NYANGA is a beautiful place.
The late ZANU Chairman Herbert Chitepo was born there on June 15 1923.
He rose from the East to become one of the country’s finest figures – finest in defending his motherland, and finest in advocating the emancipation of black people.
He was assassinated in Lusaka, Zambia, on March 18 1975 and the liberation struggle was plunged into turmoil, but that is a story for another day.
It was tragic because, somehow, Chairman Chitepo had become the face of the liberation war.
That is why it is not surprising that, after his assassination, scores of youths flocked to neighbouring countries like Mozambique and Zambia to join the liberation war.
The death of Chairman Chitepo inspired many youths to fight for Zimbabwe.
Unshackling it from colonial bondage was the only way to honour him because, from the onset, he led from the front.
His famous speech when he went to Australia in 1973 to drum up support and funding for ZANU is quite revealing.
Below is an abridged version:
“I come from Zimbabwe.
This small territory of some 150 000 square miles, set in central Africa, landlocked and occupied by a small white minority of some
230 000 is known by the name of Rhodesia.
We, the Africans, do not like it to be called Rhodesia.
Rhodesia is the name that was given to it following the ‘occupation’ of our land by troops commanded by a man known as Cecil John Rhodes in 1890.
The country was named after him.
Cecil John Rhodes was probably the richest and the most ambitious of all empire builders known to British imperial history.
The establishment of the country by the white people was really as a commercial enterprise.
The company that established it was known as the British South Africa Company, whose chairman was Cecil Rhodes.
Its purpose was to exploit the mineral, the land and animal resources of our territory.
And the history of Zimbabwe by the white settlers ever since, has been to exploit, not only the natural resources of the country, but the people.
In fact, the people were looked upon as an exploitable natural resource.
Those of you who read history might have read a description given by Arnold Toynbee on the definition of the word ‘native’.
I am called a ‘native’ by white people in Zimbabwe.
Toynbee says: ‘When we, Europeans, call people natives, we take away anything from them; anything that suggests that they are human beings.
They are to us like the forest which the Western man fells down. Or, the big game that he shoots down.
They have no tenure of land.
Their tenure of land is as precarious as that of the animals that they find.
What shall we, the lords of creation, the white people, do with the natives we find?
Shall we treat them as vermin to be exterminated or shall we treat them as hewers of wood and drawers of water?
There is no other alternative’.”
Such was Chairman Chitepo – a man whose acumen was unmatched.
We must, as a country, continue to celebrate this selfless cadre.
Yes, we have named streets and institutions in his honour, but can we not go further?
A towering statue of Chairman Chitepo would be in order.
We have Mbuya Nehanda’s statue in Harare.
We have Cde Joshua Nkomo’s in Bulawayo.
Isn’t it appropriate for us to have Chairman Chitepo’s statue in Manicaland, preferably in Nyanga?
He was a man who must never be forgotten – the first black citizen in Rhodesia to become a barrister.