Heritage sites to boost tourism

Emmanuel Kafe recently in Masvingo
The ongoing identification and enshrinement of Zimbabwe’s cultural and historical sites will help revive the tourism sector which has the potential to be one of the key pillars of the country’s economy.

The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Zanu-PF Department of Environment Tourism is establishing cultural and historical sites around the country.

The move comes at a time when the tourism sector has been on the rebound, buoyed by the country’s improving international perception under the administration of the new Government.

Government has already released about $500 000 for the enshrinement of four liberation war sites countrywide as a way of documenting the country’s history and promoting domestic tourism.

The four sites are the Kamungoma Base Massacre in Gutu, The Trabablas in Masvingo, site of the famous Chinhoi Battle of 1966 in Mashonaland West and another site in Lupane, Matebeleland North.

Work has started at the Chinhoyi Battle Site, where the executing agency, National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), have commenced site mobilisation.

National Museums Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) director, Dr Godfrey Mahachi said, “Our teams have already moved in to commence work in Chinhoyi.”

In Masvingo, President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be honoured through The Trabablas Trail. Work is now in progress to enshrine it as a monument.

“Trabablas Dzokerai Mabhunu” was the President’s nom-de-guerre.

It is at this site that President Mnangagwa, as a young boy, bombed the Rhodesian locomotive in 1964 as part of a planned series of subversive activities against the colonial regime that culminated in the beginning of the of the Second Chimurenga.

He was later arrested and sentenced to death in 1965 but because of his age, he was given 10 years in jail.

During a recent tour of the areas in Masvingo, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Prisca Mupfumira said the enshrinement programme is part of an ongoing drive to restore the legacy of the country’s war of liberation.

She said work to honour President Mnangagwa was started in 2015 by Zanu-PF’s Department of Environment Tourism in respect of his role in the liberation of Zimbabwe.

“The monument will document the President’s contributions during the liberation struggle,” she said.

Dr Mahachi said the designs for work on the Trabablas Trail and the monument at Masvingo Railway Station were now complete. “We will forward the designs to the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and the Minister of Provincial Affairs so that we get approval before the actual work starts.

“We hope to put a Rhodesian-era locomotive to help explain how the train was bombed and also put in place an exhibition inside the monument that tells the whole story about the activities of the Crocodile Gang during the time,” said Dr Mahachi. Besides Trabablas Trail, there are also plans to enshrine other places like Kamungoma Site in Gutu, where one freedom fighter and 104 villagers were killed during a night vigil (pungwe) by Rhodesian forces in 1978.

Other places in line for enshrinement include Altena Farm in Centenary, where freedom fighters launched an attack on December 21, 1972, marking the beginning of the second and decisive phase of the Second Chimurenga.

Minister Mupfumira said the development of cultural and historical sites will no doubt boost the tourism sector.

“We have waited for these developments for a long time and we are happy that at last both domestic and international tourists will be able to appreciate this part of our history,” she said.

Minister of State for Masvingo Province, Cde Josiah Hungwe, said there is need for transformation of these areas so that they add value and help children to have a better understanding of the country’s history. The enshrinement process will involve communities working with the Ministry of Tourism in identifying some of the places of significance.

Locals said the initiative will have a positive economic and social impact as it establishes and reinforces their identity as well as build their image as a people.

“It helps preserve the cultural and historical heritage, with culture as an instrument, it facilitates harmony and understanding among people, it supports culture,” said Max Tonga of Gutu at the Kamangomo Base Massacre.

Heritage tourism is getting increasingly popular with the travelling public seeking to gain more understanding of historical activities.

Africa is rich in natural and cultural heritage and Zimbabwe is no exception.

Many cultural heritage destinations are recognised for their global importance and are perceived as major development opportunities for Africa.

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