Museums hail Uhuru heritage


THIS contribution is intended to persuade Zimbabweans to notice that there is need to document and present the liberation heritage of Zimbabwe, particularly the liberation war, through a special type of a museum, for posterity. A museum is a non-profit permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment (International Council of Museums- ICOM, 2007). The definition implies a general assumption that all museums are about memory in one way or the other. Museums celebrate different issues in the contemporary world. Literally, anything can be commemorated through a museum. In this weird world, there are such museums for Sex, Torture Eggs, Mining, Agriculture, etc. It becomes evident that a special type of a museum should be considered for the noble task of commemorating our liberation war heritage. The museum envisaged for the liberation war should be one which will help the nation to keep the memory of the war of liberation. But, what really constitutes a memorial museum? According to Claudia Clemens (1997), memorial means a tribute paid to those who died, usually in war. Memorials are synonymous with monuments, which will be used as facets to keep those memories for posterity. Memorial museums are one type of dedicated institutions and they constitute a form of official memory to be accepted by their societies. Although it is true that museums are also a form of official memory, there exist many opportunities for provision of other interpretations. What exactly makes a memorial museum? It can be compared to a retired footballer’s jersey that will have been memorialised in a Hall of Fame. Also, remembering those who sacrificed their lives can be glorified in order to make them an example to the living. For example, honour and heroism are memorialised in the liberation of Nazi death camps during WWII, our war to liberate our country from colonisation or soldiers and nationalists who died for their country. Objects may be displayed in exhibitions with layers of tragedy, yet with the spirit of hope that such tragedies were not in vain. This implicit sense of hope shall be discussed in my contributions in the future. Memorials exist for numerous reasons and in many different forms. They may honour a specific person for honourable contributions made during their life or simply because they had enough wealth or popularity to preserve their persona after they are dead. The type of memorial referred to in this article is not of this nature. The term memorial refers to those museums dedicated to remember people and life styles which were affected by a common event or experience. Some examples to support this definition are the Holocaust and the Zimbabwe War of Liberation and the honour of individuals tortured and killed, wounded or otherwise affected by these historic events. The liberation war is one of the major milestones in the history of Zimbabwe, whose execution and outcome should not be contested by patriotic Zimbabweans. The establishment of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Memorial Museum will provide evidence that the liberation of the country from colonial rule was attained through the execution of an armed conflict, which had some adverse effects on both the belligerents and populace of Zimbabwe. The concept of memorialising events which will have changed the people’s lives is universal. One cannot imagine a nation of well educated people like Zimbabwe failing to cherish and advocate for the institutionalisation of such valuable national memory. It is disheartening that Zimbabwe, with a literacy rate of more than 90 percent, should fail to comprehend the importance of setting up a liberation war museum. In fact, it casts doubt if the same acclaimed education system should be considered as part of the right heritage to bequeath to our children. Those individuals who for one reason or the other disown the liberation struggle are either those who were young by the time the liberation war ended and have not been able to get information about the historic event or black Rhodesians who are continuing with their white master’s cause. Taking the liberation war as a non-event is not only mischievous and naive but also intellectually bankrupt. The liberation war was real and even white Rhodesians still acknowledge that there was a devastating war in this country. Dr Greg Mills and Major (Retired) Grahame Wilson in their article ‘Who Dares Loses’ indicate that there are 25 000 civilians, 954 Rhodesian forces and 8 000 nationalist forces who lost their lives during the conflict for Zimbabwe. Those who say the country can be returned to the Rhodesia and they fight for its freedom afresh do not know what they talking about. In fact, the probability is high that the figures exclude those who were killed during interrogations and were buried clandestinely in mine shafts. For example, the case of Chibondo in Mount Darwin is quite high. Some of the victims of the liberation war who were taken captive by the Rhodesians were neither seen again nor accounted for. In addition, the armed conflict left several people, currently alive in this country, maimed due to the use of unconventional tactics such as unmarked landmine fields. To date, in some areas these mine-fields continue to injure and kill people, domestic and wild animals.

There is need to acknowledge the heroic
patriotism of all those who participated in
the liberation war which is a national historic
event. It must be commemorated.
The utilisation of a memorial museum is
an effective way to bridge the information
gap that exists between those who waged the
armed struggle and the generation which was
born after the liberation war.
The same institution will provide a conducive
environment for those who may be
in need of a place for meditation about the
impact of the liberation war on their lives.
The memorial museum will also accord the
Zimbabwean society the chance to appreciate
the levels of sacrifice made by those who
fought in the liberation war through the
comparison of arsenal used by the Rhodesian
security forces and that of the nationalist
Equally, the nation will be able to understand
the important role which the general
populace played in the war of liberation, especially
those who lived in the rural areas (Tribal
Trust Lands).
In addition, the institution will chronicle
the national grievances which compelled people
to take up arms against the white Rhodesian
regime, a factor which has direct bearing
on the current situation in Zimbabwe.
Some of the museum exhibitions could be
used to demonstrate some tactics used by the
Rhodesians to divide and rule the indigenous
The acquisition, documentation, preservation
and presentation of such information to
present and future generations museologically,
is a challenge which all patriots should
endeavour to address.
Care should be taken to ensure that memorialisation
of the liberation war is institutionalized
and a deliberate effort should be made
to avoid indiscriminate commercialisation
of the heritage before its proper and officialdocumentation.
Finally, the memorial museum could be
used as a platform to make Zimbabweans of
all ages, gender, social, academic and political
backgrounds to understand that every conflict
requires a protagonist and an antagonist and
that heroes are people of distinguished courage
or ability, admired for their brave deeds
and noble qualities.
The museum can possibly be used to present
the Hero tier.
Exhibitions in the envisaged memorial
museum should demonstrate that true Heroes
are never afraid of putting themselves in
harm’s way for the sake of others, be it a few
or many.
They look into evil straight in the eye with
the confidence and belief that they will annihilate
it and not only believe, but know and see
for certain that they are al


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