..... Music, excitement as ZTA remembers Father Zimbabwe.
A multitude yesterday flooded the streets of Bulawayo, bringing much activity to the usually serene city, as residents joined an organised procession along historic sites in memory and honour of the late icon and founding nationalist, Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo.
Wild excitement, mixed with emotion, punctuated the peaceful march, which began at the Blue Lagoon — the late Nkomo family’s business situated at Renkini Bus Terminus in Thorngrove — and proceeded to Stanley Square in one of the city’s oldest suburbs, Makokoba, JM Nkomo statue at the city centre and ended at the City Hall grounds.
The police had a torrid time controlling traffic as the large procession moved at a snail’s pace as others joined in admiration along the way. Traditional music and cultural groups, artistes and poets, drum majorettes from different schools and music bands from the uniformed forces kept the large crowd entertained. These further drew the attention of passersby who, out of curiosity, could not resist rushing to the fences, some climbed on walls as others peeped through their home and office windows to catch a glimpse.
Among the artistes were youthful Madlela Sikhobokhobo, Hwabarathi, Thandanani Women’s Ensemble, Sekunjalo maAfrica and Umkhathi. The crowd was indeed united in spirit as both young and old, including students, buyers and dignitaries walked together in memory of the late VP. Retired journalist and historian, Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu, was also there.
“Anything that connects us to Nkomo helps us to ask what happened to us? Where is that verve, which used to characterise Bulawayo. We are no longer vibrant and have missed this for years,” said one Gogo MaDube who was part of the procession.
“This reminds people of who they are, it’s like a wake up call.”
Another man, who identified himself as Mr Sibanda, said: “This event reminds us of the day we marched to bid Nkomo farewell after he died in 1999. We will never forget him.”
The momentous event was a major highlight of the ongoing 11th edition of the specialised Sanganai/Hlanganani World Tourism Expo organised by the Government through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The late Nkomo family, led by his son Sibangilizwe and daughter Mrs Thandiwe Ibrahim, marched along together with the ZTA team led by chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke as well as representatives from the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Foundation.
Mrs Ibrahim said her father was a nationalist by calling and never made it a secret to them that the liberation struggle came first to the extent that he sacrificed the bulk of his time with family. He said the late national hero desired a free and prosperous Zimbabwe and his ideals of peace and unity appealed to everyone
“We are happy his contribution is being recognised. He was a person who was above all these things like tribalism, racism. He was truly a man of the people, someone who wanted to embrace the whole country and this is what people would like to see,” she said.
Mrs Ibrahim said while some of the things the country experienced after independence were not in line with Nkomo’s dreams, the language and direction of the new dispensation under President Mnangagwa was showing signs of hope and a return to the development path that her father desired.
Yesterday’s event precedes the official launch today of the late “Dr Joshua Nkomo Tourism Heritage Trails”, a unique package of historical tourism that is set to increase Bulawayo attractiveness and enhance domestic and international arrivals. Acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga would preside over the launch programme.
Mr Kaseke said the commemoration of the late Dr Nkomo’s life through Tourism Heritage Trails was crucial in promoting heritage tourism in Zimbabwe. – Chronicle