Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - H-Net
Fay Chung. Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from the Liberation
Struggle in Zimbabwe.
Introduction by Preben Kaarsholm. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute; Harare:
Weaver Press, 2006. 358 pp. Illustrations, index. $35.00 (paper), ISBN 91-
Reviewed for H-SAfrica by Elizabeth Schmidt, Department of History, Loyola
College in Maryland
Zimbabwe's ZANU: A Critical View from the Inside
At a time when Zimbabwe is much in the news, and analyses are often oversimplified and ahistorical, Fay Chung's memoir provides welcome insight into the history of Zimbabwe's primary liberation movement and ruling party. Born into a Chinese family in Rhodesia in the 1940s, Chung was an early activist in the
Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which was instrumental in bringing about Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, and has governed the country ever since. As a socialist, feminist, and intellectual, she was a member of ZANU's left wing, which was repeatedly purged prior to independence. As an educator dedicated to the democratization of education, she led the "education with production"
movement in pre- independence Mozambican refugee camps and in postindependence Zimbabwe. Eventually, she became Minister of Education and Culture in the ZANU government. Disenchanted with the government's decision to embrace the structural adjustment program prescribed by international financial institutions, Chung left Zimbabwe in the early 1990s.
Chung's book intersperses memories of growing up as a member of a non-white minority group in Rhodesia, with a personal and political account of the liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Most intriguing is her assessment of the internal struggles in ZANU during the 1970s, which does much to explain the political divisions today. She describes conflicts between guerrillas of peasant background with little formal education, who joined the movement in the 1960s and early 1970s, and the better-educated, left-wing youth who flocked to ZANU in the mid-1970s. She analyzes the rivalry between the military leaders and the better-educated political leaders who feared their power. She describes the
brutal purges of ZANU's left wing in the mid-1970s, as the movement's leaders negotiated unsuccessfully for a neo-colonial solution to the liberation struggle. Finally, she shows how, as ZANU moved to the right, racism and tribalism were wielded as weapons against political enemies. Chung's assessment of Robert Mugabe is particularly enlightening. In the mid- 1970s, radicals within ZANU opposed Mugabe's leadership, fearing that he would become a fascist dictator at the head of a neo-colonial regime. According to Chung, Mugabe survived and consolidated his power because he threw his support to the militarists, who in turn provided him with a powerful base. Other political leaders, distrusted by the military high command, were undermined. It was to the veterans of this military base, woefully neglected in the 1980s and early 1990s
that Mugabe turned in 1997, when his own power was waning.
Given Chung's analysis, the book's introduction, written by Preben Kaarsholm, is unfair. A member of the Nordic Africa Institute's editorial board, Kaarsholm uses the space both to justify the book's publication and to critique the book published by the institute. He unjustly characterizes Chung as defensive of Mugabe and his policies, as overly critical of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and unconcerned about the government's dictatorial actions and human rights abuses. My own reading is that Chung makes clear her continued support for the centerpieces of the liberation struggle: redistribution of land and the democratization of educational opportunity. She claims that rationally planned land redistribution is a prerequisite for economic justice, without which Zimbabwe cannot survive. However, this does not mean that she supported the brutal and corrupt methods of land reclamation promoted by the government in the early 2000s, and she clearly states that she did not. Moreover, she did not close her eyes to the political opportunism behind the land takeovers, nor the corrupt redistribution practices that followed, as Kaarsholm implies. Finally, recent developments within the MDC, including the use of ethnic politics and violence as well as the final schism, seem to justify Chung's early skepticism about the party.
In sum, Chung's book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of historical and contemporary Zimbabwe. It is a critical, nuanced, and multi-layered account by an insider. This highly unusual combination has resulted in a book that will be of interest to students and scholars, and which should be included in all college and university libraries.
Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Terence Ranger
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle, Chung, Fay. Nordic Africa Institute, 2006, 357 pp.
Fay Chung was born to a Chinese shop-keeping family in Zimbabwe. A brilliant student, she made her way through every difficulty to enrol at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. After graduating she taught in African schools, and then went to take an MA in African Literature in Leeds She ended up in Lusaka teaching at the University of Zambia in the early 1970s. Joining the Zimbabwe African National Union, she was just in time to witness and participate in its fratricidal frenzies in late 1974 and 1975. She was in Lusaka when the so-called 'Nhari' rebels arrived from the front line. These disaffected guerrillas arrested most of the ZANU high command but in the end the revolt was brutally repressed and most of its participants executed. She was still in Lusaka a few weeks later to witness the assassination of Herbert Chitepo, ZANU's National Chairman and the arrest and torture in Zambia of most of ZANU's old guard. Fay Chung was deeply involved in all this, as the lover of one of those accused of Chitepo's murder, as the rescuer and custodian of key party and military papers, as a relentless propagandist against Kenneth Kaunda's and Zambia's role. Eventually she joined ZANU guerrillas in Mozambique where she was in danger from authoritarian veterans as a supposed member of the party's hated 'left'. She survived by becoming involved in education work in the camps and after independence became first departmental secretary and then Minister of Education.
Few survivors of these events – and many who took part in them have died – have written any account of them. A standard and authorised ZANU version has emerged, however. In this version Nhari was a 'sell-out' suborned by Rhodesian Intelligence to betray the revolution. White Intelligence officers assassinated Herbert Chitepo and framed the ZANU leaders for his killing. The Zambian government seized upon this as an excuse to wipe out ZANU by arresting and trying its leaders and by expelling thousands of guerrillas. However, through superior heroism and determination, the ZANU veterans survived torture in Zambia and found themselves working with Robert Mugabe in Mozambique. There they managed to discipline over-enthusiastic young men and take control of the ultimately successful guerrilla war. This is the version taught in Zimbabwe today as part of 'patriotic history'.
Fay Chung is the first person to write at length from within the ZANU revolution. In this book she remembers her adventures with startling candour. As she writes in a circular to friends, the book will make her unpopular with everybody. It is too loyal to the nationalist tradition to give comfort to Mugabe's human rights opponents. But it is too frank and critical to be acceptable to the custodians of Zimbabwe's patriotic history and the guardians of Robert Mugabe's shrine. Time and time again Chung's version of events is different from – and more plausible than – the established ZANUPF canon.
