Zimbabwe's government said the reason for erecting the statue was to cultivate the spirit of heroism and inspire girls to self-actualise.
"The statue of Mbuya Nehanda that will soon be mounted at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way will be a monument that reminds us of how our forefathers resisted colonial conquest. Mbuya Nehanda personifies this early resistance. Putting up a statue of Mbuya Nehanda is, therefore, a national celebration of her courage and those who worked with her in a bid to defeat colonial occupation. The monument is a tribute to Mbuya Nehanda and the many other leaders of the First Chimurenga such as Chingaira Makoni, Mapondera, Chinengundu Mashayamombe, Chiwashira and others. Mkwati and Sekuru Kaguvi were the other spiritual leaders of the uprising and their participation in coordinating resistance in various communities is also celebrated in this monument."
In an interview with The Herald in July 2020, Christopher Mutsvangwa said Mbuya Nehanda deserved the honour of a statue given that she was an inspiration to her contemporaries, present and future generations. He said:
“The erection of a Mbuya Nehanda statue in Harare, serves to assuage the spirit of heroism in the people of Zimbabwe. It builds upon the revered legends of the millennia old Great Zimbabwe Civilisation and its epic resistance to modern European imperial marauders. She was indeed a deep inspiration to the 1960-1970s generation of sacrifice that victoriously waged a modern war against settler minority racist domination. Mbuya Nehanda stands as salutary testament to the gender positive virtues of the struggle of the people of Zimbabwe. The statue will surely be a symbol to the girl child and that burning desire at self-actualisation.”
The statue was set to be erected ahead of 2020 Heroes’ Day commemorations.
It was however unveiled on 25 May 2021, eleven months after construction began.
Construction was carried out by Zimbabwe CRSG Constitution Pvt Limited. The project was run by the Office of the President and Cabinet, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Ministry, department of Public Works, National Archives of Zimbabwe and National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.
The National Archives of Zimbabwe supplied the photographs and documentary evidence Mbuya Nehanda's history. National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe as the national institution mandated to manage Zimbabwe’s heritage ensured that sufficient information on Mbuya Nehanda and the First Chimurenga was mobilised and packaged for display around the monument. It also ensured that on completion of the project, the legal framework for the protection of the monument was in place, by having the statue gazetted as a national monument.
The Public Works Department of the Local Government ministry supervised the whole project while the Department of Roads alongside the City of Harare was concerned with traffic management issues.
Construction began on June 25 in Harare. As a result of the construction work, portions of Samora Machel between Leopold Takawira Street and First Street and Julius Nyerere Way between Sam Nunjoma Street and Kwame Nkurumah Avenue were temporarily closed.
Leopold Takawira Street was converted to a two-way up to Nelson Mandela Avenue from Samora Machel Avenue and a section of Kwame Nkrumah Avenue between First Street and Julius Nyerere Way was converted to a one–way for traffic due west.
In December 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered the statue to be redone following a public outcry. Zimbabweans said the first version whose pictures circulated online did not capture what Mbuya Nehanda is believed to have looked like based on a photograph of her.
The statue is erected on a pedestal at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in Harare.
The statue of Mbuya Nehanda is three metres in height. The statue will be mounted on a 1.5-metre high pedestal to give it prominence.
In March 2021, consumables worth R2,184575 million for galvanizing the Mbuya Nehanda statue were bought from South Africa. The consumables were granted free duty by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) following an order by the Local Government Ministry.
The consumables that were bought from South Africa consisted of 16 galvanised steel bridge, components off 12 meter each, weighing 4000kg each while weighing 64000kg in total.
Journalist Hopewell Chin'ono claimed that the statue cost US$100 000 about R1,511,510.00 at the time, to transport.
Adding the cost of the consumables and transportation the cost adds up to R3,696,085. Government did not reveal the actual cost of the project to the public.
The project was funded by Zimbabwe's government through the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
In December 2020, The first version of the statue of Mbuya Nehanda drew criticism from Zimbabweans on various platforms with people saying it was a caricature of the spirit medium after its images went viral after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to Nyati Gallery.
The statue was contrary to the older image that Zimbabweans had become accustomed to through archival records. Government said the statue was a youthful version of Mbuya Nehanda.
Mnangagwa ordered the statue to be redone in order to capture the image that has been in existence backed by contemporary photographs, since Mbuya Nehanda's hanging in March 1898.
- Sifelani Tsiko, Mbuya Nehanda statue demystified, The Herald, Published: July 13, 2020, Retrieved: May 24, 2021
- Nehanda statue to cultivate heroism, The Herald, Published: July 6, 2020, Retrieved: May 26, 2020
- Mbuya Nehanda statue to reposition Harare as a tourism hub, Tourism players, ZBC News, Published: June 2020, Retrieved: May 24, 2021
- Nyashadzashe Ndoro, R3,6 million consumables for Mbuya Nehanda statue get free duty, Nehanda Radio, Published: March 1, 2021, Retrieved: May 24, 2021
- Blessings Chidakwa, Work on Mbuya Nehanda memorial statue begins, The Herald, Published: July 4, 2020, Retrieved: May 24, 2021
- Mbuya Nehanda statue to be redone, The Herald, Published: December 19, 2020, Retrieved: May 24, 2021
- WINSTONE ANTONIO, Mbuya Nehanda statue set for unveiling tomorrow, NewsDay, Published: May 24, 2021, Retrieved: May 24, 2021