Crystabel Chikayi, Features Reporter
President Mugabe’s home during his teaching days at Empandeni Mission in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South province, will soon be a museum.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Obedingwa Mguni said after the realisation that the house draws attention from different quarters; they thought it fit for the house to be turned into a heritage site.
“Last year I proposed that the house that President Mugabe stayed in during his teaching days at Empandeni Mission be turned into a museum. I said plans were afoot to turn the house into a museum as it illustrates the President’s life both as a teacher and a revolutionary. My words still stand. The Empandeni house holds a lot of aura as it once accommodated the great luminary.
“We’ve had successful meetings with the Empandeni Mission Roman Catholic priests, councillors and headmaster. We agreed that the school authorities would write a letter requesting that the house be turned into a heritage site directing it to the Minister of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of Culture and Heritage Abednico Ncube. Once Minister Ncube approves the letter, the plan would’ve been completed,” said Deputy Minister Mguni.
Because the house would be a tourist attraction, the dust road from Plumtree to Empandeni Mission has been resurfaced.
“I believe the house will be a great tourist attraction. Once it has been made a museum, people will come from different places curious to see it. In preparation for tourists who’ll come, we’ve resurfaced and cleared the road from Plumtree to Empandeni Mission. It’s a dust road, but we look forward to improving it when we get a positive response after turning the house into a museum,” said Deputy Minister Mguni.
He said turning the house into a museum would help the school realise revenue as visitors to the house would be asked to pay a small fee to tour the structure which will be decorated with artifacts that tell the President’s life story.
“For the house to be a sensible museum, we’ll appeal for resources from the Government. We want to put artifacts that tell President Mugabe’s story, have a small library inside with literature on the President’s life, his role in the liberation struggle and all his milestones.
“The school stands to benefit in a number of ways. The museum can be a huge source of revenue for the school. The pupils at the school will also have unlimited access to the President’s rich history,” he said.
Deputy Minister Mguni said the house, one of the oldest structures at the school which was founded in 1887, should not be renovated but left in its original state to maintain the aura it embodies.
“We just have to maintain the house and make sure it does not fall apart, but everything else should be left in its original state. That way, people can really appreciate the story the house has to tell. The house is one of the first structures to have been put up at the school,” he said.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of BulawayoArchbishop Alex Thomas said it was his wish for the house to be turned into a monument. “We had a meeting with all stakeholders involved and it went well. It’s my wish that the house be turned into a heritage site as soon as possible,” said the Archbishop.
The President’s house is a red brick house with zinc roofing which takes one down memory lane as its walls are beginning to develop cracks that make it stand out as one of the oldest buildings at the school.
Despite its age, the house is an attraction to all as it is associated with the President’s legacy.
Seeing the President’s house is a constant reminder that anything is possible as the President who was once an ordinary person is now a respected figure on the continent.