The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Bruce Ndlovu and Bongani Ndlovu,
Government has paid tribute to the family of the late former Vice President of Zimbabwe, Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo for the work they have done in preserving the legacy of Father Zimbabwe.
Speaking after touring the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Museum in Matsheumhlophe on Thursday, as part of the launch of the Bulawayo Heritage Corridor, President Mnangagwa said Government was “embarrassed” for having allowed the Nkomo family to take lead in preserving the legacy of Dr Nkomo through the establishment of the museum.
He said going forward, they would offer all the possible support to the Nkomo family to ensure that the museum gets the status it deserves.
“My appreciation goes to the (Nkomo) family which has done this preservation of the history of Father Zimbabwe; this was a project initiated by the family.
“We as Government feel embarrassed that we did not lead ourselves, but now that it is there, I have assured my young sister (Mrs Thandiwe Nkomo-Ibrahim, daughter to the late Dr Nkomo) that she will receive support from Government to make sure that this place gets the status that it deserves,” said President Mnangagwa.
The Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Museum was opened in Bulawayo’s Matsheumhlope in 2006, later partnering with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ).
The museum used to be the residence of the former Vice-President before the family donated the main house to the Joshua Nkomo National Foundation that later turned it into a museum in honour of Father Zimbabwe’s legacy.
President Mnangagwa was accompanied during the tour by Vice President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga; as well as ministers Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (Defence), July Moyo (Local Government and Public Works), Kazembe Kazembe (Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage), among other senior Government officials.
Earlier in the day, President Mnangagwa visited the Roman Catholic Basilica where he met Archbishop Alex Thomas.
The President said not only was he honoured to visit the Basilica, but noted that its location in the country was of great historical significance as there were very few such facilities in the entire world.
“This has been a great honour for me personally as well as to my team or the Second Republic. I’m honoured to visit this historical heritage, Basilica Cathedral here in Bulawayo. It is a great heritage for our country,” said the President at the end of his visit.
“It shows how deep rooted the spiritual life of our people is. It means that as early as that time, 1903, our people in this country accepted Christianity. This is why it was built. I have no doubt that we shall look after it and hand it over from one generation to another. This type of basilica are not found everywhere, they are extremely unique and it’s an honour that we have it here in Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa chuckled: “I was talking to my deputy, General Chiwenga, who is a devout Catholic; I’m Methodist, and I told him that he has been able to come here because I asked him to accompany me here. Not because he is Catholic.
“Secondly, I also told him that at one time, I was sent by the late former President Mugabe to the Vatican. There is a door in the Vatican, the Freedom Door, and when I arrived at the Vatican that door was opened. I’m the only one who has walked through that door and I always tell Chiwenga, even former President Mugabe never walked through that door. I’m so happy to be here.”
The last leg of President Mnangagwa’s tour saw him visiting the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo.
The Natural History Museum’s regional director Dr Moira FitzPatrick took the President along on the tour as she explained the nine galleries in the museum.
The ground floor has the fauna where it houses the world’s second largest mounted elephant and a live snake collection, while the first floor houses the Hall of Kings.
After the tour, President Mnangagwa said it gave him great pride that some of the rarest artefacts are found in the museum.
“I was impressed upon seeing the animal and human relics that are housed in this space. And I’m told that we have some of the rarest artefacts in the world.
“This gives Zimbabwe pride, in my view, as a world-renowned museum country that has kept the past. This museum will enable us to know where we come from and where we are and where we are likely to go,” said the President.
Jokingly, the President said he was worried upon being told that there were live snakes on display at the museum.
“I’m proud that Dr FitzPatrick has been able to explain the way through the whole place. But I was worried when I saw live mambas and other wild snakes in there, but they said they have been well kept and there is no danger at all.
“So as Zimbabweans we are proud to have this institution, which I understand is the biggest in Southern Africa and one of the best in the world in terms of collections.”
Dr FitzPatrick said it was an honour that the President was the first Zimbabwean Head of State to visit the museum.
“It was a real privilege for us to host the President. He is the first President to come visit the museum so we are really honoured.
Unfortunately, it was a little bit short and we had to rush it through, but he was interested and fascinated and I think he would have really liked to have spent more time.
“I’m hoping that he would come back and recommend Zimbabweans to come and visit our museum now that he has seen it and understands the significance of the museum,” said Dr FitzPatrick.