The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
A TEAM of experts from the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) is scheduled to meet with officials from the National History Museum of England next week to discuss the finalisation of a plan to repatriate the remains of heroes and heroines of the First Chimurenga currently being held at the London-based institution.
The virtual meeting will be a precursor to a proposed visit by NMMZ officials to London later this year to possibly identify 13 sets of human remains, including skulls, on display at the museum and facilitate their return to Zimbabwe.
The visit was initially scheduled for last year but was stopped as a result of travel restrictions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and closure of the museum.
NMMZ director Dr Godfrey Mahachi told The Sunday Mail that the forthcoming virtual meeting will lay the ground for a physical meeting later in the year.
“We last spoke last month (December 2021) and we agreed to review the situation this month,” said Dr Mahachi.
“So, we will be resuming the virtual talks mid-month and we will be discussing the possibility of a physical meeting and a visit to the museum.
“We were supposed to visit the museum, however, we could not because of the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.”
The museum, last week confirmed the ongoing discussions with NMMZ.
In a statement on Twitter, NHM said: “We have shared all the information we have with the authorities in Zimbabwe and are continuing discussions with the Zimbabwe Government.
“We also hope to host a delegation to discuss the repatriation of the remains we do hold.”
A catalogue of human remains believed to be of First Chimurenga war heroes shipped as war trophies to Europe during the early colonial years is being held at the museum.
Some of the skulls are believed to belong to early leaders of the struggle against colonialism, including Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Chief Mashayamombe Chinengundu and Chief Makoni Chingaira among others.
Government has, for years, been pushing for the repatriation of dozens of skulls of First Chimurenga war heroes, who were beheaded by British invasion forces at the height of the first uprisings against colonialism, and are being held on display at some British museums.
In 2019, the National History Museum in London submitted a report to Zimbabwean authorities detailing the origins of several human remains they were holding as part of their catalogue.
The archival report, compiled by a team of British experts, traced the origins of individual skulls using documentation that was used at the time to facilitate the artefacts’ shipment to Britain.
During the First Chimurenga, British invasion forces publicly beheaded vanquished “troublesome” resistance movement leaders partly as a means to intimidate locals who were part of the resistance movement.
The decapitated appendages were also used as trophies by the victors to collect hefty rewards from colonial authorities.