The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube and Caroline Mutsawu, Sunday News Reporters
THE Government has taken a bold step to redo some of the work at Pupu Memorial Site, a place in Lupane where King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment killed settler forces’ commander Major Allan Wilson and his fighters on 4 December 1893.
The shrine was complete and ready for commissioning following erection of a perimeter fence, construction of a horseshoe shaped exhibition wall panels at the site, ablution facilities and the drilling of a borehole.
The statue of national hero General Mtshana Khumalo who commanded the King’s regiment and clinic had been put up, including display panels showing Ndebeles resisting colonial forces.
However, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Permanent Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said there was need to expand the size of the statue and for the shrine to generally meet expectations of the community. Dr Gwinji said the Ministry would visit the site on May 26 to assess upgrades made at the shrine and finalise on what needs to be corrected.
He was speaking in Victoria Falls on the sidelines of the Ministry’s mid-term review of its five-year strategic plan that was attended by all departments under its ambit. Dr Gwinji said Government was sprucing up the image of various provincial and district heroes acres and other shrines particularly those that speak of the liberation of the country.
“We’ll soon be looking at Pupu which is here in Matabeleland North to make sure that those shrines are brought up to the level that we want. Some work has been done but more work needs to be done so we are measuring that amount of work while we are here. We’ve achieved some things but it’s a very important historical place and it needs a monument that makes people recognise what it is. People must be curious about what this is about and ask questions and be able to visit and learn. So, it is generally felt that the monument that we put up needs to be good and speak out its importance in national history,” said Dr Gwinji.
He said while the current concept was well described and telling the Zimbabwean story, Government thought it should listen to the community. The local community regards the place as a sacred shrine. It has two mass graves of the fallen Ndebele heroes including leadwood tree (umtswiri) believed to be 130 years old where King Lobengula and his entourage briefly rested before proceeding north.
“We ought to listen to the local leadership in terms of their sentiments and understanding and the meaning of the place to them. So, we are looking at that to see if we can re-configure what is there to meet the expectations particularly of the community around and the historical importance of the place. We have also constructed a clinic there to save the local community,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary said Pupu Clinic met the minimum standard set up by the Ministry of Health and Child Care. The clinic which is a spin-off of the monument is complete and what is left is to equip it and then open it to the public. Dr Gwinji said the intention was to commission the clinic and shrine at the same time but the health facility may be opened earlier and then commissioned later.
“So, we will be visiting Pupu on the 26th to try and make further assessment of the place so that we can recommend its upgrading to a level that is expressive of what happened there and the historical importance of the place.”
In the 2023 budget Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $293 million to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and part of the money is being used in rehabilitating cultural heritage sites across the country. — @ncubeleon