Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bring Back Our Heroes, Heroines’ Heads
April 27, 2016
Zimbabwe Herald

ON this day, 118 years ago one of the country’s eminent heroines Mbuya Chahwe, the medium of the Nehanda Spirit was brutally hanged by the settler regime along with Sekuru Gumboreshumba, the medium of Kaguvi for the alleged murder of one Hawkins Pollard, the brutal white Native Commissioner of the British South Africa Company who resided near Mazowe and terrorised indigenous Zimbabweans in that district.

For the alleged crime, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, were arraigned in the High Court of Matabeleland which sat in Salisbury on February 20, 1898 and were subsequently convicted on March 2, 1898 in a case entered as ‘‘Regina (British Queen) versus Nehanda’’.

They were both sentenced to death by hanging and were subsequently executed on April 27, 1898 in the then Salisbury.

To this day, the heads of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi are being held in British museums, where they were taken as trophies of conquest, even as the British and their allies purport to teach us human rights and democracy.

Suffice to say the democracy and independence we enjoy today came at the cost of tens of thousands of lives of innocent Zimbabweans who, like Mbuya Nehanda, were “guilty” of wanting to live a life of dignity.

Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were not criminals but venerated spirit mediums who were defending their land and people from colonial encroachment.

They were brutally murdered for that, decapitated and had their heads taken away in much the same way settler hunters carried wildlife trophies back to Western capitals.

As she was being taken to the gallows, the defiant Nehanda prophesied that ‘‘mapfupa angu achamuka (my bones will avenge)’’, and indeed the prophesy came true on the 68th anniversary of her barbaric murder when seven gallant sons of the soil fired the first shots of the Second Chimurenga War at the Battle of Chinhoyi culminating in the independence of Zimbabwe on April 18, 1980.

Thus this day, April 27 is a special day in our lives as Zimbabweans as it represents the crystallisation of our hopes and aspirations, our legacy of stolid, defiant resistance to all forms of domination.

We should thus rededicate ourselves to the ideals of the revolution and remind the agents of neo-colonialism that we desire no other beginning other than, the heroic one started by Mbuya Nehanda and other spirit mediums in 1896 and which was taken over by her avenging bones till final victory on April 18, 1980, when the Zimbabwean flag rose majestically to replace the Union Jack at Rufaro Stadium.

We would have failed this gallant heroine, and many others whose heads lie in British museums as trophies of conquest if we do not demand, as we hereby do that, the British government must return the heads of our heroes and heroines so that they can be given befitting burials in the land of their forefathers.

Some of the skulls believed to be in British museums belong to Chief Chingaira Makoni, Chinengundu Mashayamombe, Mapondera, Mashonganyika and Mutekedza Chiwashira, who all gallantly fought against settler encroachment.

We urge Government to sue the British for reparations for the brutality meted on our heroes and heroines in line with international legal instruments just like what the Mau Mau veterans of Kenya did over the torture they were subjected to by successive settler regimes.

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