Meluleki Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
GREETED by sweet melodies from little birds in an apparent choral competition with a cacophony of pounding hammers and sweeping brooms as maintenance personnel put final touches to the dominantly granite beautified monument in preparation for the Heroes Day commemorations, little souls in the company of tutors storm into the National Shrine amid wonder and marvel.
Attention is temporarily captured by the shiny and selfish-in-visibility tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument standing boldly, overlooking the National Sports stadium, itself a symbol of unity, and other places farther and farther.
The restlessness and enthusiasm catapulting from discoveries linked to the war of liberation gives the delegation disciplinarian, Mr Sibangilizwe Dube a torrid time.
It’s on 12 August and the occasion is a long yet enlightening educational tour via Chinhoyi where a group of learners from Pumula High School in Bulawayo have just come face to face with the magnificent and amazing natural Chinhoyi caves and the sleeping pool. Lessons from Chinhoyi have precisely detailed why Zimbabwe is such a tourist destination. Among other manifestations, the Christian world could be vindicated in its “God-is-alive” rhetoric. The world indeed has a creator, it seems.
Under guidance of a tour guide, team Pumula High finds its way into the full yet empty national shrine. But how could a place be so full and empty at the same time? Answers could be found on the collective efforts exerted by the sons and daughters of this land who selflessly and in large numbers, dedicated their lives to the liberation of our motherland from the claws of the brutal Smith regime. Here they lie in solitude and far from the liberated crowd.
The unfolding events herald in a mammoth task for the youthful Tour Guide who is subjected to a barrage of questions from very inquisitive young minds. She quickly takes the little souls through the background to the shrine.
The liberation struggle shapes the discourse. What follows is a tour of the shrine. The graves, the Eternal Flame Tower, the Wall Murals as well as the Museum where in a heartbreaking moment, the delegation stumbles on the wreckage of Herbert Chitepo’s Volkswagen Beetle among other features which include artefacts, photographs and documents from the war of liberation.
These and other observations also come in the backdrop of the thriving new curriculum which among other emphasis, considers as core, the undertaking of educational tours. Educational tours are very pivotal in giving learners a feel of what they learn about from day to day, lest all content takes the abstract route. At the end of the day, there has to be an inculcation of some sense of patriotism, leading to a change in learners’ attitudes and behaviour.
A new subject area, Heritage Studies has also been introduced under the new curriculum. Pumula High History Head of Department and delegation leader, Ms Zodwa Mpofu expressed satisfaction amid an ocean of dreams.
“Economic challenges could not be a hindrance to our learners appreciating their heritage and national consciousness. We managed as a school to put resources together and avail our culture and heritage to our learners. We would like to thank our parents and administration for according us such a golden opportunity.
“Despite the long and cumbersome tour, our learners displayed an interest and appreciation of our national heritage. If all goes well and resources allowing, we are considering taking a regional field trip to Chimoio and Nyadzonia in Mozambique, come 2018,” added Ms Mpofu.
The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe has arguably been a reliable, rich and an inflation-free cultural and historical bank. Through it, Zimbabwe’s history and cultural heritage has also been preserved in other areas like the UNESCO recognised cultural Great Zimbabwe Ruins, the natural Mana Pools, the cultural Khami Ruins Monument, the cultural Matobo Hills which stole Cecil John Rhodes’ heart as well as the majestic Mosi-oa-Tunya/ Victoria Falls. Young people have to be acquainted with their past and national heritage, lest they are swept away by the globalisation tornado.
Extracted from the preamble of the new constitution which was overwhelmingly welcomed by millions a few years ago, the national schools Pledge instils patriotism and commitment to the national interest:
“Respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/ Umvukela and national liberation struggles. We are proud inheritors of our national resources. We are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures”.
Chronicling how Zimbabwe was liberated, the National Heroes Acre visually lays bare the atrocities of the brutal and heinous Smith regime. President Mugabe and other liberation stalwarts have perpetually emphasized on the importance of safeguarding our hard earned independence. Thousands of men and women lost their lives whilst some were injured with many becoming permanently disabled at the hands of the draconic Smith regime which had dreamt of constructing a London out of Britain, heralding in the protracted armed struggle. The racist regime could not easily let go!