Oppressive regime can ignore our modern day heroes but they will certainly receive the honour they deserve in a New Zimbabwe

When the then nationalist leader, Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, was so harrowingly assassinated in a car bombing (as he drove out of his home in Lusaka, Zambia) on March 18, 1975 - under dubious circumstances, which led to the arrest of several ZANU hierarchy by the Kenneth Kaunda government - he was never immediately buried back home in colonial Rhodesia as a national hero.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana                           


In fact, I am quite sure there was jubilation within the ruling establishment at the death of a respected and highly intelligent revolutionary, whose demise would undoubtedly have dented the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence.

The same applied to other luminaries as Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa, whose death was equally mired in controversy and suspicions, on August 14, 1962 – ostensibly, after his car was involved in a collision with a train (a narrative at odds with the facts on the ground, in spite of a subsequent inquest) – who was not officially recognized as a hero of the people’s fight for emancipation.

We can also talk of Leopard Takawira, who passed away in 1970 in the then Salisbury Prison – widely believed due to neglect by officials, since he suffered from diabetes – who was interred as an insignificant pauper, not worthy of any honor.

Let us not forget the giant fearless commander and astute strategist, Josiah Magama Tongogara – who was killed on December 26, 1979, after a suspicious road traffic accident on his way from Mozambique, in order to plan Zimbabwe’s independence, and the end of the liberation struggle, as a result of the Lancaster House agreement.

They were never officially recognized as Zimbabwe liberation struggle heroes – most of them for a decade or more.

However, that changed soon after a new administration came into power on April 18, 1980.

On August 11, 1981, Chitepo finally received the honour he legitimately deserved, as he was reburied at the National Heroes Acre – as well as, all the others as, Tongogara, Takawira, and Parirenyatwa.

No one, no matter how mighty the regime in power at the time of their deaths, could keep them unappreciated forever.

We tragically witness a repeat of history in today’s Zimbabwe – an occurrence unsurprising when a people fail to learn from their past – with such prominent modern day liberation heroes not being accorded the honor and acknowledgement they are rightfully worthy, for their illustrious work in fighting for the rights and dignity of ordinary Zimbabweans, at the hands of a brutal, corrupt, and incompetent regime.

Yesterday, as progressive Zimbabweans, both at home and abroad, bade farewell to phenomenal writer, brave human rights defender, and brilliant lawyer, Alex Tawanda Magaisa – who tragically passed on in the UK on June 5, after succumbing to cardiac arrest – it was glaringly clear that the ruling establishment did not perceive matters in the similar light, whose conspicuous absence, although unsurprising, was particularly disturbing.

It can not be denied that the country has gone full circle to the colonial Rhodesian era – as much as the ruling elite loathe being compared with that epoch – in which, those opposed to the powers of the day, are treated and targeted as “enemies of the state”, whose deaths should actually be mocked or even celebrated.

Yet, if this country were a true democracy, led by mature civilized people – regardless of our political differences, the government should have awarded Magaisa the recognition he deserves, and paid homage to his marvelous work in the desire to see each and every Zimbabwean living a dignified and respectable life, worthy of creations of an Almighty God.

Surely, can the Zimbabwe regime not even do that?

We witnessed the same phenomenon at the death of founding main opposition leader, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai – who, after succumbing to a long painful battle with colon cancer on February 14, 2018, was merely accorded a state-assisted funeral, only done at the height of the so-called new dispensation’s shortlived disingenuous attempts at portraying itself as reformed democrats

Yet, this was the man who stood courageously, in the face of relentless malicious and atrocious attacks by the same regime, in his struggle for the true and total emancipation of the country’s citizenry.

Should he, as with Magaisa, not have been declared national heroes?

I honor the dead, and wish them to rest in peace – so, will not disparage anyone – but, going through the list of those interred at that shrine, one can easily come across several names of those whose contribution and credentials to the people’s livelihoods and freedoms are clearly less impressive than those of Magaisa and Tsvangirai.

Not to be overly and unnecessarily discouraged, we have seen the same scenario play out in Rhodesia – and, the people of Zimbabwe should hold firm to the fervent belief that their heroes will certainly be accorded their worthy honor and acknowledgement in a New Zimbabwe, whose advent can not be delayed forever.

As we remember Magaisa, let us stand with our living modern day heroes – such as teachers’ union leader, Obert Masaraure, opposition legislators and leaders, Job Wiwa Sikhala and  Godfrey Sithole – who were arrested for their fight for our dignity and rights, as the regime inadvertently continues to create more heroes through such persecution, whose valor we appreciate.

Let us never lose sight of the fact that, a revolution whose time has come, can never be stopped!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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