Richard Muponde, Sunday News Correspondent
RHODES Preparatory School (Reps) in Matobo District, Matabeleland South, which was named after Cecil John Rhodes, who led the colonilisation of Zimbabwe and is buried at the Matobos Hills has been changed to Matopos Junior School.
The name was changed at the instigation of the authorities and the Schools Development Committee in honour of President Mugabe, whose 93rd birthday celebrations were held at the school yesterday.
This was announced to President Mugabe by Zanu-PF National Youth League Commissar, Cde Innocent Hamandishe who was the director of ceremonies at the event.
“Your Excellency, this school at which we are holding your birthday is called Rhodes Preparatory School. However, the school authorities and the SDC said since you are holding your birthday party here, you can’t hold it with this school still depicting Rhodes’ colonial legacy. They said the school’s name has been changed to Matopos Junior School in your recognition President,” said Cde Hamandishe.
Commenting on the school’s name change in his address to delegates, President Mugabe said he was surprised that the school was still named after Cecil John Rhodes.
“Where is Rhodes’ ghost or spirit coming from? If he is today, protrude his head from the grave saying I am arising; I am not going to order the boys to fire one bullet or use an AK. I was going to order them to use a machine gun to crush that head like that of a snake called a cobra,” said President Mugabe amid laughter.
He said Rhodes was buried at the Matobo Hills at the behest of colonialists who respected what he had written in his will before he died in South Africa.
“We are not the ones who killed him. We don’t know where he died in South Africa but he demanded that he be buried here. The colonialists here in Zimbabwe listened to his wish which was written in his will and buried him here. It was done by the colonisers, not us,” he said.
Last week during a preparatory meeting for the birthday bash, the Minister of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage who is also Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Matabeleland South, Cde Abednego Ncube said the Government was working on a number of initiatives to capture the legacy of President Mugabe and many other heroes.
“We’re looking at institutions like Reps to change because Rhodes is not our hero. He was an oppressor so I think there was an oversight on the aspect of institutions like this school which should be changed,” said Cde Ncube.
“We’ll advise them to correct this. A school must actually be named after our heroes. We have many heroes in Zimbabwe like President Mugabe, the late Dr Joshua Nkomo and many other heroes of this country.”