Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The new Museum of African Liberation will allow Africans to tell their own history, putting to rest one-sided euro-centric narratives which have dominated the public space for too long, President Mnangagwa said yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the continental museum in Harare.
Through learning from the history of the continent, the time had come for Africans to consciously defend their interests as a people and never give in to the machinations of neo-colonial forces in all their guises.
The museum, a continental project hosted in Harare is meant to document, preserve, protect and promote the continent’s liberation legacy.
“The construction of the Museum of African Liberation is an important infrastructural project, which will go a long way towards immortalising and preserving the resistance, acts of patriotism and sacrifices made by our founding fathers and liberation veterans.
“Their determination to liberate Africa from the yokes of colonial bondage must embolden present and future generations to achieve greater exploits. Zimbabwe dedicates this piece of land to the preservation of the rich liberation war heritage of our great African continent,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Building from the Africa Fact Book, this project will see the documentation of African liberation stories from across the entire continent, told by actors and participants. The pendulum has surely shifted and the story will now be told first and foremost from the vantage point of Africa and by us, Africans.”
More than 500 years ago, Africa’s peace and path to development was interrupted through the narrative of discovery, occupation and ultimately colonialism when the continent was robbed of development momentum through coordinated efforts to destroy its rich socio-political and economic heritage and culture.
Systematic falsehoods were developed to erase Africa’s memories and projected the continent as a home of darkness, but the setbacks and disappointment never suppressed the need for freedom and emancipation.
“We rose and resolved to fight until we realised our freedom and restored our human dignity which had been quenched out of us by successive years of colonial oppression. Even so, freedom and independence remain incomplete until we have total control of our rich God-given natural resources,” he said.
The monument will have four facilities: the museum itself, inspired by African art, philosophy and ideology; premises for meetings; events and conferencing; and an amusement park to help lead visitors through the continental history.
President Mnangagwa said Africa’s quest for access to its natural resources continued to be constrained.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, sanctions constrain the realisation of our full socio-economic potential. In the case of other countries on our continent, detractors continue to fund and fuel divisions. So that while we fight the pilferage and looting of our resources goes unchecked,” he said.
The President challenged African scholars and the media to propel African development though telling of their continent’s story.
“The epoch we are now at as Africa is the story of full ownership and utilisation of our endowment to modernise, industrialise and ultimately improve the lives of our people. This project therefore serves to unify and inspire us, as Africa, to never again allow any peoples to sit down to partition and carve up our motherland for their own nefarious benefits. We are wiser now; we are a people with an identity, a continent with an ideology, rich history, culture, natural endowments and scientific thinking. We are not mediocre. Our future is bright. We are a continent on the rise,” he said.
Head of the Steering Committee Professor Simbi Mubako said construction of the museum showed that the fight for independence was an African struggle where each country had support from other nations.
Prof Mubako said the museum got the support of all African countries, including liberation icons that included former Namibia leader President Sam Nujoma.
“He said such an idea was long overdue.”
He commended the Government of Zimbabwe for its generosity by providing a 92ha site for the project.
Acting Dean of African Diplomatic Corps and South Sudan ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Gabriel Riak, said there was no better way to honour African liberation war heroes than constructing such a museum.
“People who do not know their past are like a sailor of the ship without a compass to show the direction. It is important for us to know and tell our African liberation’ stories for our children to carry on with the legacy. Let me also stress that our presence here as the diplomatic community is an indication of our solid and undivided solidarity with the Museum of African Liberation,” he said.
Latter on President Mnangagwa was presented with artefacts of liberation fighters, including material associated with former Vice Presidents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, to be kept in the museum.
Mrs Angelina Tongogara, wife to the late Zanla commander Cde Josiah Magama Tongogara, also presented her husband’s military fatigue and a pistol that the late national hero used. Mrs Tongogara said she kept the artefacts for the past 40 years not knowing that she would one day present them for a museum.
Other artefacts that were presented were associated with Cde Leopald Takawira and Roman Catholic priest Father Emmanuel Ribeiro presented television material dating back to 1954.
Artefacts from other liberation icons from the continent such as Julian Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah were expected to be deposited in the museum soon.
President Mnangagwa later planted a tree at the site together with ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe.