BY SINDISO DUBE/ NQOBANI NDLOVU
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday described Zimbabwe as the “museum capital” of the world as he called on local authorities to rename buildings and streets after the country’s heroes and traditional monuments.
Mnangagwa made the remarks at the official opening of the Bulawayo Arts Festival (Baf) at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo.
Earlier on, Mnangagwa had unveiled the Heritage Corridor, toured the St Mary’s Basilica, Joshua Nkomo Museum, Natural History Museum, Inxwala grounds, the Hanging Tree and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s statue.
“I, therefore, call upon local authorities to continue naming places and recommending buildings for the conferment of monument status in conformity with our country’s cultural heritage and history,” he said.
“In this regard, Bulawayo Metropolitan province, the greater Matabeleland province and the entire nation must continue to take keen interest in our culture and heritage.
“The reincarnation of colonialism and imperialism in whatever form must never be allowed a foothold in our country.”
Recently, Mnangagwa unveiled the statue of Mbuya Nehanda — a spirit medium of the First Chimurenga — in Harare, declaring the event as a victory against colonialism.
He also launched the culture week in Gokwe South, Midlands province, last month.
“Under the second republic, my government made a bold and deliberate decision to correctly portray and promote our rich history and cultural heritage.
“To this end, there is no going back,” Mnangagwa said.
He described Baf as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the country’s cultural diversity, history and heritage.
A number of arts festivities are being held across the city under the Baf which was launched in 2019.
This year’s Baf started on Tuesday and ends on Saturday under the theme: “We Own Winter (WOW).”
“The festival affords us yet another opportunity to celebrate and promote our rich heritage, culture and arts with specific focus on the Urban Cultural Heritage.
“The City of Bulawayo remains the country’s epicentre of creative arts,” he said.
Mnangagwa described the Natural History Museum as the capital museum of the world.
“I am informed it has the biggest collection of both animal and human relics on this earth and I am told that some of the most rare artefacts in the world are found here,” he said.
“This gives Zimbabwe pride, in my view, as a world renowned museum country.
As Zimbabweans, we are proud we have this institution; this museum which I understand is the biggest in southern Africa and one of the best in the world in terms of collections.”
The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, established in 1901 at the Centenary Park and formerly the Rhodesian Museum, is the oldest museum and largest of the five national museums in the country.
Inxwala was an annual Ndebele religious festival, also known as the First Fruits Ceremony, to mark a time of harvest after a good agricultural season.
St Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is one of the 17 Minor Basilicas in Africa, and the only one conferred as such in southern Africa.
The Hanging Tree was used at the height of the First Umvukela/Ndebele uprising (Umfazo II) in 1896, to hang African men and women who resisted colonisation by the European settlers.
The Joshua Nkomo museum chronicles the life history and contribution of the late Vice-President.