Zimbabwe’s Independence Day is still significant and worth celebrating despite a cocktail of challenges bedevilling the Southern African nation, Bulawayo residents have said.
On Saturday Zimbabwe marks 40 years since the country attained its independence from British colonial rule.
For the first time in history, Zimbabweans will commemorate the day indoors owing to the 21-day national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed many lives globally.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to address the nation on Saturday, where he is also expected to give an update on the fight against COVID-19.
CITE this week reached out to a number of Bulawayo residents who expressed their views on the historic day.
Nhlalwenhle Ngwenya said independence remained significant to him.
“Attaining independence was the best thing for Zimbabweans; it meant we could now be pioneers of our future,” said Ngwenya, a born free.
“However, that hasn’t worked as far as we want. As a young parent I am not happy with current outcome, I am actual not certain about the future for my son.”
“Independence Day will always be significant, no matter what,” said Methuseli Moyo.
“It is like the day the country was born or delivered from colonialism and racialism.”
He said an independent Zimbabwe would always be better than the colonial one despite challenges.
“A free Zimbabwe is by any definition better than a colonised Zimbabwe,” said Moyo. “Admittedly things have gone wrong, but the state of colonialism and racialism can never be better. I think people who say Smith was better will simply be trying to express their dismay over state of affairs.”
Khanyile Mlotshwa said the Independence Day was part of a long history that makes him a Zimbabwean.
“It is therefore very important,” he emphasized.
“Even though the liberation struggle may have been characterized by struggles within the struggles, ultimately it represents the triumph of that collective spirit of the people of Zimbabwe that goes back to Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo and the Prophetess Nehanda’s leadership of Umvukela.”
He added notwithstanding current hardships endured by Zimbabweans the day remained very significant for him.
“As an African and a black person, present day Zimbabwe’s challenges under conditions of global colonialism are far much better than Rhodesia’s apartheid,” he said.
“However, the challenges of Zimbabwe must be addressed without the excuse that it is better than Rhodesia. We have to commit to make freedom meaningful. We have to work hard to imagine a better future, as a collective, and as equals. I cannot overemphasize respect for each other, especially across ethnic and regionalised groupings.”
Mhlangabezi Ndlovu, said the day which coincides with his birthday, was very important to him.
“To me this day is so special and significant because it’s also my birthday,” he told CITE.
“I was born at a time when my parents like every Zimbabwean at that time were celebrating the new dawn and the new era. My father was one of the people chosen from his province to go to Rufaro stadium in Harare for the celebrations but unfortunately he could not make it as I was born that very day.”
He added: “I was given the name (Mhlangabezi) which literally means: “One who welcomes” as my parents believed I welcomed a new era in the nation.”
He however said it was regrettable that independence had not ushered Zimbabwe into the promised land.
“I grew up like every Zimbabwean hopeful that our leaders will steer us to the proverbial Promised Land,” he explained.
“I remember my brother in 1990 leaving the country to our neighbouring country declaring that this country (Zimbabwe) will never match up with his dreams. I thought wow, how can someone leave his country of birth and go to a foreign land, little did I know that 10 years later I will be fighting the same temptation to leave the same beloved place of birth.”
Ndlovu said owing to economic hardships many Zimbabweans had fled their ‘independent’ country to find refuge elsewhere.
“I am one of the very few people from my generation that remained in this country,” he said.
“I have V11s (evidence) of the thousands of people especially from this region who literally ran away from this country and are living as refugees in other countries. Some are professionals doing menial jobs in foreign lands .With this I can tell you Zimbabwe is not what our fathers anticipated and it is not what we envisaged as young people.”
Sipho Nyoni, another Bulawayo, resident said the significance of the independence should not be undermined because of what is obtaining in Zimbabwe today.
“As a Zimbabwean, Independence Day is very significant because this is the day when we commemorate our being free from colonial oppression,” he said.
“This is the day when Zimbabwe’s black majority celebrates majority rule and freedom from colonial oppression. No race was created by God to be subservient to another, so the fact that as black people we can now have self-determination and chart our very own path is worthy of celebration indeed. It’s a day when we celebrate our freedom from a cruel oppressor who for years denied us our rights and is in so many ways even still responsible for the very predicament we find ourselves in.”
He said despite born on the eve of independence, he had enough evidence that economically, socially and politically there has been erosion of the peoples way of life, values, societal norms and others.
“The reality is that we inherited good functional systems, schools, hospitals, road infrastructure, industries and productive farms but we have been very instrumental in aiding and abetting their destruction through our self-destructive policies which sometimes sound and look as if they were handed down from hell,” he said.
“So I wouldn’t exactly say modern day Zimbabwe is better than the Smith era, we just got political independence but there’s little next to nothing.”