AIR FORCE of Zimbabwe jets Friday spent some time Monday shooting through Harare skies during rehearsals for what promised to be a grand unveiling of First Chimurenga icon Mbuya Nehanda’s statue by President Emmerson Mnangagwa this Africa Day.
On the ground, a military parade was also rehearsing on site.
The Nehanda fly-over, whose cost to the taxpayer remains under wraps, has been built at the intersection of Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel Avenue in Harare’s CBD.
The unveiling of the statue missed the 18 April 2021 initial date.
As a military parade went through the rehearsal, its band did the same a few metres away while dozens of council and government groundsmen worked to tidy the surroundings for the event.
A heavy police presence around limited the flow of traffic to the site which has had a ‘no-pictures’ policy until its unveiling by the President.
The statue, which is already on its pedestal some 15 metres above the ground has been described by Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana as a “star attraction that will draw tourists”.
“Mbuya Nehanda’s statue is ready to go up onto the Centre of the City and right at the eye of the footbridge,” said Mangwana.
“This is going to be a City Centre Star Attraction, something to draw both international and domestic tourists and yet provide a functional way to cross busy roads.”
A VIP tent was pitched with workers working through the night to ensure a “befitting” honour to Mbuya Nehanda.
The initial statue, made by the David Mutasa owned Nyathi Gallery, was rejected by Mnangagwa who felt it bore youthful features of what was an elderly liberation war heroine who was hanged in 1898 by the settler regime after inspiring uprisings against white occupation across the Mashonaland provinces.
The uprisings were later to be named First Chimurenga/Umvukela.
The site of her statue, according to Mnangagwa, was where “she used to drink water” few kilometres from her home area in Mazowe, north of Harare.
The statue had to be re-constructed from scratch.
Critics have slammed government for channelling scarce resources for constructing a statue when a lot of needy areas went without any resources. newzimbabwe