The Sunday Mail
Claims by 50-year-old Eunice Chirandura Mushakwe of Nyangari Village in Chirumanzu that she is possessed by the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda has once again brought to the limelight the mysteries and controversies associated with the life and death of the influential spirit medium whose leadership spanned across Zimbabwe.
For over a century, there has been intense debate regarding how and where the prophetess was executed.
Historical records differ as to the actual place where the spirit medium was hanged. Some historians claim that Nehanda was executed on a tree which was along Harare’s Josiah Tongogara Avenue.
The tree, brought down by a workman operating a council construction vehicle in 2011, was moved to the National Heroes Acre where it still lies today.
Some historians, however, argue that the spirit medium was hanged near the New Reserve Bank building which is situated along Samora Machel Avenue.
Dr Ibbo Mandaza, an accomplished publisher, is on record saying that the spirit medium was hanged near the Parliament building.
The way the spirit medium was executed has also been a subject of debate. Some scholars are of the view that she was tied to a rope and strangled whilst others believe that she was mechanically executed using gallows.
The legacy of Mbuya Nehanda is littered with historical distortions which were deliberately peddled by British colonialists who deliberately distorted historical facts.
Who was Mbuya Nehanda?
Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana (1840-1898) was a spirit medium who provided the inspiration for the revolt against colonial white rule.
Her heroism became a significant source of inspiration in the nationalist struggle for liberation in the 1960s and 1970s.
Historical records state that she was a Hera of the Hwata Mufakose dynasty. Together with Sekuru Kaguvi, she was executed by the British who falsely accused the pair of the murder of a black policeman and a white native commissioner.
Since the death of Charwe, there has been mention of other Nehanda spirit mediums with the Nehanda of Dande being one of the most prominent.
Nehanda of Dande is known for providing wisdom and support to the nationalist guerillas fighting white colonialists during the Second Chimurenga.
She provided guerillas who passed through the Zambezi Valley with instructions on how they should conduct themselves, what food to eat and any other information that was vital during the execution of war.
Historical accounts state that Nehanda of Dande was taken to Mozambique where she eventually died and was buried in 1973.
The legacy of Mbuya Nehanda will forever remain entrenched in the annals of Zimbabwe’s history.
In honour of her contribution, her statue was erected at the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
A wooden sculpture depicting the heroine has been occupying space at the National Archives since 1984.
Since she is widely celebrated as the mother of the nation, a maternity section of Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare has been named after her.
A street in downtown Harare has been named in her honour and in 1986, the national airline Air Zimbabwe named one of its fleet of jets after the spirit medium.
Several films and novels have been written celebrating the immense contributions that were made by the revered spirit medium who is fondly referred to as Mbuya or grandmother.
Nehanda’s dying words, “My bones will rise again,” predicted the Second Chimurenga which culminated in the independence of present-day Zimbabwe.
A war veteran, Cde Silas Maketa, said Mbuya Nehanda died for this and urged Zimbabweans to safeguard it.
“Mbuya Nehanda prophecy’s was fulfilled in 1980 when we attained our independence. As Zimbabweans, we must safeguard the land that Mbuya Nehanda suffered and subsequently died for. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again,” Cde Maketa said.