Today marks 36 years of independence and it should be a reminder of how far we are from the ideals that inspired a generation to start the liberation war.
What inspired the early nationalists was to bring an end to inequality and oppression, but 36 years later, the independence generation is yet to enjoy equality and true freedom.
Instead, it seems yesterday’s freedom fighters have morphed into today’s oppressors, who cower at the very thought of a free people.
While the colonialists were oppressive and had to be removed, it seems today’s leaders are quite content to mimic the very system they fought to remove.
Where in 1980 there was hope and promise for the new country, in 2016 this has been replaced by fear and hopelessness.
Ordinary Zimbabweans are scared to express themselves and only do so in hushed tones, fearing the overbearing and intrusive State will be at hand to arrest them for saying what they think.
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Instead of building on independence, Zimbabwe feels like it’s forever scurrying towards destruction, with a dying economy and collapsed social services.
There is a pervading sense of gloom, with people being forced to leave their country as this is the only way they can fend for their families.
Zimbabwe, as it is, is a betrayal of both the past and future generations.
Gallant sons and daughters of the liberation struggle like the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and Zanla leader, Josiah Tongogara must be turning in their graves, as what Zimbabwe has become, is not what they fought for and thought it would become.
Independence Day should be the pinnacle of holidays, but in Zimbabwe it should be a time of reflection and introspection, with us asking ourselves how we allowed the country to turn into what it has become.
Today, as happened in the past 36 years, there shall be a number of speeches exalting the country’s victories and condemning our enemies — real and imagined.
But beyond the rhetoric and grandstanding, there is nothing for the ordinary man and woman, who have to brave days on end without running water in our towns, who have become accustomed to darkness due to incessant load shedding and who have lost their jobs because of this government’s reckless policies.
This Independence Day should be a solemn occasion to inspire Zimbabweans to rethink what they want for their country and get to it, otherwise independence shall always be a mirage, with only a few elite enjoying its fruits.
We do not regret independence and we are grateful to the generation that fought against colonialism, but what we regret and bemoan is what this country has become.