The Sunday Mail
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has officially confirmed the listing of the original judgment dockets from the trial of First Chimurenga heroes Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi on the Memory of the World Register.
This is in recognition of their importance in documenting world history. The register protects humanity’s documentary heritage from “collective amnesia, neglect, and the ravages of time, climatic conditions, and deliberate destruction”.The documents now join others of historic importance that include the Magna Carta (1215), the 1703 Census of Iceland, the Book for the Baptism of Slaves (1636-1670), the Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama to India (1497-1499) and the League of Nations Archives (1919-1946).
Since 1997, the original patent of Mercedes-Benz, Criminal Court Case No 253/1963 (State versus Nelson Mandela and Others) and the Final Document of the Congress of Vienna have been added.
Last week, the Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage Ministry told The Sunday Mail that Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi’s documents were among 47 others from different parts of the world.
The ministry, via e-mail, said, “Mbuya Nehanda Nyakasiyana and Sekuru Kaguvi’s judgment dockets have been included in the Memory of the World Register. The decision was made by the International Advisory Committee for the Memory of the World Programme at its 12th meeting held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in October 2015 and everything has been processed and confirmed now.
“Their Judgment Dockets were among 47 documents that were inscribed to the prestigious list following assessments done during the 2014-2015 cycle. The inclusion of Mbuya Nehanda Nyakasikana and Sekuru Kaguvi documents followed a two-year process which saw, in its first phase, the examination of 88 submissions from 61 countries, with 47 items from 40 countries making it to the list.”
Zimbabwe becomes the 14th African country to win endorsement from Unesco’s 14-member International Advisory Committee. The entry was one of two African papers accepted ahead of 3 998 others.
Zimbabwe and Senegal were the only African countries that made it to the final list.
“The Mbuya Nehanda Nyakasikana and Sekuru Kaguvi trial documents were subsequently accepted to Memory of the World Register on the basis that they have an outstanding universal political, cultural, spiritual and social significance,” said the ministry.
“This development, belatedly coming 20 years after the establishment of the Register, will spur the Ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage to move with zest to identify for consideration more documents from our collections for such global recognition. This indeed helps put Zimbabwe on the world map.”
A citation on Unesco’s website reads: “Documentary heritage submitted by Zimbabwe and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2015; Kaguvi and Nehanda dockets comprises the judgment record, Judge Watermeyer’s criminal record book (1898-1899), some manuscripts as well as all the court proceedings.
“Kaguvi and Nehanda were key spirit mediums who inspired Zimbabwean revolution against colonial rule. Under their guidance and leadership, individual chiefdoms were united to resist the colonial wave in what now is remembered as the First Chimurenga (War of Liberation) between 1895-6.”
On September 13, 1890, the Pioneer Column — a force assembled by British businessman Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company — hoisted the Union Jack flag on Fort Salisbury, now the Kopje in Harare, marking colonisation of the territory via a Royal Charter from Britain’s Queen Victoria.
In 1896/97, the indigenous people of Matabeleland and Mashonaland staged an uprising against the BSAC to take back their land and restore their rights.
Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, also known as Gumboreshumba, were influential political and religious leaders spearheading the resistance and mobilising the masses.
Both were hanged by the BSAC in Salisbury in 1898 on charges of banditry and rebellion.
Mbuya Nehanda’s execution was authorised by British High Commissioner for South Africa Mr Alfred Milner and endorsed by the British Imperial Secretary on March 28, 1898.
The executions were done by the authority of Judge Watermayer, with Mr Herbert Hayton Castens as “the acting Public Prosecutor Sovereign within the British South Africa Company Territories, who prosecutes for and on behalf of Her Majesty”.
According to the death warrant, Mbuya Nehanda was to be executed within the wall of the goal of Salisbury, between the hours of six and 10.
A Roman Catholic priest, Fatherr Richertz, was signed up to convert Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi.
It is believed he failed to make headway with Mbuya Nehanda, only succeeding with Sekuru Kaguvi, whom he baptised Dismas — the “good thief”.
Other First Chimurenga heroes include Chiefs Mashayamombe and Makoni Chingaira.