Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Fare Thee Well, Comrade Zingoni of Zimbabwe
Republic of Zimbabwe Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
May 22, 2014
Zimbabwe Herald

The following is an abridged version of the address by Acting President Hon J. T. R. Mujuru on the occasion of the burial of Brigadier-General John Zingoni, at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday. Today marks another day where we meet here at the sacred Heroes Shrine to pay respects and send off yet another gallant son, Cde John Zingoni, whose Chimurenga name was Tichatonga Brooker Chiwawa.

Brigadier-General Zingoni left us last Friday, 16th May, 2014, after succumbing to a heart ailment. Born on 27th August, 1954, Cde Tichatonga Chiwawa has left us at nearly 60 years of age.

He was still young, at an age where one is expected to contribute his best in maturity stage. We grieve over his very sad and untimely demise.

Above the silence of this sacred hill, I hear intermittent sobs. The Zingoni family is stricken with grief, deep grief at this sad loss. Far more so, Amai Zingoni, wife of the late hero and her children, have been left in the lurch, and profound grief overcomes them.

On behalf of the President who is away, the entire nation, the security establishment and on my own behalf, I want to console the Zingoni family on this great loss.

We share in that grief, for John was more than a workmate to many; he was a comrade-in-arms, hama yeropa kwatiri tose.

A fighter for freedom in the armed sense, Brigadier-General Zingoni abandoned his budding career in medical care for the struggle in 1976 at a tender age of 22.

The four years before 1980 were years of close encounters and great personal danger. He bore it all with a brave, patriotic heart. Those who lived under arms survived a hot war, will tell you four years is a lifetime. Anything could have happened; indeed much just short of death happened right before John’s tender eyes.

Close friends and comrades-in-arms perished in that war: from enemy bombs and bullets, to diseases and all sorts of ailments, accidents and many nameless mishaps.

The war brought all manner of dangers and risk, and it took brave cadres like Cde John who bore the brunt of this terrible war.

Today, we take many things for granted, view persons who fought that war and survived it with little regard. Much worse, in today’s comfort and relative abundance, we forget all those who never made it home as they eagerly hoped they would at the end of it all.

Pane vazhinji vasina kudzoka, zviuru zvamazana asipo, vakasara ikoko.

John was among the lucky ones who survived and made it home, made it into the warm embrace of a grateful people he had helped free.

His freed people sang: “Mauya mauya Comrade/Mauya hamuchadzoka!” He must have cherished the song, luxuriated in the ambience of freedom and liberation.

It was a signature tune, a lyric which warmly embraced and extolled victors from a cruel war which had to be fought, indeed, a song of hope and irrevocable peace.

Mauya hamuchadzoka! That is human wish, human hope, human desire.

But that is not the way of this mortal life. Eternity is not of this world, sadly. John came into this world; today John bows out, leaves this life in this very sad way.

From Friday, all he did both singly and collectively with us, shrank to footprints that trace a life that once lived and walked this earth.

As for most of us who went to war, came back from it, such a reminder of human frailty, human mortality, always evokes in us stirring images of the horrors of war.

You recall comrades who fell. You recall the horrid aftermath of ruthless bombings: Chimoio, Nyadzonia, Mkushi, Freedom Camp and many other places.

The death and suffering plays back. Above all, you ask yourself with all that amount of dying, with all that amount of suffering and pain, why more deaths for us so soon? Why?

When will death tire of its grim harvest from a generation so born into the vulnerabilities of war?

Yet, life is richer than the tragic, and this is where the likes of Brigadier-General Zingoni lift the human heart beyond its tragic sense.

He was a freedom fighter who fought and won a war. A freedom fighter who fought and delivered freedom to an un-free people.

That state of unfreedom was a big, weeping African wound which he sutured. That wound healed and the once afflicted body is now well.

He did much more. He followed through his actions by defending that freedom, securing that independence. Instead of going back to his medical field, he chose to stay with the military, rising through the ranks until he became a Brigadier-General.

For him, the country he had freed, the peace he had won, needed to be secured. Much more, the values which he had helped forge and commission by way of Zimbabwe’s freedom and independence needed to be won for other peoples, other countries.

True, the sister Republic of Mozambique had won its freedom and independence, but all that was soon to be threatened by a sponsored, reactionary war of naked banditry.

Cde Zingoni went to fight in that war of aggression, alongside his Frelimo comrades.

This he did so that the gains of freedom in that country would not be reversed, indeed so that our own vital interests would not be endangered.

He did not tell himself one war was one too many. Duty called and like a committed cadre, a loyal soldier, he sprang to the defence of his needy and fraternal neighbour.

He did more. The sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo came under severe challenge, again from surrogate forces.

When the cry for help came, Cde Zingoni was among the heroes who answered it. He fought in the Congo right up to the end of that operation.

We have lost a well decorated soldier, lost a life which beyond the tragic fact of its end now, drew bold footsteps of honour and heroism in the African veld.

Indeed, he left footsteps of struggle, footsteps of sacrifice; footsteps of courage; footsteps of commitment; footsteps of loyal service, and yes, he left footsteps of patriotism.

This is the compendious story which the gigantic life of this man lying in that small casket tells, and challenges us to emulate.

I am talking about a story that goes well beyond the tragic circumstances of mere mortals.

Cde Zingoni lived for a noble cause, noble values and delivered both in ways that challenge us who lived in the very country he helped liberate.

So, how do we fare, you and me, we who continue to live beyond that fateful Friday which marked the end of General Zingoni? Do we deserve a day longer in this life, in this world? Are we better deserving of a longer life than he did? What values do we espouse? What is our cause?

Well, ask Zingoni and all those who survived the war. They will tell you that things can get worse and really bad. But it takes only us the people of Zimbabwe in the driving seat, to turn that around and make this country what we want it to be.

Zingoni and others will tell you history is made by people who believe in themselves, people ready to sacrifice, indeed people ready to work in unity.

History is made by people who put shoulder to wheel. We need to look to the future with great hope.

The 2013/2014 agricultural season has just witnessed a very successful agricultural recovery, an unparalleled in my view.

As you know, food security and nutrition is a key leg of Zim-Asset. That has now been realised in the first year of this new programme.

Let us sing, sing a little for ourselves. If one realises that this economy leans on agriculture, it should be clear we may be witnessing the beginnings of recovery.

Government continues to revisit some of its policies, revise its modes of doing work. Above all, we continue to create space for you and me to pursue opportunities.

Admittedly, it is still too early to have results, but definitive steps are being undertaken.
Dear citizens, comrades and friends, we must see and grasp these opportunities as we march forward with life full of confidence and hope for a better future.

The war years taught us a key slogan: “Iwe neni tine basa.” It was, and continues to be a slogan of work of self-application. Even when things were so hard, we stood by that slogan. It gave us inspiration, and propelled us to victory.

Let the same slogan continue to do the same as we march into the future.

Today, as we bury Cde Zingoni, let us all pledge ourselves to a new outlook, a positive outlook of embracing challenges and generating solutions.

Zingoni freed us so we could assume full responsibility of developing ourselves. That is the mark of a dignified people, a dignified nation. Only Zimbabweans, and no other people, will develop Zimbabwe.

Comrade Zingoni, you walked a tough and arduous road, walked it successfully. You did not flinch or look back. You persevered, all the time chanting “Pamberi nehondo”.

You won that war to give us freedom. Today Zimbabwe thanks you and all your fellow comrades. Go well, go well our hero. Rest in eternal peace. Fambai zvakanaka Comrade. Muzorore murugare Mhofu Museyamwa.

I thank you.



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