is ‘Wozani ekhaya lethu sonke, ikhaya likababa where a devolved system of governance will fulfill my father’s wish of equitable distribution of wealth because at the end we might say his toil was in vain’.