HomeLocal NewsObituary: Edgar Tekere 1937 – 2011

Obituary: Edgar Tekere 1937 – 2011


Edgar Tekere is no more.

June 7 2011 will remain etched in the story of Zimbabwe as the exit of one of Zimbabwe’s founding fathers.

His place in Zimbabwe’s history is secure, but his legacy will occupy the minds of future generations who will no doubt be curious to discover the true story of what went wrong and why he chose to be different from the crop of compliant warriors, at a time when there appeared to be no personal fame to be realised from what may simplistically be described as deviant political behaviour.

After 31 years of independence, the road to hero status is now well-established and even the late Tekere was fully aware that his resting place would not be at the national shrine.

When we look back at the Zimbabwean story and the journey travelled, the name Edgar Tekere will remain relevant, because he had the courage to see what many did not see as far as the toxic effects of a one-party constitutional order was concerned.

Often it is not easy to pause and reflect on what could have been were it not for the efforts of the few who had the vision and love for a democratic Zimbabwe.

To say he was misunderstood would be an understatement. He was not driven by monetary consideration, but by principle.

Having seized control of the State, it would have been easy to be a political chameleon like many of his contemporaries who during the day would choose to say one thing and during the darkness of the night say something different.

He will remain as controversial and uncompromising in death as he was in life. We owe a lot of gratitude to Ibbo Mandaza for taking the initiative to record this remarkable personality in his own words.

In death, it is always easy to be understood by people who never had the patience and tolerance to hear what they did not want to hear.

He made an important and courageous contribution to the liberation struggle. In the enterprise of nation building, his voice will be missed in the midst of a leadership revolution.

He was the change that he wanted to see.
He never waited for a neighbour to do what he thought needed to be done, including being a thorn in the flesh of many of his contemporaries who saw no personal benefit from being different and principled.

He was respected by even those that despised his methods and choice of words. He used his voice as a weapon for positive change.

History will no doubt be kind to him especially for taking a bold stance against the one-party solution notwithstanding the fact that the revolution was fought in the name of broadening and deepening democracy.

Despite failing health, his mind continued to be sharp. On my first visit to Zimbabwe after my de-specification, I visited the late Tekere in hospital. I was surprised that he had been following my ordeal closely and with keen interest.

He would call occasionally to chat, but he remained concerned that a revolution could devour its own children with impunity.

He served as a mentor to many budding politicians and assisted in giving them the courage to confront injustice.

His political and professional mien helped earn him the unofficial title of “dean of the politics of change” and he gained considerable fame for his work as an opposition political icon.

He held himself up to standards and techniques he urged on others, such as the importance of walking precincts to learn what was on the electorate’s mind.

In seeking out diverse political views, he influenced other Zimbabweans to do the same.

As politics grew more polarised in recent years, it became fashionable to disdain Tekere’s democratic instincts with some describing him as a promoter of chaos and an example of what was wrong with Zimbabwean politics.

He remained to the end allergic to corruption and abuse of State office, and most significantly, a promoter of positive change.

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