Zimbabwe: Nehanda Statue to Cultivate Heroism

The construction of a memorial statue for Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga war heroine Mbuya Nehanda in Harare will serve to cultivate the spirit of heroism and also act as a symbol to girls on the desire to attain self actualisation, political analysts have said.

The remarks follow a decision by Government to honour Mbuya Nehanda for her heroic rebellion against colonialism in which she paid the ultimate price by being hanged.

She was hanged on April 27, 1902. The memorial statue is being erected at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way.

In an interview yesterday, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa said Mbuya Nehanda deserved the honour of a statue given that she was an inspiration to her contemporaries, present and future generations.

“The erection of a Mbuya Nehanda statue in Harare, serves to assuage the spirit of heroism in the people of Zimbabwe. It builds upon the revered legends of the millennia old Great Zimbabwe Civilisation and its epic resistance to modern European imperial marauders.

“She was indeed a deep inspiration to the 1960-1970s generation of sacrifice that victoriously waged a modern war against settler minority racist domination,” said Ambassador Mutsvangwa.

“Mbuya Nehanda stands as salutary testament to the gender positive virtues of the struggle of the people of Zimbabwe. The statue will surely be a symbol to the girl child and that burning desire at self actualisation.”

Political analyst Mr Richard Mahomva said honouring Mbuya Nehanda had the effect of invoking a new political consciousness among young people.

“The idea is to put a statue as a way of creating a permanent mark to an illustrious legacy which colonialists had silenced. This is against the backdrop of a colonial history which has been privileged in a socio and political discourse,” said Mr Mahomva.

“Therefore when Mbuya Nehanda is immortalised, a new political consciousness is evolved to the future generation to uphold the values which she represents in challenging imperial hegemony.”

Bulawayo-based historian, Mr Pathisa Nyathi, said the erection of a Mbuya Nehanda statue was quite befitting.

“Mbuya Nehanda played a great role in our history. Statues are very important the world over. We are keeping memories of our history alive. I also implore the Government that in doing so, they need to give a short narrative to help future generations understand the significance of the person who would have been honoured,” said Mr Nyathi.

He added that there was need for statues for other national heroes, both for those who fought colonialism and in other areas of influence.

“We also need to remind the Government that there is a pending case of the statue of another national hero, Dr Joshua Nkomo, to be erected in Harare. That is very important.”

Despite limited resources, Mbuya Nehanda led the black resistance and fought the white colonialists with spears, bows, arrows and guns while the enemy used the gun.

When the rebellion failed, she was among the last of the leaders to be captured.

Together with another leader of the rebellion, the medium of Kaguvi, she was sentenced to death and hanged by the British, but her heroic role has made her the idol of modern day Zimbabwean revolutionaries.

It is said that, faced with the hangman’s noose, Mbuya Nehanda refused to be converted to Christianity or even talk to a Catholic priest, Father Ritcherz, apart from reminding him that; “My bones shall surely rise again”.

But Kaguvi converted and was christened Dismus, “the good thief”, the name of the thief saved by Jesus on the cross.

Since then, a powerful and prolific oral tradition grew up around Nehanda, her part in the rebellion and especially the last moments of her life after she was condemned.

Her refusal to accept conversion to Christianity, her defiance on the scaffold and her prophecy that “my bones shall rise” to win back freedom from the Europeans, made her a symbol of total resistance.

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