City of Harare should erect mural depicting “45° gun-brandishing soldier” and slain protestors, where Aug 2018 and Jan 2019 fatal shootings occured

Whilst the nation is still feeling all historical - immersed in a frenzy of erecting statues, visiting Hanging Trees, and other heritage sites, mostly associated with the brutal and savage repression of the people of Zimbabwe at the hands of our ruthless oppressors - a thought came into my mind...why can the City of Harare not join in the fervour, by also erecting a statue or mural commemorating possibly one of the darkest periods in our post-independence history.


Who can deny that – outside the 1980s malicious and sadistic genocidal massacring of over 20,000 non-combative innocent men, women, and children in the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces, as well as the subsequent 2000s heinous butchering of hundreds of opposition supporters – the August 2018 and January 2019 cold-blooded callous shooting of unarmed protestors in the capital Harare by security forces, tragically deserves at place in the post-independence “Hall of Shame” chapter of our history?

As I was writing yesterday’s article on the visit by the president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to the so-called “Hanging Tree” in Bulawayo – where, nine Ndebele captured warriors against colonial occupation were ostensibly hanged in 1896 – I find myself wondering why, if the country was genuine in its recording and remembrance our past, especially in reference to the people’s merciless subjugation by their heartless oppressive leaders, we could not also immortalize these most recent shootings.

Although, the 1896 Hanging Tree events’ authenticity, as narrated during Mnangagwa’s tour last week, has since been cast in serious doubt by a renowned Ndebele historical researcher and bestselling author friend of mine – as she could not find anywhere where this was recorded – the very thought that the execution of nine people by a brutal regime in 1896 could be cast in stone for generations to remember, then why should the 2018 and 2019 execution-style shootings, by our post-independence military junta, not also qualify for similar recognition?

Of course it is common knowledge that any history of a people is usually written by the “victors” – or, those who think that they have won, although time usually proves them wrong – today’s generation of people all across the world have woken up, and now stand for, and demand, that the correct history of a nation, or particular group, be immediately corrected, recorded, told, and commemorated.

People throughout the world – especially, after the advent of new information and communications technologies, which have enabled accurate facts and events to be shared and recorded in real time – no longer wait for someone else, usually the so-called “victors”, to tell our own stories.

No one needs to wait over a hundred years for a 1896 hero or heroine to finally be recognized – as a result of their true gallant acts being hidden from the general populace, or even vilified by the “victors” and history writers, by being portrayed as some hooligans, troublemakers and rabble-rousers.

Honestly, how do today’s Zimbabweans, who are rightly celebrating the likes of Charwe Nyakasikana, and Gumboreshumba (the spirit mediums of Nehanda and Kaguvi respectively), think these people were regarded a hundred years ago?

What do we think those who arrested and executed them believed they were actually doing – maintaining law and order, by prosecuting and killing all those who were inciting violence, right?

Yet, in our eyes as Zimbabweans, these were, in fact, our heroes and heroines, who were merely gallantly standing up against oppression.

Does this not sound all too familiar in post-independence Zimbabwe – in which, there are those who are bravely speaking out, and resisting state-sponsored injustices, the plundering of our resources, and our impoverishment by the ruling elite – yet, are considered trouble-causers and hooligans, worthy of prosecution, persecution, and shooting to death on the streets of Harare, in order to “maintain peace and order”?

Is it, then, any wonder that a post-independence Zimbabwe still heavily relies of such archaic and draconian laws, as the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (MOPA) – a mere replica of the Pubic Order and Security Act (POSA), and its Rhodesian older brother, the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA)?

Zimbabweans have had enough of their brutal repression at the hands of our ruthless rulers – and, we need to write, honour, and remember our tragic history – from colonialism to today, and each and every event of this state-sponsored savagery and cruelty needs to be commemorated.

That is why, I seriously propose a statue, or better still, a mural, boldly narrating the shameful and painful events of 1 August 2018, and January 2019 – with the soldier brandishing and shooting at unarmed fleeing protestors, at a forty-five degree angle, being at the centre – as part of the broader indelible dark history of this country.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and, political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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