MANICALAND province, its stalwart politicians and a vanguard moral rearmament Non-Governmental Organisation called CrossRoads Africa Trust (CAT) sang and continue to sing from the same hymn book commemorating fallen heroes in style.
On June 22, 2019 a high powered delegation of former female freedom fighters who are now cabinet ministers met at St Augustine’s Mission to commemorate the lives of two late heroes who each demonstrated selflessness and extraordinary sacrifice during their lifetimes. Cde Tendai Pfepferere was brutally gunned down at St Augustine’s on August 5, 1979 in the midst of shocked Tsambe students. He literally gave his life to save them.
Father Keble Richard Prosser literally supported the armed struggle with his life and blood and thus put his life on the line in the process. He was the priest-in-charge at the mission and principal of the high school. Most of the freedom fighters that came to St Augustine’s during the war were his former students, most of whom he taught Geography and/or Divinity. Before he died (back in England) he requested his remains to be interred at St Augustine’s where a few years back, during the war, he had buried Cde Pfepferere.
The lives of these two heroes, one white another black, lying side by side at the Tsambe cemetery, illustrate how the war of liberation in which many sons and daughters of Zimbabwe perished, was not about colour but about eliminating a political system that regarded Africans as second class citizens in their own country. The war of liberation was colour blind.
The CR priest-in-charge, Fr Prosser, is an undisputed hero. He fed, sheltered and clothed freedom fighters at the time it was unheard of for a white person to support the armed struggle. Cde Tendai, Christ-like . . . chose to die so that innocent students at St Augustine’s High School lived to pursue their education and live to realise their dreams. He was a martyr of sorts.
The four female ex freedom fighters, now cabinet ministers in the Zimbabwean government, June 22, 2019 came to Tsambe to celebrate the histories of these two great heroes: Honourable Oppah Muchinguri represented not only herself as the National Chairperson of the ruling party and Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs but also stood in for the First Lady, Amai Mnangagwa, who could not make to Tsambe on the day. Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa-Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services represented herself and the ministry under her. There was also the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Honourable . . . Simbanegavi; not forgetting Ishe Mutasa.
Speaking to the The Manica Post this week, the founder and executive director of CrossRoads Africa Trust (CAT), thanked everyone who attended the Tsambe Conference launch.
“I sincerely take this opportunity to thank the cabinet ministers and other community dignitaries, leaders and war veterans present. They all made the day a resounding success. Without the Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs-Honourable Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and Cde Edgars Seenza, the Provincial Administrator and their supporting stuff, the day would never have come to pass. The girls of substance from various schools, particularly Anglican High Schools were stars. Thank you all for supporting the project even as together we move accomplish our aims and objectives . . . our mission indeed. Together we stand forever . . . Divided we fall!” said Mtisi.
“The future is for our children, not us. What we do today or not do will determine that future. Even when the war of liberation we are celebrating come Monday — August 12, was fought, it was waged so that youths would inherit a better Zimbabwe. Therefore even as the economy and other challenges continue to dog our beloved country, we are proud we are facing these in our own country, not a British colony. If we put heads together, there is no doubt Zimbabwe will once again be a nation of milk and honey as it was and deserves to be.
“As we commemorate our dear fallen heroes on Monday — August 12, 2019 let us remember the two fallen heroes interred at Tsambe. One of them represents every unsung hero whose heart was big enough to give to free Zimbabwe . . . gave even his life so that young students lived, and another represents white people who understood the dignity of majority rule and supported it through and through.”
Mr Mtisi urged all Zimbabweans not to forget the sanctity of dying and living for other people.
“Zimbabwe is dotted with graves . . . some marked . . . others unmarked, some known . . . others unknown, of heroes and heroines who gave their lives to free their country. They deserve honour and recognition. That needs no intelligence to know. As we remember the fallen ones, let us also not forget the living war heroes and heroines who still have Zimbabwe at heart and strive in every way possible to make everyone proud to be Zimbabwean,” he said.
It is evident that Manicaland realises the above by supporting the mooting of an idea of a symbolic college putting all these heroes and heroines to institutional memory. Those who will study skills at the Father Prosser Memorial College and Tendai Pfepferere School of Film, Music & War Heritage Studies shall remember Zimbabwean war heroes forever and ever. Memories attached to song and dance, speeches and statues are short lived. Memorial institutions will keep the fire burning forever and ever. As students . . . trainees . . . inmates learn, they live these memories from day to day.”
The Girls and Boys of Substance Movement which is determined to root out student prostitution, sexual harassment and abuse, drug peddling and consumption and other forms of moral decay, all done in institutional memory of Father Prosser and Tendai Pfepferere, was formally and officially launched by Amai Mnangagwa, represented by Honourable Muchinguri at St Augustine’s on June 22, 2019. Thanks to a parallel launch of the Angel of Hope Foundation which shares with CAT the vision of giving hope to those who have lost hope one way or another in a legitimate, meaningful, dignified and responsible livelihood.