THE week preceding the Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day commemorations was punctuated by a lot of networking and organising.
Youths, war veterans, patriotic Zimbabweans and a band of civil servants were preparing to visit shrines in Mozambique where unknown numbers of freedom fighters and civilians lie buried in mass graves after being brutally massacred by Rhodesian forces unleashed by Ian Smith.
The group visited Chimoio, Nyadzonya and Nyangawo where they paid their respects to the fallen gallant sons and daughters of the soil and laid wreaths on the mass graves.
This was a gesture laden with the spirit of patriotism and respect for the cause that saw thousands sacrificing their lives for Zimbabwe to be free.
That the group returned just a day before the Heroes Day celebrations here at home was no coincidence. They still could not afford to miss the commemorations, which just like Independence Day always remind all and sundry of the crucial sacrifices some people made to see Zimbabwe free.
Heroes Day celebrations saw tens of thousands thronging various stadia and venues in Manicaland and across Zimbabwe where both the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the civilian population could not hide their strong sense of attachment to the spirit of oneness that saw many of them crossing into Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and many other countries to take up arms and fight oppression.
Of course, many did not come back but paid the ultimate price and their spirit of selflessness was also unleashed into an equally appreciative nation.
It was exciting to note that, for a moment, there was neither Zanu-PF nor MDC but Zimbabweans celebrating the lives of their heroes.
If there were any dissenting voices, then they were never made public and what eventually prevailed was a strong sense of oneness and it was just unity, unity and more unity.
And if some people thought fatigue would naturally overtake the celebratory mood especially for those that went to Mozambique and then attended the Heroes Day fete, they were definitely in for a shocker on the Defence Forces Day celebrations when the numbers even ballooned in a rare show of oneness and the spirit of unity.
Stadia across Manicaland province and indeed the whole country literally struggled to accommodate the appreciative Zimbabweans.
Surely, if the level of unity, love and oneness demonstrated in these historical celebrations could be nurtured and carried into the unforeseeable future, then Zimbabwe will remain the best country to live in.
Nehanda and Kaguvi should be smiling wherever they are and so are our dear heroes lying in their resting places wherever they are, too.
We celebrate National Heroes’ Day at a time when its deep meaning and relevance could not be more significant. The life lessons bequeathed to us by our national heroes, whose voices echo so eloquently across the span of time, prepare us for our present challenges.
Now more than ever we need to rediscover the things which bind us together. Our national heroes, through their fixity of purpose, common vision of liberation and focused determination, summon us to find common cause.
They remind us of the ongoing struggle of ensuring that every Jamaican is given the opportunity to fulfil his or her full potential.
There was an overarching ideal which united the struggle of all our national heroes: Freedom from slavery and subjugation; Freedom to assert our humanity; Freedom to craft our own destiny; Freedom to preserve and promote our unique culture; Freedom to carve out our own path to nationhood; Freedom to create our own national identity; Freedom from the tyranny of poverty; Freedom to construct a society of peace and prosperity
For our national heroes, freedom was the essence of our humanity. They knew that what distinguishes us as a people is our capacity for free action and our free will.
Therefore, we must pull together, not pull apart. We must build bridges, not walls.
We must shake hands, not clench fists.