Shamuyarira Can’t Sue Over Nehanda Statue
10 December 2020
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza

The Zimbabwean government is facing legal battle over Mbuya Nehanda. This is coming from one Mr Shamuyarira who has claimed to be a relative or a descendant of Mbuya Nehanda.

Mbuya Nehanda is an icon and the force behind the war of liberation. She became the unseen present fighter all the times. Zimbabwe glorified her in songs and named hospital wings and streets after her name. It is because of this that many would die to be associated with her.

As for Mr Shamuyarira who purports to be Nehanda’s relative the Zimbabwean government must request a family tree from the Shamuyariras. We must look into History and look at the age of Mbuya Nehanda and the age of Hwata. Historically they are 14 years different. If this is true Hwata can never be a parent of Nehanda. It will mean that father and daughter have age difference of fourteen years. When a good thing is about to happen there are so many people who will come up and claim to be related to the hero.

Mbuya Nehanda lived in the Hills around Mazoe , Zimbabwe. In those hills were various sub-chiefs including HWata and Chidamba. The Mbare people lived in the Harare area and Mbare was named after the Mbare people who stayed in that area. The Mbare people most of them are believed to have been murdered by the white settlers after having been sold out by Hwata who told the settlers the caves the Mbare people hid. It is believed the settlers detonated dynamites at the entrances of the caves the Mbare people have hidden killing thousands of them. So Hwata sold out the Mbare people and up to this day Hwata has blood in his hands. However it is believed that in the Chidamba Village lived the famous spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda. She had great authority even before the 1896-7 Rebellion. There was a village in the area called Nehandas. She was a powerful woman spirit medium that was committed to upholding traditional Shona culture, she was instrumental in organizing the nationwide resistance to colonial rule during the First Chimurenga of 1896-7. Even Lobengula recognized her as a powerful spiritual medium in the land. Nehanda was held in great esteem in the whole country. However the colonial powers presented her as a weak skinny under fed looking woman.
According to historical sources the original Nehanda was daughter of Mutota the first Monomatapa who was living in the escarpment North of Sipolilo in about 1430. Mutota was the founder of the Mutapa state, Mutota also had a son who later became the second Monomatapa, and the son was called Matope. Matope was Nehanda’s half brother, and to increase the power of Matope, Mutota ordered his son to commit incest with his half sister, Nyamhika, who became widely know as Nehanda. This incest ritual is believed to have increased Matope’s ruler and his empire, due to this Matope handed over a portion of his empire to Nehanda who became so powerful and well known that her spirit lived on in the human bodies of various spirit mediums over the years until almost 500 years later when we find it occupying the body of the Mazoe Nehanda. Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana was considered to be the female incarnation of the oracle spirit Nyamhika Nehanda. As white settlement increased in the land, according to sources Nehanda initially welcomed the occupation by the Pioneers and counseled her followers to be friendly towards them “Don’t be afraid of them” she said “as they are only traders, but take a black cow to them and say this is the meat with which we greet you.” Unfortunately relationships became strained when the settlers starting imposing taxes, forced relocations, forced labor,and many acts of banditry.

As colonialism began to get its grip on the natives of Zimbabwe , there was military drive to rid of the British settlers. The collective efforts of the locals to get rid of the British colonialist in the period of 1896-7 have become known as the First Chimurenga war. Due to the cultural beliefs of the locals, the leading roles behind the rebellion were by three spirit mediums. The rebellion was initiated in Matabeland in May 1896, the leading role there being Mukwati, in October 1896 Kaguvi and Nehanda from Mashonaland joined in; these were the three critical people behind the rebellion

Mbuya Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana was the spirit medium that was the inspiration behind the 1896-97 first Chimurenga war. She was based in the northern plateau of Mashonaland and was influential in resisting colonial encroachment and she used her religious authority to mobilise the masses against the Europeans. She was born around 1863 and she died in 1898 after being executed by the colonial authorities in Salisbury. In her life history there was never a mention of the Shamuyarira
Follwing Mbuya Nehanda was a religion. Mbuya Nehanda in the person of Charwe was very central in the religious organisation of all indigenous Shona tribes in the Central, Eastern and Western plateau of Zimbabwe. She was believed to be possessed by super-natural ancestral spirits and thus she was the centre of communication between the living Shona societies and the underworld. As a religious figure, she even had influence in the installation of chiefs and political figures in most Shona speaking societies in the Mashonaland regions.
Due to close links between early political structures and religion, Mbuya Nehanda found her influence in the mainstream politics of her time. She was influential in warning the people against accepting the entry of the Europeans in the Mashonaland region.One of her common political rhetoric was when she warned the locals that Mashonaland was plagued by a drought because of the presence of the Europeans. She thus agitated the people to take up arms against the foreigners. She did so with the belief that she was the link between the people of the Mashonaland and the ancestors.

Mbuya Nehanda in Chains With Her Accomplices
Mbuya Nehanda was hunted down by the colonial regime of the British South Africa Company due to her widespread influence and her denunciation of colonisation. Mbuya Nehanda was arrested and was brought to Salisbury for the judgment. She was convicted without a trial and was executed in 1898 in Salisbury. She was hanged on a tree and her body was left dangling for all to see that she has been actually killed.
Before her death, Mbuya Nehanda left behind a political oracle. In a frenzy of grief and torment, Nehanda prophesied that her bones were going to rise again. This prophecy has been interpreted differently by the locals. The bulk of the locals, especially nationalists interpreted it as the rise of nationalist sentiments in Rhodesia from the 1940s as the spirit of Nehanda.It was in fact the basis on which the war of the Second Chimurenga was fought. For this reason among others, the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda has been treated with great sacrality among conservative Zimbabwean traditionalists. There are some claims that in the contemporary society, the spirit of Nehanda is still in control of the religious and spiritual life of the the land of the Shona people, Zimbabwe.
In August 2015, Robert Mugabe lashed out at Britain for displaying the skulls of Zimbabwe’s liberation war heroes.It was believed that Mbuya Nehanda’s skull was among the remains that were being displayed at the British Museum.
The repatriation of these remains has been delayed and no reasonable progress.
Many people have voiced serious concerns and believe the government is not being serious about repatriation.
As a nation we need to be serious we can not sing about heroes when they are displayed in the UK museums. What freedom do we celebrate when those who fought for our freedom are bound and physically detained in a museum for all to see and humiliate them. The president of Zimbabwe must take presidential powers and demand the bones to be in Zimbabwe sooner than later.