This week, and June 27 in particular, was the landmark of arguably the biggest and most significant event in the telling of our own story in the frontiers between the Zambezi up north and the Limpopo to our south.
Any nation or civilisation worth its name must master the art of telling its own story and in as far as that is concerned, the hallmark of telling the story via the biro is undoubtedly The Herald newspaper.
On June 27 of 1891, it made its first appearance under the hand of William Ernest Fairbridge.
It has been 127 years! Over a century and a quarter now.
Fairbridge was the editor, advertising organiser, compositor, journalist and newspaper delivery boy all rolled up into one as he produced the first of what was then called The Mashonaland Herald to mark a serious transition.
No longer were we etching our daily stories on cave walls with paintings from crushed red rock and animal fat but on waxed paper with a stylograph. And with a “print run” of 700 newspapers (basically a newsletter then) a new era in print journalism as we now know it had been born.
Essentially The Herald has birthed the rest of the print media products and is the Grand Dame of media in the country which is why perhaps there should be greater recognition of the presence of The Herald and the journalism revolution it has spawned over the years directly or otherwise.
Many or her great-grandchildren, lesser newer newspaper celebrate — five years — 10 years — 20 years of printing. Surely the nation as a whole and all proponents who celebrate the civil liberties that print media guarantees against the backdrop of our constitution should set aside time on June 27 to celebrate the ushering in of this great day. After all 127 years in the business is worth celebrating and commemorating.
Sadly ours is a culture that does not pay attention to significant dates in our history.
We are not alive or quick to be in step with the record of our past as we grow. We have amnesia to the fact that our past defines us as a nation.
June 27, for Zimbabwean writers, is to write what July 4 is to the people of the US. The birth of Zimbabwean writing kind in the modern age.
Certainly The Herald has in the past been abused by the colonial system. And yet it has also celebrated independence, land reclamation, and sweet moments in history like the first foray into the continent by our national football team
The Warriors as well as recording historic moments like sending gallant heroes like Joshua “Josh” Nkomo into the afterlife as a hero of his republic.
And so perhaps The Herald can lift a glass of champagne and celebrate their achievements which have shaped national history.
If poodles are celebrating handfuls of years in office, why not the grand old Elephant? And from William Fairbridge to Caesar Zvayi and everything and everyone in between, there is a lot of rich history to celebrate.
A happy birthday therefore to The Herald in particular and print journalism in general for 127 years of existence!