Hands Off Zimbabwe: 19 Years of Torture for Freedom

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No.2 - January/February 1980

At a press conference in London, Eddison Zvobgo, spokesman for ZANU, paid this moving tribute to Maurice Myagumbo who had arrived in Britain that day, having been released after 19 years' detention by the racist Rhodesian regime.

Let us meet a very strange, unusual individual. He is a beautiful man, one of the most beautiful people this world has been privileged to have. He has just been released from Salisbury Prison after 19 years in prison, Maurice Myagumbo. Nothing special about him. He started as a waiter in South Africa, waiting for whites in their hotels in Johannesburg. He moved to East London, was promoted, he became a chef.

Then he moved to Port Elizabeth from East London and became aware of the oppression in South Africa of all people. He quit his job and came home in 1956. In 1957 he was among the first five to launch the nationalist struggle in our country, the African National Congress. They had one truck, it was his. That car vanished, disintegrated, during the next two years. He was detained in 1959 by Whitehead. We saw no more Maurice until 1963 — he was released after Winston Field fell. We formed ZANU together. He vanished once again in 1964. Zimbabweans did not see anything of Maurice again until 1975, 11 years after. Immediately he came out, he intensified his campaign for the liberation of the country, recruiting, day and night, forces to cross the border into Mozambique. He was again arrested, tried and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

He is out here. Just a personal note. His daughter is here. She was born as a result of the visit of her mother, his wife, to a detention camp in 1960. She saw him when she was three years old in 1963 when we formed ZANU. Then he vanished. She grew up and did not know her father. He came out in 1975. She was now here in Britain as a student. He vanished four months after he came out — back to jail. She got married and had two children. She was born when he was behind bars for freedom. Two of his grandchildren have been born when he has been behind bars for freedom. Something the world has not seen very often. He's a grandfather, his daughter was born when he was in jail, his two grandchildren have been born when he has been in jail. He is a beautiful person. And for what remains to free Zimbabwe he will be there. Never has history been so made by living people than is the case in Zimbabwe. Maurice Myagumbo is it. You can sum it all up — he is it. Zimbabwean history here. He saw it when nationalism began. Talk of torture and pain and suffering he has been through it. Let us clap to 19 years of torture for freedom.

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