Thus the Nhari rebels are revealed to have had real and substantial grievances against the high command; their execution was ordered by Tongogara and other military commanders despite the pleas for due procedure by Herbert Chitepo; Chitepo and Tongogara are shown to have been bitter enemies – and Chung was for a time custodian of Tongorara's papers after his arrest in Zambia. The triumph of the veterans is depicted as the victory of the ZANU right wing, espousing a quasi-fascist chauvinism. Chung laments the defeat and suffering of the idealistic young left-wingers, though she judges that they made themselves vulnerable by despising 'traditional' culture. She has little time for ethnic or tribal explanations of conflict within the nationalist movements, preferring to stress ideology.
In short Chung has often been on the losing side within ZANU and sometimes been in serious danger. Recently she expressed sharp criticism of Operation Murambatsvina, the clean-up in the towns which rendered so many thousands homeless. Yet she continues to see ZANU with all its past and present imperfections as retaining fragilely within it radical traditions needed to transform Zimbabwe.
Chung has rendered a valuable service in writing this lucid and frank book. Its turbulent and disputed reception at its launch in Harare shows that it has already created debate and provoked others to promise books of their own, It may have helped to stimulate a process which will break up stereotypes and reveal a revolution in all its ambiguity.
University of Oxford
Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Norma Kriger
Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Fay Chung, Re-Living The Second Chimurenga. Memories from Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle The Nordic Africa Institute, 2006.
Published in cooperation with Weaver Press.
Fay Chung’s memoir of her participation in ZANU’s liberation movement in exile and the post-independence government is always absorbing. For the uninitiated, it makes accessible the byzantine power struggles of the 1970s. For specialists, it contains fresh perspectives. However, it is also a disturbing account. Readers must be careful. Too many of her assertions are at odds with well established facts. Chung’s memoir often reads as a creative defense of ZANU (or at least those she favors in it).
Chung provides a compelling account of growing up in a middle class Chinese family in Rhodesia in the 1950s and 1960s. Despite racial discrimination, she praises the quality of her education. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe, she taught African secondary school students. While teaching in a township in Harare, she observed the internecine rivalry between the two African nationalist parties, ZAPU, and its breakaway offshoot, ZANU, in the early 1960s. She came to understand that schools were often targets of youth violence because they were seen as exclusive and elitist - only 2% of Africans attended secondary school. After post-graduate study at Leeds University, Chung accepted a lectureship in education at the University of Zambia in 1971. Lusaka was the headquarters of the exiled wing of ZANU, and Chung joined the party.
She deftly steers readers through the rivalries that bedeviled both the political wing, ZANU, and its guerrilla army, ZANLA, and also the conflicts between the two. Chung’s account of ZANLA’s power over ZANU provides a new perspective on political-military relations. She describes the power of the predominantly uneducated peasant group led by Josiah Tongogara and his self-styled “veterans” - the earliest military recruits - and their desire to establish military rule after independence. This group feared that the younger, more recent and better-educated military recruits who often embraced Marxist-Leninism were Rhodesian spies and saw the relatively well-educated politicians as ready to betray the armed struggle in a negotiated settlement.
Chung attributes the power of Tongogara and his veterans to the politicians’ recognition of the necessity of military victory, which apparently depended on Tongogara’s military brilliance. Hence, in 1975 when Tongogara defied ZANU chairman Herbert Chitepo’s order to hand over military rebels (a group of younger, better-educated guerrillas) to the Mozambican government for punishment and executed them instead, the politicians refrained from disciplining him because they needed him to win the armed struggle. Similarly, Chung maintains that when Mugabe became the leader of ZANU he had to abandon his Marxist-Leninism to forge an alliance with Tongogara and his veterans. According to Chung, Tongogara advocated that ZANU and ZAPU retain their united political front to contest the 1980 election because he would then acquire control of both guerrilla armies and thus unchallengeable military power over the politicians. However, Tongogara was killed in a car accident and ZANU contested and won the election on its own.
Chung is more sympathetic than most other accounts to the Marxist-Leninist educated elite’s power struggle with the old guard in ZANU and ZANLA. While Tongogara and other leaders were imprisoned in Zambia on charges of having plotted Chitepo’s assassination, the more educated Marxist-Leninist group took control of ZANLA and, briefly, ZAPU’s army in a new force called ZIPA and resumed the armed struggle. But when the old guard was released from prison, the Tongogara group used military force to arrest the ZIPA leaders and regain control of ZANLA. Chung claims an affinity to the ZIPA group’s socialism but ascribes the resurgence of the Tongogara group to the former’s failure to make political compromises and its miscalculation of Tongogara’s willingness to use force to prevail.
After the imprisonment of ZANU/ZANLA leaders in connection with Chitepo’s assassination, Chung’s political involvement grew. She says her greatest contribution in the months after Chitepo’s death was to prevent Reverend Sithole and Bishop Muzorewa, who sought control of ZANLA, from creating confusion and possible “suicidal internal wrangling” among the ZANLA guerrillas. Chung also describes her central role in keeping the world informed of the Zambians torture of the detained ZANU/ZANLA leaders, pressuring the Zambians to bring them to trial, and raising funds for legal representation for the accused. Tongogara and his co-accused did stand trial on charges of having killed Chitepo but they were released after their lawyer demonstrated that their confessions had been extracted under torture. After a Sithole guerrilla who turned out to be a Rhodesian agent left incriminating material in her car - the car plays an intriguing role in Chung’s rise to political prominence - she escaped to Mozambique in August 1975.
