Honour Nkomo with Main Street

HARARE - Construction work on completing a plinth to take up the late Vice President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s statue which had long been a source of acerbic controversy resumed at the beginning of this month in Bulawayo bringing about closure of an issue between government and the people in this region.

Now that work on the erection of Joshua Nkomo’s statue is on course after internecine controversy which has taken years to resolve, the people of Bulawayo can now think of their unfinished campaign advocating for renaming of Main Street.

There have been attempts by local single-issue lobbyists to rename the thoroughfare in honour of the late veteran nationalist and Zapu founding president for the sterling work Joshua Nkomo did in pioneering to arouse nationalistic awareness among hitherto docile Zimbabweans.

During the commemorations of the death of the veteran nationalist three months ago in July, members of the Ibetshu Likazulu cultural lobby group informally “renamed” the thoroughfare by putting up posters inscribed with Nkomo’s name hoping government would be persuaded to endorse residents’ wish.

But obscurantists made sure this was not to be done by ripping off or defacing stubborn posters, probably fearful that the community would steal the limelight and credit from government. It was an avoidable spat but quite a good lesson for government to consult before foisting ideas on a people, particularly when the idea risks misinterpretation by a cynical public.

While the well-intentioned decision to immortalise the late vice president was noble, the choice of sculptors portrayed, according to the people of Matabeleland where Nkomo is a cult figure, insensitivity on the part of government bureaucrats.

There are renowned local sculptors who could have done an equally impressive job, other than outsiders who tended to distort purpose. Instead of being a symbol of honour it served as a reminder to locals of a calamity that befell the region during early independence years. Already, the second largest city where Nkomo cut his political teeth during the heydays of nascent nationalism, boasts an airport named after him, albeit that the facility has taken a rather inordinate period to commission.

It would be a befitting tribute to Joshua Nyongolo Nkomo for government to give him a double honour by renaming the Main Street at the time of unveiling his statue. Moreover, there is no significance in the current name other than it being adjectival.

That fact alone gives government the necessary flexibility for change because there is little if any sentimental value or attachment to the current name that would possibly raise contestation from any other group.

Nkomo’s statue deserves becoming an enduring landmark in the city situated along a thoroughfare that bears his name.

That way government can assuage misgivings among the people of the City of Kings who often complain of being marginalised and playing second-fiddle to Harare.

Comments (1)

What if the City Council takes that step to honour Nkomo since they are the local government in Byo? Central Govt takes ages to do things - even Solomon Mujuru has not been honoured by a road to his name.

Dandirautande - 25 September 2013

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