Zimbabwe is commemorating the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays and it behoves us to reflect on the significance of the twin celebrations and in particular unpack the notion of heroism. Who is a hero?
The heroes we celebrated yesterday provide an important yardstick: they represent the ultimate sacrifice of people who laid down their lives so that we could be free.
They took up arms against a brutal system of colonialism and fought to the very end defeating a mighty system that had all the implements of power and coercion.
Some – many actually – died so that Zimbabwe could be free. Young men and women left their homes to train as fighters and launched themselves against the Rhodesian government which plundered and raped our land, brutalising and killing innocents.
Our people’s crime was to have a dark skin and to be planted by God in this space called Zimbabwe.
Westerners came from wherever they came from to steal our land and minerals and arrogated themselves lordship over us and our rich endowments.
For close to a century the settlers repressed us. They had a dubious notion that they were ordained to rule us and force themselves on us and our land. It took the resolve of brave people to fight colonialism starting as early as 1896 when the people of Matabeleland and Mashonaland took up arms to fight the aliens that invaded our land.
We were initially defeated in what some historians misname as a rebellion.
A period of pacification intervened as people had all manner of resistance against the occupiers, including the industrial actions of the 1950s and formation of political parties.
The 1960s saw a new resolve by the people as we sought more sophisticated methods to fight the enemy.
The idea of a comprehensive and revolutionary fight with modern weaponry alongside political education of the masses was then born.
The black majority sought friendships outside the country, from neighbours and brother people such as Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania to alliances with countries and peoples as far afield as North Africa (Algeria and Egypt come to mind) and Russia and China.
These friendships paid dividends.
They were part of a global class, race and political movement and struggle.
What then followed was a flowering revolution that eventually led to Independence in 1980, all at the cost of many human lives and streaming blood.
We celebrate those who died and those who were lucky to survive. We also celebrate the villagers that were the water to the fish called guerrilla fighters.
When you try to contextualise the fight of yesteryear there are two observations to be made.
One, the struggle continues and ordinary people are still at the forefront of seeking to better their lives and shake off the alien menace.
Zimbabwe is still under threat from the old enemy which we now refer to as the West, even when Zimbabwe has made overtures of friendship. We don’t know why they seek to oppress and subjugate us.
Or perhaps we do: it’s the same old dubious notion of racial superiority. It then follows that Zimbabwe continues to fight. One might say we will conquer, even in different settings and conditions. The other lesson of history is that there will always be that enemy among us.
The Morrison Nyathis.
Today, we have an opposition that is a thousand Morrison Nyathis. They collaborate with foreigners to punish and kill people through sanctions.
They are hailed as heroes and fêted in Western capitals.
Theirs is a selfish agenda that will sacrifice a nation for a few pieces of silver.
They also seek to feed their hubris.
We reflect on these things as Zimbabwe observes this holiday at a time when Zimbabwe is once again at a difficult stage following elections on July 30 when the opposition called MDC-Alliance is at its familiar worst.
They have invited hostile forces to work against Zimbabwe for the simple reason that the majority made a choice in Zanu-PF which resoundingly won July 30 with President Mnangagwa similarly claiming victory as the chosen one.
Yet, strangely, the Morrison Nyathis celebrate their treachery as they tease us with suffering.
It is a pity.