LATE Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s statue was yesterday a centre of attraction as Bulawayo residents trooped in to admire it a day after it was unveiled by President Robert Mugabe.
LINDA CHINOBVA/LUYANDUHLOBO MAKWATI
The bronze statue, towering at the intersection of the newly-renamed Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street (formerly Main Street) and 8th Avenue had been on the cards for years and is one of the many legacy projects meant to honour the popular nationalist.
Residents told Southern Eye in a street survey yesterday that the government had finally recognised the huge role Nkomo played before and after independence and the statue would go a long way in correcting part of the country’s distorted history.
Huggins Msimanga, based in the United States, said he came to witness the unveiling of the statue because it was a great honour for the people of Matabeleland and Bulawayo in particular. The city seemed to have been neglected since independence, lagging behind in development compared to the capital Harare,” she said.
Msimanga said it was not easy to have Nkomo honoured with the erection of a bronze statue in the middle of a busy intersection and residents had every reason to celebrate the results of the pressure exerted by different people and civil society.
“I think what they have done is highly commendable and we are looking forward to witnessing other projects associated with Nkomo’s name being treated with utmost respect,” Msimanga said.
“People should understand the role he played during the liberation war and after independence and it’s not a favour that his statue has finally been erected. The man deserved it because of the role he played in the history of this country,” Msimanga said.
A Bulawayo resident, Qhelani Moyo, said it was important for future generations to understand where they come from and the statue will remind “us the elderly and teach our children about our past without being shy of it”.
Justin Nyachiwowo said he felt honoured as a Bulawayo resident to have the statue of a local hero erected in the city.
“We feel honoured to have Nkomo’s statue in the City of Kings which he loved very much. Nkomo was not just an ordinary person and deserves this honour through this statue,” Nyachiwowo said.
Nozinhle Mahlangu said although the statue should have been erected years ago, she was elated that the late veteran nationalist had finally been honoured.
“I am happy that after years of talking about the statue, it has been finally erected. This means that there is some hope for positive development in Matabeleland,” Mahlangu said.
However, some residents felt that the statue is of little significance and does not precisely resemble the physical appearance of Nkomo.
Ignatius Mathe said despite the size of the statue, it does not resemble Nkomo.
“Nkomo was a short and heavily built man,” Mathe said. “The statue exaggerates his height and his body size. The knobkerrie he is carrying is longer than the actual club he used to carry. It’s a pity our children will have a totally different image of the father of the nation,” Mathe said.
Clara Dube said Zimbabweans were going through economic difficulties and prioritising the statue showed the indifference the government had for ordinary people.