August 28 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech.
He has always been one of my heroes and I have taken great inspiration from his speeches for many decades.
While rereading his I have a dream speech it struck me that it applies very much to Zimbabwe today.
Many are feeling downcast; many in the human rights community feel that despite decades of struggle to bring freedom and tolerance to Zimbabwe, we are going backwards.
It was in that light that I found the speech so encouraging because many black Americans felt that way on August 28 1963. And so this morning, I have adapted the speech to suit Zimbabwe today and I hope you will find it as inspirational:
“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’
We can never be satisfied as long as Zimbabweans are the victims of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.
We cannot be satisfied as long as a Zimbabwean in Highfield cannot vote and a Zimbabwean in Johannesburg believes she has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’
I am not unmindful that some of you are mightily weary out of great trials and tribulations.
Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality.
You have been the veterans of creative suffering.
Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Tsholotsho, go back to Dotito, go back to Mutare, go back to Mwenezi, go back to Kariba, go back to the ruined and dilapidated suburbs of our cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in our Zimbabwean dream.
I have a dream that one day this country will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: That we are ‘united in our diversity by our common desire for freedom, justice and equality’.
I have a dream that one day on the granite hills of the Matopos, the sons of former detainees and the sons of former white rulers will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the province of Matabeleland North, a province sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Zimbabwe, still with some of its racists, one day right here in Zimbabwe little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’
This is our hope, and this is the faith that we face the future with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our country into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and sisterhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day – this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of our heroes’ pride,From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if Zimbabwe is to be a great nation, this must become true.And so let freedom ring from the prodigious Chilojo Cliffs.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of Chimanimani.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Nyangombe Mountain.
Let freedom ring from Mount Silozwe.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of Harare Kopje.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from the Zambezi escarpment.
Let freedom ring from Domboshawa.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of the Midlands.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every province and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, Muslims and Hindus, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old blackman’s spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”