08 December 2012

Emotions run high at the ZAPU report and exhibition launch

Ex combatants of ZAPU viewing the exhibition outside SAHA offices.SAHA launched the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) report and exhibition, ZAPU Through Zenzo Nkobi's Lens, at Constitution Hill on December 8 where ex-combatants had the opportunity of reuniting to share stories of the Zimbabwean struggle for independence.

Emotions ran high as speakers recounted their experiences as freedom fighters. Many were delighted to have their history documented and made accessible. This report and exhibition, according to one of the comrades, Nomathemba Ndiwe-Moyo, is an excellent platform to preserve the history of their struggle movement.

"The launch was a moving affair which evoked a lot of emotions. I'm sure SAHA is going to hear a lot from many other comrades who still have a lot to share," added Nomathemba who is a member of the Mafela Trust, which is an organization established in 1989 by ZAPU freedom fighters to research and document the political and military activities of ZAPU and its armed wing, ZPRA (Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army) during the liberation war in Zimbabwe. The Mafela Trust Collection (AL3289) now forms part of the rich SAHA archive.

The report and exhibition draws on an oral history and research project undertaken by SAHA in 2010/2011 into aspects of the armed struggle for Zimbabwean independence. About 10 000 photographic negatives taken by Zenzo Nkobi, a Zimbabwean photographer with ties to ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People's Union) form a central part of this project.

Zenzo's images provide an intriguing glimpse into the struggle waged by ZAPU's armed wing, Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZPRA), and provide evidence of the significant role it played in combating the Rhodesian regime.

Twenty-six interviews were conducted with ZAPU survivors and other individuals portrayed in the images to source a more accurate and detailed analogy of events experienced by these individuals within ZAPU and ZPRA during that period, as well as their understanding of the role played by ZAPU in achieving independence in Zimbabwe.

These interviews, now transcribed and archived at SAHA, explore various aspects of ZAPU's history from its early development to its administration and leadership, recruitment and training of military combatants (ZPRA), regional alliances, international solidarity and life in refugee camps. The interviews further provide an insight into post-independence politics in Zimbabwe.

The majority of ex-combatants said they were impressed with the accuracy with which this report and exhibition was documented.

Visit the ZAPU exhibition
View the Mafela Trust Collection (AL3289)

Download the report