Gonakudzingwa restriction camp

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Gonakudzingwa restriction camp
Concrete slabs at Gonakudzingwa, being all that remains of the camp in 2011
Location Gonarezhou National Park, near Sango border post, Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe
Status Closed
Security class Political detainees detention camp
Closed 1979

Gonakudzingwa ("where the banished ones sleep") restriction camp in Southern Rhodesia, near the Mozambique border, was set up by Ian Smith's government.[1]


African nationalists detained there included Josiah and Ruth Chinamano, Daniel Madzimbamuto,[2] Sydney Joseph, Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika,[3][4][5] Robert Mugabe, Edgar Tekere, Leopold Takawira, Maurice Nyagumbo, Naison Ndlovu, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Charakupadenga Hunda, Kissmore Benjamin Kaenda, Jane Lungile Ngwenya, Tumburai Matshalaga, Isaac Chakanyuka, Christopher Ushewokunze, and many others.


Detainees were only allowed to walk 4 miles west of the camp towards the cleared land and 2 miles eastwards towards uncleared game land. They would meet the wrath of marauding lions and elephants in the game reserve if they tried to escape.

They were organised into groups of seven and they would prepare food for themselves, often displaying considerable ingenuity in their recipes. A popular fear was that they might be poisoned by the government, although this never happened.

Most of the detainees were ferried to the restriction camp by train and a few were ferried by a plane popularly known as Dakota (Douglas DC-3). The detainees would be under armed guard and always on iron legs. Life was not easy for the detainees. Their relatives could only visit them after getting clearance from the Special Branch of the Police in then capital Salisbury, now renamed Harare.

As a way of pleasing whites, the black police officers stationed at the detention camp supposedly at times twisted facts as they translated the content of letters written by the relatives of the detainees.

Detainees would discuss current political issues every Saturday and Joshua Nkomo normally addressed them. Concrete slab remnants where the zinc barracks of the nationalists used to be erected are still in place at the former detention camp located in the notorious Gonarezhou national park at Sango border post between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Gonakudzingwa was used by the white minority government to silence dissent by means of diffusing the influence of nationalists by isolating them from the masses.

This however perhaps worked in the opposite direction. While in detention the nationalists became more organised and crafted strategies of fighting white domination in Rhodesia.

Most of the prominent detainees (such as Mugabe and Nkomo) were released in 1974 following pressure from the South African government.


In 2013, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe began the process for declaring Gonakudzingwa as a National Monument.[6]