War veterans are also people

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SOMETIMES I ponder on experiences of Zimbabwe’s former liberation war fi ghters and fi nd myself in tears. Yes, tears of sorrow, because they sacrificed and selflessly dedicated themselves for the sake of Zimbabwe and again tears of joy because it was their devotion to the liberation struggle that led to the black majority attaining independence in the country. I was born in 1984 in Rushinga district, Mashonaland Central in the north-eastern corner of Zimbabwe, a predominantly rural settlement which best resembles graphic scenes in Charles Mungoshi’s “Waiting for the Rain” blockbuster. I was born second in a humble family comprising two boys and two girls. My father, Fletcher General, is a former liberation fi ghter and currently serves in the Zimbabwe National Army. In spite of his military background, I admire him for promoting unity, love and harmony in our family and from the onset, he was a man of superlatives wishing the best out of his children. As we grew up, his insurmountable desire was to ensure that we were all educated and become responsible citizens. I still admire his principled vision for the family and the nation at large as he often says, “Consider yourself rich when you know you are at peace with your conscience and bringing harmony and pride to the family.” He loathes corruption and other societal vices. Wealth acquired at the expense of the poor or disadvantaged, he says, was tantamount to soliciting for a curse in the family. Since our childhood, he shared with us his war experiences and the basic principles behind the liberation struggle. I am usually touched most by the hardships he endured during the war. This, he said, was to ensure that every Zimbabwean regardless of social, political or religious inclination had access to human rights, dignity and the freedom that exists to date. I dimly recall long back when I used to engage in minor skirmishes and scuffl es with my young brother, Stewart. My father would give us a slap each, quite enough for us to see a night star in the middle of a sunshine day, in reprimand hence fi ghting and violence have no place in my heart. Many years have elapsed, but I still stand by my father’s teachings. This knowledge spruced my tender faculty and most importantly collectively nurtured my worldview to date. With mother having passed on in 2002, my father swiftly fi lled the void, offering motherly support which made me what I am today. He made it a priority that I continue with my studies and with his unwavering support, I graduated at the Midlands State University with an Honours Degree in Media and Society Studies in 2009. My elder sister, Edith, is a qualifi ed secondary school teacher in Bindura. My young brother is in his fi nal year pursuing a Law Degree in South Africa and my little sister in 6th form. It is against this background that I possess high respect for my father who, nonetheless, is recuperating from war-related ailments arising from torture and other appalling conditions they were exposed to during the war. As a war veteran’s child, I sometimes remember children born at the height of the liberation struggle living daily in warravaged zones of Chimoio, Nyadzonya and other liberation war camps in neighbouring countries including Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana. They endured life in the most diffi cult circumstances and sadly witnessed their parents selfl essly dedicate their lives for the betterment of the black majority. It is unfortunate that much antagonism and bad mouthing has been levelled against the war veterans, being described as ‘unruly and rogue’ among other degrading words. Through a hired Western sanctioned voice, efforts and sacrifi ces made by Zimbabwe’s former freedom fi ghters and the true Zimbabwean history have been distorted by the country’s detractors with selfi sh agendas. It is, however, refreshing to observe that due to their commitment and dedication to service, war veterans in the country like in other countries were incorporated in the running of the country’s affairs. This is not a new phenomenon, but is common the world over especially in developed countries where national interest and patriotism supercede other things. Former United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell is actually a war veteran. It is signifi – cant for the world to understand that people like my father are actually peace-loving people, especially after their experiences during the war. Zimbabweans, whether war veterans or not, are peace loving and should be given an opportunity to map and defi ne their own destiny and build on the foundation of their history while establishing a heritage for future generations. I am proud of my father and liberator, Fletcher General.

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