By Tafara Shumba
While a few rouge protestors, not exceeding 20 to be precise, are demonstrating against President Mugabe at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, US, the generality of Zimbabweans have agreed to profoundly show their veneration for the same President through renaming the country’s biggest airport after his name.
Thus, with effect from 9 November 2017, Harare International Airport will be called R.G Mugabe International Airport.
The Americans, who are the host of UNGA, know what it means to name an airport after a person’s name, for they have over eight airports that they named after their former presidents. They have John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) – New York; George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) – Houston, Texas; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) – Washington, DC; Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) – Grand Rapids, Michigan; Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) – Springfield, Illinois; Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT) – Little Rock, Arkansas; Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (ICT) – Wichita, Kansas and Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport (DIK) – Dickinson, North Dakota.
These men contributed immensely towards the realisation of the American dream.
Across Limpopo lies the biggest and busiest airport in the continent. That airport caters for more than 17 million passengers each year and has more than 18 000 people employed by various companies that operate at that airport. That airport was in October 2006 renamed O.R Tambo International as a tribute to one of the new South Africa’s most important founding fathers, Oliver Reginald Tambo, fondly known as O.R. by his peers. He is renowned in South Africa and abroad for his significant contribution to the liberation of South Africa.
There is Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria; Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which is Kenya’s largest aviation facility, and the busiest airport in eastern and central Africa that was named after the first Kenyan Prime Minister and President Jomo Kenyatta.
In Zimbabwe, it was long overdue really.
It is, therefore, not far-fetched to rename Harare International Airport after Zimbabwe’s own iconic leader. In fact, the airport will bear a king-size name, for the man’s contributions transcend national frontiers. Naming after his name a continental structure such as the Africa Union Headquarters would be commensurate with the stature of the man.
In renaming Harare International Airport, Zimbabweans have made a thunderous statement that they still love their President. The echoes of the statement must be heard in the US where hired protestors are attempting to create an impression that President Mugabe is no longer a darling for the people. Those few protesters are not in any way a representative of the popular voice in Zimbabwe. The popular voice made a statement in 2013 and it will do so again next year. If those protestors want to make their statement, they must come and do so democratically trough the ballot. Noise can never vote.
The renaming of Harare International Airport comes hot on the heels of a declaration of President Mugabe’s birthday as a public holiday in Zimbabwe. That was a development that was also overdue. South Africa has a Nelson Mandela Day which they celebrate every month of July.
The naming of an airport after the President’s name and the declaration of his birthday as a public holiday received heavy-duty resistance from the opposition who are only motivated by the need to please the West. There is absolutely no problem for the children of Zimbabwe to honour their liberation icon by means of a mere recognition of his birthday and just naming an airport without giving him the title deeds of same.
Attaching significance to his name to celebrate his life is only a small way that Zimbabweans can express their veneration for the revolutionary. What Zimbabweans have done to esteem the President is proper as he is undisputedly the most exceptional figure in the history of the country.
Although he is not the sole figure that contributed to the liberation of this country, certainly, President Mugabe is the only survivor from the crop of the chief architects of the liberation struggle that ushered in independence in 1980. He spent 11 precious years of his life in the colonialist’s jail. He had a decent job that could have easily tempted him to watch the struggle from the terraces.
It takes a real patriot and revolutionary to leave the comfort of decent and gainful employment in the diaspora and join the rugged terrain of the liberation struggle. President Mugabe did just that when many failed to part with such comfort.
Only a witch can object to according such honour to a man who has been hitherto introducing policies that seek the economic empowerment of the ordinary citizens of this country. Today, almost 300 000 households are proud owners of farms, thanks to the historic land reform revolution led by President Mugabe.
The hubbub about the proposal of a Mugabe Day and renaming of the airport is not justified at all. In any case, there are some evil celebrations taking place around, which the same people who are objecting the proposed Mugabe Day, wink at.
The Rhodies have an ex-Rhodies reunion commemoration day where they honour former Rhodesian forces. They honour the murderers who ruthlessly butchered tens of thousands of innocent Zimbabweans in the country and in camps dotted around the neighbouring countries. These ex-Rhodies will be obviously celebrating how they massacred the innocent Zimbabweans.
What hurts most is that, at one time, an MDC-T daughter, Jacqueline Zwambila was so morally dirty that he found nothing wrong in gracing such an evil commemoration.
MDC-T and its political partners see no problem in celebrating the bloodbath of innocent Zimbabweans. Conversely, they are not comfortable with honouring a man who sacrificed his life to put a stop to the butchery of innocent Zimbabweans.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.