HARARE – After months of negotiations with the late global reggae icon’s representatives, Martin Chemhere, a South Africa-based Zimbabwean arts and media consultant says he has finally been given a go ahead to organise the creation and installation of Bob Marley’s statue in Zimbabwe.

He says he received the message of confirmation via email on January 17, 2018.

“I’m thrilled to have finally succeeded in this project for our beautiful country. The approval is a great achievement for Zimbabwe (and Africa) as the statue will attract tourists,” he said.

Chemhere said the statue would be an eight-meter life-size bronze work, to be made by two South African artists, Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse Van Vuuren, who created Nelson Mandela’s statue located at the Parliament/Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa.

He said he was proposing the iconic Rufaro Stadium, Mbare, Harare, as the place where the statue would be erected as it was the venue of the world famous and historic independence celebrations and performance by the late legendary and global reggae star Bob Marley and his backing band The Wailers.

“The reason behind this statue is that of Africa’s more than 50 countries Bob Marley only performed in Zimbabwe as part of the country’s independence celebrations in 1980.

“The singer had back in 1978 sang a song titled Zimbabwe that inspired freedom fighters and Zimbabweans in the struggle for independence.”

In a show of great support to Zimbabweans, as well as to express his love for fellow black people’s emancipation globally, and the performance at independence celebrations which turned out to be his only one in Africa, Marley is reported to have surprised the Zimbabwean officials who had gone to negotiate with him to come and perform by doing the unthinkable, probably in the history of showbiz ever.

The revered reggae star openly offered not to be paid for the performance, instead paying from his own pocket for all the expenses to charter planes to carry tones of equipment and band entourage from Kingston, Jamaica to Harare, Zimbabwe and back.

“I have no doubt this is a national project and I will be talking to several stakeholders including the Zimbabwean government, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Harare City Council, corporate companies and individuals at home and abroad as well as the donor community and others for support.

“The project will need everyone to come on board for it to be successful,” said Chemhere.

Since early last year Chemhere has been talking to Courtney White and Doreen Crujeiras, at BobMarley.com, representatives of Marley’s family. He has also been researching on how best to come up with a world-class statue.

The research led him to meet with the South African artists and together they have had several meetings to talk and agree on how the project will go.

“We are talking of two of South Africa’s biggest and internationally travelled artists being involved in the project.

“Also, in my quest to have knowledge passed on to the younger generation of local artists, I have suggested to them and they have agreed to mentor some young Zimbabwean artists during the entire making of the statue.”

The statue is expected to further attract tourists to the country just like the legacy of the late reggae legend does to the tourism industry of Jamaica.

This is an international project with national significance and relevance.

Chemhere added: “The statue is approved subject to the following conditions: The sculptor and / or Government of Zimbabwe and / or private sponsor shall obtain all appropriate releases from the photographer or artist on whose work the sculptor intends to base the Statue; the Government of Zimbabwe and / or other private sponsor shall pay for the costs associated with the materials and construction of the statue; the statue will be strictly for the public completely free of cost; BobMarley.com requires approval rights to the actual statue — not to be unreasonably withheld.

Prior to construction of the statue, rendering of the statue must be submitted for approval by his family. The statue shall substantially comply with the rendering approved by Bob Marley.com.”

Source: Daily News

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