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Mugabe's burial site invokes a debate of what makes a hero?

29 Sep 2019 at 12:42hrs | Views
THE imbroglio of Robert Mugabe's burial site invokes a debate of what makes a hero? Is it the land on which one is buried or it is the people who emulate the "late" who define and describe heroism? I reckoned that my discussions with my colleagues since September 6 are more relevant now than ever, moreover with the recent development of his family mooting the rural site.

When news reached the social media streets on Thursday, we questioned if the monumental hill in Harare, colourful and decorated as it is (un)makes a hero. I was convinced more by my contributions in all discussions when I acknowledged that our Heroes Acre is sacrosanct and monumental but it does not make a hero, it is the people who make the "late" a hero". If there is anything to go by, heroism is a social construct, no different from any stereotype hence if it is (un)made by people then it eliminates the burial space as the (un)maker of one.

For over 37 years, queries about heroism in Zimbabwe have been centred on who is buried at the Heroes Acre and what are his or her credentials. That discourse has limited our scope of thinking and appreciating great men and women such that our perceptions about them become reliant on the decision made in the ruling party Politburo.

I think we are all guilty of this because we always question or confirm heroism on the space one is buried - the logic of the space. This is wrong; why; because a dependent opinion and perception can easily be influenced if the result is not favourable. In the realm of the logic of space; assuming that the Politburo decides to bury me at the Heroes Acre most of you will immediately regard me as a hero even if I don't deserve it and you don't know me and I do not have or had impact on your lives. Now that is the tragedy of the space.

We have been so consumed by how the space confirms, not how it is memorial and monumental for those who played a pivotal role in the construct of Zimbabwe. It is an undeniable fact that if one liberated us from the fangs of colonisation and all its forms of oppression and was defensive of the national ideology till his or her last breath they are laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre. That is what that space represents; a slide-show of how you lived till you lived no more.

If your morals of the liberation struggle, its interests and its contemporary defence are questionable, you do not deserve to be laid to rest in that space; there is no space for you, however, it does not take away your contributions to who and what we are today.

I really don't think that when you choose not to defend the liberation gains today the past is fast erased, No! Your contribution remains but what is most important is if we can quickly and appreciatively remember you for that "good" you did. This brings me to the next subject - What makes a hero?

On 5 August 2010, an independent press published an opinion piece questioning who qualifies to be a national hero. The conclusion was nothing amazing than the common narrative which concludes that: "anyone who is loyal to Zanu-PF" which I think is tired in all its overtures. There are many Zanu-PF loyalists who have passed on but are not "national heroes" nor laid in the space. The problem is that as a nation, like the independent press publication, we have mistakenly made a conclusion that National Heroism is determined by the space one lies in and if not conferred to lie at the National Heroes' Acres, your contributions are null and void. I contend that.

National heroism is a popular acceptance by the masses, confirming that your contributions to the betterment of their livelihoods should always be remembered and celebrated. When the people cherish what you did to improve their well-being such that they want to emulate or subscribe to your lifestyle and preserve your legacy; that is national heroism.

Jesus is a hero, why, we quickly remember how he died for our sins, and we want to live like him. We preserve his legacy and are keen to defend his lifestyle and teachings. Martin Luther King is a hero; why, we strongly believe racial equality is the pivot of humankind's co-existence that is the reason we fight racism even through football campaigns before soccer matches.

Lookout Masuku is a national hero - why; we immediately remember him when we talk of our liberators and tactful war champions to ever walk on this planet. So it's not about where he is buried, but it's about how influential he is to our lives even up to today. Although we have corrupted the good and wonderful memories of Khalisabantu by associating his burial space to the (un)making of heroes and made it a political chorus and currency I still think it's a broken record, he is more powerful as a memory than physiological remains which we clamour should "have been buried" elsewhere.

Dear readers, it is not about the space but about memory. The space signifies what you did till your last breath and that is important but it does not miraculously construct your past and stitch it to our minds to make you a hero. If spaces necessarily make one a hero, how come Indlovukazi uLozikeyi KaDlodlo, Lobhengula kaMzilikazi loyise KaMangethe; Nehanda and Kaguvi's skulls are at a museum outsides this land are heroes? Are we saying the museum, which does not house those we regard as heroes, made them heroes?

Remember this, the National Heroes Acre is a place of rest for those loyal to the liberation movement until their last breath. It becomes conniving and inconsistent of us to mix those loyal and backsliders in the same monument. We should be able to visit the memorial site and say; "Here lies the remains of all who have been loyal to the liberation of Zimbabweans," not to peruse words specifying that; "however, there are some who were no longer who they were in their last days but we thought their past defines them bla bla bla . . . ," that makes a mockery of us.

Source - zimpapers
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