Youths display enormous courage

HARARE - A bold decision taken by youths in rural Lupane to rebury exposed remains of Gukurahundi victims buried in a mass grave at Silwane Primary School, should inspire others.

The achievement reflects immeasurable courage for the youth group to repudiate the notion that only the remains of Rhodesian force’s victims need be exhumed and accorded decent burials as evidence of the regime’s brutality as happened in the Chibondo mine shaft furore.

It took unimaginable pluck and determination for the youths to jolt public conscience so that  society internalises belief that the dead deserve decent burials no matter under what circumstances they lost their lives.

Since the “politically inspired” disturbances ended in 1987, the landscape in Matabeleland and the Midlands remains littered with shallow graves of  victims of the political turbulences which rocked the region with no official attempt to atone ‘that moment of madness”.

That on its own has also prompted unanswered questions about why the government has been so contemptuous of victims of Gukurahundi and the indelible, traumatic memories etched in relatives’ minds.

The Zanu PF government had given people in affected areas the impression that honouring their fallen relatives through re-burying them equated collusion and support which verges on treason.

As a result, families have endured the pain of being denied the right to re-bury their dead in order to put a closure to the shocking memories of that era. Others are reported to be subjected to covert intimidation to discourage them from performing burial rites even when they do not need State help to accomplish the task.

In normal societies the dead are revered and the sight of their remains is sacrilegious.

But perhaps out of prescribed compliance, primary school pupils have had to put up with such a gruesome site daily while adults allowed heretical thoughtlessness to bounce-off their conscience as if it is of no cultural consequence.

Yet it is disheartening that as has been the case with families who lost their loved ones during the Gukurahundi period, people should be made afraid of performing burial rites in line with acknowledged African customs.

Until the youths plucked up the courage to remedy the situation pupils at Silwane lived through a constant reminder of a horrendous past they could not wish away.

Their perception of life soon after independence will always be disfigured.

Now that an example has been offered by sprucing the eerie site giving it a modicum of decency and respectability, communities that still live in similar unsettling circumstances ought to grab the bull by the horns and re-bury their dead without looking over their shoulders.

The living owe the dead that simple honour of giving them a burial in accordance with custom and propriety. - Staff Writer

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