President Emmerson Mnangagwa has given four reasons why Zimbabwe is holding its 43rd independence anniversary in Mt Darwin, in Mashonaland Central, once again away from the capital Harare which has hosted most of the celebrations.
Writing in his weekly column in the Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa, said Zimbabwe is holding its celebrations in Mr Darwin because:
- The most decisive phase of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle was launched in Mashonaland Central;
- Holding the commemorations in Mt Darwin affords the government an opportunity to thank the broad masses for their contribution to the liberation struggle;
- Holding the commemorations allows the government to take stock of what it has done for those communities which gave so much to the struggle; and
- This demonstrates that independence is for all communities, regardless of place and class.
Below is a detailed explanation.
It was in Mashonaland Central that the second and most decisive phase of our Liberation Struggle was launched, marked by the first shots which were fired at Altena Farm in Centenary. From that day, towards the end of December 1972, Mashonaland Central became a theatre of war, with some of the most heroic battles being fought on its soil.
It, thus, suffered the longest in the 15 long years of our struggle for Independence.
Not far from Mt Darwin Town itself, to the west, is Chibondo. This is a grim site where hundreds of bodies were retrieved from several disused mine shafts. The bodies belonged to victims of Rhodesian atrocities during our War of Liberation. They were dumped there by Rhodesian forces after brutal and vengeful reprisals against defenceless villagers, whose only crime was to support the struggle for Zimbabwe’s national Independence from foreign settler colonial rule. Mashonaland Central, thus, witnessed some of the worst atrocities in this chapter of racial genocidal carnage. All this makes our National Day Commemorations in Mount Darwin a day of bitter remembrance, as we reflect on the tragic toll which our quest for national freedom levied on our people and communities.
The choice of Mount Fura Town as the venue for this national event, thus, combines bitter sorrow and deserved tribute in equal measure.
Mashonaland Central was the first proverbial ‘water’ that sheltered our freedom fighters, as they laid the groundwork for a protracted people’s war for our Independence. The province did a lot more than shelter freedom fighters; it gave its own sons and daughters to the same struggle, which is why the earliest crop of freedom fighters invariably traced its roots to areas like Centenary, Mt Darwin, Chesa, Rushinga, Madziva, Mukumbura, Mazowe, Guruve, et cetera.
Many of her children fell in that protracted struggle. We use this year’s commemorations to pay tribute to all our fallen heroes, symbolised by those who lie buried in Mashonaland Central province.
The province bore longest the brunt of our liberation struggle, even then without flinching. I have already said the first shots were fired in this province when our struggle entered its second phase.
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