This story appeared in The Patriot of January 18 2017.
“PEACE begins with me, peace begins with you; peace begins with all of us.”
As the nation commemorates the fourth anniversary of the passing on of Zimbabwe’s late Vice-President, John Landa Nkomo, the words above still reverberate in the country’s renowned peaceful atmosphere.
His whole life was dedicated to peace, unity and development.
Zimbabwe is still fulfilling VP Nkomo’s dream of a peaceful nation.
Born on August 22 1934 in Tsholotsho District, Cde Nkomo dedicated his life towards the independence of Zimbabwe.
He was the eldest son of Lufele and Macichi Nkomo in a family of four girls and five boys.
Cde Nkomo’s great-grandfather, Mbowane, is believed to be one of the custodians of the great King Mzilikazi.
The late VP went to Manqe School where he did his Standard One and Two, then to St Nanians School for Standard Three and Four.
Cde Nkomo then proceeded to Solusi Mission to finish Standard Five and Six.
In 1955, he attained a Junior Certificate in education in Bulawayo while simultaneously working as a shop assistant for a clothing shop.
He then trained as a teacher in 1958, the year he also joined African National Congress (ANC).
It was in those days Cde Nkomo started to realise massive racism that compromised the existence of black communities.
While strategic jobs in law and engineering was channelled towards the white elite, low income and jobs, like teaching, were more available for the black elite.
Cde Nkomo also realised that Rhodesian education was biased against the blacks around his community.
As a young boy, he witnessed the Nyamandhlovu community land being taken by settlers and its people being moved to infertile lands.
The people were forcibly relocated to Tshlolotsho land, which was toxic and infertile to both human and animals.
His father, Lufele, had to borrow San people adaptive skills to manage the situation.
As a newly qualified young teacher at Tshitatshava School in Tsholotsho, Cde Nkomo’s stay there was short-lived as he conflicted with missionaries over the skewed education system.
He then moved to Nkulumane Primary School in Mpopoma, Bulawayo, where he joined the African Teachers Association.
In 1963, he became secretary-general of Bulawayo Residents Association (BURA).
He wanted to stand for the black residents in and around Bulawayo.
He had begun his ambition to liberate Africans from a micro-scale; the macro-scale was colossal indeed.
Cde Nkomo had already joined the African National Congress between 1958 and 1959.
When the ANC was banned, he joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960 and then joined Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) in 1961.
When he joined ZAPU, Cde Nkomo became a subject of abuse by Smith’s Rhodesian regime.
And like any other nationalist advocating blacks’ rights in Rhodesia, Nkomo was on several occasions detained and arrested, and was one time detained at Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp.
In 1965, he was sent to Khami Prison after he was involved in a dispute with the native commissioner for Tsholotsho.
In 1971, he joined the newly re-established ANC (African National Council) where he was appointed Secretary for Education, before becoming Deputy Secretary-General in 1973.
The veteran nationalist was involved in the formation of the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe which incorporated all parties against the Rhodesian system.
Comrade Nkomo acted as ZAPU’s Secretary for Administration in 1975 at the party’s headquarters in 1975, a post he held until 1985 after independence.
In 1977, Cde Nkomo survived a parcel bomb that claimed the life of Cde Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo.
After independence, Cde Nkomo held different Ministerial posts beginning from 1980 to 1982 as the Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy followed by a stint as Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office from 1982 to 1984.
Soon, he became instrumental in negotiations between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU, two parties which subsequently united and formed ZANU PF in 1987.
The late VP was elected to serve in ZANU’s Central Committee and Politburo from 1988 to 1999.
Also, from 1988 to 1995, Cde Nkomo worked as Minister of Labour, Manpower and Social Welfare and from 1995 to 1997 he worked as Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Planning.
The Ministry, under him, was restructured to the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing until 1999.
In December 1999, he was elected ZANU PF National Chairman for a period of five years.
In 2004, he was also re-elected to serve another five years
From 2000 to 2002, he became the Minister of Home Affairs and from 2002 to 2005, he became Minister of Special Affairs in the Office of the President.
He was then elected Speaker of Parliament from 2005 to 2008.
In 2009, he became Minister of State in the Office of the President and Cabinet responsible for reconciliation and national healing.
In December 2009, he was elected Vice-President after the death of Cde Joseph Msika.
He held this position until January 17 2013, the time of his death.
It’s worth noting that while he was busy with all these posts, Cde Nkomo did not tire of working for the general community.
He built John Landa Nkomo School in Tsholotsho, a school which still caters for the marginalised.
Cde Nkomo will forever be remembered as the peacemaker.