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Saluting the real heroes of our time

By Rangu Nyamurundira
Zimbabwe is in remembrance of its heroes, those living and the departed, who sacrificed life and limb to guide the birth of a liberated nation governed by the black majority. As their heroism anchors a black nation, it is their memory that now guides the indigenous majority's new endeavour for economic liberation.

Their heroism must transcend the struggle for political independence, and inspire a new generation of heroes that must sacrifice for the indigenous majority's pursuit of indigenisation and economic empowerment.

Our heroes' struggle for political independence teaches us of the sacrifice that must be made.

The cause of Zimbabwe and its people today is economic emancipation, for which heroism must now lay sacrifice. The hearts of today's heroes must be true to their people's purpose, must be weighted by such purpose and aspiration. One hero, whose heroism is from the past but now champions our present to define our future, knows of the sacrifice and loyalty that must define and guide real heroism to see a people's cause realised. Befitting then that on Heroes Day President Mugabe fore-warned that "Among our people let us be warned about those who wear black skins but are ever ready to work with white imperialist exploiters, undermining our indigenisation and empowerment policy and programme."

Indeed we must be wary of what heroes we let fight our battle for economic emancipation. It has been proven that not every act of sacrifice is for the people and the national interest. There are anti-heroes among us who derail the indigenous cause, weaken our resolve to further a foreign interest. And hence President Mugabe had to again call upon us to "guard against those who wish to divide us as a nation and as a people, so they can plunder our God-given resources for their selfish benefit". The anti-hero's endeavour is shaped by Western economic interests and not by the hunger of his deprived indigenous people.

Such anti-heroism is now being proudly declared and claimed by the West. And so we would hear Australia's Prime Minister, surrounded by Australian people far too white to be an economically deprived black majority, declare that one of Zimbabwe's own sons is a "hero of our time". It is their "hero" who serves their "time". Whose hero is Prime Minister Tsvangirai, for whose time shall he endeavour now that an Australian Prime Minister has declared him their own?

Beware then, Zimbabwe, of heroes declared far from home, celebrated by foreign drums. Such heroism is a taboo, to haunt an indigenous economic cause. The West plots to celebrate heroes that serve their interests and have them imposed upon us, only to mislead our cause. Such anti-heroes include the countless human rights defenders regularly celebrated and paraded in the heart of Western capitals far from the majority in whose name they claim to receive accolades.

The heroism of these Western celebrated heroes has been manipulated and confined to matters that further their objectives. They fight in a pre-determined civil and political rights battlefield within which their heroism will be determined and rewarded upon fulfiling the terms of donor funding contracts which have become a guarantee to livelihood in an economy ravaged by Western sanctions. We must acknowledge Western shrewdness in destroying an economy to cheaply buy its people's loyalty and have them serve their foreign economic interest.

The bought and paid for heroism has been dictated to, never to attend to socio-economic matters that are now so glaring and pertinent to Zimbabwe's indigenous majority. The heroism we have witnessed in Western-celebrated opposition politics and civil society is flawed, it is deaf, dumb and blind to the popular and revolutionary rising of an indigenous majority declaring that their natural resources be indigenised to sustain more pertinent socio-economic rights. They advocate for time defined by the West. It is "time" which Australia's Gillard spoke of, their desperate economic condition caused by self-inflicted recession. They can only remedy such desperation by retaining and maximising on their exploitation of our natural resources.

And so they enlist the help of sold-out "anti-heroes" among us. Our time to claim a place under the economic sun is in conflict with their time to keep such sun for themselves. Heroes whose sacrifice is defined by our adversaries can never be for us and our cause alone.

The thing about heroes is that their acts are righteous only when nurtured by their nation and people, to intervene for the interests of such nation and people. Heroes alienated from nation and people are like fish out of water.

And there lies the West's predatory moment, alienating heroism from the nation and people, manipulating it to adapt and find new life and purpose in a foreign cause. The legacy of a hero can only live on and find infinity within the cause of people and nation. Ghana will always commemorate and lay claim to Kwame Nkurumah, however much his heroism may reflect across the rest of Africa.

