By John Masuku

During the early years of African nationalism Father Zimbabwe the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo lived at this pictured house No 399 in Engineering Lines, Highfield, Salisbury (Harare).

The house was later acquired by the Huhwa family who extended and walled it in. My young brother Lottie Masuku a contractor hired to carry out the building extensions is married to Loice one of the Huwa daughters.

Late Vice President Nkomo led the National Democratic Party (NDP), Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the People’s Caretaker Council (PCC).These parties were successively banned by colonial governments before Nkomo was arrested and detained for a decade in the middle of a bush at Gonakudzingwa together with other prominent former nationalists

The  former Engineering Lines Nkomo house, now sign posted by National Museums and Monuments as a historic site is not very far from Machipisa Shopping Centre where, at the shops’ neighbouring house owned by shopowner Mr Christopher Chinamhora and his wife uMama uMakhwelo (Senior) overlooking businessman Mr Philemon Machipisa’s residence-turned clinic, Dr Nkomo used to address huge crowds of supporters especially upon arrival from overseas trips with the thunderous singing of the song ‘Tsuro Tsuro we naNkomo(naNgomo!)’

The Chinamhora children included Jimmy, Cookie, Margaret, German-based Nathan Chinamora and Washington. Margaret became environment ministry permanent secretary in President Robert Mugabe’s goverment.

Due to hosting and supporting Chibwechitedza (Nkomo’s nickname) Mr Chinamhora was forced into exile in Zambia during liberation struggle years. He later married late Mama Makhwelo(Senior)’s younger sister, mother  of Mrs Barbara Chiganze lawyer-cum-businessman Tim Chiganze’s wife.

My father Mr Jeremiah Masuku and my mother Mama MaKhumalo had also acquired their house  in former Dr Nkomo’s Engineering Lines neighbourhood across in 67th Street near Tsungayi Primary School in 1955, the year I was born at Harare Hospital (Gomo, now Sally Mugabe) while living in Harare National (now Mbare) and we moved beginning of 1956 when I was still a toddler.

Unlike the Nkomos we still own our Engineering Lines, Highfield family house, soon to be sign posted ‘The Home of JM Archives’. Mama MaKhumalo lies buried at nearby Lusaka cemetery’s near former  kwaBhakasta (Baxter) farm cattle kraals where Roman Catholic Church founded St Peter’s Kubatana High School is located.

Later Dr Nkomo bought a huge house in Old Highfield stands from Mr Solomon Tawengwa who was to later become Mayor of Harare as did his brother Charles. Solomon and Charles’s father was Mr George Tawengwa (va Matemayi) who built Mushandira Pamwe Hotel overlooking Zimbabwe Grounds near Gwanzura Stadium, Highfield.

Mr Tawengwa (vaMatemayi) was a shops and a Mushandira Pamwe Bus Service owner.  Incidentally in the early 1960s he had a house in our Engineering Lines neighbourhood not far from the CS Davies Swimming Pool situated next to Machipisa Police Station.

Those years after their long rural trips the buses were parked along dusty township roads and before the current garages situated on the outskirts of the high density suburb.

Overlooking our house were Gezana buses plying Mutoko routes and near the shops close to former nationalists and ministers Robert Marere and Bernard Chidzero’s Engineering Lines homes were Ngondos’ Ngonidzashe Bus Service.Matambanadzo buses used to be parked somewhere in Old Canaan.

Dr Nkomo’s later years Old Highfield House was not far from that of his former ZAPU deputy Josiah Chinamano one of the founders of Highfield Community (Mhuriimwe) Secondary School where legendary musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and James Chimombe among many icons were educated. Rev Ndlela of the Methodist Church and  our family medical practitioner Dr Ngonyama and town manager Mr Earnest Mataure,later my first headmaster at Tsungayi in January 1962 lived in the same neighbourhood close to Highfield Clinic.

Mr Chinamano an educationist-cum shopowner was married to Eastern Cape, South Africa-born Ruth who also  became a Zimbabwean nationalist under Nkomo’s ZAPU and declared a national hero upon her death.

Dr Nkomo’s ZAPU and its ZPRA armed wing joined forces with former President Mugabe’s ZANU and ZANLA guerilla army under the Patriotic Front Alliance in waging a bitter liberation war against Ian Smith’s government.

However, the 1980 elections which ushered Independence were unexpectedly contested separately and won by then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s led ZANU(PF).

Dr Nkomo was appointed Minister of Home Affairs. Rev Canaan Sodindo Banana became ceremonial President after Nkomo turned down the post. Some ZAPU members like Chinamano, John Nkomo, Cephas George Msipa and Clement Muchachi were  appointed to other ministerial positions.

The short lived unity government was followed by the  internal bloody conflict termed Gukurahundi which saw thousands of people being reportedly killed by Fifth Brigade soldiers in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces that ended with the signing of the Unity Agreement on 22nd December 1987.

I was privileged to be one of the  commentators for the joint ZBC Radio 2 (Radio Zimbabwe) & Radio 4 (National FM) live coverage during the signing ceremony at State House, Harare.

Dr Joshua Nkomo died on 1st July 1999 in Harare and was buried the National Heroes Acre in the capital.

He wrote his life history in the book entitled ‘The Story of My Life’ penned mainly during his exile years in the UK after a fallout with Mugabe following allegations of the discovery of arms caches on ZAPU-owned farms.

John Masuku is a veteran radio and television broadcast journalist.

COURTESY: JM Archives.