PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday scoffed at critics in some quarters claiming that the erection of statues of liberation war icons was idolatry.
He was speaking after he toured the site where the Mbuya Nehanda memorial statue will be erected in the Harare city centre and an art gallery on the western outskirts of the capital where the statue is being carved.
“Mbuya Nehanda led the war during the First Chimurenga and she led us when we fought during the Second Chimurenga that is why we are recognising her so that the young generation will know who led the war against the colonial regime,” he said.
“Those who say that also carry crosses around their necks and pictures symbolising Jesus Christ. Why wear that cross? If they were not part of us, we would have told them to go back to their countries of origin.
“What is wrong with us recognising those who led us during the liberation war? We recognise Jesus Christ because he died for us and we are also recognising Mbuya Nehanda because she led us during the war,” he added.
The President said the erection of a memorial statue for Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga war icon, Mbuya Nehanda, in Harare was part of efforts to document the country’s history, especially the fight against colonial rule.
“The issue is that if us, former freedom fighters don’t document our history and where we came from, the young generation will not know where we came from. So we should depart after making sure that we have recorded our history,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the Government decided to honour Mbuya Nehanda for the heroic rebellion against colonialism in which she paid the ultimate price by being hanged on April 27, 1902.
Apart from the statue that will be erected in Harare’s CBD, another one will be erected at the new Parliament in Mt Hampden where the new capital city is being constructed.
The statue will be mounted on a rotating platform, 6.5 metres above ground level, to allow enough room for haulage trucks.
On the significance of immortalising the heroine’s statue to keep the spirit of the struggle intact he said: “To Zimbabweans, this monument represents a way of celebrating our heroes.
“This monument represents Nehanda, the spirit medium, who played a crucial role in the liberation struggle that gave us the independence we celebrate today.”
The President also made a tour of Nyati Gallery near Snake Park, where the statue of the icon is being made by sculptor David Mutasa.
Earlier in the day, President Mnangagwa toured the Mt. Hampden site where construction of the new Parliament building is in progress and expressed satisfaction with the progress made.
Construction was expected to be completed by March next year but is now due for completion in September of the same year following disruptions that were caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. ■