Born free...breaking the chains

'We had all been in the rain together until yesterday. Then a handful of us - the smart and the lucky and hardly ever the best - had scrambled for the one shelter our former rulers left, and had taken it over and barricaded themselves in.'

Chinua Achebe, (1967). A man of the people, pg34.

18 April 1980, marked the dawn of a new era in Zimbabwe's history. With the lowering of the Union Jack by English Royalty Prince Charles and the raising of Zimbabwe's new flag, native Zimbabweans from all walks of life hoped that the new nationalist government would promote fundamental freedoms and liberate the populace from all forms of bondage. Under the Ian Smith colonialist regime, which preceded the nationalist government, the masses were suppressed through draconian laws including the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA) and there was intolerance of divergent political opinions. Thousands of young men and women were murdered because of their political views, while others still were tortured, detained for years without trial and exiled.

Post 1980, a new generation was born with hope, a generation which never witnessed the severity of the war of liberation. Today, this generation constitutes more than 60% of the country's population. Although the 'Born Frees' were born into an independent Zimbabwe, their freedom as youths was compromised and remains so owing to their exclusion by government in political processes, physical and psychological torture, unemployment and poverty. The youths, instead of acting as catalysts for change in the country, were used to murder, maim and torture innocent civilians particularly during the run-up to crucial elections in 1985, 2000 and 2008.

In commemoration of Zimbabwe's independence, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Youth Committee held a 'Born Free' concert at C.J Hall, Highfields on Monday 19 April, which was attended by over 1,000 people. The theme of the concert was 'Born Free... Breaking the chains' and implored upon youths in Zimbabwe to remain determined in their fight for the full realisation of their fundamental freedoms and to break the bondage of exclousion, torture, unemployment and poverty. Artists who performed were Stunner, Sulumani Chimbetu, Raymond Majongwe, Fungisai Zvakavapano- Mashavave, Winky D, Mageish and Mambokadzi.

Speaking at the concert, The Coalition Youth Committee Chairperson and Youth Agenda Director, Mr. Arnold Chamunogwa highlighted that the youth in Zimbabwe should remain resilient and unwavering in their struggle for a more youth friendly environment. Youths are advocating for an environment where they are viewed more as competent political players rather than 'militias' during election time and where there is job creation and youth empowerment.


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