Sport unifies the masses

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UNITY remains priceless for Zimbabweans. 

With unity, the country has gone thus far.

Sport has played a crucial role in unifying the masses.

This year marks 33 years of the signing of the historic Unity Accord and the sports fraternity continues to enjoy it.

Zimbabwe is privileged to have come out of the war and enjoy the priceless unity and peace.

The option for unity on December 22 1987, by leaders of two political parties, the late Joshua Nkomo of PF ZAPU and Robert Mugabe of ZANU was a milestone in Zimbabwean history.

After years of insurgency fuelled by some elements against majority rule, the new nation found itself in a near civil war drawn along tribal lines.

Due to the political acumen of Vice-President Nkomo and President Mugabe, the Unity Accord was signed, bringing the conflicting parties together.

The tribal lines present on the politics of the day spilled to the football pitch where teams were identified by regions.

Before the Unity Accord, VP Nkomo, in 1975, after coming from prison, urged Highlanders to drop the name Matabeleland Highlanders.

The change was also made to Mashonaland United which became Zimbabwe Saints.

Prior to the changing of team names, fans who supported Highlanders were either Ndebele or Ndebele-speaking while those supporting Zimbabwe Saints were Shona.

Before or after a match pitting the two, violent clashes spilled into the streets of Bulawayo.

The dropping of the names that denoted tribes for the two Bulawayo soccer giants was a welcome move towards unity.

Sport is a unifier.

It brings people of different colour, race, tribe or creed together.

In Zimbabwe, it will be sad to have divisions in sport yet the politicians managed to bury the hatchet and signed the Unity Accord. 

Since the turn of the millennium, a number of players have crossed the floor from Dynamos to Highlanders or vice-versa. 

Mthulisi Maphosa, Roderick Mutuma and Makwinji Soma-Phiri are some of the players who have played for both teams. 

Jacob Muzokomba, Stephen Alimenda, Takunda Sadiki, Marshal Machazani and Valentine Ndaba have donned jerseys for both sides.

The matches between Highlanders and Dynamos have always been tense. 

They have been high stakes matches, but all in name of the beauty of the game and competition, nothing more.

In the famous soccer nation team of the 1990s, the Dream Team, the bulk of players came from Highlanders, but people were not bothered about it.

Zimbabweans rallied behind the team, celebrating its success which was a source of pride for the country.

In cricket, the colour bar used to play a major role in who made it into the team, but that has since stopped.

Today the team selection is now based on merit not colour or tribe.

As a unified nation, it is imperative that people from all corners of the country view sport without any tribal lenses. 

Let the spirit of togetherness prevail in sport and Zimbabwe at large.

Happy Unity Day!

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