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Encyclopedia > Gukurahundi

Gukurahundi is a traditional term in Shona (one of Zimbabwe's native languages), which means "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains". The chaff, i.e., "hundi", remains after the corn has been removed during the process of thrashing the corn, "kupura mhunga kana rukweza". It originates from the peasant population of Zimbabwe. Shona (or ChiShona) is a native language of Zimbabwe and southern Zambia; the term is also used to identify those Kintu speaking peoples in Southern Africa who speak one of the Shona languages. ...


In post-independent Zimbabwe, the term "gukurahundi" is a euphemism used for the actions of Robert Mugabe's Fifth Brigade in the Ndebele provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands during the early to late 80s. An estimated 20 000 civilians, mostly Ndebele, were killed or disappeared and have not been accounted for to this date. Robert Gabriel Mugabe (born 21 February 1924) is a Zimbabwean politician and the current President of Zimbabwe. ... The Fifth Brigade was an elite unit of specially-trained Zimbabwean soldiers. ... This article relates to the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe. ... Matabeleland is a region in the west and south-west of Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. ... Categories: Africa geography stubs | Provinces of Zimbabwe ...

Contents

1980

In October 1980, Robert Mugabe, then Prime Minister, signed an agreement with the North Korean President, Kim Il Sung that they would train a brigade for the Zimbabwean army. This was soon after Mugabe had announced the need for a militia to "combat malcontents". However, there was very little civil unrest in Zimbabwe at this time. Robert Gabriel Mugabe (born 21 February 1924) is a Zimbabwean politician and the current President of Zimbabwe. ... North Korea, officially the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK; Korean: Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk; Hangul: 조선민주주의인민공화국; Hanja: 朝鮮民主主義人民共和國), is a country in eastern Asia... Kim Il-sung (April 15, 1912–July 8, 1994) was a Korean Communist politician and the ruler of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) from 1948 until his death. ...


Mugabe replied by saying dissidents should "watch out", and further announced the brigade would be called "Gukurahundi".


There had been problems after Independence in integrating ZIPRA and ZANLA into the National Army. These problems were not only in Matabeleland, but throughout the country. For example, ex-ZANLA elements attacked civilian areas in Mutoko, Mount Darwin and Gutu. It seemed both sides had hidden weapons. In November 1980, Enos Nkala made remarks at a rally in Bulawayo, in which he warned ZAPU that ZANU-PF would deliver a few blows against them. This started the first Entumbane uprising, in which ZIPRA and ZANLA fought a pitched battle for two days. ZIPRA or the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Army was the armed wing of the communist party ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) and participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia. ... ZANLA or the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army was the armed wing of the Zimbabwean political movement ZANU (the Zimbabwe African National Union) and participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in Rhodesia. ... Matabeleland is a region in the west and south-west of Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. ... Enos Nkala is a Zimbabwean politician, and co-founder of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front with Ndabaningi Sithole, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira and Henry Hamadziripi. ... The City of Bulawayo is highlighted in this map of Zimbabwe. ... The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union was a political party in Zimbabwe. ... The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has been the ruling party in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, led by Robert Mugabe, first as Prime Minister with the party simply known as ZANU, and then as President from 1988 after taking over ZAPU and renaming the party ZANU... Also known as Ntumbane, Entumbane is a suburb in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo. ... ZIPRA or the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Army was the armed wing of the communist party ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) and participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia. ... ZANLA or the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army was the armed wing of the Zimbabwean political movement ZANU (the Zimbabwe African National Union) and participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in Rhodesia. ...


In February 1981, there was a second uprising, which spread to Glenville and also to Connemara in the Midlands. ZIPRA troops in other parts of Matabeleland headed for Bulawayo to join the battle, and ex-Rhodesian units had to come in to stop the fighting. Over 300 people were killed. ZIPRA or the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Army was the armed wing of the communist party ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union) and participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia. ... Matabeleland is a region in the west and south-west of Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. ... The City of Bulawayo is highlighted in this map of Zimbabwe. ...


The government asked Justice Enoch Dumbutshena, the former Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, to hold an inquiry into the uprising - to date the findings and report have never been released. Enoch Dumbutshena (born 20 April 1920 – died 14 December 2000) was a distinguished Zimbabwean judge known for defending the independence of that countrys judicial branch. ...


Many ZIPRA cadres defected after Entumbane, mainly because they were afraid of staying in the army, as they felt some of their colleagues were disappearing mysteriously. They were also annoyed because they felt ZANLA cadres were being favoured for promotion. It was these issues rather than any clear political policy, which caused them to leave the army, taking their guns.


1982

This situation became worse after the finding of arms caches in February 1982. ZANU-PF now openly accused ZAPU of plotting another war and ZAPU leaders were arrested or removed from cabinet. However, the treason trial in 1982 involving Dumiso Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku and four others failed to prove a case against them. All were released although Dabengwa and Masuku were redetained without trial for four years. Possibly thousands of ex-ZIPRA cadres deserted the army after this. Most of them now claim that they saw this as necessary to stay alive. With their leaders all locked up or in exile, they felt there was nobody to protect them within the army. "We were threatened, that was why I decided to desert," said one dissident. The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has been the ruling political party in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, led by Robert Mugabe, first as Prime Minister with the party simply known as ZANU, and then as President from 1988 after taking over ZAPU and renaming the party... The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union was a political party in Zimbabwe. ... The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union was a political party in Zimbabwe. ... Born 06 dec 1939 and former Zimbabwean Minister of Home Affairs (1992-2000) and also the Chairman of Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (1991- ) Former Intelligence and Security chief of ZIPRA and ZAPU during the Zimbabwe war of liberation later became a cabinet minister later in the independent Zimbabwe but got... Born in 1940, Lookout Masuku joined the ZIPRA army of Joshua Nkomo during the Rhodesian bush was. ...


