BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is tomorrow expected to unveil the controversial memorial statue of the late First Chimurenga heroine Mbuya Nehanda, in Harare.
The statue of Mbuya Nehanda, who was considered a powerful spirit medium and heroine of the 1896-97 First Chimurenga war against British colonialism, was erected at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in Harare.
Mnangagwa, in his address at the Culture Week commemorations on Friday at Chief Njelele’s homestead in Gokwe South, Midlands province, said Mbuya Nehanda was an iconic national heroine.
“The broadcasting of the story of the iconic heroine Mbuya Nehanda and the publication of the biography of Comrade Herbert Chitepo among many other literal and artistic works is applauded,” he said.
“It is in this vein that on Africa Day, 25th of May, we will also honour and remember Mbuya Nehanda who is one of the great authors of the country’s revolution for national independence.”
In erecting Mbuya Nehanda statue, the government claims that it will serve to cultivate the spirit of heroism and also act as an inspiration for girls to self-actualise.
The statue drew wide criticism in December last year from the public on different digital media platforms with people saying it was a caricature of the spirit medium after its images went viral after Mnangagwa’s visit to Nyati’s gallery near Snake Park along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway where it (statue) was carved by renowned sculptor David Mutasa.
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Government succumbed to public pressure and Mnangagwa asked Mutasa to redo the statue which is said to have been taken to South Africa for galvanising to the original portrait that many can relate to from history books.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has challenged families, communities and institutions to nurture a society that recognises the country’s rich cultural heritage while embracing diversity in a quest to build a strong cultural identity, values and ethics.
“We celebrate and delight in our diverse cultures, collective identity, oneness and unity as the people of Zimbabwe. We are a unitary State,” he said.
“African people have rich arts, custom practices, places, objects of artistic expression and values expressed through craft, clothing, cuisines, music, dance, folktale, religion and language.”Follow Winstone on Twitter @ widzoanto