We have all heard stories of people so brave that they put our revered memories of walking through a lightning storm look like child’s play. Today, cold shivers of fear run down my spine as I read an article about a nine month pregnant Zambian woman who jumped into the Kafue River to save a young girl that was being attacked by a crocodile. Needless to say, not all of us have the courage to wrestle roaring lions or the self-sacrifice to take a bullet for someone else. In fact, most of us would probably run in the opposite direction in Olympic record time!
It almost seems that heroes are supernatural beings that we ordinary people can never aspire to be. But the truth is, anybody can be a hero. One of my favourite definitions of a hero is by Christopher Reeves who says, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
This year Zambia celebrated the Heroes and Unity holiday on the 4th and 5th of July. Heroes Day is celebrated on the first Monday of July. Unity Day is celebrated on the first Tuesday of July. The Heroes and Unity holiday is peculiar to Zambia, with the intention of honouring citizens accorded the status of heroes and heroines. It also presupposes that Zambia’s quest for freedom locally and internationally is achieved through unity. Brave men and women of the country are usually honoured on this day. This year, the President of Zambia, Mr Rupiah Banda, paid glowing tribute to all hard working Zambians who have worked tirelessly to build the country which millions of Zambians can be proud of. This year was all about ordinary heroes. From the person that sweeps the streets in the early hours to the person that spends sleepless nights thinking about the next strategic move in their business, each and every individual contributes to the well-being of the nation.
Of course we must take the time to remember those that have laid their lives down for a greater cause and risked everything to see justice prevail. But as well as this, we must make some time to remember that we too are heroes, in our own simple but powerful way.