Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
ZIMBABWEANS should lobby the Catholic Church to declare Father Zimbabwe and former Vice President, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, a saint in honour of his contribution to humanity, an official said yesterday.
Yesterday marked 20 years since the death of Vice President Dr Nkomo.
The Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Trust (JNLRT) in partnership with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) held a 20th anniversary celebration to mark his death.
The commemorations kicked off with a Dr Nkomo Legacy Walk which started in Mpopoma’s Mahomva shops, passing through Iminyela to his Pelandaba suburb house where there is the Joshua Nkomo Revolutionary House ending at White City Stadium where there was the main event.
The procession included drum majorettes and traditional dance ensemble groups among other members of the public.
The commemorations were running under the theme “I Am Because You Are” which was part of Dr Nkomo’s values to promote ubuntu.
Addressing delegates during the main event, acting ZTA chief executive officer Mrs Rita Likukuma said the country should write to Pope Francis requesting that Dr Nkomo be declared a saint.
She said Tanzanians have successfully lobbied for the same honour to be bestowed on their founding President, the late Julius Nyerere, because of his compassionate nature.
“This compassionate nature which he had is much alike that of the late Julius Nyerere, the late Tanzanian President who the Catholic Church is progressing into declaring a saint. And for a politician that is very unusual. But he is now in that category and just reading through the compassionate nature of Father Zimbabwe, I really think that someone must send word to Pope Francis, to say in him was a man of very good value. A family man, compassionate, peace maker, a person who had a lot of love for other people and I think these values need to be communicated further,” said Mrs Likukuma.
She said Dr Nkomo should be honoured for his belief as an embodiment of humanity hence ZTA’s partnership with the JNLRT to keep his works alive.
Mrs Likukuma said ZTA and the JNLRT are promoting the Joshua Nkomo Tourism Heritage Trails as a way of documenting and providing a narrative that will enhance Zimbabwe’s rich history as a nation.
He said the heritage could be a source of some of the country’s tourism income.
“Trails have become a new phenomenon not only in Africa but globally. As a nation we value our founding fathers for the role they played in liberating our great nation, hence our story as a nation can never be complete without their mention,” said Mrs Likukuma.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube said Dr Nkomo is an African revolutionary and a champion of peace whose values the public should continue aiming for.
She said the public should follow in the footsteps of Father Zimbabwe and his selfless nature.
“The heritage trail initiative seeks to trace the footprints and to pictorise the story of his life through heritage monuments for future generations to be able to trace the history of the revolution icon. This effort is part of the national heritage efforts to capture, remember and celebrate the totality of the Zimbabwean history, particularly those aspects of our history that inspire, motivate and educate future generations in order for them to be armed with their history and indeed be confident to face challenges of this day and the days to come,” said Cde Ncube.
She took a swipe at businesses that are profiteering through unjust price hikes of basic commodities and medicines.
JNLRT patron and Father Zimbabwe’s son, Mr Sibangilizwe Nkomo, lobbied that July 1 be declared a national holiday to honour Dr Nkomo and his compatriots who brought Zimbabwe’s independence.
“It’s been 10 years since we have been lobbying the Government to declare July 1 a public holiday. The day should be called the Joshua Nkomo and Liberators’ Day. This will be in honour of those who fought the armed struggle and those who assisted them because those who were armed were assisted by non-armed people as the liberation struggle was a collective effort. We will continue to lobby for this and we invite the public to join us in this,” said Mr Nkomo.
He said Dr Nkomo is the biblical light and salt of the nation whose contributions will never be erased.
Speaker after speaker praised Dr Nkomo as a founding father of Zimbabwe, with historian, war veteran and retired journalist Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu revealing that Father Zimbabwe was the first black man to leave his good job to pursue nationalist politics. — @nqotshili