In Mozambique, she became a central figure in ZANU’s education department, expanding education for children and adults in refugee camps and designing student and teacher training curricula. These programs continued after independence when Chung was in the Ministry of Education and ultimately the Minister. In early 1978 Chung’s educational work was disrupted. Rugare Gumbo, a ZANU leader with whom she had a child but no longer a personal relationship, was involved in a coup attempt. Edgar Tekere, who with Herbert Ushewokunze had been briefly captured in the coup effort, forcibly removed Chung and her infant daughter first to Ossibissa camp for women fighters and then another military camp. Chung portrays her months in the military camps, where food shortages were far worse than in the refugee camps, as her harshest life experience. It is Tongogara who permits her to return to the refugee camp and her educational work. Chung portrays Tekere and Ushewokunze, who enjoyed a reputation as part of ZANU’s radical left after independence, as members of the extreme right wing (i.e. anti-white and tribalist) which she says dominated ZANU from 1977.
The last part of the book is a whirlwind excursus of the post-independence period. Chung observes that ZANU became the captive of its electorate. It shifted from a nominally socialist and peasant-dominated party to a liberal capitalist and black middle class-dominated party. She tends to blame the economic decline and weakening state in the 1990s on various groups: workers for their unreasonable wage demands (evidently setting a precedent for veterans’ demands), donors for a drop in aid, mafikizolo (party newcomers) for their asset-stripping, and whites for investing overseas and obstructing black industrialists. This sounds like ZANU PF scape-goating rather than examining how policies create incentives for behavior. To transform itself, she advocates that Zimbabwe abandon colonial institutions and values, return to the best values of the liberation struggle, and build a strong state - a prerequisite for democracy.
Though she condemns Tongogara’s execution of the military rebels, she also supports the party’s decision not to discipline him because of its dependence on him for military victory. [She maintains military victory was around the corner from 1972 but when a settlement is made in 1979 she says military victory would have required ZANLA to acquire air superiority.] The military success of the ZIPA leaders while Tongogara was in prison suggests that military progress was possible without Tongogara. When Tongogara, with the support of ZANU leaders, uses military coercion to arrest the ZIPA leaders, Chung does not protest that there was not even a show trial but instead criticizes the political naivete of the ZIPA leaders and praises Simon Muzenda and Mugabe for rescuing Tongogara’s victims by sending them to “prison” in Mozambique. Similarly, Chung portrays Mugabe and Muzenda as saving from execution the Rugare Gumbo group, who do have a show trial, by sending them too to prison in Mozambique.
Many of Chung’s assertions read as ZANU propaganda that research has discredited. I offer only a few examples. Chung insists that the guerrillas largely adhered to the ancestral spirits’ code of conduct - no violence against innocent civilians, no rape, and no taking of what did not belong to them. As Preben Kaarsholm says in his valuable introduction, research and guerrilla-authored fiction refute such claims. She acknowledges that senior military commanders broke the ancestral spirits’ rules of conduct by demanding sex with female guerrillas but maintains, contrary to research, female fighters’ writings and her own text (p.221), that the men recognized all their children from such liaisons and took them home to be raised by their legally married wives. She depicts Ossibissa camp as a resting place for women fighters; research and female fighters’ writings describe Ossibissa as a place of punishment for pregnant women fighters.
For the ZANU PF-ZAPU and the MDC-ZANU PF conflicts, Chung portrays both sides as equally violent. Yet research shows ZANU PF to have been responsible for most of the violence against usually hapless victims. She emphasizes the well-entrenched use of violence as a political tool, especially among the poor, but says nothing about how ZANU leaders incited attacks on their political opponents. She asserts that ZANU PF did not need to use violence to get peasant support in and after 2000 even though human rights reports have emphasized the effectiveness of ZANU PF violence in its electoral victories in 2000 and 2002. She portrays the land confiscations as legal rather than retroactively legalized; she spuriously maintains donor aid declined in the early 1990s; and on and on. These errors systematically protect ZANU leaders. When Chung says that Roy Bennet, a white MDC parliamentarian who had once been a ZANU PF member, could have kept his farm had he remained in ZANU PF, she undercuts her own argument about historical justice motivating the land invasions. Whites could have kept their land if they had only supported ZANU!
Chung’s memoir is essential reading for specialists. It is not recommended for teaching because extensive knowledge of Zimbabwe is sometimes necessary to distinguish between valuable interpretations of the politics of the liberation struggle and the post-independence period and indefensible ZANU propaganda.
Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Professor Luise White
Reviewed for the International Journal of African Historical Studies by Professor Luise White
Fay Chung, Re-Living the Second Chimurenga: Memories from Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle. Uppsala, Nordic Africa Institute and Harare, Weaver Press, 2006. Pp. 349; 9 illustrations. Introduction by Preben Kaarsholm, pp. 20. SEK 380.
Fay Chung is a Chinese-Zimbabwean (her grandfather arrived in the country in 1904), educated at the University College of Rhodesia and then in England, a lecturer at the University of Zambia in the 1970s and the minister of education in Harare in the 1980s. She was and is such a ZANU-PF stalwart that the lengthy last chapter is devoted to a defense of the third chimurenga and the policies that have rocked Zimbabwe since the late 1990s. She is also, I learned from reading her memoirs, quite the starry-eyed teenager, eager to comment on freedom fighters’ looks, clothes, and a range of social interactions worthy of exclamation marks. When it comes to the recounting the actual ideas and words that made her such a luminary in ZANU’s left wing, she is curiously vague.
This is not to say this isn’t an important book; it is. Indeed, scholars would probably have a deeper understanding of liberation movements and their divisions in arms and exile if we had more insiders’ starry-eyed accounts of them. But since Chung has written the first of this genre, the result is often jarring. Most of the chapter on Josiah Tongogara, for example, gushes. “He was over six feet tall, with the upright and muscular figure of a soldier accustomed to the rigors of war.... With a distinctive, pockmarked, light brown face and greeny-brown eyes...” If he and his fellow militarists enjoyed “sexual favors” from young women guerrillas this was because of their “traditional feudal values.” Besides, for many of these young women such sexual involvements were “a form of social climbing.” The rest of the chapter goes to great lengths to explain why he never should have been accused of murdering a man he was known to despise.
