Joshua Nkomo – A Special Tribute to Father Zimbabwe
It was at the start of 1980, when I was barely 5 years old; that l think I had my first lasting encounter with my beloved motherland’s political phenomenon known as Father Zimbabwe.
At that time, both my parents were active political activists who were ardent local leaders of PF-ZAPU
And so it happened that during those days, an electoral wave swept across my beautiful motherland like a political tsunami
My home town of Whange was not spared.
The electoral fever was so palpable since the entire local community was caught up in the political euphoria of actively participating in the first ever democratic elections in the Southern African country
I may have been 5 years old at that time, but it did not take much time for me to fully appreciate as to who exactly where the key protagonists in the emerging electoral contest
In Whange, the three most outstanding political parties were UANC, ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU.
The UANC was the most resourced of all the three parties. Its leader was the late Bishop Abel Muzorewa. He was able to harness the State resources in his campaign.
I remember the kids of Whange running after a military helicopter that was spraying Muzorewa’s campaign flyers all over Whange
In fact, l was one of the excited kids that picked up his campaign flyers shouting loudly; “Mapepa! Mapepa! Mapepa!”
On hindsight it now seems to me that it was only us the kids who took Muzorewa’s campaign seriously.
The real target group of his campaign; our parents, never took him seriously. His UANC despite its advantage of blatant and flagrant State resources; was spectacularly rejected not just by the local electorate of Whange, but all across Zimbabwe.
His, was a humiliating and crushing defeat.
The second most visible party to me as a little child in the 1980 elections campaign was ZANU-PF
Unlike the UANC, the party had more active supporters in Whange.
But its local support base was not strong enough to mount a serious challenge
Its leader was the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the man who eventually, was announced as the winner of the electoral contest.
Be that as it may, the most visible political party in my local community at that time, was by far PF-ZAPU
During those days, it seemed as if almost everyone in Whange actively supported PF-ZAPU
Everywhere. All around me. I could see the PF-ZAPU campaign posters and flyers splashed all over Whange
Most people l knew wore the PF-ZAPU campaign regalia openly and with so much pride.
To me, it was clearly the most popular political party in the electoral contest.
In my very limited understanding of the political landscape of the country, l actually assumed that PF-ZAPU was the overwhelmingly favourite political party to win the March 1980 elections.
In the whole electoral fever and excitement that was sweeping across my local community, l guess no one had the time to explain to a fascinated child like me about the brutal reality of the political situation in the rest of our country.
I do vividly remember how my parents beamed with so much pride after our home was one of the ones that was selected for a stop-over by the much-envied PF-ZAPU youths that were marching around the town campaigning for their political party
Some of them were actually returning refugees from such countries as Zambia and Botswana.
The youths did not stop at any house but only at those that they deemed were of strategic political value to the PF-ZAPU election campaign.
This then explains why my family was selected since both my parents were active local community leaders of PF-ZAPU
I do remember how that particular experience left a life long lasting indelible political mark on my life
It may have marked the official start of my political consciousness since I was only 5 years old.
The youths marched, danced and sang a lot of political songs.
I listened to the songs and easily learnt them fast due to my unusually high level of political curiosity
Most of the songs spoke about the need to vote for PF-ZAPU in the forthcoming elections
But some of the songs were focused mostly on praising the highly respected leader of PF-ZAPU
I remember that my parents managed to collect some campaign posters and flyers that were promoting the PF-ZAPU campaign
I was illiterate, but I used to sit down quietly and go through the PF-ZAPU electoral campaign materials with unbridled political lust and fascination
Later on, l realised that my parents had managed to get some framed portraits of the esteemed leader of PF-ZAPU that they hung proudly in our family living room.
It was so clear that both PF-ZAPU and its much revered leader carried the entire future political hopes and aspirations of my family.
Young as l was, l used to sit down on the living room and gaze at the framed portraits of this rather larger than life political figure.
I was totally fascinated and awed. I was overwhelmingly inspired by his ability to command such a high-level of authority and popularity among my people.
And the name of the political leader was none other than the man that was popularly known as Father Zimbabwe … Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo.
*Joshua Nkomo was one of the most outstanding leaders of the nationalist movement of Zimbabwe. Sadly, he passed away on Thursday 1st July 1999.*