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Old Bulawayo restoration resumes

by Staff reporter
24 May 2022 at 07:21hrs | Views
THATCHING of King Lobengula's palace at Old Bulawayo has started as the Government steps up efforts towards completing works on the restoration of the historical site.

The rebuilding of Old Bulawayo was first mooted in 1993 in the run-up to Bulawayo's centenary celebrations.

However, the restoration of King Lobengula's original capital, which became a reality under the Second Republic, is consistent with President Mnangagwa's vision to ensure that cultural heritage issues are brought to the fore of the country's development.

Old Bulawayo was built by King Lobengula in 1870 and was burnt down in 1881 to counter the invasion by white colonialists.

The historical site is part of the Heritage Corridor launched by President Mnangagwa in June last year.

Old Bulawayo is also an important cultural heritage site for tourism and education.

One of the King's commanders, General Magwegwe Fuyana led the process of burning down the capital after which the King and his people moved northwards to the present-day State House in Sauerstown suburb in Bulawayo.

There were efforts later to restore it in the 1990s.

King Lobengula was the last king of the Ndebele Kingdom and his monarchy collapsed in 1894 after it was raided by white settlers marking complete colonisation of present-day Zimbabwe.

Old Bulawayo was gutted by a veld fire again 11 years ago.

It is envisaged that once complete, the site will boost the city's tourism industry.

When Chronicle visited the site yesterday, the news crew observed that workers were busy thatching the King's palace and plastering the inside walls.

One of the beehives including the wagon shed, are complete.

The cattle kraal, which is also an integral part of the settlement, is in the process of being fully reconstructed and lot of ground has been covered.

Work on the erection of the perimeter for the palisade, which demarcates the central part of Old Bulawayo from the periphery has also started.

Already, Government has completed the upgrading of the 7km stretch from Matopos Road leading to the site.

The Ministries of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, and Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry are spearheading the project.

NMMZ executive director, Dr Godfrey Mahachi, said work on the reconstruction of Old Bulawayo resumed after Government released $15 million with the project set to be complete in July.

"We have resumed works at Old Bulawayo and as I speak, the thatching of the King's palace has started and our hope is that within the next two months, we would have completed the project," he said.

"What has been stopping us was the fact that the budget for the project had not yet been released.

Treasury has availed $15 million for the completion of the restoration of Old Bulawayo."

Dr Mahachi said they will also be working on redoing the museum exhibition at the interpretative centre.

He said they are currently consulting other stakeholders so that the narrative to be told at the exhibition centre is broadened.

"We will also renew the information panels including the material culture, which is part of the thatch of the interpretative centre.

"We also intend doing something on the Jesuit Mission because it also very integral to Old Bulawayo," said Dr Mahachi.

He said they are targeting to reconstruct additional nine beehive huts, which were central to King Lobengula's existence at the site. The structures are associated with King and the royal family

Old Bulawayo site is already connected to the national grid with running water being electrically pumped from a borehole.

The palace was gutted by fire in August 2010 and has remained an eyesore as the Khumalos and NMMZ disagreed over who should initiate the restoration process.

Source - The Chronicle
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