Plan to repatriate Mbuya Nehanda’s remains to Zimbabwe

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

ZIMBABWEANS living in United Kingdom, have started an initiative to repatriate the remains of First Chimurenga spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda’s skull from the former colonial master.

According to organisers, the process will start with a repatriation conference, set for July 27, in the UK city of Leicester, hoping to pave way for negotiations with London to bring back Nehanda’s remains.

In an interview with, one of the organisers of the repatriation conference, Eugene Majuru, said the event is expected to find ways of raising awareness on the importance of bringing back skulls First Chimurenga luminaries including Mbuya Nehanda as well as the ‘sacred talking staff’ which the British impounded at the height of colonialism.

“We are working very hard to make sure that these remains are repatriated to Zimbabwe and also raise awareness of the Zimbabwean history, culture, tradition and norms.

“Zimbabweans abroad particularly the United Kingdom came up with the idea to hold a conference in Leicester,” Mujuru said.

“Of late we realised that people in Zimbabwe no longer observe their cultural norms and values. So it is our duty to ensure we get back on track and value the importance of our culture.”

According to Mujuru, the one day conference will focus on the history of the fight against colonialism, independence, the liberation struggle and efforts to have remains of key figures in the early resistance brought back home.

Nehanda was sentenced to hang at the end of the First Chimurenga in 1897 for spearheading the resistance against white rule. Reports claim her remains and those of other key spirit mediums such as Mashayamombe, Mukwati, Mapondera and Makoni were taken to Britain by the colonial regime as trophies after the conquest of what became known as Rhodesia.

Zimbabwean products will also be on sale at the conference according to organisers.

Panelists who are expected at the conference include, Professor George Shire, Masimba Mavaza, Lloyd Msipa, Pastor Richard Tembo, Linos Wengara, Elliot Bvepfe, Prisca Chireka, Morrisen Mamutse, Xavier Zavare, Pardon Tapfumaneyi, Last Mafuba, Nerriah Mashamna and Jenny Musonza.

A powerful woman, Nehanda reportedly made oracular pronouncement and led the performance of traditional ceremonies that were thought to ensure good rains and good crops.

She was instrumental in organising nationwide resistance to colonial rule during the First Chimurenga between 1896-7.

At the end of the rebellion in 1897 she was captured and found guilty and hanged.

Nehanda became a significant source of inspiration during the Second Chimurenga from the early 1960s to independence in 1980.

To date her skull has remained in the National History Museum of London. st