UK invites Zim experts to study museum remains after Mugabe claim

2015-08-14 09:26
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (AP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (AP)

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Harare - Britain has confirmed that it does have "some remains of Zimbabwean origin" in a museum collection, the UK embassy in Harare said Thursday.

President Robert Mugabe, 91, claimed this week that the skulls of leaders of an 1896 rebellion against British rule were being kept "as war trophies" in a national history museum in the UK.

The embassy said in a statement that it had invited Zimbabwean experts to discuss the repatriation of the remains. It also said that it wasn’t clear whether the remains were those referred to by Mugabe.

“We await the appointment of the required Zimbabwean experts in order to take this forward,” the statement said.

“This story highlights the importance of following due process when handling sensitive museum collections,” the statement added.

First Chimurenga

In a televised Heroes’ Day speech on Monday, Mugabe said that “the skulls of beheaded heads” were those of several leaders of the First Chimurenga, or rebellion against British settlers.

He said they included the skulls of Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, two famous spiritual leaders of the rebellion.

“The First Chimurenga leaders, whose heads were decapitated by the colonial occupying force were then dispatched to England to signify British victory over and subjugation of the local population,” Mugabe claimed.

It is still not clear which museum the remains are held in and whether they are actually on display there, as state media in Zimbabwe has claimed.

The director of Zimbabwe’s national museums and monuments, Godfrey Mahachi has said full details will only emerge after a meeting with museum counterparts in London.

“We will only be able to get the full details after those discussions about how many are the remains, when and under what circumstances they were taken to the UK,” he told Thursday's edition of the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

“That will enable us to reconstruct whose remains they are, using our own history as well. What we want is to repatriate heroes that we are able to identify,” he said.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  uk  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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