EDITOR – THANK you for the way The Patriot covered the death of Peter Manyani aka Cde Pascal Takawira last week.
You may not realise the full significance of the four pages which you dedicated to his life-long achievements which were all about the liberation of our country! What you did with depth and feeling and in a humble way too was to historicise his outstanding national contribution which could have been easily lost to future generations!
My understanding is that something unprecedented happened when two provinces, Mashonaland Central and Harare, requested that Manyani be declared a national hero!
Normally such requests come from one province, but the fact that two did so speaks volumes about the kind of man that he was!
Equally surprising is that Manyani ended up being buried at his ancestral home in Chihota!
As far as I am concerned, we should learn lessons from Manyani’s death and do something practical to ensure that our heroes are recognised in time and preferably while still alive rather than waiting for them to die first.
Some of our heroes are rich, some are poor, some are vocal and therefore well known to the public.
Some, like Manyani, are humble and quiet!
There are many facets which go on to define a hero, including loyalty to the liberation cause, consistency and persistence in addressing its demands as well as the scope of one’s involvement in it!
Manyani was all these, but a quiet backroom visionary whose life-long activities became the very brick and mortar which went on to build the giant stone-house that we call Zimbabwe today!
One practical way of addressing the plight of our heroes, especially quiet ones is to gather a lot of data in regard to who is who in the liberation struggle-the kind of data which could provide basic but crucial information on specific roles played by individuals during the struggle.
A detailed and reliable data bank against which authorities can cross-check information whenever requests for hero-status are submitted is a must!
We should not wait for complicated and impressive research projects which will take years and a lot of money to accomplish.
We need simple narratives on digital tapes, simple lists on who was where and when and in which group and for how long!
In time this information will become wealth of the whole nation, both in material and spiritual terms and provide the stuff from which the national imagination will be defined!
I shudder to think what will happen when decisions about who is to be accorded hero status or not are taken by people who never participated in the liberation struggle itself– people who may be well meaning but ignorant of what transpired!
The only antidote to possible monumental blunders which may occur is information, information, information about our liberation struggle.