Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE late Vice-President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, affectionately known as Father Zimbabwe, epitomised a rare breed of dedicated sons of the soil who sacrificed the comfort of private life for the country’s liberation from colonial bondage, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Yesterday marked 23 years since the death of the veteran nationalist and liberation struggle stalwart. A fearless freedom fighter, Father Zimbabwe succumbed to prostate cancer on July 1, 1999 at the age of 82, and was buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
In a statement to commemorate his death, President Mnangagwa said Dr Nkomo’s unrelenting fight for human dignity and social justice won him international acclaim and an indelible place in African history.
“Chibwe Chitedza, as Dr Nkomo came to be popularly known by his comrades-in-arms and the general populace, the late Father Zimbabwe epitomises a rare breed of dedicated sons of the soil who sacrificed the comfort of private life for the liberation of their motherland from the yoke of colonial bondage,” he said.
“Dr Nkomo’s unrelenting fight for human dignity and social justice won him international acclaim and an indelible place in Africa history.”
The President said Dr Nkomo’s fervency for the return of the land, which is the country’s principal heritage, is well documented, and gave impetus to the historic land reform programme, which followed barely a year after his demise.
He said as the 42nd Heroes Day anniversary on August 8 approaches, the country will continue to cherish the values that Dr Nkomo stood for, among them unity, freedom, peace, patriotism, non-racism, ubuntu/hunhu, honesty and selfless dedication to national duty. The Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo Commendation Award for Community Development, Peace Building and Fostering Unity established in 2021, is a Government initiative to immortalise the late Vice-President’s unparalleled contribution to Zimbabwe’s nationhood, and to ensure that his legacy lives on.
President Mnangagwa said Dr Nkomo’s exploits dating back to the days of the African National Congress, through to the days of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Zapu and ultimately the united Zanu-PF, are well documented, and shall forever be imprinted in the history of Zimbabwe, Sadc and of the African continent.
He said as the nation moves towards attainment of Vision 2030, the foundational work of this great luminary continues to inspire and to enlighten the path.
“We shall always remember and cherish Dr Nkomo’s achievements and vision. May the soul of Umdala Wethu continue to rest in eternal peace. Long live our unity, peace and freedom. Long live Zimbabwe,” said the President.
In an earlier interview on Monday, President Mnangagwa said the memory of the late veteran nationalist must be kept alive from generation to generation in honour of his contribution to the country’s liberation.
Detailing the history of the liberation struggle, the President said the country’s founding fathers were always bound by unity and love for the country that even after Zapu split in 1963, which saw the formation of Zanu, they found each other after Independence.