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Mr Malaba's Joshua Nkomo lecture

08 Jul 2013 at 17:49hrs | Views
A very good afternoon to you ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you Mr MC for accusing me of being 'handsome'. An accusation I would like to deny.

Could I begin by saying what a great honour it is to have been invited to speak to you today. I would also like to congratulate you for attending such an honourable event.

They say memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you value, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. I still got fond childhood memories living in the Sigangatsha area of Kezi. I remember, waking up early in the morning one beautiful day, the faint cool kiss of sensuality when dew came onto my cheeks and shins as I paced down the wet green grass path in the early morning, with my young brother Matiwaza breathing heavily on my shoulders heading towards the Sigangatsha business centre. We knew it was gonna be a great day.

The sense of urgency and agitation in my father's facial consternation in the last two frenzied days was enough testimony that a great person was coming to our locality. You could sense a typical second coming with my father a usually smart casual guy trying some of his few suits a countless times. Early in the morning of the day he was off. And who was to miss the occasion? Not me and my brother.

Through a beautiful but chill morning, we followed suit. We sped along the Mambale road, finally reaching the business centre and clambered on nearby trees like little playful monkeys in order to witness the events from a bird's eye view.... Initially there was absolute silence... only the throbbing of our hearts... and rain started drizzling…. which is an omen signifying a supernatural occurrence ... all of a sudden a loud noise... A convoy of cars burst from a blind spot like bats out of hell, coming to a dead halt with tyres squirming and squeaking leaving an everlasting smell of rubber.

My eyes were on my father, who, with other few over-zealous men suddenly distinguished themselves from the main crowd heading straight to one of the cars and within a flash that particular car was dangling in the air like it was made of paper material. I never under estimated my father's physical strength but I never in my wildest dreams thought he could lift a car in the air with such ease. By the time the laws of gravity demanded the car be put down, a huge man of stature walked out of it confidently, carrying a knobkerrie that seemingly exhibited some supernatural powers. Lifting and waving his humongous hand in the air, he bellowed "bantwa bami", an episode which was preceded by a chorus of cheers and ululations from the madding crowd. This was the MAN. Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, umdala uNkomo, umafukufuku, the one and only true father Zimbabwe.

The famous Shakespeare once said, some people are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Here was a man who was born great. A man of true honour. A man who had the ability to forgive, for forgiveness is the attribute of the strong not the weak. A man who whenever confronted with opponents, conquered them with love. The man who was very determined and was even ready to give up his life for the freedom of a population . A man... who dreamed of uniting an entire country for a common cause. A true believer of non-violence.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are here today not to bury Joshua Nkomo, but to commemorate and celebrate the life of a true hero born June 19, 1917, in Semukwe Reserve, Matabeleland South, Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and died July 1, 1999. Also grew up as a herdboy under the tutelage of my great grandfather Chief Malaba in the Nyashongwe area of Kezi.

It is true that sometimes you don't know who is important to you until you actually lose them. Nkomo was a true man of integrity. J Rowland once said "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. In his tribute to the late hero Lookout Masuku who died in prison after his arrest by Zanu pf led government, Dr Joshua Nkomo said "No country can live by slogans, pasi this and pasi that. When you are ruling you should never say pasi to anyone. He said if you see someone down you must try to uplift them up, not oppress him.

To shout slogans like pasi na nhingi nhingi, is tantamount to kicking a man when he is down. That's cowardice. As Nkomo noted we cannot condemn other people and then do things even worse than they did." Great nations are led by men and woman who do not possess some racial or tribal prejudices. The true greatness of a nation is not measured by the vastness of its territory, or by the multitude of its people, but by the extent to which it has contributed to the life of its citizens. A man's greatness is not estimated by their social position, however high these may be. He may be bulk large in public estimation today, but tomorrow he will be forgotten like a dream, and his very servants may secure a higher position and a name lasting possibly a little longer. Today we are celebrating and commemorating the life of a hero who was a true liberator and never went around claiming it. We shall see if it shall be the case with those so called liberators whose names are littered in our distorted history books and some buried in the heroes acres around the world.

A man's greatness is estimated by his influence, not over the votes and empty cheers of a women's league crowd, but by his abiding, inspiring influence in the nation's youth. That is why the Shakespeares, the Oliver Tambos, the Khwame Khrumas. the Lookout Masukus, the JZ Moyos, the Martin Luther Kings and the Nelson Mandelas of history still live, and will live, in everlasting memory, while lesser men are remembered only through them, and the crowd of demagogues, pretenders, and self-seekers.

Same applies with nations. A great nation is not one which, like Russia, has an enormous territory; or, like China, has an enormous population. It is the nation which gives mankind new modes of thought, new ideals of life, new hopes, new aspirations; which lifts the youth out of unemployment, and sets its people through a brighter road to the future. But it is sad to notice the disappearance of all life positives that followed the death of Joshua Mqabuko the great leader.

But ladies and gentlemen don't despair; remember that history has it that the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can be seen to be invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of Hitler, Saddam, Husni Mubarak and other others.

Follow Joshua Nkomo's legacy. Don't fear. Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral. Father Vincent says that 'fear is a journey, a terrible journey, but sorrow is at least an arriving". As Dr Nkomo noted, "Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment."

