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Zimbabwe: Pfumo reVanhu
Last modified: 2011-06-11 by bruce berry
Keywords: zimbabwe | rhodesia | pfumo revanhu |
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by Richard Allport, resized by Devereaux Cannon, 07 Feb 2002
Pfumo reVanhu was an auxiliary force created by the Rhodesian Security
Forces in the late 1970s during the guerilla war in that country. The growing
lack of (white) manpower gave rise to the idea of creating an auxiliary
force, or militia, composed of local Africans to guard their own areas
and villages. Officially entitled "Security Force Auxiliaries", they soon
became known by their Shona nickname, Pfumo reVahnu which means "Spear
of the People". Initially the men were not even issued with a uniform but
later they used a distinctive brown uniform and so it was that their flag
was also brown. According to Richard Allport in Flags and Symbols of
Rhodesia (published as SAVA Journal 5/96) [aLL96], the flag was probably introduced
in 1979 when the unit became more organised and had begun to achieve some
semblance of a military unit. The badge of the unit was in the shape of
a brown shield, outlined in white, with a black and white spade in the
centre. The name Pfumo reVahnu was in large black letters below this. The
Unit was disbanded following the independence of Zimbabwe in April 1980.
Bruce Berry, 8 September 1998
The statement that Pfumo reVanhu was an auxiliary force created in the
late 1970s is correct. However, the force was made up of "returned" cadres
from ZANU guerillas under the leadership of Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Ndabaningi
Sithole as opposed to ZANU (PF) forces, known as ZANLA under the leadership
of the now President, Robert Mugabe. This amalgamation of former guerillas
and Rhodesian security forces began in late 1978 and 1979. They were not
initially issued with a uniform. They basically "signed up" in what they
had worn during the bush war, a mixture of East German rice fleck camo,
miscellaneous military "bits and pieces" and the favourite - denim jeans
and jackets. The Pfumo reVanhu uniform was predominently brown and green. The
Pfumo reVanhu were armed with what they had used in the bush war, mainly
SKS, AK47, RPD and with the usual gammut of rocket launchers both rifle
launched and tube launchers, RPG2 etc. They were also issued with German
G3 assault rifles by the Rhodesian Government after their formation. As
for the flag, I have an unused one I collected as a souvenir at the conclusion of the war. Within the shield is actually an "assegai",
a short stabbing spear (hence "Spear of the People") rather than a spade
as described in your chapter.
Paul Garnett, 10 May 2001
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