A STANDOUT embodiment of what patriotism is, is none other than Mbuya Nehanda – that iconic heroine of the First Cimurenga, whose statue was unveiled by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the country’s capital Harare on Africa Day, May 25 2021.
Patriotism can be described as unflinching passionate love and attachment to one’s country.
This love, devotion and attachment remain constant, even when the country is going through difficult times.
There are cases when one might be tempted to forsake one’s country after being attracted by transient benefits offered by foreign powers.
We have an example here of Mbuya Nehanda who never succumbed to the whims of colonialists despite the murders and atrocities by the heartless colonialists.
Even at the point of her death, as she was facing the hangman’s noose, when she was persuaded to be baptised in order for her to be well received by the God of the colonialists in Heaven, she stood firm.
Instead, the defiant patriot boldly predicted: “My bones shall rise!”
To Mbuya Nehanda, love of her country was supreme and her unwavering patriotism would be moved neither by coercion nor persuasion.
Thus Mbuya Nehanda was prepared to pay the supreme sacrifice in her bid to save her country from colonial hegemony.
She was not like some modern day traitors among us, who, in their desperate bid to fix ZANU PF, are not ashamed to beg for sanctions against their own country by our former colonisers.
They fail to distinguish that ZANU PF and Zimbabwe are two different things.
Patriotism cannot be taught, but can be instilled in citizens by making them proud of what is unique to their country, right from childhood.
Like the process of osmosis, this can be absorbed as the child grows.
If love of those shared exclusive attributes develops among its citizens, the result will eventually lead to patriotism and unity.
A common tool of instilling some of these common attributes is through the National Anthem.
Ours highlights attributes that are exclusive to Zimbabwe; be they natural resources, physical features or historical landmarks.
The anthem has to be repeated often, at morning assembly in schools and at public gatherings.
The lyrics must be grasped right from childhood as they make one eventually feel proud to be Zimbabwean.
The significance of the national flag is highlighted by being in the first line of the National Anthem.
People often show how much they love their countries at group sports through their anthems and flags.
Schools can also instill patriotism by teaching about the national heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives to free the country from the colonial bondage.
The pledge by the President to erect monuments depicting our liberation struggle throughout the country goes a long way in instilling patriotism.
Right from childhood, people must be proud of their shared culture.
We know colonialism denigrated our culture as primitive.
But once it is given its rightful place among us, there is no reason we should not love our culture and ourselves.
Officially launching Culture Week commemorations in Gokwe recently, President Mnangagwa emphasised the importance of people knowing who they are through culture.
As people share similar attributes peculiar to their country, this does not only promote patriotism, but also unity.
This is the unity and patriotism that was witnessed when the bones of Mbuya Nehanda ‘rose’.
There are many attributes Africa shares as a continent.
Conscious acknowledgement of these will lead to continental unity driven by patriotism.
This is the surest way the scourge of neo-colonialism can be neutered in Africa’s endeavour to be united in the continent’s bid to achieve Agenda 2063.