The Chronicle

Chronicle Reporters

HISTORY is being made in Bulawayo today as the city, for the first time since 1980, hosts the country’s main Independence celebrations at Barbourfields Stadium in line with the Second Republic’s devolution and decentralisation thrust.

The Independence Day celebrations  are being held under the theme: “[email protected] 42 — Leaving no one and no place behind.”

The Children’s Party held at State House in Bulawayo yesterday ran under the same theme.

First lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa presents hampers to learners from Matabeleland province who attended the children’s party at the State House in Bulawayo yesterday. All provinces received hampers from the First Lady

In the past, Independence Day celebrations were held in Harare.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are expected to gather at the iconic football field for the momentous event that will be spiced up by entertainment from schoolchildren, musicians, Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service drills, among others.

President Mnangagwa hosted the Children’s Party at State House in Bulawayo ahead of today’s main celebrations.

Addressing delegates at the party, President Mnangagwa said both the Independence celebrations and the Children’s Party were historic events as they were held outside the capital city for the first time ever.

“I welcome you all here at the Bulawayo State House at this first ever National Children’s Party to be held outside the capital city, Harare. I always look forward to this important gathering of representatives of the children of our nation,” he said.

“This occasion gives me, and us in Government, an opportunity to interact, celebrate and share views with you, our children and the future of our great country, Zimbabwe.”

The Children’s Party was attended by children from the country’s 10 provinces.

Other commemorative festivities lined up included fireworks at midnight  seen from all corners of the city.

After the lighting of the flame of Independence at the Khami National Monument on Saturday, the flame was taken around the city yesterday. Bulawayo residents said the holding of the main celebrations in the city was historic. 

Yesterday, both Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube and Bulawayo Mayor told Chronicle that hosting the Independence Day celebrations will leave an indelible mark on the city which has never hosted the national celebrations since the country attained majority rule in 1980, Minister Ncube and Mayor  Mguni will go down in history as the first Provincial Minister and Mayor to host national Independence celebrations besides their Harare counterparts since the attainment of self-rule in 1980.

Minister Ncube said the people of Bulawayo feel greatly honoured and respected by President Mnangagwa.

The minister called upon Bulawayo residents to reciprocate the gesture by respecting the big day so that everything goes according to plan.

“Since it’s for the first time for this great event to be held outside Harare, we urge the people of Bulawayo to reciprocate the gesture by respecting this big day so that everything goes according to plan.

This honour will play a huge part in growing our businesses and will help market the city as well and expose it to potential investors who probably had no idea how beautiful Bulawayo is. Hosting national celebrations will automatically create employment for some of our people,” said Minister Ncube.

The First Family watches as a learner entertains guests during the children’s party at State House

Mayor Mguni, like Minister Ncube, said the city has been greatly honoured to be the focal point at this year’s national celebrations adding that local businesses like lodges and hotels as well as other downstream industries will record brisk business, even if the event will just be for a single day.

He said President Mnangagwa showed that Bulawayo also existed as part of Zimbabwe.

“To us it’s a recognition that we also exist as part of Zimbabwe as you know that for the past 41 years this event has been domiciled in Harare, so for us to be finally recognised makes us feel greatly honoured.

For purposes of domestic, cultural, sporting and heritage tourism is a plus for us as we can see that there is brisk business around the city. Lodges and hotels are fully subscribed, our people will finally have a piece of the Independence cake.

At the end of the day, it will lead to activation of the city, and infrastructural growth among other positives,” said Mayor Mguni.

He said the event will be a signature for other cities that will host the same event in future in line with the Second Republic’s stance of rotating national events across the country.

“We also want to urge Bulawayo residents to take these celebrations seriously and flood Barbourfields Stadium,” said Mayor Mguni.

The Independence Flame and Independence Trophy were yesterday taken on a seven-hour tour of Bulawayo’s western suburbs.

From Saturday, The Independence Flame was resting at Khami National Monument and was  guarded by members of the police overnight.

In the morning a convoy of security details took the flame from the top of the King’s enclosure at the Khami National Monument, mounted it on the back of a truck, then it was taken to koBullet in Nketa.

