Locomotive of Africa’s nationalism, historical memory The late Robert Gabriel Mugabe

Gibson Nyikadzino, Zimpapers Politics Hub

IMAGINE finding a street named Adolf Hitler in Tel Aviv, Israel, or a Robert Gabriel Mugabe Square in London. 

These two thoughts are irreconcilable for political, social, historical and above all, civilisational reasons.

Hitler is loathed by Israelis as he has been framed as a leader of a band of evil doers against the Jews during his reign in Germany from 1933 to 1945. To remind people of the evils Hitler committed against Jews, in 1953 Israeli leaders built the Yad Vashem, a site that has historical memory of what the Jews went through under the Nazi regime.

Likewise, a Robert Gabriel Mugabe Square in London would be unfathomable because the African icon’s pursuit of economic independence for Zimbabweans and other developing countries embarrassed and humiliated the West which traditionally used colonialism to establish racial economic superiority. 

The West would relatively praise and erect monuments in memory of King Leopold II of Belgium, even though he killed more than 13 million Congolese when he administered the territory as his private property.

Gamal Abdel Nasser

Also, Pearl Harbor in the USA, after it was bombed by the Japanese in 1941 has been made a memorial complex, an important site of warfare and nationalism for the American people.

Historically and contemporarily, nations set up commemoration centres and historical monuments of war to substantiate particular understandings of the national past and identify critical turning points in the continuity of their aspirations.

To understand and promote Africa’s political, economic, social and historical reconstruction, the Zimbabwe’s Museum of African Liberation, a project to carry Africa’s post-colonial renaissance and consciousness, is in motion.

The commitment, which some Western diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe tried to either stop or hijack, today stands as a strong locomotive and inspiring force for Africans to tell their story.

Memorials like the Museum of African Liberation or Liberation City are of special significance because they offer insights into how national or regional and continental cultures and values conceive modern political trajectories.

Through memorialisation, Zimbabwe, on behalf of Africa, is striving to build a future that values peace over war, ensuring that the memories of the fallen and the living are internalised to become part of our people. This has become essential to remove the cloak of both colonialism and neo-colonialism in how Africans view their history and want to shape their future. 

Amilcar Cabral

As such, this process is good to satisfy the desire to honour African heroes who suffered or died during colonial wars of independence, and also honour the memory of those that helped fight colonialism through political, military, logistical and ideological support through a thorough examination of the past and bringing to light some ephemeral collections.

Countries like China and Russia helped Africa defeat the ideology of superiority which historically and in present circumstances is criminal and deadly by nature. 

The immortalisation of the efforts by countries that offered support, and leaders like Tanzania’s Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Guinea-Bissau’s Amilcar Cabral, Algeria’s Ben Bella and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah is testament to Africa’s commitment to raising the memory of its liberators.

These leaders remained revolutionaries until the last days of their lives, and across the continent, in classrooms, in road names, in books, and in music, they must be remembered. 

Julius Kambarage Nyerere

The erection of the Museum of African Liberation is to pay tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms Africa enjoys today, though more needs to be done. The light and flames of consciousness set alight by Africa’s forebears should not be dimmed in the name of modernity, universality and globalisation. The light of Africa’s revolutionaries must never die, as long as their names do not die!

Therefore, in the context of the 61st Africa Day commemorations, the Museum of African Liberation remains a powerful force essential to reclaiming the pride of Africa lost through the deliberate distortion of narratives through misrepresentations and knowledge reproduction racially skewed to favour the West.

It is known that the common principle and imperialist characteristic of the West is to exert its domination through the usurpation of facts to generate end processes that favour its order. Because traditionally Africa’s history has been passed from generation to generation orally, this inspiring change of frame is drawing Africa towards an ideological or idealistic cultural expression of being the master of its destiny, vertically and horizontally.

The thought to commence and the urge to complete the Liberation City project both signal the genesis of the process of extrication by the African people from the perpetual exploitative system of the West on Africa’s cultural, social, political and economic life.

Kwame Nkrumah

The more Africans begin to realise that liberation and being free go beyond achieving political independence, but to the construction of their social, cultural and economic progress, it becomes evident that undertaking the goal to historicise our successes is a key framework that guides our total freedom. 

Africa’s monuments matter. They must not be thought of as silent objects or relics of history. They are instruments that should activate and reward the people’s political consciousness. 

For long, the continent may have been caricatured and described with exaggerations, now that opportunity to recollect its memory and give it a place in the sun should not be unmissed.

In pursuit of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the anticipated success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is imperative to use Africa’s monuments as qualifying to ensure active and grounded engagements for continental growth.


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