Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nation shames detractors

Nation shames detractors

ZIMBABWEANS yesterday packed Rufaro Stadium in Mbare, Harare, and exuberantly marked Zimbabwe’s 27 years of independence from British colonial rule. The spirit that reverberated in the stadium was undoubtedly a reliving of what many witnessed at the same venue during the country’s first independence celebrations on April 18, 1980. Yesterday was indeed time to look back on the day when the colonial Union Jack was lowered and replaced with our own Zimbabwean flag.

The 35 000-capacity Rufaro Stadium was full and several thousands others who had showed up were disappointed when security guards turned them away because they could not be accommodated.

And reports on the celebrations from various centres throughout the country also reflected high-spirited huge crowds.

The huge turnout at Rufaro Stadium and other centres, indeed reminiscent of what happened 27 years ago, must have shamed detractors who had earlier predicted poor turnout, claiming that Zimbabweans would find the celebrations meaningless because of economic hardships.

For anyone to simply suggest that people will not value the importance of Independence Day because of the prevailing economic challenges is far-fetched. Our detractors should realise that Zimbabweans are not a gullible lot and will not be taken for granted.

Zimbabweans value their independence, which did not come on a silver platter. It is a hard-won freedom, which we value and guard jealously.

Indeed, the majority of Zimbabweans realise that countless lives have been lost and a lot of sacrifices have been made for the final reward of our independence.

Many people still vividly remember the oppression of the settler Rhodesian regime and will, therefore, not exchange their independence for anything. President Mugabe, who delivered his keynote address at Rufaro Stadium, reminded Britain and its Western allies that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

The celebratory mood of a people marking Independence Day was quite visible throughout the packed stadium.

The celebrations were loud and clear with the crowds donned in T-shirts bearing the slogan "Zimbabwe at 27’’, waving placards and repeatedly chanting "Gushungo, Gushungo, Gushungo", which is President Mugabe’s totem.

Conspicuously absent at the independence celebrations were the opposition MDC, who, in their myopic understanding of independence, think that there is nothing to celebrate.

Independence is, among other things, about Zimbabweans enjoying their freedom, having land, access to education and health care.

It is not about regime change, advocating sanctions against your own country, fomenting political violence and calling for job stayaways.

These should not have a place in independent Zimbabwe.

As we celebrate 27 years of independence, we have scored many successes while we also have had a fair share of mistakes.

It is time to work on the failures and improve on achievements.

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