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Covid-19 scuttles Joshua Nkomo gatherings

by Staff reporter
01 Jul 2020 at 07:13hrs | Views
FOR the first time in 20 years, there will be no public events to celebrate the life of Father Zimbabwe, the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every year on July 1 the Nkomo family through Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Foundation Trust (JNLRT) among other stakeholders, have been holding public commemorations to honour Father Zimbabwe.

Last year, the JNLRT in conjunction with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority held a colourful ceremony to celebrate Dr Nkomo's life in light of his vision for the country at White City Stadium. During the commemorations ZTA urged Zimbabweans to lobby the Catholic Church to declare Father Zimbabwe, a saint due to his contributions to humanity.

ZTA said Tanzanians had successfully lobbied for the same honour to be bestowed on their founding President, the late Julius Nyerere because of his compassionate nature. Today marks 21 years since the death of Dr Nkomo.

Dr Nkomo's son Mr Sibangilizwe Nkomo yesterday said: "We are not going to have any events to commemorate July 1. Covid-19 has affected our planning. We wanted something that is physical where people could gather as opposed to the virtual meetings. So, this year nothing is happening due to Covid-19 pandemic."

He said failure to hold gatherings should not prevent the public from reflecting on Father Zimbabwe's teachings.

"We urge Zimbabweans to reflect on his teachings and his vision for Zimbabwe. People should listen to his voice that we believe is still relevant. Dr Nkomo always called for people to be totally free.

"We have the potential to progress more than many countries if we follow his teachings and its not late to follow his teachings. He always said Zimbabweans should unite for the development of the nation regardless of their political affiliation. It is unfortunate that the country is so polarised that we can't agree on anything," said Mr Nkomo.

He said it was saddening that the nation has turned against Dr Nkomo's teachings of peace and unity and opted for divisive politics. Mr Nkomo said those who believe in Nkomo's teachings are still pursuing the proposal to declare July 1 a public holiday in recognition of Dr Nkomo's contribution to the liberation of the country and its development after independence.

"We are still calling for Joshua Nkomo and Liberators Day. Ubaba uNkomo is great a man and we need as a nation to honour him. He greatly sacrificed for this country. If we call him a father of the nation, then we should accord him this honour. There is no Father of a nation who has not been honoured in a similar manner," he said.

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe's executive director Dr Godfrey Mahachi, said Dr Nkomo was one of the country's torch bearers in the liberation struggle and deserved to be celebrated.

"When one looks at Dr Nkomo's contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe, it must be viewed in the context of not just building confidence in Zimbabweans regarding their ability to fight the colonial system but also leading from the front," said Dr Mahachi.

He said Government was finalising a suitable location where it will mount Father Zimbabwe's statue in Harare as land ownership issues had derailed the process.

"There has been an attempt to find a more suitable place for the statue. I'm sure in the next few months, it might be possible that a position might be taken by Government. The statue is available, very much in place," said Dr Mahachi.

He said while he was aware that the family has been lobbying that July 1 be declared a public holiday, it was an issue that he could not comment on. Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said she supports the proposal to decalre July 1 a public holiday.

"We should follow up on the family's request. Ubaba worked for this nation so lets assess his works and honour him accordingly. When we say Father Zimbabwe what do we mean? We should come up with our recommendations together with the family and submit the recommendations to the President for his consideration," said Minister Ncube.

She said Dr Nkomo should be remembered for promoting peace, love and tolerance.

"We learnt a lot from him including the need to respect each other. He alaways emphasised that while there are many languages in Zimbabwe, the people are one. While cultural backgrounds differ, we will remain as one people. We should not divide each other on racial or tribal or cultural basis. Those were his teachings. It's encouraging that President Mnangagwa like Father Zimbabwe is promoting peace and unity," she said.

Minister Ncube said Dr Nkomo was a visionary who wanted Zimbabweans to achieve economic emancipation by venturing into farming among other productive sectors. She said Father Zimbabwe wanted Zimbabweans to come up with local solutions for challenges facing the country.

Source - chronicle