The devastating effects of Cyclone Idai could not dampen the 39th Independence celebrations in Manicaland province, as thousands of people trooped to various venues on Thursday last week to mark the important milestone.
The Mutare central business district was deserted by midday on Independence Day as people thronged Sakubva Stadium where the main provincial celebrations were taking place.
Paidamoyo Mauna (33) said although the province was still in mourning due to Cyclone Idai, everyone appreciated the significance of independence.
"We are still mourning our brothers and sisters who died as a result of Cyclone Idai, but we also take this time to celebrate those brothers and sisters who died to liberate us as a nation," she said. "We appreciate what they did for us, we would not be here were it not for them."
Simon Gwandingwa (43) said: "Independence is not an ordinary day, but a unique day which defines us as Zimbabweans. This freedom did not come on a silver platter; some died and we have to respect them by honouring them for their selfless dedication for our freedom."
Chipo Karingemupembe (26) said: "I am happy that we are 39 years old. And as a nation, we are being reminded of our past, not just a past, but a sad past. I appreciate all the effort by our heroes and heroines."
Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, in her Independence message, said Manicaland should start working as a unit towards growing the province.
She said Zimbabwe and Mozambique shared a common history which had been strengthened by shared pain that befell the two countries when Cyclone Idai killed hundreds of people.
"As we celebrate our independence, it is only fitting that we acknowledge the role that was played by our close eastern neighbour - Mozambique," she said. "We thank you and owe you always.
"A few weeks ago, the Manicaland family was faced with the tragic loss of innocent lives due to Cyclone Idai. The indiscriminate loss of life affected Zimbabweans, without care for religion, race, sex or political orientation.
"Our communities came together; both local and international friends lent a helping hand, which I would like to express my most sincere gratitude for. Thank you for the support, the unity and resilience you have demonstrated for our province. Let us celebrate today, but do not forget our history and heritage."