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How does Zimbabwe define its heroes?

I WANT to thank President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his team for the conferment of provincial war hero status on Saul Musaka, Soul Jah Love. I would like to thank him again for the conferment of national hero status on the late former police deputy commissioner Moses Griffith Mpofu.

The Mpofu hero status did not come as a shock to me and many others, but it is the Musaka status that sent tongues wagging and boggled the minds of many. I have no hidden vendetta against the late singer given that I didn’t know any of his songs except the television licensing advert. The explanations we got were not satisfactory and many were left with questions over the criteria used to accord hero status on individuals like the late Zimdancehall star.

The authorities need to answer the question that has been on the board for some time: Who is a hero? We lost many talented musicians like John Chibadura, Biggie Tembo, Leonard Dembo, System Tazvida, Paul Matavire and others, who hogged the music limelight for years, but until today nothing has been said posthumously about these music heroes of our time.

The Zanu PF party may not say it today, but it is now clear that hero status is accorded according to party affiliation. One has  to be Zanu PF to be accorded some hero status. Great trade unionists  and champions of democracy like Gibson Sibanda and Morgan Richard Tsvangirai were given state-assisted funerals, but were never honoured for their roles because they were not members of the ruling party, but a Zimdancehall star born in 1989 is accorded liberation war hero status presumably to mobilise for the 2023 votes.

The government department or party branch that honours heroes should spare a thought on the effects of their decisions to society, history and future generations. Soul Jah Love was a great musician and a darling of the new generation including my own children, but why him alone? Oliver Mtukudzi was, an unquestionable national hero, who was a non-partisan musician who deservedly got national hero status.Simon Chimbetu is lying at the Mashonaland West Provincial Heroes Acre because of his Zanu PF links.

We need to urgently define a hero today because if we keep the matter under wraps we risk making these burial spaces irrelevant and useless. There must be an independent selection panel that looks beyond political party affiliation when according hero status.

Soul Jah Love had links with  Zanu PF and was allegedly offered a residential stand by some Zanu PF-aligned land barons in Marimba where he built and the dwelling was later razed down.

No one disputes the sentiment that “Chibaba zvaiva zvinhu” and no one is jealous about the status accorded to the youthful singer.

The manner in which hero status is conferred on heroes will continue to divide society and discredit the responsible authorities.

If I think about Leonard Musorowenyoka Dembo and many others, my heart bleeds and wonder if the leadership really wants to unite the nation through fair play. There are many sons and daughters, who perished during the liberation struggle like Smokey Jecherere, but the families did not receive anything nor were they consoled except through the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That comrade’s remains are at a  anthill in Chivi without due recognition even though the government knows where he died and how he was killed by the Rhodesians.

The hero status is rapidly brewing divisions and conflicts in our eyes and the bomb will one day explode if we continue to confine it to a political party with its own definition of heroes.

Kurauone Chihwayi


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