From Karigamombe to Africa Unity Square


The NewsDay of May 9 2015 carried an article: Harare Councillors Agree To Erect Nkomo Statue At Africa Unity Square.

Africa Unity Square is what Munyaradzi Gwisai calls the People’s Parliament.

To Gwisai, the real Parliament is the povo out there, who are in most cases used as prongs to handle hot or dirty issues and then dumped.

The Unity Square has historical as well as sensational connotations.

Many a stayaway and a demonstration to name a few have sprung from the Square.

Strategically the Square faces Parliament. Government offices, the High Court and Supreme Court are in the same vicinity.

What a combination, the Legislature, the Executive and Judiciary are gracing Africa Unity Square.

Proponents of the erection of the Father Zimbabwe statue at Africa Unity Square have the following reasons for their proposal :
lNo one in his/ her sound mind (own emphasis) can dispute the contribution Umdala Wethu made towards liberating Zimbabwe.

The legacy left behind by this visionary is beyond description lHis philosophy of Son of the Soil — umntanenhlabathi / mwana wevhu is unparalleled
But why is the statue site moving from Karigamombe Centre to Africa Unity Square?

In the same article, Karigamombe was said to be President Mugabe’s family name, meaning a bull feller or defeater.

In the circumstances, erecting Father Zimbabwe’s statue at Karigamombe would have been a perpetual symbol of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF defeating Umdala Wethu and his Zapu.

This, some sections of society would argue, symbolises celebration of the demise of Zapu.

It was on these grounds that the Nkomo family and indeed unbiased Zimbabweans strongly opposed the move then.

Interestingly, the motion to erect the statue at Africa Unity Square, is mooted by MDC-T councillors.

One would have thought such a proposal should have come from the erstwhile comrades-in-arms, Zanu PF councillors.

This across-the-divide recognition of the legacy left behind by uMafukufuku, Chibwechitedza oka Nyongolo is evident everywhere.

The next question is on the timing of the proposed erection of the statue.

Is it a strategic decision or a coincidence? Political schemings are in the offing, resulting in politicians strategically positioning themselves.

2018 is around the corner and as such political parties would like to endear themselves to as many geographical groupings as possible.

I stand to be corrected, but I am of the view that Big Josh’s name has come to be abused.

People tend to commercialise the old man’s name for selfish egos.

From a political perspective, talking well about Father Zimbabwe is believed to make one appear and sound nationalistic.

On the commercial front, Big Josh’s unifying and emancipatory attributes tend to be a stabilising factor.

In Bulawayo, the statue site at the corner of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and 8th Avenue has become a hit.

Photographers and admirers are always on site. The pillars holding the chain ring fencing the statue are always knocked down by motorists.

It is yet to be established whether the accidents are intentional or are as a result of being attracted to the huge shining bronze statue.

Maybe Harare needs this site of attraction also?

All things being equal, Harare councillors need to be applauded for their tribe and political party blind decision.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of the Son of the Soil mentality which was Chibwechiteza’s dream regarding Zimbabwe.

am told the Tanzania’s former President, Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, had this to say to Robert Mugabe then: “Ian Smith has surrendered to you the Jewel of Africa – look after it and don’t mess it up.” Haven’t we messed it up? Food for thought.

lMoses Tsimukeni Mahlangu is the general-secretary for Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers’ Union. He is a labour consultant and arbitrator. Feedback: Email: