Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Diaspora met to pave way for repatriation of Mbuya Nehanda's bones

30 Jul 2019 at 06:18hrs | Views
She said that after her death, her bones would rise and lead a victorious struggle against the British. This is Nehanda Nyakasikana, a Shona spirit medium who led the fight against British colonisers in what is now Zimbabwe.

Mbuya Nehanda was a brave woman who became the first woman to be charged of treason and sentenced to death. She was hanged near the state house. The tree which her sacred body dangled was kept by the white colonialists as a monument only to be cut down by the MDC led council of Harare.while the tree was cut down her bones are displayed in the British Museum.

On the 27th July 2019 Diaspora came together to put more pressure on the British government to release the bones of Mbuya nehanda and all the first chimurenga heroes for a decent burial. The British government was urged to surrender her bones and let us repatriate her where she belongs. She fought for our freedom and laying her to rest in Zimbabwe her home will be honouring her. Mbuya Nehanda's bones where taken to UK in a sack and displayed in a museum as a kind of a trophy. Nehanda's spirit is cursing the day she paid the ultimate price. She died for our freedom but those she freed and encouraged them in the trenches are so pre occupied with power and have forgotten all about her. Zimbabwe will never see any happiness as long as Mbuya Nehanda is displayed in a museum like an animal. Where is Zimbabwe when the British show a bare nak*d back side to Zimbabwe. What happened to our patriotic leaders. How long can the medium's bones stay in the display like a china ware. UK admits-"We have Mbuya Nehanda & Sekuru Kaguvi remains in our Museums"

Robert Mugabe said in a speech Zimbabwe was seeking repatriation of resistance fighters' remains "with bitterness" The diaspora was told that Britain has revealed that it is negotiating with Zimbabwe over the repatriation of remains thought to belong to fighters from the Africancountry's struggle against its colonisers, currently held in the Natural History Museum in London.

British settlers had in the late 1800s taken the skulls of several celebrated resistance fighters in what is known locally as the "First Chimurenga" as "war trophies", and called for their return. Nothing significant was done beyond the speeches.

"We are told that skulls of our people, our leaders, are being displayed in a British museum and they are inviting us to repatriate them. We will repatriate them, but with bitterness, questioning the rationale behind decapitating them," Mr Mugabe told thousands of people at the annual national holiday honouring fighters who died in the war to end white minority rule. In 2015

"The First Chimurenga leaders, whose heads were decapitated by the colonial occupying force, were then dispatched to England, to signify British victory over, and subjugation of, the local population. "Surely, keeping decapitated heads as war trophies, in this day and age, in a national history museum, must rank among the highest forms of racist moral decadence, sadism and human insensitivity." Mugabe cried out. Since then Nehanda should be asking which country do I belong to.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that "remains of Zimbabwean origin" were in London and it was waiting for Zimbabwe to send technical experts to liaise with museum staff.Unfortunately there is no one in Zimbabwe pushing enough for the bones to come.

There was a great embarrassment when the Zimbabwean High Commission in UK snubbed the event arranged by princess Eugine Majuru to discuss ways and the progress reached in arranging the repatriation. "The issue of the potential repatriation of Zimbabwean human remains was first discussed by British and Zimbabwean Authorities in December 2014

"The UK has since invited Zimbabwe to appoint technical experts to meet their museum counterparts in London, in order to discuss some remains of Zimbabwean origin.

"The Natural History Museum has a policy of considering requests for return of human remains to their places of origin, under the provisions of Section 47 of the Human Tissue Act 2004,

"The museum actively engages in discussions with governments and communities with an interest in or who wish to make a claim for return of remains." The British museum staff commented.

It is understood that once Zimbabwe raised the issue of the missing skulls, it took time to identify their location. The Natural History Museum has around 20,000 items in its human remains section.

Zimbabwe attained its independence from Britain in 1980 and they quickly forgot about Mbuya nehanda. The government of Zimbabwe has consulted with traditional leaders about how to bury the remains at the country's "sacred" shrines.

Britain holds the skulls of among other heroes those of Mashayamombe Chinengundu of Mhondoro and Chief Makoni Chingaira of Rusape, who were beheaded by British invasion forces at the height of Zimbabwe's first war of resistance against white settlers in the 1890s. The war broke out in Zimbabwe between the indigenous Shona and Ndebele communities and the white British settlers from 1896 to 1897.

Godfrey Mahachi, executive director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, said the heads' repatriation was already being discussed.

"Of course, Britain has confirmed that they are holding our human remains that got into the British museums sometime soon after the First Chimurenga," Mahachi is expected to visit UK for identification of the remains. Unfortunately Mahachi's trip looks as if it will not be possible sources close to Mahachi have revealed that Mahachi has not been given enough funding for the trip. It is a shame really that the whole country fails to see the importance of repatriating the bones.

"The process that is now taking place is about how we are going to handle the repatriation. This is why there is an invitation for Zimbabwe to constitute a team to discuss with British museums. During the programme held by the diaspora in the UK Eugine Majuru thanked all the speakers who attended the Repatriation conference of Zimbabwe's First Chimurenga war heroes,

She said to the presenters "your presentations were great and am sure many people will learn a lot, your presentationswere packed with rich information. You guys were so amazing , you represented your heroes and heroines and now we await the repatriation exercise coming up soon. She thanked PT Law and Mr Pardon Tapfumanei for supporting rhe event,she further thanked the speakers Mr Xavier Zavare, Dr Masimba Mavaza, Agness Zengeya, Pastor Richard Tembo, Professor Diana Jeater, Mr Peter Mavunga, Mr Linos Wengara, Mr Aaron Kanengoni, Mr Pardon Tapfumanei.

She finished by saying "Many thanks to everyone else who came along and contributed to this great event thank you to Chef Tafadzwa Musiiwa and partner for the wonderful food"

The programme was meant to start at 2:30pm with an Opening Prayer led by Pastor Richard Tembo A National Anthem was sang with enthusiasm and vigour. There was a Traditional prayer of Zimbabwe which was followed by a son Mbuya Nehanda by Harare mambos band. During the programme people were treated to a song Maruza by Cde Chinx

There was a long but a talk on The link between religion and culture by Pastor Richard Tembo it was then the turn of ZANU PF SEcretary general comrade Xavier Zavare to take the participants through the Role Played By First Chimurenga War Heroes.

People were reminded that Zimbabwe is A spiritual Country Traditionally and Religiously by Simboti Mr Pardon Tapfumanei

Mapfupa angu achamuka by Pastor Richard Tembo came as a reminder to the participants. Traditions and Norms of Zimbabwean Culture was well presented by Last Mafuba

We were requested to continue Maintaining Zimbabwean Culture in Modern World by Peter Mavunga. A journey through the Custodians of Zimbabwean Culture and Role of Chiefs was led by Dr Masimba Mavaza. The History of Chiwashira Mutekedza was presented by mhofu Aaron Kanengoni

The Traditional link of Scientific and Forensic DNA Process in Identification of the deceased was led by Peter Mavunga. The closing and summary of the day was taken by Princess Eugine Majuru. Indeed Mbuya nehanda was there. It was a blessed day.

We only hope the bones will be taken home even if there is np help from the authorities.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.