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Hounouring the Invisible Heroes as We Mourn Tata Nelson Mandela

Posted by on 07/12/2013

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda*

After the deep shock and pain of death and loss, like we all have experienced this week, its natural that one’s mind drifts off to their personal experiences. I am wearing black, as we are in mourning together with my brothers and sisters in South Africa and the rest of the world.

At this moment, I am also thinking of many other people who died yesterday, whose names we may never know and whose struggles will fore-ever remain invisible. Yet they are heroes and celebrities in the eyes of their families, children and loved ones. I equally just want to honour them today.

I was a fairly young girl when my father, Petre Muzhanje died on 1 April 1978. My whole world seemed to  collapse around me. When relatives and neighbors gathered to receive my late father’s body from Nyadire Hospital and the following day we all trooped to the family resting place; I felt that my one and only hero had gone.

I felt empty, lonely and could touch the void. Who was to whisper to me the stories of how we have to remain resolute and hopeful that the war will end, schools will open again, and I will finish my primary education. I knew that in my own small way, I have to keep that inner fire burning ~ education, freedom and a better Zimbabwe to come.

Then 28 years later, almost, on 19th of January 2006, the gathering was bigger. There were more grandchildren, many people came from many more villages. We again trooped to the to the family shrine to bury our mother.  Rozaria. As I threw my own grains of earth into her resting place, I knew that she will forever be my heroine of all heroes.

Of yes, she was a village woman who had only gone up to grade 3. She had raised 11 children, send them to school with the bare minimum she had. She had buried some of her own due to HIV related illnesses, she cared for those with mental health and gave abundantly to those around her. She had changed generations and transformed my community. It was at this very moment that Rozaria Memorial Trust was born. Her legacy lives on today, in many ways.

As we continue to mourn the great Madiba, I also mourn the very many invisible heroes and heroines in our communities. They are celebrities with screaming headlines in the hearts of many, whose voices and faces we may never see.

May all the be beloved departed rest in perpetual peace.

* Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is the Founder and Chairperson of Rozaria Memorial Trust.