President Robert Mugabe’s speech, which he made on the eve of Zimbabwe’s independence on April 17 1980. “The final countdown before the launching of the new State of Zimbabwe has now begun. Only a few hours from now, Zimbabwe will have become free, independent and sovereign state, free to choose its own flight path and chart its own course to its chosen destiny. Its people have made a democratic choice of those who as their legitimate government, they wish to govern them and take policy decision as to their future.
“This, indeed, is the meaning of the mandate my party secured through a free and fair election, conducted in the full glare of the world’s spotlight. While my government welcomes the mandate it has been given and is determined to nor to the letter, it also accepts that the fulfillment of the tasks imposed by the mandate are only possible with the confidence, goodwill, and cooperation of all of you, reinforced by the forthcoming support and encouragement of all our friends, allies and well wishers in the international community.
“The march to our national independence has been long, arduous and hazardous. On this march, much countless lives have been lost and many sacrifices made. Death and suffering have been the price we have called upon to pay. For the final priceless reward of freedom and national independence. May I thank all of you who have had to suffer and sacrifice for the reward we are now getting. Tomorrow we shall be celebrating the historic even which our people have striven for nearly a century to achieve. Our people, young and old, men and women, black and white, living and dead, are on this occasion being brought together in a new form of national unity that makes them all Zimbabweans. Independence will bestow on us a new personality, a new sovereignty, a new future and perspective and indeed a new history and a new past. Tomorrow we are being born again, born again, not as individuals, but collectively as people, nay as a viable nation of Zimbabweans.
Tomorrow is thus our birthday, the birth of a great Zimbabwe and the birth of its nation. Tomorrow we shall cease to be men and women of the past and become men and women of the future. Its tomorrow then not yesterday, which bears our destiny. As we become a new people we are called to be constructive, progressive and forever forward looking, for we cannot afford to be men of yesterday, backward looking, retrogressive and destructive. Our new nation required of every one of us to be a new man with a new man, a new heart and a new spirit. Our new mind must have a new vision and a new hearts a new love that spurns hate and a new spirit that must unite and not divide.
This to me is a human that must form the core of our political change and national independence. Henceforth you and I must strive to adapt ourselves intellectually and spiritually to the reality of our political change and relate to each other as brothers bound to one another but a bond of national comradeship. If yesterday I fought as an enemy, today you have become a friend, an ally with the same national interest, loyalty, rights and duties as myself. If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me and me to you. It is not folly therefore that in these circumstances anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past. The wrongs of the past must now stand forgiven and forgotten. If ever we looked to the past, let us do so for the lesson the past has taught us, namely that oppression and racism are iniquities that must never again find scope in our political and social system. It could never be a correct justification that because whites oppressed us yesterday when they had power, the blacks must oppress them today because they have power. An evil remains an evil whether practiced by white against black or black against white. Our majority rule could easily turn into inhuman rule if we oppressed persecuted or harassed those who do not look or think like the majority of us. Democracy is never mob rule; it is and should remain disciplined rule requiring compliance with the law and social rules. Our independence must therefore not be construed as an instrument vesting individuals or groups with the right to harass and intimidate others into acting against their will. It is not the right to negate the freedom of others to think and act as they desire.
I therefore wish to appeal to all of you to respect each other and act in promotion of national unity rather than negation of that unity. On Independence Day our integrated security forces will in spite of their having only recently fought each other be marching in step together to herald the new era of national unity and togetherness.
Let this be an example to all of us to follow. Indeed, let this enjoin the whole of our nation to march in perfect
unison from year to year and decade to decade towards its destiny. We have abundant mineral agriculture and human resources to exploit and develop for which we need perfect peace. Given such peace, our endeavor is to transform our society and raise our standard of living are bound to succeed. The mineral resources lying beneath the surface of our country have hardly been scratched nor have our agricultural and industrial resources yet fully harnessed. N0ow we have peace, we must go fully out to exploit them. We already have a sophisticated infrastructure. Our expertise is bound to increase as more and more educational and technical institutions are established to transform our skilled manpower. The whole world is looking on us this day.
Indeed many countries in the international community are amazed at how we have so quickly unexpectedly moved from war to peace. We have certainly won the goodwill of many countries and can confidently expect to benefit from the economic and technical aid they are able and willing to provide for us. May I assure you that my government is determined to bring about meaningful change to the lives of the majority of the people in the country. But I must ask you to be patient and allow my government time to organize programmes that will effectively yield that change. There are people without land who need land, people without jobs who need jobs, children without schools who need schools and patients without hospitals who need them. We are also fully aware for the need of increased wages in all sectors of employment. My government will certainly do its best to meet these existing needs in these areas, but you have to assist us by being patient and peaceful.’
I now finally wish to appeal to you wherever you are, to participate fully today and Saturday in the Independence
celebrations that have been organized throughout the country. There are of course those of you who have the duty to maintain essential services, these services must be indeed maintained so that the celebrations are facilitated. Maintaining such essential services during the celebrations is a significant contribution to their success.
I wish to thank Her Majesty the Queen for having sent His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales to represent her and officiate our independence ceremony where he will perform the symbolic act of severing our colonial ties with Britain, As you are aware, the historic ceremony will be witnessed by heads of state and government representatives of nearly 100 nations plus representatives of several international, political and voluntary organization. The ceremony will also be reported and re-laid to millions of people in the world by the mass media. May I endure you all to regard you all to regard this solemn occasion with honour and dignity and participate in the celebrations that follow it with jubilation. Let us rejoice over our independence and recognize in it the need to dedicate ourselves to national unity, peace and progress. I now wish to pay tribute to Lord Soames, our governor for the most important role he has played in successfully guiding the country to elections and independence. He was from the very onset given the most difficult and unenviable task and yet he performed it with remarkable ability and overwhelming dignity. I must admit that I was one of those who originally never trusted him and yet I have now ended up not only explicitly trusting, but fondly loving him as well. He is indeed a great man through whom it has been possible within a short period I have been Prime Minister to organize substantial financial and technical aid from Britain and other countries. I am personally indebted to him for the advice he has constantly given me on the art of managing the affairs of the government.
I shall certainly be missing a good friend and counselor and so will our independent Zimbabwe and all its people. I also wish to thank all our distinguished guests for the honour they have given us by coming to attend our independence celebrations on behalf of their countries and organisations. Their presence in our country signifies a bond of solidarity and friendship between their countries or organisation and our country. Without the support they have given us towards our liberation this day would never have come about.
Thank you therefore for all the material, political, diplomatic, and moral support they have given us. Sons and daughters of Zimbabawe I urge you to participate fully and jubilantly in our independence celebration and to ensure that all our visitors are well entertained and treated with the utmost hospitality. I shall be one in spirit and love and loyalty and commitment with you all.
Forward with the year of the peoples power.
Long Live our Freedom, Long Live our Sovereignty,
Long Live our Independence,
Forward with the year of the peoples power!