Herbert Chitepo, Zimbabwe’s First Black Lawyer Made History
19 March 2023
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Forty eight years ago on the morning of March 18, 1975, Herbert Chitepo who was a key leader of the liberation movement ZANU, was blown to pieces after a bomb planted underneath his pale blue Volkswagen Beetle exploded outside his home in Lusaka.

Now he lies in the cold earth in the independent Zimbabwe which he died for. His legacy flows in our blood even today.


No serious study into the contemporary trajectories, history and politics of Zimbabwe can forego the celebrated influence and the contribution of Herbert Wiltshire Pfumaindini Chitepo, born on June 15 1923 in Inyanga (now Nyanga).

He led ZANU until he was assassinated in Lusaka, Zambia, on March 18 1975.

He was murdered by the British Special Air Services (SAS) as stated by author Peter Stiff.

A SAS member, Hugh Hind, was singled out for the heinous act.

If anything the nation of Zimbabwe is a combination of his ideals and the imaginations of a liberator who sought to advance dreams and hopes associated with a free country with socialist convictions.
Chairman Chitepo was the first black citizen of Rhodesia to become a barrister.

He was not only learned, but very selfless and patriotic.
There is no doubt in my mind that, in general African standards, Chairman Chitepo will have done quite extensively for the material, intellectual, economic and political development of Africa.
He kick-started the removal of arrogance, political intolerance and at worst cultism which was implanted by the oppressor.
As a hero, Cde Chitepo could not banish dangers, but could banish fears.
We mustn’t demean life by standing in awe of death.
Death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. Eternity…such a small word to describe such a haunting vastness.
And so, we ask ourselves: Will our actions echo across the centuries?
Will strangers hear our names long after we’re gone and know who we were?
Cde Chitepo silently did that.
The hero who lost his life in battle will not soon be forgotten. Those who knew him best will tell stories of his bravery, his heroism, and his sacrifice.
We will talk of how he stood by us through thick and thin, and how he saved others’ lives more than a few times.
We will carry the memory of Cde Chitepo in our hearts forever.
We will celebrate his life and we will cherish the memories of his fierce loyalty, unwavering convictions, and deep, faithful love for the country and for the people.
This hero went from this life, but he is not forgotten; he will live on within us.
His memory will live on through us, and it is our privilege and responsibility to ensure he is remembered forever for how honourably he lived, how bravely he fought and how fiercely he loved.

The wreckage of the pale blue Volkswagen Beetle which was blown up by Rhodesian agents in Lusaka Zambia on March 18, 1975.
It is very difficult to say words in memory to this hero of the beloved Zimbabwe because of what he was and represented.
A feeling of sorrow, an infinite grief catches our throats — sorrow for the loss of the nation yet great joy that we gained so much from such sacrifice.
He went away, the soldier of the highest ideal of human redemption, exiled from his own country, persecuted by the tyrants.
We grieve for those who remained, but in the very depth of our heart, we are hallowed by our feeling of eternal gratitude to what he fought for, lived for and died for.
From all aspects of life, Cde Chitepo came to us like a child of immortal Zimbabwe and in the hardest days of the war, when our being was being trampled and threatened, it was Cde Chitepo, the gallant son of the soil, who helped save the country with his fighting enthusiasm, heroism and spirit of sacrifice.
Today we remember the hero who helped save a threatened country’s freedom and independence – the freedom and independence of our people and yet, profoundly loving liberty and justice, he came and offered himself to us unconditionally.
As we go towards elections this year please remember cde Chitepo. He gave us everything; his youth and his maturity; his science and his experience; his blood and his life, his hope and aspirations and he asked us for nothing in return.
He made history in life and made history in death.
Parents, when the years pass by and the wounds of war are healed; when the memory of the sad and bloody days dissipates in the presence of liberty, of peace and of well being; when the rancours have died out and pride in a free country is felt equally by all Zimbabweans, speak to your children.
Tell them of this man of valour.
We shall never forget Chairman Chitepo.
Long live the hero of Zimbabwe!

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