AS Zimbabweans commemorate Heroes Day on Monday, the occasion which is held annually to remember its national heroes and heroines who selflessly contributed their lives, limbs or properties for the liberation of the country, it should also be a time to reflect on the plight of living heroes and heroines and honour them rather than wait to pay tribute to them when they are no more.
Heroes and heroines are men and women, boys and girls admired for their courage or outstanding achievements, some of which may be scientific, educational or cultural.
Every year in August Zimbabweans have a national and moral duty to remember and commemorate the lives of those people who sacrificed their precious lives and blood for the sake of our security, freedom, peace and prosperity.
Ceremonies will be held in all 10 provinces of the country with the main event slated for the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare where President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to preside.
It is our responsibility as Zimbabweans to continuously pay our tribute to these cadres whose blood was shed during the liberation struggle.
In short, every single one of us owes our fallen and living heroes and heroines a profound debt of gratitude. Heroes Day should also be a time for introspection.
We should however, give the living heroes and heroines their flowers while they can still smell them.
“Give me my flowers while I’m still living,” should apparently be this year’s Heroes Day commemorations’ theme supposedly meant to remind Zimbabweans to abandon their habit of celebrating a person once he or she is dead.
This is because upon their demise heroes and heroines tend to receive more praises and flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.
Although, learning to express gratitude hasn’t been easy for many opinion leaders, the gesture by First Lady, Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa, when she recently visited war veterans in Bulawayo, David Mongwa “Sharpshoot” Moyo, Aaron Ndlovu and Jane Ngwenya is commendable.
Amai Mnangagwa donated blankets and food to the three war veterans, who were pioneer guerrilla fighters during the liberation struggle.
Expressing his gratitude to the First Lady Moyo said it was just a sign of how Amai Mnangagwa was committed to the welfare of those who risked their lives to save others over the course of the country’s armed struggle.
“I’m proud to be honoured by the First Lady Amai Mnangagwa and it is rare for people of higher offices to recognise and visit those who played a pivotal role in helping the nation gain independence in 1980.
“It’s high time the Government should also honour the living heroes and heroines as they gave it all for the country’s freedom and some of us are now living with disabilities today because of our love for the country,” said Moyo.
He said it was unfortunate that some of his fellow comrades had died without being honoured.
Amai Mnangagwa also visited former President Canaan Banana’s widow, Janet and the late national hero, Dumiso Dabengwa’s widow, Zodwa.
She visited Banana to thank her for the good work she did while she was still the First Lady.
“I’m happy that I’ve visited the former First Lady today. To me she’s a mother. I used to follow her work during the time she was First Lady. I was young at the time and I admired the way she carried herself and conducted her duties as First Lady.
“She was a humble, quiet and loving woman who had so much respect for people. People admired her. I cherish the guidance she gave to the people of Zimbabwe and I pray to God to keep her healthy,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
It is also important to note that Moyo, Ndlovu and Ncube’s plights are a textbook case of some of the “unsung” heroes and heroines who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to give us freedom and thus need or deserved to be honoured while they are still alive.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also on record saying Government is committed to ensuring war veterans enjoy a life of dignity with appropriate provisions befitting their status.
Speaking during a meeting for provincial chairpersons for Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association (ZNWVA) in Harare recently, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs, Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri said Government was aware of the plight of war veterans.
She said the socio-economic empowerment of veterans of liberation was key among other Government programmes to foster economic development aimed at improving their welfare.
“We are looking forward to having a bank for the veterans of war and to establish district offices for them where we have to recruit 68 district officers,” she said.
Recognition should also be accorded to young women, called chimbwidos who also played a pivotal role cooking for the guerrillas during the country’s armed struggle.
Heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle also include a number of traditional leaders from whom our struggle drew support and moral guidance hence they should be also honoured while they are still alive.