By Ndafadza Madanha
AUGUST is almost upon us and as Zimbabweans it's a month that carries a lot of meaning from both a cultural and National aspect.
From a cultural perspective the month of August is the time most families take time to honour their dead through "kurova makuva" ceremonies.
Nationally it’s the month of the Heroes' and Defence Forces Holiday and since independence these days have become a prominent feature on the country’s calendar.
The holidays are set out to honour the gallant sons and daughters of the soil who made immense contributions in the founding of a modern Zimbabwe.
The holidays also seek to celebrate our valiant defence force that protects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this great nation.
While many consider it just a holiday to spend with family or friends over braai, drinks or attend other social functions, the Heroes’ holiday, has significant meaning to the founding of modern Zimbabwe that cannot be wished away or overlooked.
The Heroes’ holiday epitomizes the determination, sacrifice, strength and unity of purpose of generations of compatriots who committed to fighting a system that wanted to reduce indigenous Zimbabweans to second rate citizens in their ancestral land.
Many of the Zimbabweans who took up arms against the racist, brutal and minority settler colonial regime did so in the full knowledge that fighting the system would result in imprisonment for many years.
For others, the fight against colonization meant paying the ultimate price and sacrifice as the struggle took an armed and violent course in the late 1960s until Independence was achieved in 1980.
Many thousands of our compatriots died in the field of battle while many more thousands perished in foreign camps at Nyadzonia and Chimoio at the hands of the Rhodesian army that was hell bent on defending its privileges at all cost.
For that reason, every year in the second week of August, we gather at the several shrines dotted across the country, to pay tribute to Zimbabwe’s illustrious sons and daughters, who fought for the freedoms and democracy we enjoy today.
In celebrating them we must never lose sight of the ideals they fought for. Zimbabwe’s independence came about through suffering and supreme sacrifice by patriotic sons and daughters who waged a long and arduous struggle against the colonial regime.
Our independence was not given to us at the Lancaster House constitutional conference in December 1979 but was won on the battlefield in 16 years of bitter war of liberation, which resulted in tens of thousands of our people perishing.
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.
Also the towering Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which symbolizes the final resting place for tens and thousands of Zimbabweans who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our freedom and independence, but whose remains are scattered in valleys, disused mines, caves, unknown graves and mass graves spread across the nation and in neighbouring states.
Zimbabwe’s war of liberation was the epic of the revolutionary spirit that characterize modern Zimbabweans. We are fighters, hence our own liberators in every sphere, political, economic and social.
Before independence many of our people were detained under sub-human conditions by the notorious Rhodesian regime while others spent long spells in detention without trial. Tens of thousands of our gallant fighters sacrificed their lives to free Zimbabwe. In honour of these fallen heroes, the Government built shrines across the country where declared heroes are interred.