EACH year Zimbabwe has correctly set aside a public holiday in August to remember the heroes of our national liberation struggle.
The conferring of hero status upon individual Zimbabweans however remains a contentious issue given the fact that it is Zanu PF that decides on the matter. In fact, there was an occasion where President Mugabe spoke at the funeral of one national hero where he stated that the Warren Hills Heroes Acre in Harare essentially belonged only to those that fought in the liberation war.
Mugabe stated that if anyone else who was not in that struggle directly or indirectly seeks to be interred at the same venue, he or she might as well find their own hillside elsewhere and build one for themselves.
There have been many other debates about who and what is a Zimbabwean national hero, usually after the dead of a prominent national political leader or popular celebrity who had or didn’t have a direct link with Zanu PF.
It is unfortunate that hero status is normally conferred upon only those that have died. There is rare conferment of hero status on those that are living (young or old) who have served the country in various capacities inclusive of but not limited to the liberation struggle or post-independence politics.
The government has correctly made it a priority to honour the comrades who died fighting to liberate Zimbabwe, as well as those that participated in the armed resistance and are with us today. But where we have remembered our national heroes of that liberation struggle, we have failed to remember that though their heroism led to the founding of the nation, it is primarily a heroism that was intended to create further heroic deeds in the name of the struggle and the revolutionary values that established the country.
This is the primary challenge for all Zimbabweans today. It is not so much to hold the gun like our freedom fighters but to demonstrate the same commitment and purpose in understanding our society better and charting a principled, democratic way forward.
The heroic deeds of the armed and political wings of our liberation war movements were also undertaken with a specific intention to ensure that while the war was inevitably necessary and tragic; the struggle itself required that their conduct be consistently revolutionary, honest and principled on key democratic values that served the best public interest of all Zimbabweans.
With time, it has become evident that those that led us after independence and those that lead us today have failed to understand the need to be conscious and stay on the right path of a continual and democratic people's victory. In most instances, and of their own volition, our contemporary leaders have sought more self aggrandizement than democratic national leadership and have tended to function out of sync with the democratic intentions of the liberation struggle.
These leaders have departed further and further from democratically conscious leadership and are patently failing in becoming revolutionaries of their own time. Instead of being conscious not only of the liberation struggle and sticking to democratic values and principles, our leaders are increasingly in it for the money and influence.
This leadership betrayal of the revolution now demands that every Zimbabwean must discover the hero in themselves and in activities outside of the political mainstream. By doing so, perhaps we can be heroes and democratic revolutionaries of our own time.
We must act with clarity and appreciation of how our own contributions to our society can be heroic with or without the approval of politicians. We all have a generational duty to produce post-independence heroes committed to their country in as much as their liberation forefathers.
Takura Zhangazha writes here in his own personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)