Reflecting on Independence while focusing on the future

Some of the messages on banners that were displayed during the Independence Day celebrations at White City Stadium in Bulawayo in this file photo

Some of the messages on banners that were displayed during the Independence Day celebrations at White City Stadium in Bulawayo in this file photo

Christopher Farai Charamba, Correspondent
Zimbabwe today celebrates 37 years of independence. This day in 1980 was an important milestone in the history of the nation.

It was when the country charted a new path in the wake of horrible colonial subjugation. Indigenous Zimbabweans reclaimed their liberty and dignity after a protracted liberation struggle.

Those who fought in that war of liberation risked life and limb to ensure that they and future generations would be free and have unlimited access to the beauty and bounty that Zimbabwe has to offer.

To that generation an abundance of gratitude is owed. Not only to those who went to the frontlines and lived in the trenches but also to the families who took in the comrades and the young boys and girls who were scouts and gave assistance to the fighters.

So too is gratitude owed to those who supported from beyond the borders of the country through lobbying other governments and international institutions, offering financial support and any other means of help they provided.

Gaining independence was a collective effort that a number of stakeholders both local and foreign contributed to.

This should never be forgotten and the independence that many lost their lives for, both the right to self-determination and economic independence, should be guarded jealously.

There is a collective responsibility that every citizen has to first understand what it is that independence means to them and to the nation and furthermore to ensure that this is protected and what they seek out of their independence comes to fruition.

Unfortunately, the narrative of independence for a long time has focused on the past and what it took to gain it rather than on the future.

One does not think to trivialise the history of the struggle for independence, in fact, one thinks there should be more biographical accounts from those who bore the brunt of that period to add to the library of history.

But history should serve a purpose, it should serve as a lesson and be a platform from where one can experience and enjoy the present and navigate the future.

The majority of Zimbabweans alive today were born in an independent country. Their personal history is that of Zimbabwe only and their aspirations should be focused on creating a country they and future generations can be proud of.

If one is to learn a lesson from the generation that fought for independence it is that they envisioned a future they wanted and worked actively and purposefully for it to be achieved.

It was not the old who took up arms to go and fight for independence — though they too played a critical role — it was a generation of young people who wanted a better future for themselves. Some as young as 16 left home and made their way over to Mozambique and Zambia into training camps to become Zanla and Zipra forces.

The onus, therefore, is on the young people of this generation to decide on their future. It is not only the responsibility to decide on it but to actively pursue that future.

Thirty-seven years after independence the youth now have a different fight on their hands. The fight of the youth is to be heard, in political and economic spaces. The youth should not be content with being relegated to social spaces in entertainment and sport.

Politics in Zimbabwe determines the trajectory of the nation and as such young people should play an active role in defining that trajectory.

One such way to do so is through exercising their right to vote. There generally has been severe voter apathy among the youth however if they are to create their destiny this attitude needs to change.

Not only do the young need to be voters but they need to take up political posts in councils and in parliament. These positions are about representation and because young people are the majority in Zimbabwe they should represent themselves in the halls of governance as they should know best what kind of future they want for themselves.

This Independence Day, young Zimbabwe should reflect on how the generation that went to war did so to create a future they could be proud of. This generation of young people should therefore challenge themselves to emulate this spirit and pursue a future that they too can one day be proud of.

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