BULAWAYO - Almost a fortnight since the statue of veteran nationalist and the late former vice president Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo was unveiled, the stampede to catch a glimpse still continues unabated each day.
Bulawayo residents and visitors alike have displayed indefatigable curiosity and enthusiasm to be associated with the landmark that has become both a focal point of attention and a referral site for convergence.
Nkomo’s figure dominates the exact spot overlooking an expansive intersection where the statue of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes used to occupy was officially unveiled by President Robert Mugabe on December 22, a day when Zimbabwe celebrated the Unity Day.
The statue that stands tall in Bulawayo’s central business district was recently declared a national monument by the government through the Home Affairs ministry.
A week-long observation by the Daily News revealed that by 7am each day, small groups of people will be jostling for a vantage point in front of the statue to get a glimpse of Father Zimbabwe.
Many agree the statue is a true depiction of the veteran nationalist.
Motorists have also refused to be left out as some could be seen slowing down just to capture the beauty of the monument.
The viewing frenzy goes past 10pm when some lights mounted on the pedestals gives Nkomo’s bronze statue which portrays the veteran in a brown suit holding his traditional cleft stick in his right hand stands facing northwards unique irradiance.
The pedestal on which the statue is erected is four-and- half metres high while the statue itself is three metres high making the total length of the structure seven and half metres tall.
Interestingly, some photographers at the site have cashed in on the influx as people take turns to take instant photos which cost $2 each.
Others prefer “selfies” from their mobile phones with the statue as the backdrop.
The Daily News witnessed at least six photographers at work on the statue while customers continue to swamp them.
“I come here at 8am and each time I find people already photographing the statue using their phones. We used to make brisk business days soon after it was erected but now there is a bit of decline although people still come in their numbers,” said one of the photographers, Enoch Mlevu, 46.
“To me it shows what kind of man Nkomo was and the unity that he brought as here you see everyone in terms of race and tribe,” Mlevu added.
Michael Maramba, who operates adjacent the statue also added: “I am surprised by the turnout here. At any given time you find people of all ages gathered here just to catch a glimpse of Umdala Wethu. This happens until late in the night.”
Maramba said the turnout shows that the honour for Nkomo was long overdue as “the man was great and a symbol of unity and love”.