It is Chung’s description of the conduct of liberation from exile that makes for the most interesting and frustrating reading. One the one hand, ZANU in Lusaka and Mozambique and ZANLA in Tanzania are described as such a maze of shifting ideas, opportunities and loyalties that you can almost feel the fragility of the organization. On the other, Chung is so quick to tie up lose ends and get on with her triumphant narrative that there’s no serious discussion of what the critical issues actually were. When Zimbabwean students at the University of Zambia were “tempted” to side with Nhari and Badza in their mutiny of late 1974 she and other Zimbabwean lecturers managed to talk them out of it. Did these lecturers say anything in particular? Chung never says. Once Chung managed to find out who killed whom in the aftermath of the Nhari mutiny, she is ready to close “this sad chapter” in ZANU’s history. Until 1977, ZANU is a natural truth; it required no explanations. After 1977, when the right wing dominates the party, making racism and tribalism “acceptable,” Chung is distressed but still sees no need to explain anything. Even when Chung is fighting for her political and social life, she writes in generalizations. To be fair, Chung’s does not easily separate her political marginalization from a floundering relationship and being a single parent, but she does little more than list the names of those associated with the rapid fire shifts in ideology, leadership struggles, attempted coups and imagined coups.
This book has some remarkably cheap shots, and it’s hard to tell if it’s the teenager gossiping or the ZANU loyalist writing. When a man from ZANU’s Lusaka office was executed for his support of the Nhari rebels, Chung is shocked that someone so “immature and inconsequential” would be thought dangerous enough “to merit execution.” In a 1974 conversation with Ndabaningi Sithole she realized that he “had the old colonial mind set, which considered sitting next to a light-skinned woman in a social context an honor.” Later, she realized he was “just like” his friend and mentor, Idi Amin. Usually sensitive to the questions of race in the struggle, she is at her most superficial when writing about John Conradie, a ZAPU member imprisoned for twelve years with criminals in Rhodesia’s segregated jails. When he was freed he “knew every thief in town. They usually greeted him like a long lost friend!” Wilfred Mhanda comes in for particularly harsh and sustained criticism, except when he arrived at the Geneva conference “dressed in Che Guevara style.” Other than that he was “short and stout” and too well educated, too doctrinaire, and too intolerant of peasant belief to lead the struggle; worse still, he doubted Mugabe’s ability to lead it.
If you want a history of the nobility and purpose of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle this isn’t the best book, which is why it is so important.
University of Florida
Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Moto
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga – Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle
2005: (pp: 358) PLEASE GET REST OF SPECS FROM IRENE
Reviewer: Oskar Wermter, SJ
An Incomplete Liberation
Fay Chung, the ex-convent girl from the tiny Chinese community squeezed between the black majority and the white ruling class in race-conscious Rhodesia, made a momentous decision after graduating in English literature from the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland: she joined the department of African education and taught at African government schools, first in Ascot/Gwelo (now Gweru), and then in Harare (now Mbare/Harare – see pp. 51-7). There she learned an important lesson. ‘I was beginning to understand the opportunism, born of experience of deprivation, that characterized township morality … if one was in dire need, it was correct to utilize any opportunity … to improve oneself.’ This is still so even in 2006.
This choice for the township life led her eventually to the War of Liberation. She spent years in the Mozambiquan bush running schools for Zimbabwean refugee children.
Whenever she writes as a teacher about her work in African education the reader cannot but admire her. A brave woman indeed: having to run for cover, as Rhodesian aircraft mercilessly bomb her school, with her baby daughter on her back (p. 206), together with hundreds of frightened schoolchildren – surely that must have left its indelible mark in her mind. You somehow understand her fierce loyalty to her war-time comrades.
Her option for African education was of course a highly political move. In exile in Zambia, while teaching at Lusaka university, she played a role in the highly dangerous, fratricidal politics of the liberation war. In the end her life was threatened, and she had to flee. That is how she ended up in Mozambique.
‘The rising violence in the townships mirrored the increasing violence with which the colonial regime attempted to suppress any form of protest. [After UDI] it was clear that only armed warfare would bring an end to colonialism. Zimbabwe would be born of blood’ (pp. 63-4). She learned to accept armed violence pragmatically, though she did ask also, ‘Was it possible to change the mindset of millions of people through violent revolution?’ (in China and elsewhere, see p.67). And she regretted the ‘romanticisation of the armed struggle’ (p. 149) by some of her socialist friends in the ‘Vashandi’ faction who, with Frantz Fanon, ‘saw violence as a necessary cleansing of old decay’ (p. 174).
But the critical reader misses a reflection on the long-term effects of violence on a people. ‘The use of violence as a political tool was well entrenched, especially among the poor, for whom violence against the rich was a way of expressing their frustrations.’ (p. 264) With this matter-of-fact statement she more or less excuses the use of violence of some party women against their perceived enemies even after Independence. Since violence is ‘revolutionary’, Chung does not see its horrendous effect on the newly-born state of Zimbabwe.
We hear of executions within the liberation armies and fratricidal bloodshed. We hear almost nothing of violence by freedom fighters against the peasant population within the country. ‘The extreme cruelty of the settler forces alienated the population further, driving them to see the freedom fighters as preferable in every way to the regime in power’ (p. 140). The fighters’ Code of Conduct forbids any harsh measures against the peasants. ‘ZANU and ZANLA have assiduously avoided fighting against or killing civilians, as they regarded themselves as freedom fighters who were fighting against the settler-colonial regime’s soldiers’ (p. 258). But then Chung admits that ‘violence had been used during the war when "sell-outs" who supported the settler colonial regime suffered beatings, or were even executed by freedom fighters’ (p. 264).
Alexander Kanengoni, himself a former freedom-fighter and perhaps the best writer on the war, describes guerilla-against-peasant violence in gruesome detail. Chung never discusses the morality of executing so-called ‘sell-outs’ by fighters. She leaves many questions unanswered.
