Harare City Council(HCC) has honoured three of Zimbabwe’s most illustrious personalities — including the late Oliver Mtukudzi — as part of rewarding them for their immense contribution to the country and the capital.
Mayor Gomba announced yesterday that Mtukudzi who was declared a national hero but will be buried tomorrow at his rural home of Madziwa, has had the honour of having Willowvale Road renamed after him.
Arguably Zimbabwe’s most successful footballer George Shaya and veteran Chimurenga music maestro Thomas Mapfumo were also honoured by the HCC for their contribution to sport and music, respectively.
“Tuku’s death has opened our eyes that it is important to honour people while they are still alive, hence the initiative to honour and promote artistes and footballers.”
“We have sat down and agreed as a council to rename Willowvale Road to Oliver Mtukudzi Road.
“If organisations like the United Nations (UN) can honour and mention Tuku as a legend, we also as the City of Harare should play a part as we are from a country where Tuku was born and raised to stardom,” Gomba told the Daily News.
Willowvale Road is one of Harare’s busiest roads linking traffic from south-western high density suburbs to the central business district.
Crucially, it also leads to the late gangling musician’s once stomping ground of the sprawling Highfield township where he was born and raised on his way to becoming a superstar.
Mtukudzi died in the capital on Wednesday afternoon after succumbing to a heart problem.
He was bestowed with the national hero status but will not be interred at the Heroes’ Acre as it was his wish to be buried alongside his relatives in Madziwa.
Gomba said 73-year-old Mapfumo had been given the Freedom of the city — meaning that he will be exempt from paying rates among and other things — as defined in the city’s policy.
“We are also looking at and still discussing on an additional package for Mukanya, where we will give him a residential stand which is likely to be in Cranborne…it’s something that we are still discussing,” Gomba said.
He also revealed that there were still discussing how to reward another yesteryear musician — Zexie Manatsa who had a trailblazing career in the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence — until he hit a rough patch which relegated him to religious duties.
The diminutive Shaya who was nicknamed Mastermind by Dynamos fans during his heyday because of his knack for changing the game in an instant, was given the befitting honour of having the Vietnam stand at Rufaro Stadium, named after him.
In the history of Zimbabwean football there is no player who has ever won the coveted soccer star of the year on three occasions except the “Mastermind” who won it a record five times.
Last year, HCC also made a resolution to name Third Street after the much-loved MDC founding president who lost his battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
In 2012, government reversed the naming of Enterprise, Rotten Row and Churchill roads arguing that council did not consult them.
Enterprise Road was supposed to be named Solomon Mujuru, Rotten Row, Enoch Dumbutshena and Churchill, Walter Kamba, who was the first black vice chancellor to head the University of Zimbabwe in 1980.
Government changed names of several roads after independence to honour heroes, prominent Zimbabweans and leaders of friendly states.
Roads named after the country’s liberation struggle icons are Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo, Jason Moyo, George Silundika, Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Chinamano and Simon Vengesai Muzenda.
Regional leaders who were honoured with street names include Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Sam Nujoma (Namibia) and Samora Machel (Mozambique).