Emulate Dube’s heroic deeds: President

Emulate Dube’s heroic deeds: President

Address by President Mugabe on the occasion of the burial of Cde Kotsho Lloyd Dube at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday.

TODAY is a very sad day for our party Zanu-PF and for Government and indeed our nation. We have lost a freedom fighter of long standing and illustrious record, a freedom fighter whodedicated his whole adult life to our struggle for national independence.

Kothso Lloyd Dube is no more. He died in his sleep early morning last Tuesday.

On behalf of Zanu-PF and Government which he served so well, and on my own behalf, I want to express my deepest condolences to Mama Dube, the children and the entire Dube family on this their saddest loss.

It is our loss together one keenly felt especially by all of us who worked with the late departed. It is our loss together because Comrade Dube’s stature far exceeds and surpasses family circles.

Indeed, it projected itself into the national sphere, founded not on high ego, but on his selfless deeds and services to his people and country.

This quiet and humble, dark African giant is no longer with us.

As I stand before you to speak about this great man, this giant intellectual, I discover that Kotsho’s story in large measure mirrors key aspects of our people and nation.

His personal narrative coincides with the narrative of our nation, itself a clear indication that he lived beyond himself, lived for all of us, you and me.

Born on the 25th June 1935, in Malindi Village of Matobo District, he bore the taint of an occupied people, a colonially occupied people.

Zimbabwe had fallen as a sovereign nation in September 1890, following its invasion and occupation by the British through corporatised colonial imperialism.

The people in Matobo as indeed in most parts of Matabeleland for a while seemed spared the scourge of colonial occupation, which was then confined to present-day Mashonaland.

But that would not last for long.

The Ndebele Kingdom under King Lobengula was viewed as the last obstacle to painting the whole of Zimbabwe red, British red, as wished by Cecil John Rhodes, the face of that corporatised imperialism.

The Kingdom had to go, go sooner rather than later. Even the missionaries had long wished for the same, well before the invasion.

The missionaries had laboured for years and years, but without any significant Christian conversions, what with a confident people under a strong King?

And 1893 became the fateful year in which the Ndebele Kingdom came under severe colonial attack, with assaulting columns converging on the ill-fated Kingdom from three angles: Salisbury (Harare), Fort Victoria (Masvingo), and South Africa via Botswana through Plumtree, the route which the reinforcing imperial British army followed in aid of invading the country.

The final outcome of defeat does not diminish the heroic resistance offered by the Ndebele Kingdom, which in the process commissioned a segment of the First Umvukela, First Chimurenga, from which later struggles would draw inspiration.

We cannot forget the heroic stand of resistance at Shangaan where our forebears wiped out a whole white unit led by one Allan Wilson.

But the odds turned against the kingdom, and the superior weaponry of the invaders triumphed.

Then the whole country came under effective colonial occupation. Dube’s Matobo included. Before long, occupation prevailed right across the country. This forced our people to forge unity so they could confront the occupier more effectively, more broadly.

Hence the 1896/7 war of resistance which gave us a key lesson which must forever abide in our national consciousness.

While our immediate identity and languages might derive from and reside in ethnic organisations, our survival and defences, as a nation, lie in our transcendental unity as Zimbabweans.

As history shows, imperialism targets all of us, regardless of our tribal affiliations and relations. Comrade Dube knew that well.

Growing up in the thirties and forties meant growing within an environment in which the colonial system was consolidating. Of course legal instruments for the alienation of our land had already been passed by the time Comrade Dube was born.

But he came early enough to feel the effects of the Land Apportionment Act.

Like most parts of the country, harsh and inhospitable Matobo — baboon country in colonial parlance — was designated a reserve for displaced Africans forcibly removed from prime land, to make way for new white landowners.

Dube was thus born into a setting that was a symbol of defeat and subsequent displacement.

To grow up in the thirties, forties and fifties, meant a hard struggle for sparse educational opportunities. Very few elitist schools were run by missionaries.

Comrade Dube was lucky. Between 1945 and 1951, he went to Zamanyoni School where he stayed up to Standard Six, which he would complete at Mzingwane.

He then went to Thekwani Secondary School for his matriculation.

For most people, the way out was joining the job market. Comrade Dube was no exception, and by standards of his day was quite fortunate.

