By Natasha Mwandiyambira
A STRONG proponent of unity, peace and empowerment of blacks, who unequivocally emphasised that Zimbabwe’s natural resources should benefit the indigenous majority, best describes the late Father Zimbabwe who died on July 1 1999.
Born on June 19 1917 at St Josephs, Kezi, Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo went on to serve as Vice-President of Zimbabwe from 1987 to 1999.
He was a trade unionist who became president of the banned National Democratic Party and was jailed for 10 years by Rhodesia’s white minority government.
After his release, he became the leader and founder of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) party.
“The country will never die, the young people will save it,” he would say.
Cde Nkomo’s life of struggle and legacy embodied the finest of the liberation tradition characterised by deep love for the oppressed, formulation of trans-ethnic nationalism and imagination of a liberated and united as well as prosperous Zimbabwe.
The late Father Zimbabwe left a legacy that continues to guide the nation in this modern day where neo-colonialism continues to tear the continent apart.
A national heritage that transcends political, social and economic spheres, the name Joshua Nkomo is synonymous with various aspects of Zimbabwean life that range from the now irreversible Land Reform Programme and the empowerment of youths to symbolise the spirit of ubuntu/hunhu.
As the nation commemorates 20 years since the passing on of Father Zimbabwe, The Patriot joins hands with the nation in celebrating the milestone achievements the country gained through his visionary approach to the struggle.
Although the fiery nationalist never lived to enjoy the fruits of independence like millions of people in the Southern African nation, he accomplished his promise that Zimbabwe will be free.
He was a proponent of unity, hence the signing of the Unity Accord between the two former liberation movements PF ZAPU and ZANU PF in December 1987.
He loved humanity and was a man of purpose, principle, perseverance, charisma and prayer.
Celebrating the life of the late national hero, ‘Chimbwechitedza’, as he was affectionately known, serves to remind that all political freedom in Zimbabwe was a result of a long protracted struggle for independence.
Also affectionately known as ‘Umdala Wethu’, Dr Nkomo was a champion of black empowerment.
He committed himself to leading the struggle so as to bring political, social and economic freedom.
No doubt he was passionate about equitable distribution of resources.
“I want thousands of youths to join in tilling the land so that we can turn this country into a garden,” he said.
“Those who are looking for jobs in factories in town are looking in the wrong places.”
The legacy of a democratic country, whereby human rights and human dignity are respected lives on.
Dr Nkomo was indeed a fountain of wisdom, a man of the people and indeed a great son of the soil.
The life and times of the late Dr Nkomo are a story that can never be exhausted on a single instalment.
So therefore, let us commemorate the life, the lessons and the philosophy set forth by Father Zimbabwe.
The struggle continues!