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Zim Independence Day: 44 years of embarrassment

AS Zimbabweans, we gather every year on April 18 to mark our Independence Day. This year, we hit a somber milestone: 44 years since we broke free from colonial rule. But the freedom we celebrate is tainted by the reality of our lives under an oppressive regime.

Our story began with high hopes in 1980, when the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the new Zimbabwean flag soared in the sky. The air was electric with the promise of a future where every Zimbabwean would have a voice and a chance to prosper. Yet, as the years passed, the initial euphoria gave way to disillusionment.

The early years were filled with promise. Education and health services expanded and there was a sense of unity. But this was short-lived. By the mid-1980s, cracks began to show. The Gukurahundi massacres were a dark chapter that many still whisper about with fear and sorrow. The unity we cherished was shattered by violence and division.

The 1990s brought economic challenges that worsened in the new millennium. Land reforms intended to correct colonial injustices ended up disrupting agriculture, once the backbone of our economy. Hyperinflation soared and basic necessities became luxuries. The Zimdollar collapsed and with it, the savings and livelihoods of countless citizens.

The political landscape has been marred by accusations of rigged elections and human rights abuses. Opposition voices are silenced and the promise of democracy feels like a distant dream. The international community’s response has been sanctions, while aimed at the ruling elite, often end up hurting the common people the most.

Today, our education system, once the pride of Africa, is in ruins. Hospitals lack medicines and those who can, flee the country in search of better opportunities. The youth, who should be the driving force of our nation are left disillusioned.

As we reflect on our 44 years of independence, we must ask ourselves: What went wrong? How did the liberation heroes become the oppressors? The answers are complex, rooted in historical grievances, power struggles and a failure to uphold the principles of democracy and human rights.

Yet, in the midst of this, the spirit of the Zimbabwean people endures. We are a nation of resilience and strength. Our culture, music, and arts continue to thrive, telling the story of a people who will not be broken.

Independence Day should be a celebration of freedom, but for many Zimbabweans, it is a day of reflection and a call to action. We long for the day when the ideals of 1980 are realised, when every Zimbabwean can truly say they are free. Until then, we carry the legacy of our past, the pain of our present and the hope for a brighter future. We are Zimbabweans, proud and unbowed, still dreaming of the day when our independence means true freedom for all. -Kumbirai Thierry Nhamo

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