This weekend heralds August 26 when the nation dedicates itself to the remembrance of our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, inside and outside the country, who contributed to the liberation of this country in whatever way. We also join the nation in this hour to pause, spare a thought for them whose blood waters our freedom. In doing this we must not only remember them but must re-imbue ourselves with their spirit to carry forward the torch, which they not only held high but also carried with dedication and selflessness. Although political freedom has been attained, when we remember them we must also remind ourselves that the battle is far from having been won. With freedom and independence we did not only gain the right to politically determine our destiny but we equally assumed the responsibility of creating the necessary conditions in which our people can work towards the betterment of their welfare and wellbeing. Besides creating these conditions we must always keep in mind that among our people there are those for whom we need to do more than just create conducive conditions. The occasion must also remind us that with sovereignty we also inherited many problems related to more than a hundred years of the neglect of our people. These problems like poverty, ignorance, land hunger, being on the periphery of the economic system where most of our people find themselves, remain with us 16 years after independence. We know we cannot undo them overnight but occasions like Heroes Day more than anything must serve to remind us that our mission is far from being accomplished. In remembering the day we must connect with the spirits of those fallen to empower us to carry forward the quest for the empowerment of our people to the bitter end. It is for this reason that we not only join the nation in commemorating our heroines and heroes but also appeal to all and sundry to re-dedicate themselves to preserving all the good things our fallen heroines and heroes have bequeathed us. Precious among these is our independence. To this independence we have inherited and have also worked for, we have also added values to it. These values are peace, stability and reconciliation. However, there are more values that we need to add. Most important among these is tolerating the ideas of others. Somehow we still need to mature to be able to tolerate others not only physically but also in terms of their thinking, ideas and philosophies. This maturity cannot be manifested solely by the extent to which we physically tolerate others and allow them to have free consciences but also by the extent to which they speak their minds freely, unfettered and without fear and these ideas are not smothered. Unless we listen to what they have to say and read what they write there can be no healthy debate in this society. A healthy debate can only ensure once what they wish to espouse comes to our attention. But all these values would remain hollow if we do not administer to the material needs of our people, some of which are becoming more pressing by the day. So as we all remember our heroines and heroes in our own special and different ways, we must not lose sight of this important fact. Most significantly we must remember that independence dawned for all of us. Thus those who sacrificed for it, shed their blood and laid down their lives cannot be anybody’s heroines and heroes but for the whole country. We cannot enjoy the fruit of independence, in whatever way we enjoy and whatever the differences in enjoyment, but deny our heroines and heroes, especially the fallen and departed ones, the memory they deserve. Of course this is said mindful of the fact that in one way or another, we are all heroines and heroes.
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