Work on Mbuya Nehanda memorial statue begins

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Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent

Government is erecting a memorial statue for Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga war icon, Mbuya Nehanda, in Harare in honour of her heroic rebellion against colonialism in which she paid the ultimate price by being hanged.

She was hanged on April 27, 1902.

The memorial statue is being erected at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way.

Despite limited resources, Mbuya Nehanda led the black resistance and fought the whites with spears, bows, arrows and guns while the enemy used the gun.

When the rebellion failed she was among the last of the leaders to be captured. Together with another leader of the rebellion, the medium of Kaguvi, she was sentenced to death and hanged by the British but her heroic role has made her the idol of modern day Zimbabwean revolutionaries.

Work on the statue in Harare started last month.

As a result of the work, Harare City Council has since announced the temporary closure of portions of Samora Machel between Leopold Takawira Street and First Street and Julius Nyerere Way between Sam Nunjoma Street and Kwame Nkurumah Avenue.

The project commenced on June 25 and is projected to have been completed by August 28.

City of Harare said the closure of the roads is “to allow for the upgrading of the intersection and construction of a monument”.

The local authority said there will be alternative routes which will be recommended by use of informative signs.

“It is most important to note that during this period, Leopold Takawira Street will be two-way up to Nelson Mandela Avenue from Samora Machel Avenue and a section of Kwame Nkrumah Avenue between First Street and Julius Nyerere Way will be one– way for traffic due west,” said the council in a statement.

The local authority also warned that traffic approaching these roads should do so with due care.

However, highly placed sources at the National Museums and Monuments yesterday told The Herald that the erection of the monument was a Government project, but the National Museums and Monuments is at the forefront.

“Works currently underway at Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way Intersection is meant for the construction of a memorial statue for Mbuya Nehanda.

“The project is being run by the Office of the President and Cabinet, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Ministry, department of Public Works, National Archives of Zimbabwe and National Museums and Monuments.”

The source said the designs for themonument are being done by one Mutasa.

It is said that, faced with the hangman’s noose, Mbuya Nehanda refused to be converted to Christianity and, let alone, talk to Catholic Priest Father Ritcherz apart from reminding him that “My bones shall surely rise again”.

But Kaguvi converted and was christened Dismus, “the good thief”, the name of the thief saved by Jesus on the cross. He was still hanged but his conversion was meant to send him to Heaven. No double entendre!

Since then a powerful and prolific oral tradition grew up around Nehanda, her part in the rebellion and especially the last moments of her life after she was condemned.

Her refusal to accept conversion to Christianity, her defiance on the scaffold and her prophecy that “my bones shall rise to win back freedom from the Europeans” made her a national occult of the spiritual realm.