by Bernard Bwoni
Zimbabwe has a unique and complex history; apartheid and segregation; displacement and theft; a bitter armed liberation struggle; heroism and greatness of the pioneers of the liberation movement and that priceless day on 18 April, 1980. This is a unique country, founded on the principles of freedom and emancipation on the backdrop of a lethal liberation war against a system that deliberately and ruthlessly segregated and mutilated on racial grounds. Independence is that exquisite feeling that has given all Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe options to make her decisions and to define own destiny as a sovereignty country. As Zimbabwe marks 34 years of independence it is regrettable that many are now associating hard won freedom with the economic problems currently bedevilling the country. That the gallant spirit and selfless sacrifices of those sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who went into that unforgiving bush with that bonafide raison d’être to truly liberate the country is lumped together in the same small corner as the indiscretions of some self-serving individuals without an ounce of the patriotic marrow in their bones is disheartening to say the least.
There are many heroes who just fly beneath the radar, fought gallantly in the bitter liberation struggle and to this day largely go unnoticed as they get on silently with their lives and in some instances encounter ridicule from the very same people they helped liberate from draconian and racist regime. They are not celebrities, they are not on the conference main stage yet they give and have given of themselves for the greater good of Zimbabwe. Their lives inspired and continue to uplift, their spirits transformed political landscape and yet we deliberately forget to acknowledge their totally altruistic forfeiture for the liberation of the majority. The men and women who put their lives on hold to fully commit themselves to liberating the country from the darkest depth of colonialism and racist apartheid system to the revered pedestal of the liberties and freedoms we enjoy and take for granted today. These are the men and women who have been through the mud and mire, enduring unimaginable distress and privation for the love of Zimbabwe. There are many such men and women in Zimbabwe and they all deserve our respect, recognition and reverence, precisely because they did not ask for it, they earned in ways we can only imagine.
Nowadays you often hear statements like ‘smith and Rhodesia was better’ or ‘take us back to when we were under colonial rule’. This is from people who now have that right to vote, that freedom to walk, freedom to exist freedom and be human beings. This is not playing the ‘colonial card’ but hard facts that things were never ever breezy, cheery and rosy under that Ian Smith and his racist henchmen. Rhodesia was a beautiful country for Rhodesians and not the descendents of Changamire Dombo and Lobengula. That is precisely the reason why arms were taken up against that regime. Rhodesia had some of the most repressive and discriminatory laws which reduced the black Zimbabwean to the end of bottom with no impunity. The Rhodesians, some of them still among us because of the reconciliatory hand of President Mugabe, mercilessly maimed and mutilated innocent blacks and today they don the sheep’s clothes as champions of democracy and human rights in independent Zimbabwe! These are the very same people who poisoned wells and sanctioned the indiscriminate massacres at Chimoio, Tembwe, Nyadzonya and many others. Zimbabwe’s Independence Day is sacred as blood flowed continuously through the beautiful landscape for us to enjoy the freedoms we take casually today. Thanks to President Mugabe we have forgiven the Rhodesian atrocities but will never forget, must never forget!
The liberation struggle was initiated by men and women who said enough was enough of the unrepentant regime and they focused on putting emphasis on cascading real power down to the people, advocating for policies that focus on self-sustenance and self-reliance and deconstructing the mind from that neo-colonial structure that continues to render Africans perennially indebted to those who have subdued, subjugated and exploited the Africans continent for centuries.
Hushed heads are an embodiment of real power focusing on action instead of words, and have ability to encourage ownership and develop loyalty in unique ways. The big idea is earning the respect and our heroes earned that. Men and women believed in a cause, fought for that cause displaying conviction minus the complacency. A great many were maimed, massacred by the brazen regime’s callous forces. Many a young men and women got arrested for the cause but never faltered and saw the liberation struggle to its unimaginable bitterness and victorious conclusion. Silence is golden and certainly easier for those that already have the analytical and introverted behaviours already in place. These are the men and women who were brought up on the values of the liberation of this country and confident but not over-confident with that ability to think laterally. As Zimbabweans we should define our heroes and relate to them, imagine what drove them to put their lives on hold to get out there and liberate this country. I am deeply indebted to all the heroes who have the country-defining values as part of their deoxyribonucleic acid and the values still ineradicably etched.
Any nation not build on any values has no foundation and is no nation at all. For you to believe in yourself you have to have some values to subscribe to. A country with no values has no vision and with no vision there basically is no future or growth. Any ideology that focuses on improving the lives of African people inherently threatens the irreversibly colonial and neo-colonial establishment and as such forever ridiculed and suffocated. As we celebrate this unique and sacred independence we must continue to honour the selfless sacrifices of those who helped liberate the country. Discrediting 18th April 1980 and demeaning the liberation struggle is morally defunct. 18th April 1980 has no price-tag and is free for all present and future generations to cherish. The liberation war heroes of Zimbabwe already put the price on their tab for all present and future generations to enjoy without limits.
Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org/ bernardbwoni.blogspot.com