Chung admired Josiah Tongogara, ‘an ambitious, ruthless and implacable fighter’, and yet a ‘faithful and caring leader’ to whom ‘people entrusted their children and their lives’ (p. 124). Not their daughters, though. He routinely sexually exploited women guerillas (p. 127). She devotes a whole chapter to him, an honour she does not accord Robert Mugabe even though she sings his praises: ‘Mugabe’s professional training and experience as a teacher marked his leadership. He valued intellectual ability. He also believed it was essential to be a morally upright leader, something he had learned from his Roman Catholic tutors, as well as from the tenets of traditional religion, which held that political leaders only held power if they were morally justified to do so in the eyes of the ancestral spirits’ (p. 157).
She does not hide, though, that the socialist faction under Wilfred Mhanda ‘feared he would become a fascist dictator’ (p. 174). It would seem that Mhanda was quite far-sighted.
‘One of the changes taking place in ZANU(PF) was that it was rapidly transforming itself from a liberation movement into a business conglomerate’ (p. 259). The author has many valuable insights to offer. ‘Economic opportunities were available to those who identified with the ruling party and denied to those who opposed the ruling party’ (p. 268). She has no illusions about the corrupt nature of the regime. ‘Patronage from the political elite was now the key to success’ (p. 269).
But, surprisingly and annoyingly, in the end she does not draw the only possible logical conclusion from her insights that the time for this party is now over and a new beginning, indeed a second liberation, a deep moral transformation, is needed.
In the end she remains the loyal cadre, unable to think in new categories. Anyone opposing the ruling party must be the same as its historical enemy, ‘the settler-colonial regime’ (p. 313). That democratic opposition twenty years after independence might herald a new chapter in Zimbabwean politics does not occur to her. She has no word of regret about the suppression of the only independent daily paper. Freedom of expression this freedom fighter apparently did not fight for (cf. p. 330). She scoffs at ‘telephone farmers’, but her ideology does not permit her to question recent destructive land policies. She mentions the ‘ZANU(PF) policy of redistributing existing wealth, but without due emphasis on increasing wealth to cover the whole population’ (p. 287). But she does not link this to our present economic misery.
Like so many of her ‘comrades’ she cannot think beyond the ‘Second Chimurenga’ which she keeps ‘re-living’. The future is closed to her. ‘I think we need to revive some of the principles and values of the liberation struggle, which included looking at the lives and needs of the underprivileged’ (p. 332). The ‘needs of the underprivileged’ have been disregarded in a most scandalous manner by the ruling party’s ‘Murambatsvina’. The party Fay Chung still believes in just does not exist any more.
The author’s loyalty to her old fellow fighters interferes with her political analysis and vision. She is not aware that her party failed fundamentally in building a new state, a much more important task than just ensuring the continuation of the ‘liberation movement’ and its ‘struggle’.
Her party has missed a historical opportunity. It could have become a state builder and creator of a new and lasting constitution. Instead, it is still fighting the same old enemy who is now obsolete. This Chung has not noticed.
This book is unique in that the editor includes his own critical review in the introduction. He asks: ‘Why is it of such importance for Fay Chung as a left-wing socialist to support Mugabe and his turning back of the historical clock to the objectives of a struggle that took place thirty years ago? Why does Chung consider it necessary to distance herself so drastically from the new democratic opposition?’ (p. 13).
That Fay Chung wrote these ‘Memories from Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle’ at all is commendable, despite a number of factual errors.1 It is to be hoped that many of her ‘comrades’ do the same before the final curtain comes down on their lives and their period of history. Which cannot be long now.
1. ‘To date, it has not been possible to state definitively which side was responsible for the massacres of missionaries, although there is circumstantial evidence that the Smith regime’s failure to investigate the Makumbe mission massacres indicated that they might have been complicit’ (p. 236). Presumably she means the killing of four Dominican Sisters and three Jesuits at St Paul’s Mission, 6th February 1977. Additionally, Mgr Bruce Kent was never ‘the Roman Catholic papal representative in Britain’ (p. 136).
© The author/publisher
Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Brian Raftopoulos
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga – Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle
2005: (pp: 358)
Review of African Political Economy
No. 114, pp. 757-68, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Raftopoulos
It is one of the ironies of Zimbabwean politics that even as the ruling party ZANU(PF) has recently steadily imposed a stodgy diet of narrow party history on Zimbabweans, this view of the past has been challenged not only by an increasing flow of critical historiography, but also from within the ranks of ZANU(PF) itself. The latter has taken the form of emerging biographies by critical voices within ZANU(PF) that have added very useful insights into the history of the liberation struggle and the internal battles in the liberation movement. These voices have not so much provided a new paradigm for understanding the liberation struggles as added new information to doubts that have been apparent in both the creative literature and historiography of the struggle for some time.
Of equal significance however is the manner in which such critical biographies have been received within ZANU(PF). The ruling party's response to Edgar Tekere's recent biography A Life of Struggle has been somewhat hysterical. The book has been denounced because it 'clearly and explicitly denigrates and vilifies' Mugabe, and Tekere been expelled from the party for the second time in his lifetime. The overblown response to Tekere's story is a reminder that authoritarian regimes like ZANU(PF) are usually most sensitive to criticisms from within their ranks. The personal bonds formed by such nationalist groupings during periods of prolonged struggle, are most keenly affected by the personal criticisms that emerge from within. Some of the 'myths' of the struggle have began to unravel as key participants tell their stories of the inner workings of ZANU(PF), within the broader context of the intense succession battle taking place within the ruling party and the resurgent opposition to the regime.
It is from this perspective that Fay Chung's book is interesting not only for its valuable discussion of the history of ZANU(PF), but as part of the general rethinking of Zimbabwean nationalism that has been taking place over the last decade. Chung's narrative of her early life is an interesting account of a Chinese youth in colonial Southern Rhodesia, showing the ambiguous status of the Chinese in the colonial racial hierarchy. The author provides an absorbing narrative of her childhood and education in Coloured schools, as well as her move into nationalist politics in Zambia after her time at university.