Jomo Kenyata's heroism for his people's purpose will forever be spoken of within the name of the nation and its people, Kenya and Kenyans. However, much of the West will take Nelson Mandela's heroism hostage, it is South Africa's majority black people that shall weigh his heroism with their present struggle, which long ceased to be political and has become economic. The same West that seeks to define and impose heroism upon us knows too well that heroes must identify with their people and their people with them. It is only then that the cause of a nation will not be misled, will not lose itself to foreign assault.

We see in America's national psyche, that its hero must always be white and his cause defined by protecting the American Dream. And so America will continue to endeavour to deny the heroism of black slaves in the American civil war that shaped its nationhood. The British will pay homage to Churchill, and not the heroism of African "Burma Boys" that fought for the Queen and Britain during Second World War.

It is only we who are fooled to believe that heroes are like white bunnies pulled from the white magician's hat. No, heroes are tried and tested, forged in a people and nation's time of need when they are called upon to rise and be counted. We remember and dedicate a season of celebration each year to our liberation heroes because their sacrifice was tested and overcome in the time of a nation's need for political liberation.

Now is our nation's need for economic liberation, yet we are made to lean on heroes pointed to us by the West. They will step aside so we fall before the mercy of Western forces that hide behind these anti-heroes. We must now turn to true heroes born of this soil, birthed to the ululation of familiar voices from the dusty plains of Mhondoro, Ngezi, Chegutu, Zvimba, Marange, Gwanda, Zvishavane, Mutoko and Hwange.

They are celebrated far from the foreign tongues that only speak of plundering and depleting our dusty plains of vast wealth and sustenance. Our real heroes must not be overshadowed by those imposed upon us by Western malicious agendas that attempt to have our people endeared to a Judas Iscariot kind of heroism that will betray our nation and its cause with a cold kiss. As I write, South Africa, the land of anti-apartheid heroes and the West's most celebrated African hero, has had 38 mining workers protesting their sorry socio-economic situation at Lonmin's Marikana Mine murdered.

Their "massacre", described as "one of the most deadly days of strike action in post-apartheid South Africa... reminding many of a painful past", was at the hands of a state and law enforcement machinery under the authority of erstwhile black anti-apartheid heroes. This "bloodbath" was in the name and interest of Londonbased Lonmin Mine whose South African operations constitute as much as 12 percent global platinum output. South Africa now asks how this could have been avoided. It would have been, and will only be avoided when South Africa's anti-apartheid heroes begin to identify with and rally to the people's cause to remedy their desperate economic condition.

Would a community or employee share ownership trust for Marikana, such as are being launched by President Robert Mugabe, not have avoided the community and workers of Marikana from turning to spear and machete as a last resort?

The community and workers of Marikana are now called perpetrators of violence by their black government and yesteryear heroes, yet it was they that were provoked by their economic deprivation in the face of plenty, Mr President Jacob Zuma, sir.

There is more massacre to come, for as long as these apartheid heroes now in power believe gun-blazing police officers are the response to addressing the plight of economically starved and agitated black people.

More Marikanas and Niger Deltas are to come should African heroes remain deaf and blind to their people's declared economic cause. I wonder what the West will say of this murderous act in heroic Mandela's South Africa. Or will they salute this deed of "heroism" which has sent a strong and clear message to the lot of a hungry black majority, that if they dare demand a share from white and Westernmonopolised African platinum and other resources, they shall be pulverised?

A prominent Johannesburg radio host, John Robbie, commented that the Marikana workers cannot "in this day and age" behave like "Zulu impis". But how can they not, Mr Robbie sir, when their socioeconomic being has not evolved with a share in South Africa's "civilising" and very much white wealth?

So damn them then, is it, Mr Robbie, to death with these daring "impis" then with their grubby hands demanding more from the exploitation of their natural resources? And so the massacre happened while President Zuma was in Zimbabwe to advise our economic hero, President Mugabe, on matters he believes are simply civil and political. Zuma urges speeding up of political reforms, ignorant to the more pertinent economic reforms that will avoid a civil and political catastrophe as just happened in his own backyard. God save us all, bestow upon us heroes who have eyes and actually see, ears and do hear, minds that discern and reflect a people's cause.

Rangu Nyamurundira is a lawyer and indigenisation and empowerment consultant based in Harare.


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