Lest we forget…

C.M. Hulley in his book History of Manicaland states; “everyone has admired the majesty of the Cross Kopje War Memorial standing on what was once known as Baboon Kopje in Umtali (now Mutare) and many have marvelled at the engineering problems involved, and the motive behind such an achievement…” #AfroBloggers #WinterABC2022

Cross Kopje, Mutare…

According to the book, the feat was accomplished by an Umtali firm, Methuen Brothers, which was owned by Captain Stuart Methuen, in partnership with his brother Colonel J.A. Methuen. The brothers decided that a memorial should be built in memory of those Africans of Rhodesia and Mocambique who had fought in East Africa with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Rhodesia Native Regiment – the R.N.R., and had lost their lives. Every single item of material and every drop of water had to be carried up the steep path from below.- Where is the credit to the mere labourers who did the ACTUAL job?

The book goes on to mention that, Colonel Methuen was unable to help with the actual construction because of troublesome leg wounds and the effect of gassing in the First World War. He took over the managerial side of the operations and later the arrangements for the unveiling, which took place on August 30th, 1924 and was dedicated by the Right Reverend Bishop Bevan, the Chaplain for the Forces in Southern Rhodesia, and unveiled by Councillor W. Stowe, Mayor of Umtali, in 1924. Picture the scene of the unveiling. There stood the massive cross of rock and reinforced cement, thirty feet high (ten metres) and nearly four feet thick (one metre) weighing an estimated fifty tons, triumphantly silhouetted against the skyline, overlooking the town.

The memorial was originally illuminated by floodlights and owes its existence to the generosity of Colonel J. A. Methuen, D.S.O., T.D., V.D., and his brother, the late Captain S. A. Methuen and is inscribed:

LEST WE FORGET

Manicaland is very grateful to the Methuen brothers, who carried the entire cost of the project for this unique and magnificent memorial; a reminder that both black and white races stood shoulder to shoulder in the conflict against a common foe. Which Manicand though? Not anyone of the labourers who toiled in the construction was mentioned, possibly not paid. Who knows?

Perhaps we need to revise these histories. #LestWeForget

4 thoughts on “Lest we forget…

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