She remembers reading her hubby’s capture in the 1964 Chronicle

13 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
She remembers reading her hubby’s capture in the 1964 Chronicle Mrs Leah Nkala reads the Chronicle issue of April 25, 1964, with the headline “More sent to Wha Wha.”

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
AT 94 years of age, when she speaks about the death of her husband and national hero, Cde Lazarus Mavava Nkala, the pain in her eyes is visible.

Mrs Leah Nkala, takes off her spectacles, looks down, stares out of the window of the living room at her Luveve 4 home in Bulawayo and takes a deep breath as if to steady herself.

Mrs Leah Nkala

Before she utters a word, she is close to tears and one would think they will start trickling, but it’s only watery eyes as she remembers the day she received the horrific news that her husband, who was Zapu national organising secretary, had died in a car crash on December 3, 1975.

Cde Nkala died five years before Zimbabwe attained independence on April 18, 1980 and a year after his release from Gonakudzingwa Prison, where he spent 10 years detained with the likes of the late Vice Presidents, Dr Joshua Nkomo and Joseph Msika.

The struggle stalwart was buried at Pelandaba Cemetery and was declared a national hero after independence. Born on February 26, 1927, in Filabusi, Cde Nkala learnt at Matopo Mission and Mzingwane Government School before undergoing elementary industrial training at Mzingwane where he qualified as a builder in 1947. Cde Nkala was heavily involved in politics of liberating the country from the 1950s.

Cde Lazarus Nkala, Dr Joshua Nkomo and Cde Joseph Msika

Mrs Nkala was among the people who went to Pelandaba Cemetery to pay her respects to her late husband along with her children and grandchildren on Monday when Zimbabwe commemorated the 42nd Heroes Day. Bulawayo celebrations started with a visit to national heroes’ graves at Lady Stanley and Pelandaba cemeteries, before ending at Nkulumane Heroes Acre.

On Thursday afternoon, Mrs Nkala, who was born Leah Nyoni on October 9 in 1927 in Zvishavane, was awaiting the arrival of one of her grandchildren from overseas, when the Chronicle news crew paid her a visit at her Luveve 4 home. Mrs Nkala said she met Cde Nkala in 1947 at Matopo Mission when she was studying to be a teacher. After attending Dadaya Secondary School, from standard three to four, she moved to Bulawayo and lived in Mzilikazi. She learnt at Mtshabezi Mission from standard five to six.

“We met at Matopo Mission and he was learning there while in Standard Six. He approached me and started chatting me up.
Our fathers were friends, because of the missionary duties between their respective churches. So once in a while, they would pass by and ask for a place to stay, and during that time that’s when we met,” said Mrs Nkala.

Lazarus Nkala

“We started dating about 1948, but in 1950 I left Bulawayo and started some training in Goromonzi where I learnt Domestic Science for a year. Then I returned to Bulawayo and in that year, we met again and then we got married.”

Mrs Nkala’s teaching profession saw her teaching at Nhowe Mission in Murewa, Cold Storage Company School and lastly at Lozikheyi Primary School from the year 1954 until she retired in 1994. She said after her wedding in 1951, the couple moved in together in Barbourfields suburb, near the stadium, and raised their five children Irene, Doris, Lincoln, Leo and Liberty there.

The Chronicle issue of April 25, 1964, with the headline “More sent to Wha Wha.”

“When we got married, he was starting his involvement in the liberation of the country, but not that much. He was involved in trade unions. It was interesting that he was the only one in his family who was involved in politics,” said Mrs Nkala.

“I wasn’t afraid that much for my children or myself or even him. This is because that’s what he wanted. He would leave home and come back late at night. When he came back, I would wake up and prepare food for him.”

Mrs Nkala said her mother-in-law was worried that her son was getting too involved in politics. Then came a time when after 13 years of marriage, the regime would rob her of a husband and a father to her children. She remembers reading about his capture and detention in the Chronicle issue of April 25, 1964, under the headline: “More sent to Wha Wha.”

Lazarus Nkala

“During the 10 years that he was detained at Gonakudzingwa, we had a difficult time at home. I had young children who were at school, and fees had to be paid and their upkeep. I would knit and sell clothes and some other items. Christian Care helped us a lot,” said Mrs Nkala.

During that time, Mrs Nkala said she would visit her husband with the late national hero, Mrs Johanna Nkomo (MaFuyana), wife to the late Dr Nkomo, and Mrs Maria Msika, wife to the late Vice President Msika. However, they at times would not visit their husbands together as they would take turns to visit and they would give whoever was going provisions for their husbands.

“When our husbands were at Gonakudzingwa, we would visit them in turns. Either I would go, Mrs Msika would go or MaFuyana would go. They were then transferred from Gonakudzingwa to Camp 5 because they were said to have a bad influence on other inmates. From there they were taken to Buffalo Range. I remember the three of us, MaFuyana, Mrs Msika and I, travelling to Buffalo Range and it was a difficult time. We would just see them through windows,” said Mrs Nkala.

The Chronicle issue of April 25, 1964, the headline “More sent to Wha Wha.”

While juggling being a teacher, a mother, breadwinner and pillar to her family, Mrs Nkala said she had no clue when her husband would be released.

“I never heard about his release, I just saw him coming home one day in January 1974, and it was a joyous time. But he didn’t stop and continued organising rallies and mobilising people to fight the settler regime. I never used to go to the rallies or meetings, I stayed home taking care of the children,” said Mrs Nkala.

She said she was in Harare during Independence Day celebrations with Mrs Msika who had sent her a ticket to fly there.
She remembers her husband vividly as a man who was quiet and headstrong in his convictions about the emancipation of the black man.

Mrs Nkala says he was a man who loved his traditional meals such as inkobe, umbhida wendumba, ulude and amacimbi.
A devout Christian attending the Church of Christ branch in Makokoba suburb, Mrs Nkala said she remembered that at one time when her husband was in prison, she was detained by police for a week until they released her because of a lack of evidence.

Lazarus Nkala

She said she was put in the cells while her children were made to sit on the floor, but were later released to the care of her mother in Mzilikazi.

“I once stayed in prison for a week. I was arrested because there were people who passed by our home, Cain Nkala (not related) and Moffat Hadebe who were carrying suitcases and the police got wind of that,” said Mrs Nkala.

“They ate at my house and left and were caught in Gwanda and then through police investigations they traced back their steps to our home after the duo was beaten by the police in Gwanda. They told the police that they had eaten food at Nkala’s house in Bulawayo. However, Moffat Hadebe managed to escape.” – @bonganinkunzi

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