Heroes Day special: 13 1st Chimurenga skulls identified

Britain’S Natural History Museum has now positively identified 13 skulls of First Chimurenga heroes shipped from Zimbabwe to London in the 1800s, and is verifying old documentation to determine their exact genesis as part of standard repatriation procedure.

It is believed among the skulls are those of Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Chief Mashayamombe Chinengundu and Chief Makoni Chingaira.

Ten were identified in April 2016 and three more in the period leading to August, but verification is being stalled by the summer break in Britain.

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe director Dr Godfrey Mahachi told The Sunday Mail that British authorities had confirmed that several other museums there were displaying skulls of many other First Chimurenga heroes as wartime trophies.

Dr Mahachi said immediate focus was on repatriating those that have been identified.

“Now, we are at a stage where 13 artefacts have been positively identified as originating from Zimbabwe. What we have started doing is go through the archival material both from this side and in Britain. We will then compare what we will find from the documentation and positively identify the exact identity of the skulls.

“It’s a lot of work, but we are confident that soon after they are back from their summer break, the process will be completed without much fuss. In cases where the documentation fails to point us to the precise individual, we will then have to resort to DNA technology.”

Chief Mashayamombe was one of the leading figures of the First Chimurenga, causing many problems for settlers in Mhondoro, Norton and Chegutu.

Historians say he was the military strategist behind the killing of a white settler called Norton – after whom Norton Town near Harare was named.

He engineered construction of an intricate network of tunnels where he and his subjects hid and kept supplies during raids by colonialist forces.

After accounting for numerous casualties, British settlers dispatched a team to blow him and his people out of a hideout using dynamite.

Chief Mashayamombe was captured and beheaded, with a ransom being paid for his head.

Another hero was Sekuru Kaguvi alias Gumboreshumba, an influential political and religious leader who mainly operated in the Goromonzi area.

He led the resistance crusade and was believed to have been the spirit husband of another great Shona medium, Mbuya Nehanda, with whom he worked closely to mobilise the masses.

Both were hanged by the British South Africa Company in 1898 on charges of “banditry and rebellion”.

Chief Makoni Chingaira also figures prominently in the resistance narrative, operating in the Rusape area where he ultimately met his death.

In 2011, the Namibian government repatriated dozens of human skulls and skeletons from former coloniser Ger- many.

The remains were of Namibians who died in a colonial concentration camp over 100 years ago due to malnutrition and exposure to the elements.

Dozens of corpses were decapitated, with the heads being used in a research that sought to prove white sup- remacy.

Germany ruled the then South West Africa from 1884 to 1915, and wanted to exterminate the Herero and Nama people following an uprising.

Records show that 80 000-plus Hereros lived there when the uprising began. Afterwards, only 15 000 were left.

15,517 total views, no views today