Nkomo could have been 100

KNOWN for his nicknames, Umafukufuku, umdalawethu, Chibwechitedza and Father Zimbabwe, such was how popular and lovable the late Vice President Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo.

He died on July 1 at the age of 82 after having battled cancer. Nkomo, the founding father of Zimbabwe could have reached 100 years tomorrow and even though he is long gone, for his family and the nation at large, there is an enduring sense of loss.

But above all, it is his remarkable and indelible legacy that many Zimbabweans continue to cherish. Schools, a college, the airport, and streets among other initiatives have been named after him as part of honouring the larger than life fallen giant. Also a statue was erected in the second largest city CBD in his honour.

But it was the great move by the Nkomo family to find a best way of preserving his legacy through establishing a special museum.

As part of remembering him, the WeekendPost visited his Matsheumhlope house which was turned into a museum and managed to speak to the Joshua Nkomo Foundation chief executive officer Jabulani Hadebe.

“When umdala passed away in 1999, umama Mafuyana (Nkomo’s late wife) and the family set down and decided to form a foundation that will perpetuate Nkomo’s legacy for future generations to come,” Hadebe said.

“It was officially registered in 2004. And the first successful initiative under the Foundation was turning his house into a museum at Matsheumhlope no 17 Aberdeen road,” he said.

The museum capture Nkomo’s history from the time he was born, his education in Zimbabwe and later in South Africa where upon his return went straight into trade unionism until such a time when he entered into politics.
The museum also captures issues to do with the sad chapter of Gukurahundi including the death of Lookout Masuku and the attack on his Pelandaba house which resulted in the death of his two bodyguards.

Part of the history in the museum is contained in his book, The Story of my life.

Hadebe says the museum was the most reliable place where people can get the true story about Nkomo’s life.
“The history you get here is undistorted, as compared to the one you get from other people who want to score cheap politics.”

Francis Nhema is the chairperson of the board of trustees while Simon Khaya Moyo is also a trustee in the board.
Among those who have visited the museum since inception according to Hadebe are the late Joseph Msika, John Landa Nkomo and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.

While at the time of inception, a number of tourists were flocking to the historical site, lately there has been a sharp decline, confirms Hadebe.

“We have been attracting a lot of tourists but lately it has declined because of the fall in the economic situation in the country but I am glad that the schools and universities have been our biggest guests here, they actually learn a lot.”

Added Hadebe: “But we are working on going digital. We want to digitalise this museum in such a way that even people can get access to what the museum is all about without necessarily having to come here.”

He said as time goes on they will continue coming up with initiatives that will perpetuate Nkomo’s legacy. —Jeffrey Muvundusi
in BULAWAYO


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