He has also confirmed what we have always known; being that national heroism is not a matter for a few partisan and vindictive men and women to decide, but for the generality of Zimbabweans.
If Edgar Zivanai Tekere had not been officially declared a national hero by the coterie that has unilaterally assumed a role that should in essence belong to the nation, in our hearts, he would still have been our national hero. That’s one gift we have as a nation; the ability to recall who we are, where we are coming from and where we are going.
When Ndabaningi Sithole and Hamadziripi passed on, somebody misinformed the nation that the nationalist and the gallant fighter could not be buried at the national shrine because “they had differed with the party in a big way” Today, we ask “didn’t Tekere do the same?” Clearly, somebody is either playing double-standards or is a victim of gross selective memory.
Consistency and persistency epitomise Tekere for which he shall always be remembered even though some in ZANU PF may think otherwise. It is Two Boy who fiercely opposed one of the most retrogressive, dangerous and undemocratic projects called one party state. It was him who once said “at one time I thought the Leadership Code was in a critical condition, but actually it is now dead, in the mortuary”.
This was before most of the blind followers realised that corruption was becoming a cancerous culture engulfing the entire institution of ZANU PF. Together with Eddison Zvobgo, he fought tirelessly throughout his life for freedom, justice and equality.
When he was threatened with expulsion from the party he formed, he stood his ground and said “Even if everyone else leaves the party, I will stay in the party alone” What he actually meant was that he would never deviate from the founding principles of the party and the struggle as he went on to form ZUM a few weeks if not days after this bold statement.
Today, the nation mourns a real liberation stalwart, an unwavering nationalist, a true and principled hero, Edgar Tekere. Often, Eddison Zvobgo would say “I can compromise on anything for as long as it is not a matter of principle”. Indeed, these two leaders were deeply principled from cradle to death despite what some ZANU PF mafikizolos may think.
Dangerous opportunists who now form the majority in the erstwhile revolutionary party must take a cue from Tekere’s footprints. He gave it all, he never tormented innocent citizens, he defended human rights, he was humble, he was not corrupt, indeed a genuine cadre who worried more about others than he worried about himself. He might have died a poor man, materially.
Nonetheless, in terms of principle and objectivity, his wealth extends well beyond the valleys and mountains of Manicaland. Here departs a man whose good deeds shall always be remembered and cherished. While he died a deeply disappointed man, he should rest peacefully knowing that the nation will not allow the good he firmly stood for to be interred with his bones be it in Mutare or Harare.
Tekere leaves behind a very big lesson. The lesson that national heroism is not by conferment, it has to be earned. It is this kind of consistency before and after independence that must and shall make other deserving citizens such as legendary musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo perfect candidates for the national shrine.
RIP mwana wevhu – a true son of the soil.