Kamungoma survivor reflects on horrific scenes of the 1976 bombings

By Josephine Mhugiyo

THE Heroes Day celebrations leave many former liberation war fighters reflecting on the long road to independence which was littered with many fatal battles.

For Patricia Mapfumo, a survivor of the 1976 bombings at Kamungoma, Gutu, the Heroes’ Holiday gives her time to reflect on the harsh realities of the liberation struggle.

Even on ordinary days like this one when she is doing her normal household chores like pounding Bambara groundnuts, there is nothing ordinary about this woman’s life.

She pounds with one hand, the other was amputated after she was shot at the Kamungoma bombing where they had gone for a night vigil and life has never been the same.

Patricia Mapfumo has horrific recollections of the night when Rhodesian soldiers struck.

Though grateful to have made it out alive, the scars on her body and injuries she sustained changed her life.

“ I can’t do most chores now, when it gets cold I can’t even do such simple cores like the pounding due to the pain,” she said.

Reflections of the fateful day on 14 May 1976 when Rhodesian soldiers pounced on civilians who had gathered for a Pungwe are a painful experience for Mai Mapfumo.

She does not like revisiting the site. When she does, the memories seem to be turned into reality once more.

“We were singing the song “Bhunu rakatsva musana nekupfeka kakhi “and before we could even finish the first stanza the enemy struck, “she explained.

Mai Mapfumo was shot on the arm and face and also has multiple scars on her legs which remind her of her close encounter with death.

Her child who was straddled on her back when she was shot drank her mother’s blood and died.

“When I got shot I immediately lost speech because my mouth had been torn apart, my husband then arrived and summoned the neighbours for help,” she recalls with tears streaming down her cheeks.

The Kamungoma bombing saw 105 civilians losing their lives. They had gathered for a night vigil where they were being educated on the war of independence.

The names on the shrine that was built at the site in Gutu honour those who lost their lives on the day.

Scenes of babies suckling from their dead mothers’ breasts, cries for help and the blood bath that followed the bombing have become part of Mai Mapfumo’s constant nightmares.

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