Fifth Brigade

The members of the Fifth Brigade were drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops at Tongogara Assembly Point, named after Josiah Tongogara, the general of Zanla, the militant wing of Mugabe's ZANU during the revolutionary war. There were a few ZIPRA (ZAPU) troops in the unit for a start, but they were withdrawn before the end of the training. It seems there were also some foreigners in the unit, possibly Tanzanians. The training of 5 Brigade lasted until September 1982, when Minister Sekeramayi announced training was complete. Josiah Tongogara is a fallen hero of the Zimbabwe revolutionary war, and streets are named after him in almost every town in the country. ... The Zimbabwe African National Union was a political party during the struggle for Rhodesias, ultimately Zimbabwes, independence, formed as a split from ZAPU. It won the 1980 elections under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, and eight years later merged again with Joshua Nkomos ZAPU to form Zanu... The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union was a political party in Zimbabwe. ...


The first Commander of Fifth Brigade was Colonel Perence Shiri. Fifth Brigade was different from all other army units, in that it was not integrated into the army. It was answerable only to the Prime Minister, and not to the normal army command structures. Their codes, uniforms, radios and equipment were not compatible with other army units. Their most distinguishing feature in the field was their red berets, although many reports note that on occasions Fifth Brigade soldiers would operate in civilian clothes. Fifth Brigade seemed to be a law unto themselves once in the field. Most of their operations were targeted at defenceless civilians, who Mugabe referred to as supporters of dissidents. In April 1983 Mugabe stated, "We eradicate them. We don't differentiate when we fight because we can't tell who is a dissident and who is not".[citation needed] Perence Shiri, Air Marshall and Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ). ...


Within weeks, the Fifth Brigade had murdered more than two thousand civilians, beaten thousands more, and destroyed hundreds of homesteads. Their impact on the communities they passed through was shocking.


1983

Most of the dead were shot in public executions, often after being forced to dig their own graves in front of family and fellow villagers. The largest number of dead in a single killing involved the deliberate shooting of 62 young men and women on the banks of the Cewale River, Lupane, on 5 March 1983. Seven survived with gunshot wounds, the other 55 died. Another way 5 Brigade killed large groups of people was to burn them alive in huts. They did this in Tsholotsho and also in Lupane. They would routinely round up dozens, or even hundreds, of civilians and march them at gun point to a central place, like a school or bore-hole. There they would be forced to sing Shona songs praising ZANU-PF, at the same time being beaten with sticks. These gatherings usually ended with public executions. Those killed could be ex-ZIPRAs, ZAPU officials, or anybody chosen at random, including women. Lupane is a village in Matabeleland North province in Zimbabwe. ... March 5 is the 64th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (65th in leap years). ... 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Tsholotsho (formerly known as Tjolotjo) is a village in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe and is located about 65km north-west of Nyamandhlovu in the Tjolotjo communal land. ... The Zimbabwe African Peoples Union was a political party in Zimbabwe. ...


People who support the Government's use of 5 Brigade against civilians say that this strategy "brought peace very, very quickly" (Lt Col Lionel Dyke, commander of Paratroopers, 1983-84).However Fifth Brigade made the situation worse in every way. It was not Fifth Brigade, but the signing of a political agreement, the Unity Accord, that brought an end to the violence.


1987 - Unity Accord

On 22 December 1987, Mugabe and the leader of ZAPU, Joshua Nkomo, signed the Unity Accord. This effectively dissolved ZAPU into ZANU-PF. On 18 April 1988, Mugabe announced an amnesty for all dissidents, and Nkomo called on them to lay down their arms. A general ordinance was issued saying all those who surrendered before 31 May would get a full pardon. This was extended not just to dissidents but to criminals of various types serving jail terms. Over the next few weeks, 122 dissidents surrendered. December 22 is the 356th day of the year (357th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... April 18 is the 108th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (109th in leap years). ... 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... May 31 is the 151st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (152nd in leap years), with 214 days remaining. ...


In June, the amnesty was extended to include all members of the security forces who had committed human rights violations.


The 1980s disturbances were finally at an end. This brought relief nation-wide, but in parts of the country it has left a behind many problems which remain unsolved to this day. These include poor health, poverty, practical and legal problems and a deep-rooted suspicion of Government officials.


NB: Some of the material here is drawn from a report compiled by the Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) entitled "Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace. A report on the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands 1980 – 1989".


Further accounts of the atrocities committed during the Gukurahundi period, are documented in part three of Peter Godwin's novel 'Mukiwa'.


External links

  • "Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace. A report on the disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands 1980 – 1989"

  Results from FactBites:
 
Gukurahundi (550 words)
Gukurahundi is a traditional term in Shona (one of Zimbabwe's native languages), which means "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains".
In post-independent Zimbabwe, the term "gukurahundi" is a euphemism used for the actions of Robert Mugabe's Fifth Brigade in the Ndebele provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands during the early to late 80s.
The members of the Fifth Brigade were drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops at Tongogara Assembly Point, named after Josiah Tongogara, the general of Zanla, the militant wing of Mugabe's ZANU during the revolutionary war.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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