So let us discuss the hero thing. Americans best celebrate heroes, a culture which leads Hollywood to magnify the effect.
From Captain America of DC Comics to Captain Sullenberger of the miracle on the Hudson River, Americans have imagined and real heroes for every occasion.
In Zimbabwe, and I stand to be corrected, we seem to reserve the word hero for events at Heroes’ Acre.
Steven Gerrard is an Anfield legend and a hero of the 2005 Champions League football final. Does this make Byron Black a legend rather than a hero? Kirsty Coventry, Reinhard Fabisch, Jairos Jiri, Kubi Indi or Biggie Tembo?
What is a hero?
Heroes’ Acre has criteria and there has been unanimity in the case of Retired General Solomon Mujuru, a decision I fully agree with. What about other areas of life, though?
Does a person become a hero when he scores the winning goal of a major tournament like Stransky and his drop goal in 1995 for South African rugby and Mark Williams in 1996 with his two goals for South African football?
Are the entire members of those teams heroes and are they celebrated as such?
Can you be a hero for a season only?
The chaps who made it out of the Chile mine saga were heroes for a season for the entire country.
This month protestors pelted them with various fruit criticising them for being greedy and taking advantage of their status after their $17 million dollar lawsuit.
Does this mean it is better to quickly exit the scene after you become a hero?
I would argue for example that Che Guevara is a hero to the world’s students, lefties and fashionistas because of the manner in which he died and the ensuing famous, historical photograph.
Many of the liberals who love Che’s ideas would be appalled by his treatment of dissidents when he was a minister in Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba. Like Castro, he is a larger than life character. Jonas Savimbi in Angola had no such luck.
I mentioned Hosni Mubarak last week. He was a hero during the 1973 war against Israel. If he was Zimbabwean, that would make him a prime candidate for Heroes’ Acre.
Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, on the other hand, sent the army in “to break their bones” referring to Palestinians during the intifada and died a hero from an assassin’s bullet.
He has a square named after him. Mubarak will have everything named after him erased. How a hero dies is important it would appear.
Are there degrees of heroic feats?
A little boy jumps in to a well to save his dog.
Definitely hero material. The same boy is filmed on YouTube fifteen years later smashing windows in the London riots.
Nope! He is a loutish thug. The same boy at Egypt’s Tahrir Square throwing rocks at soldiers when he is not pick pocketing? A hero!
Manu years ago, I wrote about Nancy Wake who died last week. Her story is one of the best war-time stories I have ever read and she is my kind of heroine.
I would suggest you make the time to read her story. I have also written about Fredrick Douglas, another person I suggest you read up on if this is your kind of thing.
My hero is one who, in their time, gives of themselves using whatever talent or power of conviction they have, to do something extraordinary without stopping to think of the consequences to them personally.
It is a person who summons mind over matter, especially when they are aware of the consequences to them and still do what they need to do in the moment,whether it is leaping into crocodile infested river to save a pet or shooting down a helicopter in the middle of a terrifying raid by enemy forces.
Extraordinary is not necessarily the dramatic. It is also that which one does not usually do, but are moved to as a result of a stimulus, an occasion or circumstance that brings out the best in them for others.
In today’s world, my heroes are people like Dominic Deng Diing, a South Sudanese refugee living in the US, who survived a trek on foot through the desert from Sudan to Ethiopia in the 80s, finished high school in a refugee camp in Kenya and who, today, is helping to educate over 3 000 children back in South Sudan.
He directly supports 50 children donating 15% of his monthly income towards their education and care, kids that he is meeting for the first time this summer. That, my friends is “lighting a candle, instead of cursing the darkness”.
Zimbabwe has heroes. They are out there quietly going about their business without seeking any recognition for their work.
It is our responsibility to tell their stories, to acknowledge them before they die, despite their humility and to hold them up as examples for the next generation to follow.
Zimbabwe is a great country and it will regain its place among the honoured nations of the world even faster when we celebrate what is heroic in our people and use that energy to birth other heroes from the arts to the sciences. Who is your hero?
Which person(s) really makes you stare or sit in silence just awed at the scale of what they have achieved through their selfless act? Go on, tell them or if you are shy, tell their story!