There, Government officials such as Minister Ncube welcomed it, with Zimbabwe football giants, Highlanders and Dynamos supporters, officials and players and residents waiting for the Independence Flame.

The two teams then joined the convoy, as a way to hype their match today at Barbourfields Stadium as they play for the Independence Trophy.

Highlanders FC captain Ariel Sibanda and his Dynamos counterpart Partson Jaure were at the back of a pick-up parading the Independence Trophy.

A staunch Highlanders supporter Ms Brilliant Ncube from Nkulumane said come rain or thunder, Bosso is lifting the Independence Trophy today.

“I know that we are going to win, Siyinqaba. Dynamos is welcome to Bulawayo, but they should know that they are going back empty handed, we shall win the trophy at our home ground at Barbourfields Stadium,” said Ms Ncube.

Thereafter the convoy left and passed by Sokusile shops in Nkulumane, then Nketa 8 shops, Nketa 7 koMsarurwa, Food For Less shops in Emganwini, where there was Khaya Arts dance group providing entertainment there.

The convoy then snaked its way to Tshabalala Shopping Centre (koBasic) before making a brief stop in Pelandaba suburb at the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko kaNyongolo Nkomo’s home.

There, it was song and dance for the fans and residents who came out of their homes to watch the spectacle.

Some were chanting out the name of their favourite teams and once in a while would greet the players, while others were taking pictures and videos of the Independence Flame, which was being led by a police escort. 

Dynamos FC supporters were distributing flags in each suburb that they were passing through, with the old and young taking them.

On the contrary, there was little visibility for Highlanders FC memorabilia as they did not have any to distribute and this was a missed opportunity for them to market their team.

The journey then continued to Old Pumula, Magwegwe West and North, Gwabalanda, and made a brief stop at Chigumira Shopping Centre, where musician Mzoe 7 and dance group Crazy Masters were providing entertainment. 

Thereafter, the convoy went to Cowdray Park and here people who spoke to Chronicle said they were pleased that the torch and Independence Day Celebrations were happening in Bulawayo. 

“We are grateful that we are going to be part of these celebrations. We always see them on television, but for the first time they are now here. We feel that we are part of Zimbabwe and we are thankful that the Government saw it fit to hold them here.

“I’m definitely going to attend the Independence Celebrations at Barbourfields Stadium, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said 74-year-old Mr Artwell Kaviya.

Ms Median Ndlovu (71) said unfortunately due to her not being able to walk, she would have loved to be at the stadium.

“I would have loved to go there, but because I use crutches it will be a difficult thing to do for me. However, this is a great thing that is being done for the city of Bulawayo and the people of Bulawayo,” said Ms Ndlovu.

After Cowdray Park, the convoy travelled to Emakhandeni, Old Lobengula, Njube, Entumbane then made a stop at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo statue in the middle of the city centre.

There, Thandanani Women’s Ensemble danced and performed, before the convoy went to the Natural History Museum where the Independence Flame rested for today’s celebrations.

After the roadshow and convoy, Chief Director in the Ministry of Youth, Sport Arts and Recreation Dr Benson Dube said: “The roadshow moved around the western suburbs inviting people to come in their numbers to the Independence Day Celebrations at Barbourfields Stadium.

It is the first time that these celebrations are in Bulawayo and we want the whole of Bulawayo to be there.

We wish Barbourfields was large enough.” 

Dr Dube urged people to come with their children to witness the Independence Day celebrations. 

“We expect people to come in their numbers and see what actually happens during independence. Let’s not leave our children, because they haven’t witnessed this.

So let them come and see this. We want a peaceful celebration and let us show the whole world that Bulawayo can be peaceful,” said Dr Dube.

 Bulawayo was scheduled to host the 40th Independence Day celebrations before the national event was postponed after the Government declared a National Disaster in the wake of the coronavirus in 2020 as part of measures to contain its transmission and spread.

Zimbabwe attained its Independence in 1980, after a protracted liberation struggle. Independence brought many benefits to the indigenous people who were deprived of means of production by successive colonial governments. 



Article Source: The Chronicle

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