Our leaders never die


A MISTAKEN belief by settler-regimes was that Africans would either be discouraged or stopped from resisting colonial rule by killing their leaders.
Neither of the two happened.
Tomorrow, March 18 is the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Cde Herbert Chitepo by a car bomb in Lusaka.
Cde Chitepo is among a host of other nationalist leaders who were murdered by the colonial regime in order to cow Africans into submission.
Failure to do so was total as shown by the ferocity of the armed struggle following the death of Cde Chitepo.
The callous killing of other nationalists like Mbuya Nehanda, Chief Chingaira, whose head was chopped off, and Edson Sithole, who was kidnapped from a hotel, are further examples of how heartless the colonial regimes was in Rhodesia.
But as we celebrate Cde Chitepo’s 42nd anniversary, we are reminded of the resilience of the oppressed black majority in their determination to be in sovereign charge of their country.
The murder of Cde Chitepo was at a time the liberation war had jolted the colonialists into realising the determination of the indigenes to end white minority rule.
Cde Chitepo was seen by our colonisers as a brave leader who was determined to get the country through the barrel of a gun.
So he had to be eliminated.
Minus Cde Chitepo, fear might force surviving leaders to accept détente, a plan meant to paralyse liberation forces by hoodwinking them into accepting a ceasefire while the battered Rhodesian forces restategised.
Thus, the assassination of Cde Chitepo was carefully crafted to cause confusion in the Zambian Government.
The attempt to decimate ZANU by arresting its High Command, accusing them of murdering their leader, was exactly what the colonialists wanted.
But the tidal wave of the liberation struggle was so powerful that, with or without Cde Chitepo, it could not be contained.
The eventual release of the ZANLA High Command after the collapse of the stage managed arrests saw the liberation movement quickly regrouping.
And what with the Mgagao Declaration!
This is the document which paved the way for Cde Robert Mugabe to be confirmed ZANU leader at a special congress in Chimoio in 1977.
With a leadership not only as determined as that of Cde Chitepo, but also that of Mbuya Nehanda, the fall of the settler-regime was inevitable.
As we celebrate Cde Chitepo’s 42nd anniversary, we are reminded of his speech in Australia about the sanctity of our land.
This speech echoed the clarion demand by our nationalist leaders for colonial regimes to leave us in charge of our land.
This includes everything below and above it.
The Land Reform Programme should therefore have made King Lobengula, Mapondera, Chinengundu and all those who perished at the hands of white minority regimes smile in their graves.
They remain our eternal heroes
Cde Chitepo was able to see through the chicanery shrouding détente.
He rejected it outright.
But this meant continuation of the war with the resultant suffering and the disappointing of Frontline leader Kenneth Kaunda.
However, like the rest of our nationalist leaders, the tortured, the dead and the living, capitulation was no option.
This has become part of our ethos.
That is why, despite co-ordinated illegal sanctions, Zimbabweans have soldiered on.
That is why resilience is writ large as an integral part of the national character.
Thus, despite plots and assassinations, the spirit of our heroes lives on.


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