Between 1961 and 1963, he was an articled law clerk at Coghlan, Welsh and Guest Attorneys.

Thereafter, between 1963 and 1965, he joined the Federal Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. By any prevailing African standards, his prospects seemed bright enough to secure him and his family a fairly comfortable life, albeit under colonial conditions.

It speaks highly of Comrade Kotsho Dube that when the declaration of UDI was made in 1965, he immediately abandoned his promising career for a life of struggle.

He joined Zapu, becoming its representative at the United Nations.

He also covered South America, with his mandate broadening to cover the United Kingdom, Scandinavian countries and the whole of Western Europe.

It was a huge responsibility, but one also requiring lots of intellect, self-drive and confidence.

For here was a young black Rhodesian tackling the white world in order to end its occupation of his motherland. Quite a daunting task!

We thank him for rendering that service so well in those difficult years. Alongside those onerous duties, he took time to read more until he acquired his doctoral qualifications.

The role of the intellectual in colonial Rhodesia was a troubled one. From a reviled “impudent mission boy” in colonial white eyes, the educated native was ironically rejected by the very so-called civilised white society, which his imported western education had prepared him for.

The Rhodesian whites hated missionaries for extending higher education to the African, preferring that native education restricts itself to preparing the native for a life of a manual labourer.

The white door was thus slammed on him. Much worse, that same education was meant to alienate him from his native home and people, which increasingly became a painful experience.

It took a lot for the likes of Kotsho Dube to subordinate their elitist education and careers to the demands of the struggle.

Some would simply reject any such invitations, hiding their educated heads into the sand of their highly rewarding professions.

Others would turn very hostile to the cause of nationalism, castigating those involved as “ignoramuses”, as “men of brawn”. They end up collaborating with the white establishment against their own people.

Yet the revolution needed our elites, our thinkers.

More than a physical assault, colonialism and settlerism had been a formidable assault on our whole being, including our own civilisation, intellect and culture.

It had denied that we existed as nations, as peoples, creating the terra nihillus myth.

It had dismissed our cultural being as barbarous heathenism. It has despoiled our land. It had denied our own civil rights, stolen our sovereignty as a people.

The revolution needed minds that digested all these levels of collective assault, turning these into a set of grievances which would represent a people’s predicament while mobilising them for action.

For our representatives abroad, principally at the United Nations where Comrade Dube was, daily abuses of Africans by white settlers had to be carefully presented and turned into formidable political ammunition, strong enough to move motions, to suggest supportive resolutions that would assist the liberation effort diplomatically. That was a key front in the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe, and Dube played it so well.

Later, he was redeployed to Zambia where he helped with information dissemination in aid of the struggle.

He continued to serve his party and country after independence, playing a crucial role in the integrating the structures of the United Zanu-PF after our Unity accord in 1987.

Recognising his vast experience in the field of diplomacy, I wasted no time in enlisting him into our diplomatic service where he served us well.

From France, he covered Spain, Portugal the Vatican and UNESCO. Later, he served in Nigeria, before moving to Zambia, his last post as Ambassador.

In between diplomatic assignments and his death, he headed parastatal boards, including at ZBC, the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and the NRZ.

As we mourn the passing on of this courageous fighter for our freedom, let us draw life-long lessons from his career.

He served with loyalty, always standing by his people and for his people. He was not a self-seeker, but searched for common good. Not once did we get an adverse report suggesting any deviation from the path of principle or integrity. We need the lessons of his illustrious life, those of us who often think that Zimbabwe needs a white man to prosper.

We need the lessons of his impeccable career, those of us who think setting aside one’s people’s interests in order to win white goodwill marks modernity and better leadership. Those of us who think only by betraying our own!

Zimbabwe is richly endowed with resources. It has absolutely no reason to kowtow to little countries whose only harvest in bitter cold, merely because they happen to be in the west and are white.

To Comrade Dube I want to say: Thank you Comrade for the struggle whose burdens you shared with all of us, without flinching.

Thank you for the sacrifices you made, even without regard to yourself or family.

Thank you for the country you helped free, the nation you helped build through unity. Today that nation salutes you, and has decided to honour you in this very special way.

Hamba Kahle, Qhawe lamaQhawe.

I thank you.

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