It is however her narrative of the internal struggles within ZANU in the 1970s that provides the most interesting and contested part of the book. In these chapters Chung takes the reader through the Nhari-Badza rebellion of the mid 1970s and the rise and fall of the left-leaning Zipa group. On the former, Chung argues that the 'rebels' had substantial grievances against the High Command, and that the summary execution of the leaders on the orders of Tongogara were part of the ongoing leadership battles taking place in the party. Wilfred Mhanda (2006), formerly known as Dzinashe Machingura, one time leader of Zipa, has contested this interpretation. In his view the rebellion was ‘a clear attempt at the usurpation of power by Nhari and Badza, chagrined by their demotion’, in the army. He thus concludes that, ‘if the revolt was ill conceived, and if it has been misconstrued by Chung, its suppression was characterized by unparalleled brutality'. On the Zipa period in ZANU, while Fay Chung displays sympathy for the left-wing guerrillas, she argues that the group was ultimately defeated by the old guard because of a combination of poor negotiating skills, 'uncompromising rigidity' and their unwillingness to work with traditional structures. In her discussions of this period Chung also throws some light on the growing rightward shift of the liberation leadership, marked by its own forms of racial intolerance. As Chung was centrally involved in ZANU's education programme in Mozambique, the book provides a very useful insight into the liberation movement's efforts in this area.
The weakest parts of the book are the two concluding chapters on the post-1980 period, and it is in this section that one of the central tensions in the book is most apparent. For while the discussion of nationalist politics in the 1970s is largely a critical examination of the problems of nationalist politics, the post-independence assessment, for the most part, provides an official rendition of the causes of the crisis in Zimbabwe. Issues of state violence, political intolerance, and human rights abuses are largely neglected in favour of a position that, notwithstanding the problems she has tracked in ZANU, the spirit and traditions of liberation politics in the latter provide the best hope for the future. Her position on this is backed by an extremely shallow assessment of post-1990s opposition politics, that in no way matches the nuance she displays in understanding the history of ZANU. Moreover Chung's uncritical view of the figure of Robert Mugabe himself will raise many eyebrows. Preben Kaarholm's very good introduction provides an important context for understanding this and other problems in Chung's narrative.
Several areas of the book can be contested for historical accuracy, and no doubt there are many in ZANU(PF) who will challenge her interpretation of the 1970s struggles in liberation politics. Nevertheless, Chung's critical perspectives on the form and content of the political struggles and conflicts in ZANU have provided the historiography of the liberation struggle with an important new voice, and for the frankness with which she approached her subject she is to be greatly thanked.
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Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Peter Limb
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga – Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle
2005: (pp: 358)
African Book Publishing Record
Reviewer: Peter Limb
Both memoir and measured analysis, this is an important book as its author is a first-hand witness of key events in contemporary Zimbabwean history and one of very few women activists to write their memoirs, and also for what it tells us of internal party politics and the thinking of intellectual activists from the 1970s onwards. It is also rich in description and analysis of the country’s educational system.
Fay Chung, of Chinese-Zimbabwean ancestry and, like Robert Mugabe, of Catholic education, was a teacher and intellectual who joined the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in exile in Zambia. She was active in organising education in refugee camps in Mozambique that were bombed by the Smith regime. After independence in 1980 Chung went on to become Education Minister, in which role she worked to develop policies of egalitarianism such as 'education with production' to give peasants and workers greater access to educational opportunities. She left government in protest at the pro-capitalist, 'structural adjustment' policies dictated by the IMF and eventually accepted by the ZANU(PF) government after 1989.
The chapters unfold chronologically and are illustrated with unique photographs such as those of her family’s Harare business. Autobiographical glimpses flank the main part of the book, a detailed description and analysis of a liberation movement in exile and government, with special focus on education for exiles and post-independence educational reform, fields where she excelled. The book is well produced; a corrected reprint (under review here) was issued in 2007 but a few typos remain: Mandela was freed in 1990, not 1992 – p. 317.
Politically, this is a complex book. The tough, if fair, introduction by Preben Kaarsholm provides context and engages with difficult issues around Chung’s attitudes to Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), questioning her inconsistency in failing to support the latter. Whilst she does criticise Mugabe and, from her own perspective as a socialist, re-assert the Zimbabwean liberation movement’s initial support for popular power, land reform, and socio-economic equality, there are gaps in assessing the full impact of Mugabe’s dictatorship and her critique of the MDC is simplistic and too briefly sketched. However, what comes through are her deep compassion for ordinary people, her commitment to (following Paolo Freire) the 'pedagogy of liberation', and her feminist socialism (clear condemnation of purges and sexual exploitation of women 'in the bush' temper her general support as an activist for ZANU).
The book throws much light on internecine rivalries within ZANU in the 1970s that saw Robert Mugabe and his military backers eliminate much of the left-wing vashandi (worker) faction with which Chung identified and which nearly saw her killed. The greatest value of the book, besides her own important testimony, is the insight into these power, class and intellectual struggles that continue to haunt Zimbabwean politics and which her analysis helps in part to explain. Re-Living the Second Chimurenga – Memories from the Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe is an essential new book for libraries collecting in any kind of depth on Zimbabwean history, politics, and education.
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Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Wilfred Mhanda
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga – Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle
2005: (pp: 358) PLEASE GET REST OF SPECS FROM IRENE
Journal of Modern African Studies
Vol. 45, No. 2, June, 2007
Reviewer: Wilfred Mhanda, Zimbabwe Liberators Platform/University of Zimbabwe
Tribute has to be paid to Fay Chung and her publishers for the bold decision to publish this work. It will certainly stimulate debate about the liberation struggle.
However, it is to be hoped that such stimulation and subsequent contributions by other commentators will foster the development of a balanced account of the struggle for the benefit of posterity.
Chung grew up in Rhodesia and studied at the University of Rhodesia before taking up a teaching post with the then racially segregated department of African education. She later left for the United Kingdom for further studies, where she says she was exposed to left-wing politics, before going to Lusaka, Zambia, in the mid-1970s. There she came into contact with the leadership of the external wing of ZANU under Herbert Chitepo. It was this exposure that gave her insights into the goings-on within ZANU which she speaks authoritatively about, although she was at the time neither a full-time activist for ZANU nor did she occupy an official position within the organisation before 1977.
