The Natural History Museum in London and the University of Cambridge say they are ready to cooperate with Zimbabwe to return the human remains they took away during the colonial era.
This new declaration came after a delegation from Zimbabwe had a tok-tok with officials from the two institutions.
Zimbabweans are looking for the skulls of late 19th century anti-colonial heroes they believe they are suitable for the UK, but they haven’t seen them yet.
They suspect authorities in Zimbabwe say they are transporting the remains of some of the leaders of an uprising against British rule during the 1890s – known as the First Chimurenga – going to the UK as trophies.
Chief among them was a woman known as Mbuya Nehanda.
They are performing her because we are now in the capital, Harare and they respect her as a national hero.
For the archival research process, the Natural History Museum uncovered 11 remains that “appear to be from Zimbabwe” – but the records do not link them to Nehanda.
They include three skulls they have been carrying since 1893, and they believe say na of Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, as well as remains they uncover for mine shafts and archaeological digs and later donate.
Cambridge University Duckworth Laboratory neva bin dey so specific they just say they get “a small number of human remains from Zimbabwe”.
But for a statement they send to the BBC, they say they don’t identify any of these as First Chimurenga characters.
Di Natural History Museum, with 25,000 human remains, and di Duckworth Laboratory, with 18,000, obtain some of the largest such archives for the world.
They come from a variety of sources, including archaeological digs at ancient sites, but for many the exact origins are fuzzy over time.
In colonial times, they sometimes removed body parts from battlefields or unearthed graves, either as trophies or for research in a now discredited field of science.
For 19th century phrenology, we study the idea that human characteristics are determined by the shape of the skull, very popular in the UK and other parts of Europe.
Phrenological societies will collect skulls to contribute to the development of a theory which, for some, extends to racial classification.
Some researchers have set out to show that the shape of the skull indicates that pipo from different parts of the world are naturally inferior.
Some of the records which now exist for the UK are amalgamations of defunct phrenological societies and private collectors which do not accumulate.
The government of Zimbabwe thinks to somehow say that the skulls of the kontri heroes end up in the archives of a British museum.
Chief among the dem na spiritual leaders, including Charwe Nyakasikana, we become known as Mbuya (grandmother) Nehanda as she is the medium of the ancestral spirit Nehanda whom they revere.
They arrest him after they accuse him of killing a British official.
Then they hang Nehanda and cut off his head, according to their belief.
It is unclear, but in recent years Zimbabwean officials have not made several public statements saying they will end up at the Natural History Museum.
With a death cry of “my bones will surely rise”, Nehanda became an increasingly powerful symbol for those fighting against white minority rule for what they were then known as Rhodesia from the late 1960s.
Zimbabwe gains independence in 1980.
A three-meter statue of Nehanda now stands on a main road in central Harare.
At the unveiling for 2021, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to continue to call for the return of his skull and the odas from the Natural History Museum.
For Zimbabweans, removing the head “means saying that you literally don’t punish the pesin beyond the grave,” Godfrey Mahachi, who leads the UK delegation, told the BBC for 2020 during his visit.
“If my head is separated, it means to say that the spirit of this people goes away forever and never settles.
“After saying they couldn’t find what the Zimbabwean delegation was looking for, the Natural History Museum and the University of Cambridge said they were committed to working with the Zimbabwean government to repatriate what they found. .
As part of its repatriation policy, earlier this year the Natural History Museum returned Morori and Maori ancestral remains.
For a press release after a recent cabinet meeting, the Zimbabwean government said the delegation was going to the UK and they were not happy:
“indeed, human remains of Zimbabwean origin are still present for the UK”.
“The government will spare no effort to ensure the repatriation of our ancestors,” he adds.
The Zimbabwean delegation is also tok-tok with the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford, the University of Manchester Museum and the UK National Archives.
But dem not gonna give any details about wetin dem discuss.
With no success for this trip to the UK, the historical significance to Zimbabwe of the remains of Nehanda and the odas means the search continues.