By Margaret Kamba

As we count down days to this year’s celebration of our Heroes Day, we celebrate the late National Hero Cde Joshua Nkomo.

Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo was born on the 19th of June 1917 and died on the 1st of July 1999. Also known as "Umafukufuku," "Father Zimbabwe," "Chibwechitedza" and UmdalaWethu, Cde Nkomo was a revolutionary and politician who served as Vice President of Zimbabwe until his death in 1999. At least 100 000 mourners gathered at the National Heroes Acre in a befitting send off for a man whom they knew as a unifier and a peace peddler.

Born in Bukalanga or Bulilimato Thomas Nyongolo a preacher and cattle rancher, he did his carpentry course at Tsholotsho Government Industrial School. He became a driver, tried animal husbandry after which he became a School Teacher at Manyame School in Kezi.

In 1942, at the age of 25, went to South Africa to further his carpentry course at Adams College, and the Jan H Hofmeyr School of Social Work where he was awarded BA Degree Social Science in 1962.

While here, he met the late Nelson Mandela and other regional nationalists who were at University of Fort Hare.He married Johanna Mafuyane in 1949.

When he joined the Rhodesian Railways as a social welfare officer in Bulawayo he was exposed to the huge salary differences between the blacks and the whites doing similar jobs.

This injustice and poor social conditions of the Africans made him join the trade union movement to fight against these conditions.

He was appointed Secretary of the Railways Workers Association and by 1955 he had become the president of the Federation of African Worker’s Unions and inevitably propelled into national politics.

In 1952 he was elected President of the African National Congress of Southern Rhodesia. His opportunity to travel across the country gave him an opportunity to mobilise the people.

…to be continued…


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