Zimbabwe Unity Day has been commemorated on December 22 annually since 1987. This day recognizes the union of two political parties, ZANU and ZAPU, as ZANU-P.F. Both parties had strong views about the country’s direction, and each represented a dialect in the country, Ndebele & Shona. The merger ended a nationwide conflict between the two parties that had existed since 1963. This day is a day for the citizens of Zimbabwe to celebrate their togetherness, which goes beyond race, political party, religion, or gender. It also calls on the world to be united for the common causes of peace, development, and security.
History of Zimbabwe Unity Day
Zimbabwe is a country in southeast Africa, bordered on the east by Mozambique and on the west by Botswana. European traders, missionaries, and hunters made their way to the region from the south during the 1800s. Among these early explorers was Cecil John Rhodes, a firm believer in British imperialism. He and his British South Africa Company established the southern African territory of Rhodesia in 1895. This would, later on, become Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The U.K. annexed Southern Rhodesia from the British South African Company in 1923, leaving the white minority still in power. In 1964, Ian Smith of the Rhodesian Front became prime minister and a year later unilaterally declared independence under the white minority rule. This sparked economic sanctions and international outrage. The U.K. refused to recognize its independence and called for more voting rights for the black African majority in Rhodesia.
Meanwhile, two main nationalist groups, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), opposed the minority-led white rule. After the country gained independence in 1980, ZANU became the ruling party. Ethic and political differences between the two groups led to violence and civil unrest. Many citizens were suppressed, and some discontented members of the former People’s Revolutionary Army attacked civilians in Matabeleland. The Fifth Brigade executed an estimated 20,000 civilians. The leaders of the two groups, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, worked to end the violence by signing the Unity Accord on December 22, 1987. They formed a single party known as ZANU-P.F. Disturbances continued into the 1990s, but the signing of the agreement brought enough order to improve its economy and enhance its democracy.
Zimbabwe Unity Day timeline
The British South Africa Company administration ends, with the white minority remaining in power.
ZANU and ZAPU intensify their guerrilla war against white rule.
Gukurahundi massacres against the Ndebele by Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade begin, killing between 20,000 and 80,000 civilians.
Mugabe changes the constitution and becomes president, ruling for 30 years.
Zimbabwe Unity Day FAQs
Is Zimbabwe rich or poor?
72% of Zimbabweans live under the national poverty line, making it the 22nd poorest country in the world.
How many years has Zimbabwe been independent?
Officially, they gained independence on April 18, 1980. The celebration was held in Rufaro Stadium in the capital of Salisbury.
What is Zimbabwean culture?
The largest ethnic group is the Shona. Zimbabwean culture is signified by its trade of jewelry, basketry, carving, pottery, and textiles. Some of these traditional arts are about 2,000 years old and are the country’s oldest preserved art.
How to Observe Zimbabwe Unity Day
Immerse yourself in Zimbabwe’s history
Zimbabwe’s history reads like an epic story, with twists and turns. Explore the history of this African nation for a glimpse of what their country is founded on.
Play football — or soccer
Whatever you call it, it’s the most popular sport in Zimbabwe. Organize a game, and declare both teams as winners, whatever the final score!
See Zimbabwe on screen
Many Hollywood films set in South Africa have shot scenes in Zimbabwe. Films such as “The Power of One,” “Cry Freedom,” and “A Dry White Season” are just a few examples.
5 Fun Facts About Zimbabwe
Men with big stomachs are considered wealthy
A huge tummy suggests that a person is rich and can afford to eat meat daily.
Zimbabweans believe in mermaids
These creatures are often blamed for unfortunate events like murder.
Victoria Falls is very loud
The noise it makes can be heard as far as 28.8 miles or 40 kilometers away.
There are 16 official languages
Shona, Ndebele, and English are the most commonly used.
They use multiple currencies
Although the Zimbabwe dollar exists, it’s not an internationally recognized currency, so the country also uses the U.S. Dollar, British Pound, South African Rand, and the Botswana Pula.
Why Zimbabwe Unity Day is Important
It pays tribute to unity
To quell the violence in their country, Mugabe and Nkomo signed the Unity Accord. Two different parties came together for a good cause. That’s something we can all get behind.
It gave Zimbabwe peace
The political climate wasn’t 100% stable after the union of ZANU and ZAPU. But it gave the country a reprieve to focus on growing their economy and foreign relations for a time.
It’s a place of superlatives
You can find Victoria Falls, the world’s biggest waterfall, here. The world’s largest man-made lake in terms of volume, Lake Kariba, is here too. It even has the most spoken languages.
Zimbabwe Unity Day dates