The images at Heroes Acre

sally_mugabeThere is something deeply poignant about the position that the photograph of Zimbabwes late vice-president, Joseph Msika, took on the wall of images of national heroes displayed at the National Heroes Acre for his burial. (Pictured: The late Sally Mugabe)

On either side of him were photographs of his compatriots, the late vice-presidents, Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda. And just below him, the smiling black and white image of Sally Mugabe, the late First Lady.
If President Robert Mugabe had stopped to ponder the arrangement, he might have found it sobering too. For it would seem that the close group of comrades with whom he shared the pain of the struggle and the joys of liberation have left him a solitary figure of defiance and heedlessness to change and the passing of time.
Today, those deceased comrades have had their gaps filled by members of a younger generation – Prime Minister Tsvangirai, vice-president Joice Mujuru and first lady Grace Mugabe – each at least thirty years younger than their president.
These are no peers with whom he can recall the vivid experiences of the past, nor truly identify the forward vision of the nation with, for indeed, the struggle has moved on and the fighters changed.
While Joice Mujuru may also be celebrated as a liberation war hero, today it is arguably the face of Morgan Tsvangirai battered, bruised and bandaged that symbolises the liberation struggle for many Zimbabweans.

New struggle, new symbols
After 29 years of independence and with disillusionment about what benefits this has yielded, the connotations of war are no longer those of grainy images housed in history epics and text books, but those of the daily fight to survive in a nation whose political and economic infrastructure lies broken about us, and of those who to try to rebuild it.
And yet still, something in the tone of the man, dressed in a mournful black suit and tinted shades, conveyed his unwillingness to accept this, or to even imagine his own destructibility. As Mugabe eulogised Miska, he noted, Joseph was my senior in many ways by birth, by politics, yes even by incarceration.
As he continued, he explained in full detail the extent of Msikas seniority in age the late nationalist was born on December 6, 1923, while Mugabe only followed two or three months later (in his own words) on 24,February 1924.
To him, an 80-day age difference between them seems an eternity, a chasm of time too great to ever be bridged. To Mugabe, the idea that he indeed is part of the old guard which is slowly dying out is almost too base to admit to.
No one knows what thoughts meander through this mans mind. But it would be good if one day soon, he would sit down and reminisce on his own life, celebrating the victories but more importantly admitting the errors.
And it would be good to heal this land which finds itself in true dire straits at present if he would leave it to a new crop of cadres to find solutions to our pressing needs, as he and his late comrades once did in the years that led to the heady glory of Independence.
Zimbabwe and its dejected citizens are desperate for change.

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