Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
COMMEMORATIONS to mark two decades since the death of Father Zimbabwe and Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo are set to be held at White City Stadium in Bulawayo today.
The nation has been urged to embrace Dr Nkomo’s vision of peace, tolerance and respect for each other to ensure economic prosperity as it commemorates this important day.
Dr Nkomo died on July 1, 1999, after battling prostate cancer.
The Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project in partnership with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority are expected to lead the Joshua Nkomo Day commemorations under the theme: “I am because you are”.
Dr Nkomo’s son Mr Sibangilizwe Nkomo said today’s commemorations are in line with Father Zimbabwe’s aspirations for a tolerant and peaceful society.
“We have to recognise ubuntu as Umdala wethu used to say ‘I am because you are.’ We are a people together. But at the moment we are seeing that there is a lot of intolerance among our citizens. As Zimbabweans we are an educated nation but we seem to be neglecting our traditional cultures for foreign ones,” said Mr Nkomo.
He blamed the adoption of foreign cultures by individuals as one of the reasons for intolerance among Zimbabweans.
Zanu-PF national spokesperson Cde Simon Khaya-Moyo, speaking in his capacity as former Father Zimbabwe’s Special Assistant, recalled Dr Nkomo’s death and how it shattered the nation, two decades ago.
“On 1st July 1999, 20 years ago, Zimbabwe was thrown into total darkness, bewilderment, uncertainty, disbelief, national pain and shock after Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo departed this world. The rumour of his demise after an excruciating prostate cancer spread like veld fire across the nation until it was officially confirmed on radio and television by the then Head of State Robert Mugabe. The nation was gripped and plunged into national mourning, for a world renowned icon, a colossus, a giant of unique leadership qualities, a father figure, a visionary, a fountain of wisdom, granary of knowledge, a sea of humility, a key to unity peace and development, a legend of all time had gone mysteriously without saying farewell to the nation. It was a painful moment, it is still painful today and will be for times ahead,” said Cde Khaya Moyo.
He said the country should learn from Dr Nkomo, a leader par excellence who put national development before personal interests.
“He was not only a nationalist of national standing but a leader of immense courage who hated tribalism, regionalism and racism to the marrow. He led from the front with precision, throughout the years of the protracted liberation struggle until final victory in 1980. He was never power hungry hence his signing of the Unity Accord between the two former liberation movements Zapu and Zanu in December 1987 to speed the process of unity and peace,” said cde Khaya Moyo.
“He loved humanity, we miss the mountain, we miss the shade, we miss a man of purpose, principle, perseverance, charisma and prayer. May his spirit continue to protect and guide this nation to that destiny of love and prosperity. Rest well Father Zimbabwe, we miss you.”
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube said it was important for the nation not to forget Father Zimbabwe, as he is the champion of the country’s liberation struggle. She said while Dr Nkomo among others fought for independence, younger generations should advance the country’s economic prosperity.
“It’s important that we appreciate this day and remember the role played by ubaba uNkomo in the liberation of the country. We should value his and his generation’s contributions and be able to take it further to say what they wanted to achieve for this country. Together we should ask ourselves how best can we take further their vision. We have political independence but should aim to achieve economic independence which is even more difficult. Ubaba uNkomo noted that there will come a time when there would be no exploitation of man by man,” Cde Ncube said. – @nqotshili