Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Judith Ncube yesterday urged the nation to uphold the values bestowed on the country by the late Vice President and Father Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo.
The nationalist leader died on July 1, 1999 and was buried at the National Heroes Acre.
The Joshua Nkomo National Foundation has in the past 21 years held various events to honour and remember the life of the late Vice President with a memorial service at the Roman Catholic Church.
Dr Nkomo was a Catholic.
Yesterday, a memorial service was held at his museum in Matsheumhlophe suburb and was led by Father Jeremy Dube.
Minister Ncube narrated an emotional visit she made with other women during Dr Nkomo's last days in hospital.
"A week before his death, we hired a Zupco bus with other women. We felt compelled to visit and show support to umama uMaFuyana in Harare. When we got there, security details at the hospital told us that we could not all see him. Only seven of us were allowed to enter. That on its own told us that his condition was not good. Umama uMaFuyana met us and led us to his ward. When we got there, the late Umdala Wethu was not moving. UMafuyana said loudly to him 'Khulu nampa abantwana basilandile ukuzosibona.' He tried to speak, but because of his condition he could not, MaFuyana again went to his ear and whispered, 'khulu sebezwile abantwana.' After that she led us out," she said.
The minister said the encounter moved them so much that when they got to the bus, they all sat and no one said anything.
"There was silence in the bus until we reached Kadoma. Those who did not manage to see him were then demanding to know what transpired and we told them that the situation was not good. As we remember the late Father Zimbabwe, let us not forget his wife uMaFuyana who was beside him throughout it all," said the minister.
Minister Ncube said Father Zimbabwe was a nation builder who left key values for the country.
"The memorial service done today stands as an important annual commemoration, which seeks to acknowledge the life journey of our icon Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo. Throughout his life, he committed himself to building a society that promotes all cultures in their diversity and he knew no tribe, but the children of the soil abantwana bomhlabathi hence the need to continuously cultivate those key values of peace, unity, love and tolerance," she said.
Minister Ncube said it is important for the country to always make the late Father Zimbabwe a reference point.
"Let us continue learning from the late Vice President Nkomo and cement peace, unity, love, tolerance, which he (Dr Joshua Nkomo) said are the founding principles of a country. We honour him for his ability to bring people and ideas together, across disciplines, sectors and generations.
"We once again pay tribute to the father of the nation, a great African veteran of our long African struggle. We remember him for his spirit of excellence, integrity, determination and the will to succeed and creating new pathways of thought for our people and changing lives forever," said Minister Ncube.
In statement, the Chief Secretary to President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said Dr Nkomo was a rare breed of freedom fighters who sacrificed to free the country from colonial bondage.
Dr Sibanda said the inspiring works of the late Father Zimbabwe, also known as Chibwechitedza, would forever be imprinted in the country's history.
"As we heard towards the 40th Anniversary of our Heroes Day, we shall continue to cherish the values that Dr Nkomo stood for, among them unity, freedom, peace, patriotism, Ubuntu/Hunhu, non-racialism, selfless dedication to national duty and land reform."