Father Zimbabwe, a selfless leader
By Walter Mswazie
Masvingo – 1 July marks 18 years since Zimbabwe’s most decorated and celebrated freedom fighter, unifier, selfless nationalist and political icon, the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, passed on.
Nkomo fought, toiled and got tormented until Zimbabwe won independence in 1980, and gallantly fought for his people’s rights until the country got its land and now Zimbabweans cherish his heartless approach to nationalism which has seen them today celebrate the fruits of land reform through Command Agriculture.
The legacy that Chibwechitedza, as he was affectionately known, left is worth emulation for he was a larger than life character, a leader who knew no tribe, colour nor creed as he fought for equality, economic emancipation of the downtrodden and was a symbol of peace, epitome of happiness, and a cause for pride for any Zimbabwean far and wide.
Born June 19, 1917 the late VP breathed his last on 1 July 1999. He was 82.
The man left an indelible mark in the history of the country that when Zimbabweans talk of revolution, his name does not only feature prominently but without his name, Zimbabwe would not be complete.
Politicians across the political divide, religious groups, the academia and business community still sing praises of the life lived by Umdala Wethu, Father Zimbabwe and a legend of all battles. They all cherish a life well lived, the selflessness and ego for unity that the nationalist had.
The Zanu-PF leadership in Masvingo has described the late VP as a man of virtue who was principled and dedicated towards seeing total empowerment of all Zimbabweans regardless of region, language and religion.
Zanu-PF chief whip and Gutu Central MP Lovemore Matuke said Dr Nkomo stood for the black majority and wanted to see improvement of black people’s lives to the same level of their white counterparts.
He said Dr Nkomo would look at one as a Zimbabwean and would embrace them irrespective of their region as he was a true nationalist.
“This was a man who brought unity and remained our torchbearer in all aspects of life. If we can all remember him, together with President Mugabe, are the main architects of the 1987 Unity Accord. To be precise, the unity between Zanu and PF-Zapu, is his brainchild. We are elated to be associated with him because he lived a life many would thrive to emulate.
“Father Zimbabwe brought unity, something that we should cherish as a nation. Had it not been because of this man, we could have been plunged into a lot of chaos and disharmony,” said Matuke.
He said Dr Nkomo laid the foundation for the Third Chimurenga which is all about land distribution and economic empowerment.
“The late Vice President is the founder of the revolution and he laid the foundation of land reform before many people appreciated the whole programme. Most of the people now owe him much honour for they have occupied fertile land, something that was a preserve for the minority whites. In actual fact, he is the basis of empowerment crusade. I urge even the youths to learn through the life of this man not to sell the country to the West for Dr Nkomo and others did not get it on a silver platter,” he said.
Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Senator Shuvai Mahofa said the late Father Zimbabwe left a great legacy,centred on unity and selflessness.
“This man was an epitome of unity as we witnessed it through the Unity Accord that he signed with President Robert Mugabe.
He was instrumental in the creation of Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) in Mwenezi where a number of people have benefitted through farming. Now when I look at Chingwizi I see the hand of the late Dr Nkomo Father Zimbabwe because when he formed DTZ, I was there. I would thrive to attend the commemorations in Matabeleland because I respected that man and as Masvingo we will not forget his works,” said Senator Mahofa.
She said Masvingo was also enjoying peace today through the late VP’s efforts together with other nationalists.
Masvingo provincial war veterans chairman Tendeukai Chinooneka said it was always hard for the war veterans in Masvingo to forget about the late Dr Nkomo because of the legacy he has left in the province.
“This was a great man we are talking about. Some of us who went to war, we remember him for being part of National Democratic Party(NDP), Zapu then later on Zanu-PF. He was a great man in the revolution and he used to raise our consciousness of the war. We remember him because of his spirit of equality where he called for the equal distribution of resources especially land from white people. We cannot forget about him. He has also made available a number of opportunities in Masvingo,” said Chinooneka. He said war veterans remembered the late nationalist because of his appreciation of the revolution and unity.
“We remember this man because of his understanding of unity and revolution. We ascribe to his ideology that reminds us that we must defend the gains of independence through thick and thin. He was a fighter and he brought the country back to its former owners. We should endeavour to repay him by guarding and protecting our sovereignty,” he said.
Apostolic Faith Mission(AFM)’s Pastor Garcia Mundondo said churches in Masvingo were indebted to the late Vice President for he made freedom of worship possible.
“We are now enjoying freedom of worship because of the liberation that was brought by gallant sons and daughters that include Dr Nkomo. We knew this good man as a Christian, who ascribed to Christian values and we find happiness in that he made our praying activities possible.
“Without unity or liberation that we are enjoying today it would be practically impossible for Christians to worship,”said Pastor Mundondo.
He said Dr Nkomo, like Jesus Christ, made a lot sacrifices when he left his family and went to war to defend his people instead of remaining at home fending for his family.
“Like Jesus Dr Nkomo sacrificed his life and went to war leaving his family behind to save people of Zimbabwe from Ian Smith’s oppression as what Jesus did when he saved people from Satan’s oppression. He was a man of God, again like Jesus, he was called to save his people and churches in Masvingo we remember and cherish his works. His death is still fresh in our minds and hearts,” he said.
A retired army captain and Zanu-PF senior member in Chiredzi Captain Faster Gono said a number of people from Masvingo benefitted from Father Zimbabwe.
“Most black farmers along Mwenezi’s Nuanetsi Range are accruing many benefits from this noble initiative, courtesy of Umdala Wethu’s strides. He sacrificed his own personal interests for national good and he was not accustomed to blaming other people but he would quickly look for solutions on anything that would have gone wrong,” said Capt Gono.
Masvingo Provincial Education Director Zadius Chitiga said he felt humbled by the late VP‘s humility, adding that he supported education in the country through setting up of scholarships.
“Education in this country would not be complete without the mention of this gallant nationalist. Today a number of students from this region have benefited from Joshua Mqabuko Scholarship and that means his understanding of education spoke volumes.
“The scholarship is assisting a lot of people in and outside his region and that goes to show that he was the man of the people who loved everybody and above all had a passion for education.
“As Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education we are happy to be associated with this character and we will keep cherishing his selfless help in the world of academia,” said Chitiga.
The PED said they have learnt that in order for people to achieve in life there is need for them to remain dedicated in whatever they do.
“The late VP taught us that in order to achieve, we should be dedicated and people should not waste opportunities in life. They should work and achieve, that is what he did because he worked and achieved his main objectives. His works were seen and proved beyond any reasonable doubt. The updated curriculum we are implementing today has the late Dr Nkomo’s footprints through the emphasis on skills development as he had a bias on people who use their own hands to be productive.
“He might have died when we still needed his guidance but the truth is that he was a conqueror and education is where it is in Masvingo because of him,” he said.