What is a hero?

This week Zimbabwe celebrated Heroes day, an important day in the life of our country. It is a day we remember all those who gave their lives to liberate Zimbabwe to what it should have been, a better place than Rhodesia. I lost my grandfather in 1979, I never met him but I hear good things about him. My mother tells a story about how when he heard that the war was heating up in our rural area he instructed them to leave the village that very night – that was the last time they saw him alive. I always wonder if he were to come back just for a day would he be happy he ‘died’ for this nation?

My aunt tells her story about how she was sick of the way things were in the 70s such that she decided to go join the liberation, on their way before they made it far they met the Rhodesian army and were thoughly beaten for wanting to liberate their country – she lost her hearing that day. I always wonder how she feels looking at the state of the nation today.

There are so many stories of people who died, those who gave themselves and a whole lot more to liberate the country that they loved. It led me to ponder on the meaning of a hero. How do we define a hero in this country? When I think of heroes I don’t think about the few privileged that are buried at national and provisional heroes acres. I think of the war that was fought on all fronts, that’s why there was victory. I think of those who fought at the war front, the mujibhas and chimbwidos who ferried what ever was needed, the villagers who endured abuse from all fronts, those that fed and clothed the fighters. Let us not forget those that suffered in silence, raped and killed for being sell-outs in the name of the war. In the success story of Zimbabwe, lies a lot of pain and unresolved conflict. The war is over but far from over.

Let us not forget the heroes of Zimbabwe who have fought on from 1981 to date. Let us not forget those whose lives were taken by senseless violence in our nation. Those whose names are unspoken off who died during gukurahundi- the children who never saw the light of day, ripped out of their mother’s bellies. The many people who have died because of what we call ‘political violence’ but I call sanctioned intolerance. Since ‘independence’ we have lost many heroes along the way whom we may never know fully but their only crime was loving their country too much.

Let us not forget about the most important heroes of our time, every Zimbabwean without privilege trying to make it through everyday. Those who have lived through internal massacres political and economical. The heroes who lost everything they had worked so hard to save to be left with nothing and start over again in their 60s. Those that fight so hard to get an education and yet find themselves roaming the streets for two or three years unemployed. Those that live through the guilt of having spent the family money getting an education but have been unable to give back to their families. Let us not forget the many who have left everything they know to settle in a foreign country so as to be able to support your family, whilst longing for the same family. Remembering the heroes that spend day and night in the streets of Harare trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents, those that labour much and get little in return. Finally, the thousands that have perished on our roads trying to make a living for their families.

To me heroes are not only those that fought in the war, but the many who continue to amaze me. Have you never wondered how your parents sent you all to school earning what they did? I stand in awe of you Zimbabweans, as we celebrate heroes this week I think most of you are phenomenal people.
To all Zimbabweans making an honest living in these difficult times, you are my heroes, to those dearly departed, we remember you always.

Happy heroes Zimbabwe!

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