The Igbo people of Nigeria have an idiom that says, “Character is like pregnancy. You cannot hide it.” In the same vein, American preacher Charles Swindoll states that “character needs no epitaph.”
As Zimbabwe turned 39 yesterday, on the eve of Good Friday — the holiest day on the Christian calendar, it is important to evaluate how it has traversed and shaped its character.
In Zimbabwe’s 39-year journey, Uhuru Day and Easter have fallen on successive days only five times: 1981, 1987, 1992, 2003 and 2019. Only in 2003 did Independence Day and Good Friday fall on the same day.
It is also noteworthy that Independence and Easter days followed each other in 1981, a year after the birth of the First Republic.
The same scenario has repeated itself in 2019, a year after the birth of the Second Republic.
While the Uhuru date is fixed, it is not the same with Easter, where the holiday is sometimes celebrated in March, and in other years it falls in April.
Both Independence Day and Easter are interwoven with deep symbolic meaning, which have given Zimbabwe its persona.
The spiritual linkages between the two are quite evident, and these have birthed the cultural, social, technological and economic character that Zimbabwe is today, and into the unforeseeable future.
The two holidays are borne out of love, resilience, sacrifice, blood-letting and unity of purpose. Uhuru Day is the result of the supreme sacrifice that the children of Zimbabwe paid to attain sovereignty and self-determination from settler colonial rule.
This was sacrifice that resulted in the demise of thousands of lives for a Zimbabwe that should enjoy its place in the community of nations.
They were devoted to their vision, which has seen Zimbabwe now entering the Second Republic.
While thousands perished for the attainment of Independence, the mark of Easter is that the Lord Jesus Christ paid the supreme sacrifice for the salvation of all mankind. The blood that He shed when He was crucified is a mark of unity for all humanity.
As Zimbabwe commemorated the 39th Independence anniversary, it was not lost to us that Biblical history also says the Lord Jesus received 39 lashes before he was led to His crucifixion.
Some might see this as sheer coincidence, but the connections are also important markers for reflection on the importance of what the Lord Jesus did, and what was eventually done by the sons and daughters of this land to have the people unshackled from injustice and poverty.
Both scenarios meant that there are no more barriers between people, be it gender, race, religion and/or social standing.
Uhuru was celebrated under the theme, “Zimbabwe @39: Embracing Devolution for Vision 2030.”
The 2019 theme not only depicts the Zimbabwe we want, but it shows that the focus now is on irreplaceable elements: peace, unity, harmony, renewal, rebirth, regeneration, etc. There is no way that Zimbabwe can achieve Vision 2030 without solidarity and one accord.
Embracing devolution calls for a paradigm shift and a new way of doing business, including change of attitude, understanding, comprehension and outlook.
While we appreciate the past, we also have to realise that there is a bright and prosperous future that we need to craft. This future is an end-product of the input of all Zimbabweans with unity of purpose.
Thus the Second Republic’s mantra — “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”, has resulted in an all-out diplomatic offensive to engage and re-engage with the international community. And, it is bearing fruit.
However, we celebrate Independence and Easter this week with heavy hearts following the unthinkable losses caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai.
But the people of Zimbabwe displayed immense maturity and understanding when they came out in huge numbers to render assistance to victims of the tropical cyclone.
Tragic though it is, the reconstruction that has started is the foundation on which the Second Republic is being rebuilt and re-established.
As we start building another 39 years, the challenges threatening to choke the people must be expeditiously addressed, and holistically too.
We also emphasise peace and oneness, irrespective of people’s political affiliation.
Bible readers will note that when Jesus ascended and later sent the Holy Spirit, He never told His disciples to create denominations, but to be of one accord. They heeded His teaching. This is why more than 2 000 years after His death and resurrection, we still celebrate Easter.
Thus, Zimbabwe should remain one, focused on a prosperous today unto eternity.