Commemorating The Chimoio Massacre

Sharon Chigeza and Lloyd Makonya


MUTARE- It was between November 23-25 in 1977 when the Rhodesian Security Forces
attacked the Zanla military and refugee camps in Mozambique killing thousands of women and
children and freedom fighters.
November 23 this year marked the 45 th anniversary of the Chimoio massacre where thousands of
Zimbabwean liberation war fighters and refugees lost their lives after an attack by Rhodesian
forces under Operation Dingo.
As the Zanla (military wing of Zanu PF) and Zipra (military wing of Zapu) freedom fighters
intensified the struggle for liberation launching attacks from Mozambique and Zambia
respectively so did the resolve of the Rhodesian ruling elite to keep the shackles of colonialism
The Chimoio massacre took place at around 8am when most of the camp’s inhabitants were on
parade. Information gathered from Selous Scouts, captured guerillas and subsequent surveillance
led the Rhodesians straight to the refugee camp.
The Rhodesians came to believe that it was at Chimoio camp that thousands of Zanla cadres
brought back from training in countries like Tanzania, China and Ethiopia and elsewhere were
The attack was well coordinated as the Rhodesians had established an administrative point on the
Muswata Mountain range directly to the west of Chimoio for re – supply of fuel and ammunition.
A decoy of civilian aircraft that was used for deception preceded the attack.
The attacking force was made up of hawker Hunters, six Vampire ground attack aircraft, three
Canberra bombers, six Dakota troop-carrying aircraft, 12 Lynx ground attack light aircraft and
185 ground troops parachuted and landed within vicinity.
Operation Dingo was one of the many attempts in Mozambique by the Rhodesian forces to quash
the liberation struggle, with some of the notable operations in Mozambique including Operation
Traveler Attack on Caponda base, Mozambique, April 1976, Operation Detachment, raid on
Chigamane, Mozambique, May 1976, Operation Long John, attack on Mapai, Mozambique, June
1976, Nyadzonia/Pungwe Raid, Mozambique, August 1976 and Operation Maradon, attack on
Jorge do Limpopo and Massengena, Mozambique, October 1976.
The indiscriminate attacks aimed at exterminating the Zanla war machinery resulted in the loss
of thousands of freedom fighters and innocent civilians. However this did not deter the liberation
movement, instead it galvanised the resolve of the guerrilla fighters to dislodge the colonial
regime and unjust rule in Rhodesia.

As a result of the blood shed at Chimoio, the site has been immortalised in the annals of the
country's history as a symbol of resistance to colonial rule, self-sacrifice, determination and
triumph against all adversity.
Chimoio Camp is located some 21km north of the City of Chimoio in the Manica Province of
Mozambique. It is located on a former Portuguese owned farm called Adriano.
The Chimoio liberation war camp was established when Zanu shifted from Zambia into
Mozambique. Chimoio was the headquarters of Zanu and Zanla during Zimbabwe’s liberation
War. It is estimated that between 9 000 and 1 1000 people were resident at the camp who were
placed in various bases for different roles.
Today, Chimoio has significant value to the nation as a whole. The shrine has brought cohesion
and bonded together liberation war veterans from all parts of Zimbabwe.
Many who survived the massacre in 1977 revisit the site to honour of their fallen colleagues.
Memories still linger in the minds of Zimbabweans long after the attainment of independence,
lest we forget the bloodshed in an effort to gain freedom.
The shrine is also testimony to the role played by the neighboring countries and the international
community in the liberation of the country. The National Museums and Monuments of
Zimbabwe is working tirelessly to keep Chimoio as a living site and always relevant to
Zimbabwe’s history.

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