Tsvangirai was never a free man and his voice was like that of a caged bird
The 2018 St. Valentine’s Day will be remembered by many in the SADC region not for the red roses and the clanking champagne glasses, an occasion which normally punctuates a day like this each year. Nor will it be a day where some hearts are broken and when some are mended by the cupid’s arrow of ancient Greek era, no! February 14 2018 will carry the notoriety of being the day when SADC, Africa and the world lost a gallant fighter for a people’s freedom. This is the day Zimbabwe’s opposition stalwart, Morgan Tsvangirai lost his fight to colon cancer. Tsvangirai, an avid fighter for human rights and peoples’ emancipation breathed his last at a hospital in South Africa. He had been on and off the doctor’s room for some time.
The history of Zimbabwe is not complete without people like Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe, Josiah Tongogara, Edgar Tekere, Nehanda Nyakasikana, Sally Mugabe and of cause Morgan Richard Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai was a larger than life kind of revolutionary who was as much emblematic in his call for order in the Zimbabwean political jungle as he was for receiving panga-induced injuries for challenging the status quo. No man in Zimbabwe in this generation had received vilification in modern day Zimbabwe like the man Tsvangirai. That is why, even on his death, both friend and foe alike could not evade the toll of the falling of a giant, the man who built the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC as his party was simply called.
The British, whom we had a sweet-sour relationship could not contain their sadness for a lost son of the soil. “Morgan Tsvangirai represented courage and determination in the face of oppression and gave ordinary Zimbabweans faith to believe in the future. He was one of the bravest political leaders of his time and will be sadly missed,” so said the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
The late Tsvangirai has been escalated as the face of bravery in the Zimbabwean opposition. After going through so many obstacles in his journey to the presidency, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai was the target of Mugabe assassination attempts. Many Zimbabweans will remember Tsvangirai during the Ari Ben Menashe treason trail days when the Israeli intelligence operative was hired by the Zimbabwean government to implicate him in a bogus and homebrewed coup plot. Many court hours were spent and only after a protracted court case did the judge find him not guilty of the crime. Being an opposition animal in Zimbabwe is no walk in the park.
This larger-than-life character of Zimbabwean politics was a revered leader who tore apart the deification that Mugabe received before he came to be an opposition figure. As one young opposition politician Fadzai Mhere would put it aptly, Morgan Tsvangirai would have been better remembered if he was made to Rest in Power. “Rest in Power Tsvangirai, thank you for forging the path and blazing the trail in the struggle for democracy,” he eulogized. Indeed the epitaph of such great men do not deserve to be a mosaic of praise worshiping. A few details are enough to remind us that we are mere mortals but there are those that are more mortal than others. Tsvangirai belonged to the second class of human beings. The fact that he had not yet ascended to the highest office does not diminish the grandeur that he became as the fighter for the people hopes. His life was never tainted by the worldly opulence that many African political and religious leaders are wont to pursue immediately they get to control the purse. He is as blameless as any mere mortal would have liked to be remembered for. As we close the chapter of a Morgan Tsvangirai who rose from Teaboy to National icon; we open another of a country that is bereft of a father figure and its political landscape still not free. Maya Angelou, the famed American author saw it when she wrote: “I know why a caged bird sings.” As long as the people of Zimbabwe are caged in a situation that would impoverish half the population in less than a decade, Morgan Tsvangirai was never a free man and his voice was like that of “a caged bird that stands on the grave of dreams.” He was truly a great Zimbabwean and a committed patriot, May his Soul Rest in eternal Peace.