By Leopold Munhende
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the site where Mbuya Nehanda’s statue in Harare is a status symbol for the iconic First Chimurenga heroine as she used to “rest and drink water” from a river that once flowed there.
The statue is being erected at the intersection of Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere in Harare’s central business district with over one hundred workers at the construction site.
Mnangagwa made reference to the site while addressing the nation on Heroes Day at State House this week.
“In this regard, the mounting of the statue of Mbuya Nehanda in Harare, our capital city, will immortalise the supreme sacrifice that was paid by our forebears.
“The location of this statue carries added historical meaning because the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way is the spot where Mbuya Nehanda used to rest and drink water from a river that flowed at the site,” said Mnangagwa.
Work on the Mbuya Nehanda statue is in progress with a flyover set to be constructed at the junction from which the spirit medium’s statue will stand. She was executed in 1898 on charges of murdering Native Commissioner Hawkins Polard in 1896.
There have been concerns raised on prioritizing the construction of the statue when the government is failing to finance needs of the public health sector currently bedevilled by incapacities to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic due to poor funding and a lengthened nurses and doctors’ strike.
Mnangagwa added more statues of First and Second Chimurenga heroes will be constructed, including that of late leader Robert Mugabe whom he toppled in a military coup in November 2017.
He added: “Other heroes and heroines from the early wars of resistance will be honoured in a similar manner among them General Mtshane Khumalo, who commanded the Imbizo Regiment under King Lobengula that defeated the Allan Wilson Patrol at the Battle of Pupu on 10 December, 1893.
“Other distinguished heroes and heroines of the First Chimurenga/Umvukela such as Sekuru Kaguvi, Chaminuka, Mkwati, Queen Lozikeyi, Khumalo, Chinengundu, Mahayamombe, Mgandani Dlodlo, Chiwashira, Muchecheterwa, Chingaira Makoni and Mapondera among others will be accorded appropriate recognition.”
Generals Josiah Tongogara, Alfred Nikita Mangena, late vice presidents Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda will also be honoured according to the president.
Mnangagwa added government would go ahead with the renaming of street names from those of colonialists to those of First and Second Chimurenga heroes.