Two years ago President Robert Mugabe was officially handed a house — Gushungo House — built by Gweru businesswoman, Smelly Dube.
by Stephen Chadenga
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The house, situated in Woodlands suburb, along Lower Gweru Road, tells the story of Mugabe and his colleagues during the liberation struggle.
The structure, a replica of Mugabe’s house in Highfield, has on the walls, pictures of the nationalist and other freedom fighters during the early days of the liberation struggle.
The site, which is outstanding in the newly-established high-density suburb, has the potential to bring fortunes to the Midlands capital through township tourism.
“This house will become a township tourism project as local people and those from outside can come and visit and have an appreciation of the country’s liberation history,” Dube said then, at the handover of the house.
But two years later, the site which could attract not only tourists but school children to learn historical and cultural tourism is under utilised as township tourism has not been fully promoted in the country.
Township tourism was launched five years ago by Mugabe at his former residence in Highfield.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority CEO, Karikoga Kaseke then said the concept was going to be promoted but to date it remains a pipe dream.
“That is the way to go. We have no option; we need to develop the product. It’s something we have to do. It’s better late than never,” Kaseke said then.
In South Africa, the late president, Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto is a famous world tourist attraction and Zimbabwe could learn from that.
Township tourism emerged in the 1990s in the metropolitan cities of developing countries where tourists were encouraged to visit the underprivileged areas and see how the people lived.
The concept is popular in Brazil, India and South Africa where it is packaged as authentic, interactive and educational in nature.