‘Everyone duty bound to safeguard national interest’

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday rallied Zimbabweans to cherish their rich liberation history and remain united to conquer challenges facing the country, as he officially commissioned the Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site in Lupane, Matabeleland North province, a towering symbol of anti-colonial resilience.

By embracing each other and telling their country’s true story, the President said every citizen was duty-bound to safeguard Zimbabwe’s national interest and preserve the gains of the struggle for independence, which came through the ultimate sacrifice of heroes and heroines.

He said the commissioning of the reconstructed Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site and other similar projects across the country was a demonstration of Second Republic’s determination to honour and immortalise the contributions made by Zimbabweans in fighting for their country from the days of the first Umvukela/Chimurenga, which inspired freedom fighters that delivered the 1980 victory.

Through recognising the battle fought by Ndebele warriors, President Mnangagwa said this was an important building pillar in the national socio-economic development agenda and the quest to consolidate unity and social cohesion among all the communities of Zimbabwe.

Implemented by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), the reconstructed Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site tells in detail how the Ndebele warriors defeated the British Pioneer Column on a disgraced mission to capture and kill King Lobengula to further their quest to colonise the country.

It was at the Pupu Battle on  December 4, 1893 that revered General Mtshane Khumalo commanded the Ndebele Amabutho and decimated 33 British troopers led by Major Allan Wilson. All the 34 whites were killed in the battle but for years the existing monument celebrated the defeated as if they were victorious. 

The Second Republic has since accorded General Mtshane Khumalo with national hero status in recognition of his distinguished legacy. Through his military acumen, President Mnangagwa said King Lobengula never became a subject of white subjugation.

The President, who was accompanied by his two deputies, Cdes Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi conducted a tour of the creative and captivating monument before delivering his keynote address to the multitudes of people who witnessed the event. 

“The journey of our forefathers will never be forgotten. This has seen my Government recognising heroes and heroines of the first Chimurenga/Umvukela, for example, through the mounting of the  Mbuya Nehanda Statue in Harare. 

“Likewise, many strategic national institutions have been named after the heroes and heroines of Chimurenga/Umvukela,” said the President. “This monument being unveiled today is our collective honour of the historic acts by the brave warriors of yesteryear. They planted the revolutionary seeds that opposed forms of occupation and oppression. No group of people should ever denigrate or misrepresent our rich liberation war heritage. 

“We all have a duty to safeguard our national identity as the people of Zimbabwe by telling the correct story of our country, ourselves,” said President Mnangagwa.

Commissioning of Lupane battlefield monuments in lupane

He said the commissioning of the Pupu monument was a precursor of similar projects to follow across the country and called for a multi-stakeholder approach in researching and rewriting the country’s distorted history.

The use of information communication technologies could come in handy in this drive, he added, as he charged young people who are tech-savvy to package content and make it appealing to audiences.

“Going forward, the portrayal of our country’s history must be corrected and rewritten. The narratives of our liberation war history should correctly reflect the heroic acts of our forefathers in our country’s quest for justice, independence and freedom,” said President Mnangagwa.

“I challenge the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to work closely with communities, historians and academics to comprehensively correct colonial biases, falsehoods and misrepresentations. Let’s use ICTS so that our young people are exposed to our country’s rich history of sacrifice, as well as the journey to independence, unity, peace and development. I call upon families and communities to play their part in this regard.”

He said the construction of the Pupu monument and others must be a recognition that the battle to attain independence, freedom, peace and unity was long and painful, extending across generations.

In fighting an enemy that had superior ammunition, he said the Ndebele warriors defied the odds as they emerged victorious hence their bravery and valour should be immortalised.

“It was here where the pioneering gallant heroes of our beloved motherland, Zimbabwe, waged one of the most historic early battles against white settler invasion and colonialism. We honour the brave specialist regiment of King Lobengula’s army, which defied all the odds and vanquished the Allan                                                                       Wilson patrol,” said the President.

“Through this victorious battle, a clear message was sent to the colonial British settlers that the people of Zimbabwe would never wilfully surrender our land and freedom.”

He reiterated the need for the country to confront its dark past caused by the colonialists including the desecration of the country’s heritage as Wilson and his men are buried at the sacred Matopos mountains. “In total disrespect of our culture, the remains of the defeated settler army were buried within the vicinity of the Great Zimbabwe Monument. They were later reburied alongside Cecil John Rhodes at Matopos, also a sacred national cultural shrine. This is a part of our history, which we must boldly confront,” said President Mnangagwa.

Just as the forefathers resisted colonial subjugation, he said the country will continue to safeguard its territorial sovereignty. The official unveiling of the reconstructed monument comes a few weeks before Zimbabwe commemorates its 44th Independence Day to be held in Murambinda, Manicaland Province in line with the Government’s policy of devolving national events.

In this regard, President Mnangagwa called upon citizens to remain united in pursuit of the national development agendas while shunning divisive agendas.

“Every part of our country played a role in the attainment of the independence, freedom and sovereignty, as well as the peace, unity and development we are enjoying. The forces that unite us are much greater than the falsehoods peddled by our detractors in an attempt to keep us apart,” he said. 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=TX9NrZuGut0%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Ngatirambei takabatana/let’s remain united/asihlaleni sibambene. We are a unitary and indivisible country, flying one national flag and singing one national anthem. Let this spirit spread from Beitbridge to Chirundu and from Plumtree to Mutare.”

Earlier on the President officially opened Pupu Clinic, about 5km from the memorial site. The project has a borehole and nurses houses and is part of the inclusive development agenda spearheaded by the Government. — @nqotshili

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