The fact that our ancestors were murdered by the colonialist for resisting the occupation of this land is not disputed.
These suave-brained men and women fought in the first Chimurenga with the aim of revolting against colonial rule and fighting for our beloved Zimbabwe.
The history of the colonization of our country is known and told orally or in writing.
Over the years, the nation learned that some heads of our ancestors were kept in a museum in London, as trophies.
Now is the time to bring them back and give them a decent burial according to our African tradition.
The issue of our murdered ancestors was revived by an article published in our local daily newspapers and at one time was discussed in Parliament when the statue of Mbuya Charwe Nehanda Nyakasikana was erected at the intersection of two main roads in the capital.
The erection of the statue made me think and on December 24, 2021 I had a discussion with a revered medium and the discussion left me with many questions that needed to be answered hence my question what is our real story?
I then made an effort to research the names of those believed to be in British museums and the stories surrounding their deaths and whether indeed their heads are in London.
Of the 26 names displayed, only five appeared to be in London and the official Home Affairs list has 13 and five still appear to be out, so who are the others?
Could there be other warriors whose names are not mentioned or are not known.
I have a host of questions running through my head.
Have we consulted the families of those whose names circulate in most written works to determine the true story surrounding death and burials?
Have we exhausted all the information in our archives, whether it’s the police or the justice archives or any other?
A British Museums press release quoted by Daily Marverick said: “We have the remains of 11 people from Zimbabwe, but after extensive research we have found no evidence to suggest these are the remains of Mbuya. Nehanda or others associated with the early Chimurenga.
“We have shared all the information we have with the authorities in Zimbabwe and are continuing discussions with the Zimbabwean government to discuss the repatriation of the remains we hold.” This may be a clue that we should do our possible scenarios that need to be explored to support my idea that these remains may possibly be somewhere in this country as Professor Timothy Stapleton of Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who has says “I do not know of any evidence that the heads of mediums Nehanda and Kaguvi were removed after their hanging in 1898”
I don’t think any serious historical work on the 1896-1897 rebellion has included anything about it.
This assertion seems to be echoed in Dr. Mahachi’s statement, when he says, “We have these gaps in our history that we struggle to fill. general area.”
If the government were to work with the medium, I had a discussion with these gaps will be filled and the puzzle will be solved. I have used long quotes in this article to support my idea that we clean our house first before we search for the remains of our ancestors in foreign lands.
In our tradition, we know mediums. Are there manifestations of murdered ancestors? If so, what do they say.
Do we approach this question in our modern, scientific or traditional way? In this country we are blessed as we have the story of an ancestor who came forward and showed his family where he sank and died before the construction of Great Zimbabwe and some artifacts were recovered. This could be a starting point to tell our real story.
My intuition tells me that there is a story behind the story. Not all the names that have been thrown around have their head in London.
It might come as a shock, but it is a possible reality that we need to interrogate as a nation through our Home Office.
It is difficult if not “unthinkable” to deconstruct a narrative that has existed for decades but it is a necessary evil and our history will be relativized, putting shame on the colonial masters who did not even have a heart. They didn’t even allow the natives to properly mourn their dead.
Thorough research into the circumstances surrounding the death and burial will be a good starting point before formally committing the UK government to ‘trophies’ if we don’t want to be embarrassed as a nation by presenting documents full of errors.
What will happen if DNA samples taken from supposed relatives of our ancestors do not match samples taken from ‘rophies’ held in UK museums. I use the word trophies with disdain.
Let’s imagine possible scenarios, that some of our ancestors were buried secretly by their relatives, while some were buried in separate graves by the white colonial masters, while some were left to die in the bush and eaten by wild animals , while others were beheaded and their bodies cremated and their heads buried elsewhere.
There are a number of possible scenarios hence the need to exhaust all possibilities. As a nation, we must implore our government to allow “Kuti mumba mumbotsvairwa” so that we present a claim without inconsistencies.
Findings from surveys can actually reinforce our claim. It is important for the nation “kutanga yatsvaira mumba mayo” before going abroad. The result of the investigation will support our claims and help us create an authentic list that we will use to claim our ancestry.
Cde Tendai Mudzimu is a veteran, researcher, historian and traditionalist. Here, he writes in a personal capacity.