Let’s love our country, strive to make it the best
Ruth Butaumocho-African Agenda
“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”
The above quote from George William Curtis, an American writer and public speaker, speaks volumes about the importance of patriotism, one of the important national ethos that is often overlooked.
Love for one’s country is undoubtedly one of the virtues that imbues people with a sense of loyalty and a desire to coexist peacefully with others, regardless of religion, political and cultural background.
With only a few days to go before the nation celebrates its hard won independence anniversary, it is important to introspect on how patriotism on its own aided in the liberation of the country as Zimbabweans fought on the same side to ensure that the country would be liberated from the yoke of the oppressor.
With no strong constitution to back their wish except their unity of purpose and love of one’s country, patriotism won the day.
It was the wish to see a liberated Zimbabwe, that saw thousands leave their families, well-paying jobs and long cherished goals to take up arms and fight the enemy.
Faced with possible death and no prospects of a reward even if they returned alive, it was the mere love of their country and their birth right that ignited the fire of patriotism that was burning during the turbulent times.
That patriotism should now be carried to another level in support of the National Youth Training programme that Government has since re-established.
The youth initiative, which was suspended in 2018, is an important youth programme critical in nurturing and promoting patriotism among the youth.
It, among other things, incalculates a clear sense of national identity and respect for national values.
The re-introduction couldn’t have come a better time for a country that is trying to further consolidate its independence through robust economic programmes to better the lives of its people.
That achievement would need to be matched with patriotism, discipline, hard work, loyalty and honesty.
If anything, the re-introduction of the youth service programme should be strategic in restoring and strengthening a heavily-polarised nation, badly in need of a common ideology that can bind people together outside their political persuasions.
For a country that has managed to offer a sound economic trajectory ably aided by a good education system, access to health and growth with equity, what it now needs is a people that are imbued with a sense of purpose to serve, defend and be patriotic in defence of its hard won independence.
Forty one years after independence, the nation should be united enough to defend Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity and sovereignty to an extent that no matter how wide people’s political differences may be, the nation should have common patriotism thread that runs through it.
That commonly shared national ideology should reach a stage where everyone collectively fights the enemy for common good such that no “foreign influence and intervention” should have a place in determining the country’s future trajectory.
After gaining its independence, Zimbabwe went on a developmental trajectory that was meant to erase the psychological trauma millions went through to unshackle the colonial yoke from the country’s colonisers.
Since 1980, Zimbabwe has been developing year after year.
Over the past 41 years, the country boasts economic and social achievements, despite ad hoc turbulences as a result of external interferences by some nations bent on making the country ungovernable.
The efforts to ensure the development of independent Zimbabwe on the basis of national interests, duty and awareness of responsibility are of great importance for the promotion of the development of the society.
It is for that reason that the nation needs to embrace the national youth service often defined as the vanguard of patriotism all over the world.
Contrary to falsehoods that are often peddled by some sections of society that liken national youth services to “youth militia,” the youth programme is not new to Zimbabwe alone, but it is practised in several African countries, and in the West, where it has been touted as the corner stone of patriotism.
Several Western countries among them the United States, have a national youth service where youths are required to undergo military training before they embark on careers of their choices.
As a result, when these countries go to war,their youths are well equipped with the history of their own country and are ready to defend the sovereignty and integrity of their nations, based on the nationalism virtues imparted in them during military or youth training programmes.
In Africa, Ghana, Nigeria Kenya, and South Africa are among several African nations that set up national youth programmes to develop common ties among their youths, while promoting national unity and integration among other things.
This will also be the case with Zimbabwe’s National Youth Service, which will equip youths with survival skills through hard work and tolerance.
This is contrary to some cheap populist narrative being peddled by ideologically bankrupt politicians bent on fomenting disunity in the country, that the re-establishment is meant to instil fears among voters ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Government is embarking on this programme with the noble intentions to nurture the country’s youth into responsible citizenry.
A few years from now, the nation should be able to introspect how the programme began with a sense of pride and a history that talks of a united and a patriotic nation.
There is no doubt that the youths will be given a legacy through the training they will receive such as informative and revolutionary materials that include an anthology of the liberation struggle and the importance of being independent.