Historians remain in dispute as to what Argentine-Cuban hero of the oppressed Ernesto “Ché” Guevara’s last words were.
They also cannot agree on how exactly his final moments on that dark day in Bolivia in October 1976 played out.
One of the earliest versions to come out, propagated by the Western media soon after Ché’s death, was that the great revolutionary was full of regret.
They pushed the line that Ché died cowering, died like a coward.
Then there was another, almost similar, version.
That one had General Alfredo Ovando Candía — who had previously been Co-President of Bolivia, and was to later be sole President, but was at the time head of the Bolivian Armed Forces — declared that Ché had died in battle.
Gen Ovando claimed that as Ché was dying after falling to a salvo of bullets, he lamented: “I am Ché Guevara and I have failed.”
That version failed to gain sustainable traction because anyone who had seen how Ché lived and breathed revolution in the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America knew this was crude character assassination.
Yet another variation has it that Ché’s last words were to Colonel Arnaldo Saucedo Parada, a senior Bolivian intelligence officer, who is said to have authored a report on the revolutionary’s final moments.
He put down those last words as: “I knew you were going to shoot me; I should never have been taken alive.
“Tell Fidel (Castro) that this failure does not mean the end of the revolution, that it will triumph elsewhere.
“Tell Aleida (Ché’s wife) to forget this, remarry and be happy, and keep the children studying. Ask the soldiers (who were to execute him) to aim well.”
Again, the accuracy of this account is the subject of debate, but historians say it certainly is more believable than Gen Ovando’s claim.
There is another version, one that supporters of Ché, romantics and the downtrodden, tend to believe over all others, one they cling to like Bible truth. The version in question says his last words were to his executioner, Sergeant Jaime Terán.
And even that version has its own nuances, again highlighting the problem of recording history.
Some say Sgt Terán volunteered to kill Ché.
Others say the Bolivian soldiers drew lots and it fell upon Sgt Terán to carry out the shameful act of murdering an honourable man.
It says when the executioner walked into the cell in which the prisoner was being held, Ché looked and said: “I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”
Others say his actual words were: “Know this now, you are killing a man.”
Whatever the exact words were, it is from this version that the statement “You can’t kill an idea” gets its popular currency.
People can be killed, but not their ideas.
It is something we have all known since the birth of humanity but that has not stopped fickle man from trying to kill ideas.
The West — primarily through parties like the MDCs in their various incarnations, a captive private media, and a plethora of political non-governmental organisations — have for close to two decades now been trying to kill an idea in Zimbabwe.
It matters not that the Independence of 1980, whose heroic standard bearers we celebrate this Heroes and Defence Forces Holiday, should have taught them better; taught them that the idea of sovereignty here cannot be killed. And we should remain united in that defence of our sovereignty over our land and resources, as pointed out by President Mugabe in Gwanda yesterday.
As we honour our heroes and celebrate our defence forces on August 14 and 15, 2017, and as we look forward to the 2018 harmonised elections, let us all bear in mind that we owe it to the great idea of sovereignty to remain united.
Deriving the best possible value from our land and resources will never happen in an environment where we pull away from each other and give those who would like to kill our idea room within which to manoeuvre.
The Second Chimurenga would have dragged on longer had we not been united.
Our quest to become a developed nation will last that much longer in the absence of unity.
Let us heed the President’s call for unity, and work together for a brighter future.
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