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If Mbuya Nehanda is a Heroine, why is Comrade Thenjwe Lesabe not one?

06 Jun 2021 at 20:48hrs | Views
Some corrections at national level must be done because what is happening in Zimbabwe does not add up to full total. There are discrepancies openly done to provoke tribalism. Who does Nehanda represent, which people in this region did she represent when she fought the British establishment in the late 19th century? History tells me that Nehanda was a Zezuru known for her resistance to the British occupation resulting in her incarcerations, the capital sentence was meted on her by hanging.

Mbuya Nehanda resisted foreign occupation in defence of Zezuru tribe and never other ethic groups in the region. This historicity is undisputed, it is researched and established by local scholars about the British colonial history in Southern Rhodesia as evidence. Why imposing her hero status on all of us if you cannot recognize heroes from Matabeleland equally?

Let us take a closer look at Comrade Thenjiwe Lesabe who was denied a hero's status by Zanu PF when she died on the 11th of February 2011. Comrade Lesabe's contribution to the struggle for independence is eloquently known by anyone in both political divides, yet all the same, she was denied the status of a hero, a purely tribal and politically motivated decision.

Mugabe singularly determined who was a hero and who was not. Lesabe had joined the new Zapu revived in 2009 led by General Dumiso Dabengwa then. The decision Lesabe made to join the new Zapu miffed Robert Mugabe, and he punished the dead Lesabe, by denying her a National Heroine status she wholly deserved: this is the stupidity and shallow mindedness of tribal politics. Is it not equally ironic that the founder of Heroes Acre is not buried at his place of choice originally, but he is interred somewhere in a humble home grave?  

These two incidences of Nehanda and Lesabe inform us about institutionalized tribalism in Zimbabwe. There are dozens of Zapu and Zipra comrades who made sterling contributions to the liberation of this country but were denied the hero`s status (my parents included: Dad Zephaniah Sihwa and Mum Louisa Sihwa) because of narrow minded tribal politics, openly inflicting further pain to the othering: as if Gukurahundi atrocities are not enough pain.

Thenjiwe Lesabe belonged to a party that had a national outlook whereas Mbuya Nehanda's activism was regional and exclusively Zezuru and not inclusive to other regions. If luminaries such as Comrade Jane Ngwenya and Mrs Eunice Sandy Moyo were to pass on today, (God forbid, I wish them long life) are their heroine status be questioned the way Thenjiwe Lesabe was, a million-dollar question.

This structural perpetuation of tribalism is not nation-building but destroying it. The current Zanu government is nurturing a convolution of tribal hatred challenging to extricate it for the sake of the future generation. On the other hand, it can also be said with equal truth that if the government of Zimbabwe was inclusive, nobody, even in Matabeleland region was going to question the heroine status of Nehanda. Finding durable solutions to tribalism at national level is not an option but an obligation. Zanu cannot selectively offer one a hero status and not the other, some of them without any merit. To rub more salt to the wound, how many times were we told, it was Zanu that fought the liberation war and less Zapu input.

The imposition of Nehanda as a heroine should give the opportunity to debate solutions on tribalism, a poisonous concoction that has nurtured generations for over two hundred years. However, to be honest to each other, the Zanu current dispensation is not and will not be the right platform to address tribal issues because of the past historicises of genocide. Zanu and Mnangagwa are tainted to be part of the solution to tribalism and the survival of the nation.
Malema comes in with an argument that is pertinent to take on board. "If we can forgive the colonial apartheid and colonial Britain, why is it not be possible to settle tribal differences? This argument will open another controversy: please given me a chance to explain this.

Decolonial dialogue does not mean dialog with criminals and perpetrators of genocide of the 1983 to 1987, Gukurahundi. Genocide took place in Matabeleland: sooner or later those who perpetrated genocide will account for it dead or alive. Genuine solutions from Mnangagwa's selected commission of Peace & Reconciliation exercises currently taking place behind out backs are not taken as genuine solutions for the region.

We are giving the coming generation an opportunity to map out a different tribal trajectory than our own. An opportunity to dialogue and finding durable solutions to a tribally divided nation is to be the legacy we can offer them. Zimbabwe is not the only nation with multiple ethnic groups. We need to look at examples in other countries in the continent and abroad, how they bridged gaps of tribal and racial conflicts of generations.

Neighbouring Zambia has 73 languages but because the first President: Dr. KK Kaunda was inclusive, he managed to build a strong united nation. To this day tribalism in Zambia is not as elaborate as it is in Zimbabwe because of great leadership of Kaunda, a far cry to that of Robert Mugabe, who from the onset was hell bent to annihilate the peoples of Matabeleland and Midlands.

Dialogue in finding answers to our divided tribal nation mean engaging younger generation than us who are tainted with tribal conflicts of the past. Dialogue should give less emphasis on politics: instead, it should give a statutory instrument devolution a golden chance and its implementation. This suggestion has several advantages; the people in each region will be empowered with the ethnic sense of belonging that was taken away from them for decades.

Devolution also means that development in every region will powered by local resources in the region. Each region will concentrate more on development than chronic dependency on hand-outs. The future generation must move away from politics as answers to local issues and local development. Devolution automatically given the people dignity and purpose and sense of belonging and ownership.  

I confess to belong to the school of Comrade Joshua Nkomo's national and inclusive politics. Hence it is not possible to deviate from this noble thinking. He remains the only leader who had genuine aspirations for this nation. Joshua Nkomo never preached tribalism but was a unifier of all tribal groups. It is ironic to realize that Nkomo's ideology of inclusion was his political demise. We are in this hell hole because of tribalism and personal egos that threw away a nation's golden chance to the dogs. I believe that our children will do better than us. Tribalism just like racism is the most stupid thing on earth.

Source - Nomazulu Thata
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