The National Heroes Acre, our revered shrine, is the pride of the people of Zimbabwe. It is a symbol of bravery and selflessness for those whose remains are laid to rest there. Towering majestically is the Tomb of the Unknown soldier which symbolises the final resting place for tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our freedom and independence, but whose remains are scatered in the valleys, disused mines, caves, unknown graves and mass graves spread accross the nation and neighbouring states.
Senator Tangwena died at the age of 74 after a short illness. He was Chief of the Tangwena people of Nyanga who resisted removal from their land in the Gaerezi area during the illegal Smith regime era.What most people remember with pride and joy is perhaps Cde Tangwena's series of battles with Smith regime for the Control of the Gaerezi Ranch and its people. All attempts to break his iron will, all efforts to terrorize the old man and his flock were futile. He argued that land was God-given and sanctified by ancestral occupation and heritage. For this reason Cde Tangwena resisted torture and arrest used as instruments to force him off Gaerezi Ranch.
He started his revolutionary activities as a reaction to the colonial regime to the colonial regime's autocratic decisions not to recognize him as the Chief of his people; and to evict him and his people from their lands. He refused to move. When tractors and bulldozers, supported by troops, were sent to demolish all his villages, he went into the bush and mountains to resist. At that point he contacted Cde Herbert Chitepo.Cde Tangwena, helped the President, Cde Mugabe and Cde Edgar Tekere, to cross over the border to Mozambique. The Tangwena people also helped thousands of boys and girls cross over too, and fed, sheltered and clothed our freedom fighters.
A fearless, clear-visioned and out spoken critic of oppression, Cde Tangwena became a Senator in March, 1980 and despite his age, revealed a remarkable presence of mind as well as a strong commitment to unity and national welfare. Cde Tangwena died on June 10, and was buried on June 16, 1984.