National Monuments necessary to honour liberation fighters
Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S liberation war was a people’s struggle and is part of the country’s national heritage hence creation of national monuments will immortalise the living and fallen heroes, a senior Government official has said.
In an interview, National Museums and Monuments director Dr Godfrey Mahachi said his department is involved in construction and renovation of national monuments locally and in Zambia and Mozambique.
“It’s an ongoing exercise but a very massive one because we’re talking about thousands of such monuments. We’ve been doing them in the context of 100 day cycles; we worked on quite a few over the past few months; Pupu in Lupane, the Chinhoyi monuments in Chinhoyi and Kamungoma in Gutu. Kamungoma is a monument we’re developing, a place where 104 civilians were killed by Rhodesian soldiers at a night meeting,” said Dr Mahachi, adding that efforts are being made to gazette some of the monuments.
“These are some of the projects we’re working on. They’re almost complete. But of course there are many more that we are going to look at and maintain and even some we need just to recognise because of their national value that is gazetting them as national monuments. For instance, we were working on Gonakudzingwa; we have developed the nomination dossier so that it can be proclaimed a national monument. There are others that we’re planning for implementation within
Zimbabwe and outside, of course the works that we have been doing in Zambia and Mozambique.”
He said the heritage sites are a big part of the country as a way of remembering the liberation struggle.
Dr Mahachi said monuments are being constructed as a lasting memory of who participated in the heroic liberation war.
“It’s very much part of ourselves as a country and individuals in the sense that they represent our common experience. The liberation struggle was a people’s struggle.
So the experience associated with it really relates to all of us. It’s part of our history. It’s part of our national identity. By attending to them, by developing them, we’re not only doing it for the purposes of educating ourselves or remembering what happened but we are also building a legacy for our future generations. They need to know where we came from and can only get that story through the monuments that will be physical representations of those experiences,” said Dr Mahachi.
He said we can also cash in on the liberation struggle history and monuments as they will be symbols connecting the future generations with the past.
Dr Mahachi said the country can also learn from other countries that have made heritage sites their economic base.
“Other countries have built their economies around heritage sites. Heritage necessarily brings in tourism and tourism can really become a major driver of economic activity. We’ve seen it; we’re seeing it when we look at the numbers that visit some of our popular places.
It’s just a question of ensuring that visitors are encouraged to visit those places because of the manner in which we’re presenting them; making history that’s also entertaining. It’s also an economic activity and we must work a bit more to ensure that not only Zimbabweans but other people from abroad are made to develop interest in our heritage sites to make sure that they become tourist attractions as well,” said Dr Mahachi.
He, however, said to construct the heritage sites, funds are needed and the department is limited by budgetary constraints.
Dr Mahachi said they are working with universities who also document some of the historical incidents.
“We must work with historians because to a larger extent this is history that continues into the present. So for instance, when we were working on Pupu it was critical that we work with historians like Pathisa Nyathi. We know the amount of data they have on some of these incidents is immense. National Museums and
Monuments also employs historians; we have historians within our establishment but we have to work with others outside our institution, particularly in universities. The University of Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University, National University of Science and Technology and with Nust it provides architectural appreciation of heritage. We’re trying to develop these linkages with our universities because we think we’ll benefit from their involvement.”