Zimbabwe: Herbert Chitepo Memorial Held

The Zimbabwe Peacebuilding Initiative in conjunction with the Chitepo family yesterday held a memorial service at the Harare AnglicanCathedral to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of national hero Herbert Wiltshire Pfumaindini Chitepo .

Cde Chitepo led the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) until he was assassinated in March 1975 by a pair of former soldiers of the British Special Air Service Hugh Hind and “Taffy” Bryce working on contrct for the Rhodesian CIO in Lusaka, Zambia.

Chitepo was the first black citizen of Rhodesia to become an advocate and broke the painful racial barriers of that era.

Speaker after speaker described the late national hero as a brave man who sacrificed his live and family for the freedom of Zimbabwe.

Roman Catholic Priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, who knew Cde Chitepo and his family since the 1970s, said the national hero was a simple man who sacrificed himself to end colonial rule.

“Cde Chitepo is a man who decided to die for the sake of this country. He was looked for and wanted dead or alive by the Rhodesian Forces and they made sure that he was dead. Today we are gathered for this commemoration in a free Zimbabwe which he was not able to see and enjoy,” he said.

Former deputy prime minister during the inclusive Government, Professor Arthur Mutambara, said Cde Chitepo was a hero for the region adding the late hero’s academic excellence by becoming the first barrister in Rhodesia should be pursued by today’s youth.

Zimbabwe Peacebuilding operations manager Mr Jack Musarurwa said his organisation has a number of programmes lined up for the next two years to commemorate the life of Cde Chitepo.

“Zimbabwe Peacebuilding Initiative, for the next three years has simultaneous activities to mark and celebrate the voluntary, selfless, sacrificial service to liberation, of not only Zimbabwe but of Africa. This is to inform Zimbabweans, especially the young, the region and the world, on critical processes of the liberation struggle, that have remained silent to date,” he said.

He said they were working on a play and documentary as well as doing extensive research on the life of Cde Chitepo in Zambia and Tanzania where he lived a lot during the struggle.

The Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project Trust said Cde Chitepo’s life shaped the political and economic landscape of present-day Zimbabwe.

“It is important to create such memorial fanfare around historical figures and events that have shaped a country and acknowledge their contributions because the cultural and social values of a country are manifested in its iconography,”

“Heroes, such as Chitepo helped to form people’s sense of collective identity. As such, Chitepo incorporated our value systems throughout the liberation foundations to ensure an inclusive generation that he came from was steeped in their own cultures and exposed to what the colonialists brought,”

Africa’s heroes and relevant historical structures are not being immortalised enough, yet the public image of nations is sustained by the great individuals that have shaped their history and nationhood, and the strategic historical events that became the touchstone in the realisation of their national identity.

In view of this, the Zimbabwe Peacebuilding Initiative, in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe, the Rev Ndabaningi Sithole Foundation, the Anglican Church, the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project, the Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa, and others, with the participation of the late liberation hero Herbert Chitepo’s family are changing that perception.

The initiative is also to celebrate the enormous work of 50 years ago, carried out by some Governments, Institutions and Citizens’ Organisations here in Zimbabwe, in the region and, internationally, through remembering that work on Chitepo’s 100th birthdate to 2023.

Zimbabwe Peacebuilding Initiative chose to use Chitepo’s life story to dissect the stories of Zimbabwe’s liberation era, highlighting over the next three years, the international role of churches in the liberation of Zimbabwe, in the region and, internationally.

The church, is supported by the International Solidarity Movement, consisting of the front line States, the grassroots communities of those countries, Zimbabweans at home and abroad, who were crucial to the success of the liberation, including the resistance to the Internal Settlement (Pearce Commission) by African Nationalists with key Individuals such as Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Eddison Sithole, Eddison Zvobgo and Maurice Nyagumbo and many others, whose stories this three year project is designed to capture.