It is therefore not surprising that her account is replete with innumerable inaccuracies and misrepresentations that at best could only have emanated from hearsay, or at worst are a deliberate attempt to give a historical slant that fits in with Mugabe’s subsequent ascendancy to ZANU’s leadership in early 1977.
She brands herself as one of leftist inclination, but fails to explain how she survived the ruthless purges. Furthermore, Chung makes numerous unsubstantiated attacks calculated to cast aspersions on the character and integrity of Mugabe’s perceived political rivals, most of whom are now deceased and no longer in a position to give their own side of the story. On the other hand, Chung has not even a single negative word about Mugabe himself and his strongmen now calling the shots in Zimbabwe.
Chung asserts that the two principal aims of the struggle were land redistribution and the democratisation of educational opportunities. This is understandable from the perspective of an ardent ZANU(PF) supporter and her background as an educationist. However, it is completely at variance with the thrust of ZANLA’s political education that had the attainment of political power as the primary objective of the struggle. Political power would then serve as the instrument to deliver on the ideals of freedom, democracy, social justice and respect for human dignity.
She goes on to lament the failure to fulfil these aspirations after independence, without searching for the reason. The explanation for this is the outcome of the struggle for political direction within ZANU in the mid-1970s that saw the defeat of ZANU’s left wing. The consequence was the regression of the liberation movement into nationalism that focused on the transfer of power from the Rhodesian regime to the African nationalists, rather than the transformation of society to realise the ideals of the liberation struggle. Leaving all the repressive Rhodesian institutions and statutes intact could hardly have facilitated the outcome that Chung pines for.
It is intriguing that Chung’s book deliberately extols the contribution of the man who did everything to negate what the liberation movement stood for before and after independence. She fails to realise that Zimbabwe’s current dire straits are no more than the inevitable consequence and outcome of two decades of misguided economic policies founded on populism, politics of patronage, mismanagement, incompetence and corruption.
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Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - Journal of Southern African Studies
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga:
Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle
2005: (pp: 358)
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 32, No. 3, September, 2006
Reviewer: Judith Todd
Fay Chung and I, compatriots, overlapped at university in 1962. We both reacted against the authority of colonial Rhodesia, the racism and injustice of which inevitably culminated in war. By 1971, Fay was in voluntary exile teaching in Zambia. In 1972, after six months’ detention in Rhodesia, I also left for exile.
In February 1980, detention orders were lifted and I was able to return home before the elections that led to Zimbabwe’s independence that April. Fay, by now part of the elite of Robert Mugabe’s victorious party ZANU(PF), was one of a small group flown home from Mozambique in May, entering Zimbabwe without passports, met by ZANU’s military supremo Solomon Mujuru, and taken to ‘houses that ZANU(PF) had bought with contributions it had received for accepting independence along the lines advanced by the Western allies’ (p. 254).
I started reading Fay’s opus with enthusiasm, interested in her empathy with those hurt by white supremacy and her growing identification with ZANU, which she joined in 1973. ‘I had come to the conclusion’, she writes, ‘that it was essential for the intelligentsia to play a role in the liberation struggle [with] the peasant guerrillas’ (p. 75). Her sketches of ZANU politics, personalities and life within their guerrilla and refugee camps are fascinating. She herself emerges as a modest but heroic and dedicated figure totally committed to the struggle, eventually being elevated to ministerial posts in Zimbabwe’s government. However, not long into the book, I was so discomfited that I started reading the narrative all over again, thus now able to identify the fatal flaw throughout. The memories, a stream of ideas, are authoritatively but often wrongly presented as fact.
Fay’s grandfather came to Rhodesia from a ‘Chinese peasant family’ in search of land only to find ‘his ambition thwarted by the racial laws instituted by the colonialists [which] forbade the sale of the best land to anyone but the whites [who] were greedy and would not allow other races to own land’ (p. 27). He arrived in 1904. The iniquitous Land Apportionment Act was passed only in 1931. Later she states that ‘[i]t was a colonial rule that all the property of politically active blacks who joined nationalist parties would be confiscated’ (p. 54). Yet none of my friends, who are lawyers and/or were politically active then, can recall any such ‘rule’. Towards the end of her narrative she claims: ‘Most people who witnessed the confiscation of the property of peasants and of black businessmen who supported the liberation movements … do not see anything wrong with the confiscation of white-owned property’ (p. 328). However, ‘Most people’ did not include the Courts of Zimbabwe, which found the seizures illegal and unconstitutional. Their consequent judgments led to their pulverisation by the one person whose integrity seems never doubted, the consequences of his actions seldom questioned – Robert Mugabe.
In 1985, Mugabe was angered that election results did not give ZANU(PF) sufficient seats to amend the Constitution and introduce a one-party state. He broadcast to the nation in Shona inciting violence – ‘goborai zvigutswa!’ – telling supporters to stump their fields. Fay explains the violence, without mentioning the incitement, as an example of ‘traditional concepts’ under which the poor of ZANU(PF) wanted to celebrate victory by beating up the ‘middle-class’ opposition ZAPU (p. 263). She alludes to the crushing of ZAPU in the 1980s as a civil war, specifying a tribal conflict (p. 320) and ignoring the reality evident even in her own Harare constituency where the ZAPU candidate Nevison Nyashanu was not only Shona-speaking but, like Mugabe, a Zezuru. After being defeated, Nyashanu was abducted and temporarily disappeared. Continuing violence inflicted by ZANU(PF) eventually resulted in the one-party state declared in 1987, which ‘Almost everyone believed … was the right solution, as such a state would guarantee national unity’ (p. 262).
Fay repeats the myth that Britain reneged on providing funds for purchase of land for redistribution. She then unwittingly explodes this myth by putting her finger on the precise reason Britain pulled out of the process – the misappropriation of such land, once acquired, by ZANU top brass from the intended beneficiaries. A prime mover in the establishment of the Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production (ZIMFEP), Fay was involved in the purchase of farms which she registered under government ownership. ‘I did not realize then that this would cause ZIMFEP immense problems in the future, as local politicians manipulated government ownership of the farms to take away the farms from the schools’ (p. 279).
