News May 26, 2021 at 10:40 am

Pressure grows on Britain to return skull of Zimbabwean woman hanged for opposing colonial rule

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey May 26, 2021 at 10:40 am

May 26, 2021 at 10:40 am | News

Mbuya Nehanda's skull is being kept in a British museum after it was taken to the country as a war trophy over 100 years ago -- Photo via sleekgist.com

Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has said his government is keen on having the skull of anti-colonial war hero Mbuya Nehanda repatriated from a British museum after it was taken to the country as a war trophy over 100 years ago.

The president of the southern African nation made those comments during the unveiling of a statue in honor of the revered spirit medium in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday. Past efforts by Zimbabwean authorities to have the skull returned home have hit stumbling blocks, local news outlet New Zimbabwe reported.

During his speech, the president reportedly said successful repatriation of the skull from Britain will further cement Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage.

“The unveiling of the statue of Mbuya Nehanda Nyakasikana is the manifestation of the bold commitment to reconstruct our country’s rich past history,” Mnangagwa said.

“It equally stands as a symbol of unity, identity and an inspiration to present and future generations on the importance of patriotism, loyalty, fortitude and determination to defend and work for our beloved country against any odds.”

The president continued: “We shall however continue to discuss to bring back her skull which was taken to United Kingdom alongside others.” He also added Nehanda had previously said her bones shall rise at a certain point in future around the time of her death.

Nehanda was one of the leaders of the First Chimurenga Revolution against British colonizers. To this day, the former spiritual leader and others are celebrated for their bravery and fight to preserve their culture and resist British oppression during the 1896 to 1897 revolution. Nehanda was sentenced to death alongside Sekuru Kaguvi – one of the leaders of the revolution – and hanged in 1898 for the murder of Native Commissioner Henry Hawkins Pollard and a police officer.

In February last year, Face2Face Africa reported that Nehanda’s skull as well as the remains of Kaguvi was set to be returned to Zimbabwe in April. Besides their remains, it was also reported that 25 skulls of other resistance fighters as well as a sacred talking rod were set to be returned. Their remains have been on display at the Westminster Abbey and the National History museums in London, according to New Zimbabwe.

“Many people might just think the skulls are not important but they are very important, and the white settlers knew that if they take just the head then they have disconnected the connection between the body and the head and the person will not become a spirit medium,” reigning Chief Makoni, Colgan Zendera, said at the time.

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