By Sheryleen Masuku
The Natural History Museum and the Westminster Abbey in London have distanced themselves from media reports claiming that they have the remains of Ambuya Nehanda and other Chimurenga heroes on display in their historic buildings.
On Tuesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa unveiled a statue in Harare, in honour of Mbuya Nehanda, who was killed in the 18th century by British authorities.
President Mnangagwa said plans to repatriate the remains of Mbuya Nehanda and other Chimurenga heroes who were taken to Britain as war trophies in the 18th Century had reached an advanced stage.
Last year media reports indicated that Mbuya Nehanda’s skull and those of other Liberation fighters were kept in British London Museums, notably the Natural History Museum and Westminster Abbey.
However, both historical institutions have denied any knowledge of ever housing human remains of Zimbabwean liberation fighters on display.
Westminster Abbey is a coronation church which was founded in 1066. It’s Gothic buildings are home to a historic collection of books and other archival material.
Although, Westminister Abbey is the final resting place of more than 3,000 British officials including Kings, Victoria Ribbans from the Abbey’s Communications department said.
“Westminster Abbey does not have and has never had the remains of Mbuya Nehanda, or any other Zimbabweans on display, or in store. Media reports which claim that we do are inaccurate, and not based upon any evidence.”
The Natural History Museum in London has also distanced itself from media reports claiming they have the remains of Mbuya Nehanda or other Chimurenga heroes on display.
The Natural History Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts and a Human Evolution Gallery which explores the origins of Homo sapiens, using ancient replica skulls.
Speaking to SlyMediaNews the Museum’s Communications Manager Josephine Higgins said they do not have Mbuya Nehanda’s Skull.
“We have had previous discussion with Zimbabwean officials on this subject but after extensive research have found no evidence to suggest that remains of Mbuya Nehanda or others associated with the First Chimurenga, either in terms of names or origins, are held or have ever been held by the Museum
“We have shared all the information we have with the authorities in Zimbabwe and are continuing discussions with the Zimbabwean government.”