Fay often reflects the contempt ZANU(PF) has demonstrated for Zimbabweans. She writes of the malnutrition of children in the camps being partly due to the fact that ‘the guerrillas felt that through their participation in the war they had risen above the peasantry’, and that their new status was reflected in what they fed their children – tea, sugar and biscuits rather than traditional food (p. 193) – as if there was a choice of food in the camps. Her contempt extends to democratic processes. ‘ZANU(PF) became captive to its electorate’s wishes … Enthusiastic white farmers soon integrated themselves into the party at all levels. In subsequent elections … black peasants were quite capable of eagerly electing … white farmers or Indian businessmen’ (p. 260). Finally, while she states that ZANU captured the support of 100,000 ‘peasants’ by (temporarily) granting them land (p. 264), she doesn’t mention the hundreds of thousands of farm workers and their families who lost their livelihoods and who, like the majority of their fellow Zimbabweans, are now starving.
Fay’s Chung’s book, an important personal record, is also a valiant attempt to justify the grim fortress within which Robert Mugabe shelters from the onslaught of the ‘negative forces’ she fingers throughout. I couldn’t help laughing when she described one of those negative forces, the opposition press, as having been ‘generously funded by big business and foreign interests’ (p. 330), as I remembered how our silenced Daily News started off with exacting contributions of $2,000 each from the now exiled editor Geoff Nyarota and five of his friends.
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Review of Re-Living the Second Chimurenga - Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle - The Herald
Re-Living the Second Chimurenga – Memories from Zimbabwe's Liberation Struggle
2005: (pp: 358)
26 August 2006
Reviewer: Wonder Guchu
The only other books that come closer to Fay Chung’s autobiography, Re-living the Second Chimurenga is the late Masipula Sithole’s Zimbabwe: Struggle within the Struggle, and to some extent David Martin and Phyllis Johnson’s The Struggle For Zimbabwe: The Chimurenga War.
Sithole’s Struggle Within the Struggle makes tribalism its main focus and exonerates the late Ndabaningi Sithole of wrongdoing in what happened when he renounced the armed struggle, Chung’s account is that of an observer who being Chinese was not part of and to any tribe.
Of course she admits that at one time, events compelled her to take sides but that was never influenced by tribalism. This fact then sets her book apart from any other non-fiction book about the liberation war.
It also gives her room to talk about events from an onlooker’s point of view. She therefore brings about terrifying and shocking revelations about some of the things that went on during the war, things those who were part of the struggle feel should not be said.
Her autobiography, is therefore, a very brave and daring account which is likely to cause discomfort because it lays bare how war can strip men of their conscience and make them absolute masters over other human beings.
Ex-combatants Freedom Nyamubaya and Alexander Kanengoni have written about some of the things Chung mentions in her autobiography. But in Nyamubaya and Kanengoni’s case, their accounts were shrouded in fiction and thus appeared to be nothing but fiction.
Even the movie Flame touched on crucial and disturbing aspects of the war – sexual harassment and tribalism:
'I remember two incidents when I was in Pungwe III, a military camp on the banks of the Pungwe River deep in the heat of Mozambique. I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of commotion – many angry voices could be heard shouting from the women’s barracks situated a hundred metres from my posto. The next morning I was told by a young commander that Tongogara and his retinue had arrived in the middle of the night and had demanded women to entertain them. Such women were euphemistically called "warm blankets". The sycophantic camp commander had immediately gone into the women‚s barracks and called out the names of several young women for "night duties".' (p. 126)
Although Chung makes these revelations, she points out that such incidents were part of the ‘senior commanders‚ code of morality based on traditional feudal attitudes’. But she says, what was done to women became one of the reasons for the two rebellions in ZANLA – the Nhari and Vashandi rebellions.
She also says despite all this ‘Tongogara displayed a very profound love for his family. Whenever he visited Dar es Salaam, he would phone his wife and children in Lusaka every evening, even though the outdated telephone system in both Tanzania and Zambia in the 1970s made this quite a feat’ (p. 124).
Chung adds new dimensions to the wartime conflicts that were considered to have been restricted to tribes and regions. She also writes about divisions caused by mistrust between the experienced but uneducated and the educated young commanders. There was also some conflict between what she refers to as the traditionalists (masvikiro), who were a very vital cog in the war chain and the senior commanders:
'The traditional religious leaders also condemned Tongogara and his top commanders for breaking the two inviolable ancestral rules of respect for life and sexual purity. Tongogara himself, while not accepting their moral control of his behaviour, was nevertheless seriously irked by their open condemnation of him. On one visit to Pungwe III military camp, he made the traditional leaders stand up one by one in a rally of thousands of camp dwellers, and threatened to imprison them if they continued to criticise him. Despite these threats, they continued to condemn him, on the pretext that the ancestral spirits spoke through them and they could not control what these spirits wished to say.' (p.129)
The other conflict was between old-style nationalists who regarded the senior commanders, Tongogara especially with suspicion because they saw him as a representative of those who would seek a military government‚ after independence. ‘On the other hand, the senior commanders saw the old-style nationalists as untrustworthy, corrupt and liable to betray the military struggle for ephemeral political gains’.
There was also another group, Vashandi that included young militants who, despite their admiration of Tongogara as ‘a new-style leader different from the old-style politicians of the 1960s, disliked him for what they considered a failure according to Marxist-Leninist criteria’.
Chung’s autobiography is a sweeping account that begins with her own family, growing up in the then Southern Rhodesia, education and her feelings towards the whites who had everything while Indians and blacks had nothing.
It touches on the early days of independence when corruption became endemic among some unscrupulous leaders and ends with her vision for Zimbabwe.
Re-living the Second Chimurenga is a very disturbing but informative book about a woman who sacrificed her life for the liberation of Zimbabwe.
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