Have we forgotten our heroes?

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ONCE we realise our Independence Day, April 18, is not an isolated event, then we should value April 28 as one of the most important dates in the process towards attaining that independence.

April 28 1966 is the day our Second Chimurenga, which meant matching our colonisers bullet-for-bullet, was formally launched.

This is the day when seven brave young men resisted enemy air and ground power for a whole day.

The now famous Battle of Chinhoyi only ended when our gallant fighters ran out of ammunition.

Today we recognise comrades Simon Chingosha Nyandoro, Christopher Chatambudza, Godwin Dube, Godfrey Manyerenyere, Chubby Savanhu, David Guzuzu and Arthur Maramba not only as martyrs, but also as our national heroes.

But regrettably, this day is not marked on our calendars.

It is a day with both spiritual and political significance in our liberation struggle. 

When they murdered Mbuya Nehanda, her prediction that ‘her bones would rise’ must have been dismissed as a crazy declaration by the colonialists.

This was until April 28 1966.

It is befitting that Mbuya Nehanda died on April 27, although much earlier than 1966.

The gun battle which involved Rhodesian jet fighters and helicopters against modestly armed seven young men was the literal translation of Mbuya Nehanda’s prediction.

The main thrust of ZANU, when it was formed in 1963, was to engage the enemy in an armed struggle.

White settlers were used to holding constitutional talks with Britain, with blacks playing only a peripheral role.

It is such constitutional summits which resulted in the racial Constitution of 1961 that gave Africans 15 seats in an Assembly of 75 members.

This condescending attitude towards blacks emboldened Ian Smith to declare unilateral independence in 1965 with a Constitution that entrenched white supremacy.

After all, why would the whites fear resistance from blacks whose only potent weapon were stones? 

But then ZANU showed the colonialists that things had drastically changed on April 28 1966.

The Battle of Chinhoyi demonstrated to the enemy that ZANU meant what it said about facing the enemy on an equal footing.

Surely, these seven who launched the Second Chimurenga after Mbuya Nehanda and ZANU pronouncements deserve special tribute.

We are not trying to downplay the sacrifices by other freedom fighters who perished on the battlefront.

All we are doing is to give the Chinhoyi Seven credit for their pioneer role on April 28 1966.

Of course this was at a price.

We, the living beneficiaries of independence should not take things for granted and let April 28 just pass like any other ordinary day.

We have a holiday to recognise the death of Jesus Christ every year.

What more with the seven Battle of Chinhoyi heroes whose homes we can identify and who died for a common cause with us.

Are we doing enough to give this day, April 28, the special significance it deserves?

We are afraid we don’t think so.

For a start, we expect to see monuments with statues of these gallant sons across the country.

A plaque with their names inscribed on it at their burial site is not enough.

How much, and at what level, is the history of the Chinhoyi Battle recounted in schools?

However, there have been attempts to highlight  this battle, which we appreciate.

We recognise contributions by Father Emmauel Ribeiro who wrote a book on the seven Chinhoyi patriots.

Father Ribeiro is the same man who played a key role in saving President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the gallows when he was sentenced to death for bombing a train at the then Fort Victoria railway station.

Chinhoyi 7, a film written and directed by renowned film writer Moses Matanda is another such attempt.

But above all, why can’t we immortalise April 28 by declaring it a public holiday?

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