The erection of the statue of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo remains mired in controversy with his family now saying Ndebele
traditional rites should have been performed first before it was put up.
Sibangilizwe Nkomo, the late Father Zimbabwe’s eldest surviving son, said the Nkomos wanted – and should have been allowed – to perform certain
rituals before the veteran nationalist’s statue was erected.
The statue was put up at the centre of Zimbabwe’s second largest city last Wednesday night and is still to be unveiled.
“I believe as a family we should have been asked to perform certain Ndebele rites at the site when they started digging as well as when the statue was being erected,” Sibangilizwe said.
He said there should have been extensive public consultations before the statue was erected because this was an issue mooted in 2001.
“This is a national thing,” he said. “It should have been handled nationally with suggestions being sought from the family and members of the public, for instance, on the picture that would be used to model the statue.
“Local artists should have been invited to come up with designs so that there is a sense of belonging. What we know is what we read in the
newspapers. As I speak, there was someone in my office just now who was saying the picture of Father Zimbabwe in a suit with his trademark stick did not capture aptly his role in the liberation of this country and the person was suggesting that a picture of him wearing his traditional fur hat or the
one with him in his military gear would have been better.”
Sibangilizwe said the “cloud of secrecy” surrounding the erection of the statue and the origin of its design had dampened the excitement in Bulawayo. “We should be as excited as we were when the Zimbabwe Bird was returned,” he said.
Sibangilizwe – who shocked the nation on the 11th anniversary of his father’s death this year when he revealed that Nkomo had indicated before
his death that he did not want to be buried at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare – also castigated the government for not heeding complaints about the black cloth used to cover the statue.
“That cloth, as I and other people have said, is associated with mourning and others would even say evil things but they (government officials) have kept it there,” he said.
When NewsDay tried to confirm the origins of the statue with the director of the Department of National Museums and Monuments, Godfrey Mahachi, he referred all questions to the Co-Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi who
was not available for comment.