Zimbabwe’s independence came about through suffering and supreme sacrifice by patriotic sons and daughters who waged a long and arduous struggle against the colonial regime.
Our independence was not given to us at the Lancaster House constitutional conference in December, 1979, but was won on the battlefield in 16 years of bitter war of liberation, which resulted in tens of thousands of our people perishing.
The National Heroes Acre, our revered shrine, is the pride of the people of Zimbabwe. It is a symbol of bravery and selflessness for those whose remains are laid to rest there. Towering and selflessness for those remains are laid to rest there. Towering majestically is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which symbolises the final resting place for tens and thousands of Zimbabweans who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our freedom and independence, but whose remains are scattered in valleys, disused mines, caves, unknown graves and mass graves spread across the nation and in neighboring states. Zimbabwe’s war of liberation was the epic of the revolutionary spirit that characterize modern Zimbabweans. We are fighters, hence our own liberators- in every sphere, political, economic and social.
Before independence many of our people were detained under sub-human conditions by the notorious Rhodesian regime, and some of them spent long spells in detention without trial. Tens of thousands of our gallant fighters sacrificed their lives to free Zimbabwe. In honour of these fallen heroes, the Government built shrines across the country where declared heroes are interred. All heroes’ acres are administered by the Department of Museums and National Monuments.
Conferment of hero status is a great honour in recognition of these gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe. The heroes are classified in three categories and generally reflect the departed hero’s or heroine’s contribution to the nation. The status is determined by the State on a case by case basis.
According to the National Heroes Act [Chapter 10:16], designation of heroes is done by the President “where the President considers that any deceased person who was a citizen of Zimbabwe has deserved well of his country on account of his outstanding, distinctive and distinguished service to Zimbabwe, he may, by notice in Gazette, designate, such a person a national, provincial or district hero of Zimbabwe.”
National hero status is the highest honour that can be conferred on individual and the recipients are entitled to be buried at the National Heroes Acre. The other status are liberation war hero (formerly district hero). The former are buried at the provincial heroes acres while the later are buried at district shrines if their families agree.
These sacred shrines were built to honour the heroes of Zimbabwe, past, present and future. The heroes include national leaders, freedom fighters and dedicated supporters of the national liberation struggle who participated in or undertook revolutionary activities that contributed directly to the final victory and declaration of independence on April, 1980.
These heroes laid down their lives for Zimbabwe to be free. They subordinated their personal interests to the collective interest of Zimbabwe as the whole. They cherished qualities such as loyalty, dedication and patriotism.
Their actions were guided by the ideas of comradeship and love. Their support for the cause of freedom and justice was indeed unwavering. They accepted and endured pain, suffering and brutality with fortitude, even unto death.
Some of the heroes include contemporary and future sons and daughters of Zimbabwe of the same caliber as those fallen heroes whose dedication and committed to the nation of Zimbabwe justify their burial at the sacred spots.