Sikhala: Our Father Zimbabwe
EDITOR —I have known Job “Wiwa Sikhala” since 1996 when I first met him in the revolutionary Complex 5 (Baghdad Student Hostel) at the University of Zimbabwe where his passion for the students in particular and Zimbabweans in general resonated with the ideals of the liberation struggle.
One such liberation icon who inspired Sikhala was none other than uMdala wethu, the late Father Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo, whose dedication and commitment to the common man’s struggle ever since his trade unionist and National Democratic Party days through to Zapu resembled the selflessness of Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela.
After independence, Father Zimbabwe suffered untold political persecution from his erstwhile fellow freedom fighters and in 1983 had to flee to London after illegally crossing the Botswana border incognito.
Father Zimbabwe assured the nation that he was going to look for “solutions” to Zimbabwean problems abroad. Forty years later, a post independence and 21st century nationalist who matches Father Zimbabwe in stature and heart is in a de javu moment from the same tormentors who haunted his hero until the ill-fated Unity Accord of 1987.
It is now a matter of historical record that Sikhala has been on the run since the middle of July while speculation around his whereabouts abounds.
He has been reported to have crossed into Zambia and back into Zimbabwe and only to be hunted in the rural area of Dema, Seke.
Currently, he is reported to be in Mozambique with security forces on his heels. In his regular engagements with the citizens of Zimbabwe, Sikhala has implored the nation to be united in sentiments reminiscent of Father Zimbabwe’s
“We cannot move forward if we are divided”.
Under the vibrant 31st July Movement, he has managed to unify former friends and foes reeling under the yoke of poverty wrought upon the nation by the repressive Mnangagwa regime.
Sikhala has now conjured “Chibwechitedza” (the slippery rock) by constantly outfoxing the security apparatus ever since the dreaded announcement by the police that they were interested in “interviewing” him and 13 other activists who have been labelled terrorists who need to be “flushed out”.
Eerily similarly, Nkomo and his Zapu colleagues were labelled “dissidents” and “cockroaches” before the tragic washing of chaff (Gukurahundi massacre) witnessed in newly independent Zimbabwe and perpetrated against the people of Matabeleland.
Sikhala’s post-independence struggle against the corrupt and parasitic elite now fittingly mirrors Father Zimbabwe’s The Story of My Life. Like Nkomo, Sikhala has managed to expose what is wrong with Zimbabwe and equally is optimistic that “Freedom Lies Ahead.”
Charles M. Mutama