Thousands commemorate Heroes Day countrywide
Thousands of people from various walks of life thronged heroes’ acres in various parts of the country yesterday to commemorate Heroes Day in honour of those who fought the liberation war.
At the Manicaland Provincial Heroes’ Acre, thousands who thronged the shrine were ecstatic. The crowd was arguably the biggest in decades. Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene read the President’s speech, which was well received by those in attendance.
A total of 273 fallen comrades are buried at the shrine, 42 of them women. “I don’t have a relative who is buried here, but every year I come with my children and join others in commemorating the lives of our fallen heroes,” said Mr Josiah Chingara from Zimunya.
“Our children should know the importance of this day and I am glad that most of the entertainment activities exhibited here were done by children. Regardless of political affiliation, Heroes’ Day celebrations are important because these fallen comrades fought for every one of us to be free.”
Before Cde Chimene laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, surviving war heroes took to the podium and sang captivating liberation war songs, which they used to sing during the war. In Chinhoyi, thousands gathered at the Mashonaland West Provincial Heroes’ Acre for the event.
Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Faber Chidarikire led proceedings and read the President’s speech, before laying wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The colourful event was punctuated by music, dance and poetry, highlighting the sacrifice and gallantry of those who participated in the war.
War veterans representative Cde Aly Kureya welcomed President Mugabe’s call to confer national heroes status on the seven guerillas who fired the first shots of the Second Chimurenga in Chinhoyi.
Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Ephraim Chengeta said the high turnout was a sign that people now appreciated the ideals of the liberation struggle. “We have written formally as a province requesting that the seven heroes be conferred with national heroes status,” he said. “Our people have come out in large numbers from all districts and we are happy.”
In Beitbridge, scores of people across the political divide gathered at the district heroes’ shrine in Makakhavhule area, where Senator for Beitbridge, Cde Tambudzani Mohadi, led proceedings and read the President’s speech.
She bemoaned the state of the heroes’ shrine, where the parameter fence and several graves have been vandalised. In the Midlands, it was a hive of activity in the capital Gweru, as enterprising vendors started camping at the provincial Heroes’ Acre as early as 8am where they were selling national flags and berets with the President‘s signature.
Thousands of people, including relatives of the 193 heroes and heroines interred at the Midlands Provincial Heroes’ Acre, were in attendance.
Midlands Resident Minister Jason Machaya read the President’s speech. Hurungwe district commemorated the day in style, with hordes of people who gathered at the district heroes’ acre being treated to a variety of performances by school children and inmates from Karoi Prison.
War veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees were among those who narrated chilling accounts of how they survived the war of liberation. District war veterans leader Cde Joseph Manjengwa called for unity, telling the youths to takeover in the fight against recolonisation.
Magunje Member of Parliament Dr Godfrey Gandawa read President Mugabe’s speech and laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In Bulawayo, hundreds of residents converged at the Provincial Heroes Acre in Nkulumane suburb to mark the day.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Bulawayo Metropolitan Eunice Sandi-Moyo inspected a quarter guard mounted by the members of ZNA 1 Infantry Brigade. She read the President’s speech shortly after 1pm and then laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The process turned dramatic when it was the war veterans’ turn to lay flowers. Bulawayo provincial chairman of the war veterans Cde Cephas Ncube and the leader of a rival group, Cde Roy Maphosa, clashed as they tried to outdo each other in laying the wreath.
There was brief commotion as some war veterans aligned to the Christopher Mutsvangwa-led association blocked Cde Maphosa from laying the wreath. Cde Maphosa is linked to a war veterans group led by Cde Mandi Chimene.
There are 778 heroes and 33 heroines buried at the Bulawayo provincial shrine In Matabeleland South, people started gathering at the Provincial Heroes Acre as early as 8am.
Minister of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage Cde Abedinico Ncube read President Robert Mugabe‘s speech.