He has christened the statue Why Me – Statue of the Unknown Artist. The National Heroes Acre has its own Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Zanu (PF)’s most supreme body outside congress, the politburo, decides who is a national hero and only those with the 1970s liberation war era credentials have been declared national heroes including others with totally questionable contribution to the state and nation before and after independence.
The imposing statue is made from green serpentine and stands at 1,66metres. It depicts a mother with sagging breasts clutching at her drained womb ostensibly empty as a result of the loss of her departed children.
Mtukudzi told VOP in an interview: “We (artists) are not heroes in the eyes of some. So the statue represents our own heroes in the arts. The memorial statue represents artists from all art forms and not musicians alone. It reminds us of all artists who have passed on but who made us what we are today. As artists we always remembered our colleagues who have departed but now I have gone further to have a tangible symbol to the memory of our heroes. ”
Mtukudzi would not reveal the price of the statue but an art gallery curator in Harare said it would cost more than US$5 000 and required a crane to lift and mount. The statue has been mounted at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.
The music icon, revered amongst Africa’s best artists for his powerful political compositions often veiled in social satire, has in the past indirectly questioned Zanu PF’s criteria when conferring national heroes through his song Andinzwi – What is a Hero.
In the song Mtukudzi says artistes like the late musician-cum-dramatist and actor Safirio Madzikatire were heroes. Madzikatire popularised television drama with his witty stage acts and was amongst the celebrated artists who pioneered and shaped Zimbabwe’s contemporary arts and entertainment.
But Zanu (PF), more so its leader President Robert Mugabe, will have none of that and remains dogmatic insofar as his party’s prerogative to declare national heroes’ status to Zimbabweans of its own choice.
None of Zimbabwe’s illustrious artistes, dating back to the pre-1980 independence era and whose distinguished intellectual work of art, that immensely contributed to the socio-political development of Zimbabwe, are interred at the National Heroes Acre.
Distinguished artists, sportspersons, businesspeople and others from outstanding areas of life who dedicated their entire lives to the development of Zimbabwe have been snubbed at the national shrine which in principle is the final resting place for the eminent nationals and not necessarily politicians and war veterans interred there.
What is entirely a function of the State to confer national heroes’ status was hijacked by Zanu PF that now enjoys the monopoly of deciding who amongst President Mugabe’s closest associates is a national hero much to the chagrin of the entire nation.
Only musician Simon Chimbetu came nearer the national heroes’ status when he was recognised as a Provincial Hero and interred in Chinhoyi, 100km west of Harare.
But Chimbetu was rewarded for his songs that praised Zanu (PF), President Mugabe and the brutal land grab that left many dead, wounded and displaced and the farming sector in unprecedented turmoil.