HARARE, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Atop a hill about six km south of downtown Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, lies a revered shrine where Zimbabwe’s departed heroes are laid to rest.
Every second Monday of August, Zimbabweans gather at the shrine overlooking Harare to pay tribute to liberation war fighters who took up arms and fought colonialism to deliver the country from the shackles of British colonial rule. The day comes as a reminder to Zimbabweans, particularly young people, that the freedom they enjoy today in an independent Zimbabwe came at a cost, therefore, should be cherished.
This year’s Heroes Day celebrations, held Monday, also witnessed the burial of two national heroes, Johannes Tomana, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Milton Siziba, a retired Brigadier General. Tomana died on Aug. 6 at the age of 55, while Siziba died on Aug. 1 at the age of 71.
As per tradition, thousands of Zimbabweans, some clad in national colours, converged at the summit of the hill to mark the important day at an event that was addressed by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and attended by senior government and security officials.
In his national address, Mnangagwa reiterated that the freedom that Zimbabwe enjoys today did not come on a silver platter, but rather was attained through bloodshed. “The heroes and heroines we are honoring today played their part and left us a legacy of resilience and unflinching patriotism to save and protect our motherland,” Mnangagwa remarked.
“After waging a protracted war for 16 years until independence and freedom and democracy, we the current generation shall defend our democracy, our independence, our sovereignty with our blood.”
He said despite sanctions imposed on the country by Western nations, an independent Zimbabwe continues to record notable achievements, including food security.
“Twenty-three years after ruinous sanctions imposed on our country, we will continue to defy all odds as we are transforming our infrastructure as well as industrializing and modernizing our country, in spite of these sanctions imposed by the West,” said Mnangagwa.
In addition, he said in the spirit of preserving the gains of the liberation struggle, Zimbabweans should maintain peace and harmony as the country heads for the general election on Aug. 23. Youth who spoke to Xinhua after the commemoration event said Heroes Day is a reminder to young people to cherish national freedom and the tranquil environment that persists today.
“Heroes Day reminds us of the heroes who died for us so that we can attain political freedom by participating in the liberation struggle so that we can enjoy freedom in a free Zimbabwe,” said Abigail Muteremuka.
Isaac Dzenga, another youth attendee, shared her sentiments.
“Heroes Day is an important day for us as a youth when we remember our forefathers who fought for this country — the dead and living.” Brenda Magriva, a young woman who also attended the commemorations, said those who sacrificed their lives so that Zimbabwe could be free should be honored.
“We are grateful that liberation war fighters fought for us. We are now living in an independent Zimbabwe due to their sacrifices,” she said.
Zimbabwe attained its independence in 1980 after a long and arduous war of liberation, which resulted in tens of thousands of people losing their lives.