Leonard Ncube/ Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporters
CONSTRUCTION of Pupu National Monument in Lupane, Matabeleland North, is complete and the shrine is ready for commissioning.
Government started upgrading the Pupu site about 50km east of Lupane Centre into a national monument a few years ago, with a view to tell the true Zimbabwean story.
Pupu is where King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment killed 32 colonial forces led by Major Allan Wilson in December 1893 in battle.
There had been concerns about neglect of the place over the years by the previous government despite its rich history of the Ndebele people and that locals wanted it developed into a shrine.
The Second Republic under President Mnangagwa committed itself to upgrading the site into a national monument and has honoured revered general Chief Mtshana Khumalo who has since been granted National Hero status.
Chief Khumalo was the commander of King Lobengula’s warriors that defeated the Allan Wilson Patrol as the first shots of colonial resistance were fired. Allan Wilson was honoured and his legacy preserved for all to see while Chief Khumalo, the victor, had been overlooked.
President Mnangagwa honoured Chief Khumalo and granted him National Hero status for his role in fighting colonialism and the Pupu site is there to tell the true story from an African and Zimbabwean perspective.
A Chronicle news crew visited the Pupu shrine and observed that it has been fenced off, with two 5 000 litre tanks installed, that connect to a solar powered pump from a borehole about 200 metres from the shrine. The piping for water from the borehole to the shrine has been completed and villagers have started benefitting from it.
National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) director Dr Godfrey Mahachi yesterday said the major features of the new national monument are now in place and the department was waiting for direction from Government on when it can be commissioned.
“We have generally made the place ready for commissioning and we are waiting for guidance from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage which is handling the issue of commissioning now, but in terms of what we needed to do we are done,” said Dr Mahachi.
Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe could not be reached on his mobile while Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo said he was yet to get an update.
Dr Mahachi said a clinic has been built near the monument in recognition of the shrine and for use by the surrounding community.
He said besides upgrading the monument, a solar-powered borehole facility is in place to provide a reliable source of water for the monument and community.
“We have done the monument itself, which we have reconceptualised. We have done a field museum to tell the story of Pupu which was the major thrust behind the project.
“The project is about providing information to visitors, schools and tourists and that we have done.
“We have also done a borehole very close to the monument for use by visitors and local community. In this phase of the project that is what we intended to do. Should we come up with additional things, that will be looked into later,” he said.
The monument has been decorated with pictures detailing the Pupu history and that of the Anglo-Ndebele war. King Lobengula also crossed the site at some point and a tree under which he rested on his journey to the north still exists.
There is a mass grave that also needs upgrading on site and the local Khumalos are currently the custodians of the shrine.
Chief Khumalo’s statue will also be erected at the shrine.
Historical sites and shrines are part of a new programme that seeks to preserve the country’s liberation history while promoting tourism.
Pupu Ward 11 councillor, Simanga Sibanda said the upgrading of the shrine and other projects in the area were a sign of how the Second Republic is committed to developing all parts of the country.
“The clinic is complete and what is left is completion of staff houses and deployment of staff. We have Asiphakameni Secondary School that has been built in Mbondo Village nearby using devolution funds and we take these projects as proper development for the ward.
“We were lagging behind, but now the Second Republic has remembered us and children who used to walk more than 30km to and from school and to the clinic will have these facilities closer to home.
“The school and clinic will reduce school drop-outs and cases of abuse and teenage pregnancies which were common,” he said.
A villager, Ms Sitshengiswe Ncube, said the borehole that was drilled has shortened the distance she has to travel to fetch water from the Shangani River.
She said the Pupu Shrine and its added benefits such as borehole water has brought relief to the community. The solar powered pump gives villagers potable water and does away with manual pumping of the boreholes of old.
Article Source: The Chronicle