Zimbabwean liberation-era musician Dickson Chingaira, popularly known as Comrade Chinx, was laid to rest Friday, at Glen Forest Cemetery in Harare.
The musician’s death and subsequent burial have been a topic of heated discussion with many Zimbabweans arguing that the ever-loyal Zanu-PF member and supporter, should have been declared a national hero and buried at the National Heroes Acre, because of the role he played during the liberation movement with his music, which motivated and mobilized blacks to take up arms against the white minority Rhodesian government.
While the Zanu-PF Politburo recognized Chinx as aLiberation War Hero, this did not entitle him to the prestigious burial at the national shrine.
However, Permanent Secretary in the War Veterans Ministry, retired Brigadier General Walter Tapfumaneyi, said aside from not being buried at the Heroes Acre, difference between the two recognitions is small.
“He will be buried with military honors, and state assistance,” clarified Tapfumaneyi, adding that the “recognition is similar to that of a national hero because he will be included in the National Heroes Act, which ensures his family is taken care of. But he won’t be buried at the Heroes Acre. That’s the difference only.”
Speaking on behalf of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Minister of State for Harare, Miriam Chikukwa, who occasionally broke out in Chinx’s songs as she spoke, acknowledged the role his music played in the liberation movement. She said his music was so impactful that even if you asked a child about Chinx, they would answer by singing one of this popular songs, like “Maruza Imi.”
The spokesperson for Chinx’s family, his son, Deeds Chingaira, said the family was heartbroken by the loss of his father, but thanked Zimbabweans for their love and the respect they showed Chinx.
Accepting that Chinx was not declared a national hero, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Victor Matemadanda, however did not hold back his disappointment, revealing that he and his war colleagues had tried to challenge the politburo’s decision withoug success. Matemadanda however said just like the spiritual mediums and other leaders who died unrecognized during their time, Chinx will get his due recognition, one day.
“If we look at Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, [Ndebele King] Lobengula and others, the day they were killed or died, their heroism was not recognized,” reflected Matemadanda. “They were only recognized by those who came later.”
Regarding who accords anyone hero status, Matemadanda said Zimbabwe’s Constitution should be revisited to ensure that those who choose the country’s heroes, are people who know the right criteria for selecting heroes. Currently, the ruling party’s decision making body, the politburo, makes that decision. Many have often accused the party of bias in selecting heroes, saying its reserved only for those in good favor with the party and President Mugabe.
Among those at Glen Forest Cemetery for Chinx’s burial were government ministers and also musicians, including Oliver Mtukudzi.
Chinx, who died last week after battling cancer, left two wives and 11 children. He was 61.