HomeOpinionHamadziripi snubbed but no less hero

Hamadziripi snubbed but no less hero

ON Friday morning, September 23, a gallant and fearless son of Zimbabwe passed away and was buried on Monday, September 26 at Glen Forest Cemetery on the outskirts of Harare.

sans-serif”>It would not have mattered where he was buried had the state not set aside a national shrine for the interment of Zimbabwe’s gallant sons and daughters so as to capture the finest memories of their sacrifices and contributions to the liberation and advancement of the country. Such memories would spur the young generation to emulate their examples of selflessness, hard work humility and sacrifice.

On that basis the life and experiences of Henry Hamadziripi would have provided a perfect model.

However, the powers-that-be, for reasons best known to themselves, resolved Cde Hamadziripi’s remains did not deserve to be interred at the national shrine. Without any intention to demean the honour and contribution of those individuals whose remains lie interred at the national shrine or to hurt the feelings of the loved ones who survived them, our contention as people who lived and worked with Cde Hamadziripi is that his honour and contribution is no less than theirs.

He is no less illustrious than those buried at the national shrine. Denying Cde Hamadziripi national hero status should not even be construed as an insult to the people of Masvingo as he was a true nationalist who had broken free of the trappings of narrow nationalism and sycophantic ethnicism that characterises Zimbabwe’s decision-makers today.

It has been suggested that Cde Hamadziripi master-minded a revolt against the party leadership in 1977. Without going into details as to what actually transpired, suffice it to say that Cde Hama as he was affectionately known, together with some of his colleagues was already in custody when the so-called revolt took place. In fact it is debatable as to whether the so-called revolt would have taken place had Cde Hama not been arrested.

The pertinent question to ask is: which leadership did Cde Hama rebel against if at all he rebelled? Who had elected that leadership and was that in accordance with the provisions of the Zanu constitution? Could one seriously speak of a congress when there were no party branches to speak of and without any representation from all parts of the country? In 1977, Zanu’s military operations covered over 60% of the country’s geographical area. Were any of the people who actively supported the liberation war within the country invited to the so-called congress that ‘elected’ the so-called leadership?

Anyway, Cde Hama is not the first to experience the wrath of the powers-that-be even in death. The history of Zimbabwe can never be complete without acknowledging the enormous contribution of the Rev Ndabaningi Sithole, the founding president of Zanu, Noel Mukono who spearheaded the organisation of the armed struggle, and Felix Santana, a fearless freedom fighter.

We think that it is high time that Zimbabweans faced up to the truth of the record of its liberation. People did not sacrifice life and limb so that one individual could monopolise the contribution and collective wisdom of those who struggled for the liberation of this country and claim to be the embodiment of the finest virtues and values of the liberation struggle. No one should always claim to be right all the time as if they possessed all truth.

No one should claim to be so important as if the world would stop turning without them. It took the contribution of many to make Zimbabwe’s liberation a reality.

Would it take a fertile imagination to visualise how the so-called Tsholotsho “rebels” would have been caricatured as betrayers of the revolution had that episode taken place in Mozambique before liberation? We are sure the people of Zimbabwe are getting wiser.

We think that there is need for a public debate on the need of having a national heroes acre given the abuse of the concept for political patronage.

We for our part have always had serious doubts about its need given that some of Zimbabwe’s illustrious sons with whom we fought side by side lie forgotten wherever they are. We speak of Rhodrick Musoko (aka Dick Moyo/Joe Chikara), a member of the Zanla High Command who was killed by an enemy bomb in Francistown, Botswana, in early 1975; Arthur Magaya (aka Saul Sadza) who was a member of the Zipa Military Committee who was killed in action in Manicaland in June 1976; Benjamin Mahaka (aka Edmund Kaguru), a member of the Zipa Military Committee who was ambushed by Rhodesian forces on his way to attend celebrations at Nyadzonya refugee camp on that fateful day in August 1976; and Silas Shamiso, Cde Chitepo’s bodyguard who died with the former National Chairman in March 1975

Seriously speaking, we think that our South African brothers have set a good example by dispensing with the idea of a national heroes acre.

Revolutionary greats of the stature of Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others lie buried in common cemeteries. This is a shining example that lends expression to the humility and simplicity that characterises true selfless revolutionaries.

* Article written by Wilfred Mhanda (Dzinashe Machingura), Happyson Nenji (Webster Gwauya), Bournard Manyadza (Parker Chipoera) and others.

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