Nkomo fought against fascism, oppression, tribalism and corruption. He genuinely longed for unity, peace and harmony. He ever wanted to shake hands in a show of friendship and solidarity and in proper reconciliation. But how do you shake a hand with a clenched fist.

Any failure to dedicate ourselves to Nkomo's ideals will be a betrayal of him and of all those freedom fighters whose graves are not known. Ladies and gentlemen, that's why we are here today.

Remember his words in a letter to Prime Minister Mugabe when he said "Why? Why? Why are we enveloped in the politics of hate. The amount of hate that is being preached today in this country is frightful. What Zimbabwe fought for was peace, progress, love, respect, justice, equality, not the opposite. Our country cannot progress on fear and false accusations which are founded simply on the love of power. There is something radically wrong with our country today and we are moving, fast, towards destruction" he prophesied.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wonder what he would have said if he was still alive by 2008. I wonder how he would have reacted to a policy of violent farm invasions that arguably had a serious detrimental effect on the Zimbabwean economy. I remember in 1999 when I bumped onto a never seen before video of Dr Nkomo speaking about equitable land distribution. I remember vividly when he said. "What I want is not to kick Sir Stephenson out of this country of which he is a citizen. What I want is to have a right to be a neighbour to him so that I and Sir Stephenson live together in peace and harmony as neighbours."

That was a plea of genuine unity. In that letter when referring to the signing of the unity accord he said "In retrospect, I now believe that I and ZAPU were deceived and cheated by you and your party when you talked of unity, reconciliation, peace and security. I now honestly and sincerely believe that when you invited us to take part in your government you believed that we would reject your offer and set ourselves up in strong opposition to you and thereby label us disgruntled rejected plotters." This was probably in response to an article that had appeared in Financial Times, Telegraph and The Times, quoting Mugabe saying "When men and women provide food for dissidents, when we get there we eradicate them. We do not select who we fight, because we cannot tell who is a dissident and who is not ".

Those where the words of prime minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe on the 15 April 1983. Dr Nkomo argued with Mugabe in no uncertain terms and said that "As an effective coercive stunt, the Fifth Brigade is deployed in Matabeland and the Midlands ostensibly to root out dissidents but in fact to terrorise the masses by beatings, torture, killings, raping, looting, burning of villages, and literally doing anything atrocious on such a large scale as to instil fear into the people that the effects of the action would pervade the entire population of Zimbabwe. This has been followed by maintenance in every area of sizeable groups of the Fifth Brigade and reinforced by armed Youth Brigades in areas like Gokwe and Zhombe to organize forced 'Pungwes' (rallies held from dusk to dawn) at which the old and the young are forcibly given doses of ZANU (PF) indoctrination and it is general practice during these 'Pungwes' that young women, schoolgirls and residents' wives are forced to have sex with Brigadiers."

Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Most of us here are practising Christians who believe that an eye for an eye makes the world go blind. But let me say this. When it comes to the issue of Gukurahundi, the odds are different. Gukurahundi will not be forgiven for one reason: because the perpetrators have not apologised or shown any remorse but instead, like one Jethro Mpofu once said, have displayed arrogance and defensiveness that stinks to high heaven. In fact, economically and developmentally speaking, Gukurahundi will not be forgiven or forgotten in Matabeleland because it still continues to this day.

Ladies and gentlemen, the majority of you, especially the older Zimbabweans, will recall the song Mai vaDikondo. A song associated with trauma and untold suffering of the people of Matabeland and some parts of the Midlands. Rephius Tachi, who composed the song while working under the former 5 Brigade commander, Perence Shiri is reported to be planning the release in a new 8 track compilation. For those of us, who are direct and indirect victims of the Gukurahundi, it is shocking that a song that arouses emotions and traumatic memories can be allowed any airplay when all should be focusing on national healing. If South Gauteng High Court was to ban the dubula ibhunu song because "the singing of the song by Julius Malema constituted hate speech", why allowing songs that were a daily occurrence during the Gukurahundi era to continue being sung on our radios and television sets?

Ladies and gentlemen, today as we commemorate and celebrate a life of a heroic leader, we should bear in mind the legacy he left behind. I have heard many choruses of Umdala wasithengisa. Usually his response to this would be ngiyalithengisa malini licake kanje. But the main point here was as Mahatma Gandhi once said Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. To err is human and to forgive is divine. Throughout his political career he preached the simple gospel of non-tribalism, racial mix, equal opportunities and equal distribution of land among the whites and the dispossessed blacks.

THOSE who come second in African politics are not often remembered but not Mqabuko. Being vice-president of the country was largely a ceremonial role. But no one disputed his title, "father of Zimbabwe". He had many admirers up to his death. After listening to the rendition of Mqabukos praises, even the late Mr Simon Muzenda himself approached the Imbongi Albert Nyathi and said, Ndeni wo ndikafa nditire wo Nyongoro Nyongoro yangu. Ndingafara chaizo.

Joshua Nkomo's route to fatherhood involved many years of harassment and imprisonment before Rhodesia's whites yielded their hold on the country in 1980 and Zimbabwe was born. But born to some and not to some. To conclude I would like to say to you all especially people in the Diaspora. Change is coming. Be part of it. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean and a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.

Thank you so much God Bless You

Source - Titshabona Ncube
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