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Nehanda statue saga rages

by Staff reporter
06 Dec 2020 at 08:14hrs | Views
The government will consider input from Zimbabweans on the Mbuya Nehanda statue that will eventually be erected in Harare amid indications authorities are mulling the possibility of starting the process afresh following a public outcry.

A statue being made by sculptor David Mutasa sent tongues wagging when its images started circulating on social media after it was shown to President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Some felt that the statue that showed a younger Mbuya Nehanda compared to how she appeared on her only known image was a distortion.

Godfrey Mahachi, the National Monuments and Museums of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) executive director, told The Standard that there was need for consensus on the spirit medium's image.
"The statue is being erected by the people of Zimbabwe," Mahachi said.

"Whilst our appreciation of exactly how Mbuya Nehanda looked like is limited because there's probably one photograph of her, there still needs to be some degree of consensus on the image of her, notwithstanding the limitations related to the issue.

"The opinions of the people matter."

The NMMZ defended the erection of the statue, which some Zimbabweans feel is not a priority at a time the country is facing a myriad of economic-related problems.

"Statues are commonplace throughout the world, including the Christian world," Mahachi said.

"Zimbabwe a few years ago erected the statue of Father Zimbabwe (late vice president Joshua Nkomo), South Africa and Mozambique erected statues of their former departed leaders, Nelson Mandela and Samora Machel respectively.

"The United Kingdom and the rest of europe and North America erect numerous statues of various persons regarded as significant contributors to their national histories.

"They are recognising the contributions of these people.

"They are celebrating them as distinguished departed citizens," Mahachi argued.

"They are not idols. They have not turned them into gods.

"They have made monuments out of their stories. The same applies in our case.

"Mbuya Nehanda is not being turned into a god because of the statue.

"As Zimbabweans, the statement we are making is that we're thankful to Mbuya Nehanda for the courage and sacrifices she made through her spiritual leadership of the First Chimurenga and we want present and future generations to remember those contributions and be inspired by them as they also become citizens, who contribute to the common

He said they chose to do a statue of Mbuya Nehanda Nyakasikana because of her role in the liberation struggle particularly her prophetic words before her hanging in 1898 that "my bones will rise," which inspired the Second Chimurenga.

"It will be remembered that the Second Chimurenga that finally delivered independence and sovereignty to Zimbabweans was directly inspired by the First Chimurenga, in particular Mbuya Nehanda's prophetic words 'my bones shall rise' declaration just before she was hanged by the colonial administration for her role in that early struggle against our conquest by the British," Mahachi said.

"Nehanda is a spirit, who operates through mediums.

"There are known mediums of Nehanda before Nyakasikana inasmuch as there are some after her.

"Currently there are several claimants, dotted around the country.

"The fact that we have a medium through whom we then interact and get guidance from Nehanda the spirit means that the spirit has personified itself through its medium. We can represent the spirit through its medium.

"The medium is our means to the spirit.

"If we, therefore, want to respect the spirit and to immortalise it through honouring by way of erecting a statue, we represent the spirit through its medium."

Source - the standard
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