HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsNational Question: Who really, really freed Zim from colonial yoke?

National Question: Who really, really freed Zim from colonial yoke?


Who, really, liberated Zimbabwe from the colonial yoke?

Was it President Robert Mugabe and Zanu?

Was it Vice-President Joshua Nkomo (now late) and Zapu?

Was it Bishop Abel Muzorewa (also late) and the UANC? Or was it Zimbabweans themselves, in a national effort?

The narrative of Zimbabwe’s liberation has become dodgy and increasingly shrouded and obscured by celebrity legends, extravagant superstar pretensions and downright myths.

All too often, we hear self-assertive and self-aggrandising claims from one group or another to the effect that they, alone, liberated Zimbabwe from the colonial yoke.

People whose ages couldn’t possibly make them eligible to have been in the struggle and others never before ever heard of are all claiming a piece of the action, for good measure.

Muzorewa stated that he was the catalyst to independence in that he stopped the imposition of the Anglo-Rhodesian Constitution with his Pearce Commission initiative.

A “Yes” vote would have brought “legal” independence and international recognition to the then Rhodesia.

Muzorewa also sent thousands of young men and women out to train for the armed struggle, as well as agreeing to collapse his premiership to allow for the all- inclusive Lancaster House Conference.

Zapu, which launched its war from Zambia, has dissolved into Zanu PF under intense pressure and has had its role totally eclipsed by a partisan State media.

Zanu PF, on the other hand, is basking in the sun, claiming all the liberation glory for itself, with some in its ranks claiming thus: “We liberated you, we will not stand by with folded arms while you give the country back to the former colonisers . . .”

The people, generally, have been relegated to the status of on-lookers and mere beneficiaries of the purported generous liberation, with no recognised contribution of their own.

Others say the United Nations and Commonwealth sanctions and the Lusaka Commonwealth Conference, which stopped the British government from recognising the Ian Smith/Muzorewa Internal Settlement and called for an all-parties conference at Lancaster House was the turning point.

Others say the liberation of Zimbabwe was a sustained national effort which started well before any party that can now claim the glory and no one individual or party can claim to have liberated the country.

Political parties may have brought a little sunshine, but they did not make the day, it is argued.

They can only talk of the incremental contribution they made.

In other words, no one, but the people, can claim to exclusively own the people’s struggle and the people’s victory.

Even those who prosecuted the armed struggle are children of the people who were put forward by the people to so do.

So, when, where and on what basis do children of the people begin to lose that fundamental lineage, opting to single themselves out as the only factor responsible for liberation?

Should the tail be allowed to wag the dog on some fancied notion of superstardom?

So, who really liberated Zimbabwe from the colonial yoke?

Why have some people arrogated to themselves a vanguard role even to the extent of purporting to give mandatory political guidance and direction to Zimbabweans under the guise of some fancied notion of exclusive ownership of the people’s struggle and victory?

On what rationale do they claim the right to elect who may and may not rule Zimbabwe?

What informs this kind of arrogance and nonsensical stance, in which the truth becomes a casualty?

This sort of behaviour debases the honour and efficacy of the liberation struggle.

When a national team wins, whose is the victory and glory..? And, when a national effort wins, whose is the victory and glory?

The armed struggle was critical to the conclusion of our struggle against the hegemony of colonial settlers, but a conclusion it must remain — an epilogue.

It does not supplant or erase other forms of struggles that preceded it. The war was the final programme of our liberation.

At last, we could answer that settler in the language that he/she understood better, but to suggest that the armed struggle was the only factor in our struggle would be disingenuous romanticism. In fact, it would be a blatant lie.

Let us learn to narrate our history without embellishments for posterity’s sake.

Anyone who tries to prevent Zimbabweans from exercising their free choice in electing leaders of their choice cannot have fought for liberation, notwithstanding their participation in the armed struggle.

Merely carrying and shooting a gun during the liberation war does not in itself amount to liberating a country — it’s the holistic picture of ending up with a population that has freedom of choice that counts.

President Mugabe is right when he says Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans and not a few individuals with a nauseating appetite for unbridled wealth.

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