Heroism can never be shoved down Zimbabweans’ throats, as each citizen has the right to choose whom to revere, and whom not to revere

The past week, after the official unveiling of Charwe Nyakasikana's (the spirit medium of Mbuya Nehanda) statue in the capital Harare, has reignited highly emotive, and long-standing divisions amongst the people of Zimbabwe - ranging from those opposing, by virtue of their Christianity, to the apparent worshipping of ancestors, to those who felt that spending an estimated US$5 million on a statue, in the face of severe economic challenges, proved the government's misplaced priorities.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

Nonetheless, what got my attention was the clear chagrin, on the part of the ruling elite, as to the refusal or resistance by a significant section of the Zimbabwean population in paying the “expected” respect to what the authorities deem “our own heroes”.

This was made abundantly open by the president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who, a day ago, blasted all those he accused of “preferring foreign heroes, from thousands of kilometers away, yet insulting and denigrating our own local heroes and heroines”.

I would take it that, for some reason, Mnangagwa is under the impression that there are those in our midst who revere Western heroes, but despise Zimbabwean heroes.

Quite frankly, I do not know of any Zimbabwean who places any foreign fallen personalities on a pedestal – however, that is besides my point.

The issue here is relatively simple – no one should be forced to accept who should, or should not, be their hero.

Yes it is that simple and straightforward!

No one on the face of this planet has neither the authority, nor the power, to impose who should be revered, or who should be despised – since such decisions are made on a personal level, determined by one’s own understanding, experiences, and beliefs… something which should be respected in any society that calls itself a democracy.

I remember when the ousted president Robert Gabriel Mugabe passed away in September 2019, there was a huge debate on whether he had been a hero or not.

My own views at the time – which still hold true today – were that, it was gravely erroneous (and quite honestly, the height of arrogance) for anyone to assume that their own personal perspectives of Mugabe, should be shoved down everyone else’s throat.

If someone genuinely believed that Mugabe was a hero for whatever reason (whether leading the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence from British colonial rule, or giving them land), then that is their own prerogative as a free Zimbabwean – and, if there are those who regarded him as nothing more than a brutal sadistic dictator, who massacred their loved ones, and ruined the lives of millions, then that is also their right, that deserves equal respect.

During the Donald John Trump United States of America (US) presidency, similar issues reared their ugly heads – as there was widespread vicious, and oftentimes violent, debate on whether those who considered civil war Confederate personalities, as General Robert E. Lee, gallant fighters, were wrong – as opposed to those who regarded President Abraham Lincoln as a hero.

Several US states, mainly in the south, even had Confederate symbols imbedded in their flags, and statues of several generals.

However, the question is – who has the right to determine who is wrong, and who is right, or even, who is patriotic, and who is unpatriotic?

Can anyone seriously claim that, those who find Mugabe’s legacy appalling and an utter disgrace, are unpatriotic (despite, the very same people who humiliatingly forced him out of office, literally at gunpoint, declaring him a national hero) – or, like wise, those who revere Lee as an American hero are unpatriotic?

I hardly think so.

In the same vein, who, then, has the right (or even the power and authority) to impose Charwe Nyakasikana as a heroine for each and every Zimbabwean – and, that, all those who refuse or resist, deserve the wrath of not only the state, but also the president?

One of the most basic fundamental rights given us as a human race, is that of freewill, and free choice – and, no law, not even a constitution, can ever take that away from the people of Zimbabwe.

Each one of us can freely choose whom we want to revere, and whom we want to condemn in the hell of history, or whom we simply do not care about.

That is a right that should be respected.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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