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STUDIES IN GLOBAL ARCHAEOLOGY 16 1
THE S OAPSTONE B IRDS O F G REAT Z IMBABWE ARCHAEOLOGICAL H ERITAGE, R ELIGION A ND P OLITICS IN P OSTCOLONIAL Z IMBABWE AND T HE R ETURN O F C ULTURAL P ROPERTY EDWARD MATENGA Department of Archaeology and Ancient History Uppsala University 2011 Dissertation presented at Uppsala University to be publicly examined in Room 6/k1031, English Park Campus, Thunbergsvägen, Uppsala, Friday, December 2, 2011 at 10:00 for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The examination will be conducted in English. ABSTRACT Matenga, E. 2011. The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe. Archaeological Heritage, Religion and Politics in Postcolonial Zimbabwe and the Return of Cultural Property. Institutionen för arkeologi och antik historia. Studies in Global Archaeology 16. 258 pp. Uppsala. ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐
506-­‐2240-­‐9. At least eight soapstone carvings of birds furnished a shrine, Great Zimbabwe, in the 19th century. This large stonewalled settlement, once a political and urban centre, had been much reduced for four centuries, although the shrine continued to operate as local traditions dic-­‐
tated. The Zimbabwe Birds were handed down from a past that has only been partially il-­‐
luminated by archaeological inquiry and ethnography, as has the site as such. This thesis publishes the first detailed catalogue of the Birds and attempts to reconstruct their proven-­‐
ance at the site based on the earliest written accounts. A modern history of the Birds unfolds when the European settlers removed them from the site in dubious transactions, claiming them as rewards of imperial conquest. As the most treasured objects from Great Zimbabwe, the fate of the Birds has been intertwined with that of the site in a matrix of contested meanings and ownership. This thesis explores how the meanings of cultural objects have a tendency to shift and to be ephemeral, demonstrating the ability of those in power to appropriate and determine such meanings. In turn, this has a bearing on ownership claims, and gives rise to an “authorized heritage discourse” syndrome. The forced migrations of the Zimbabwe Birds within the African continent and to Europe and their subsequent return to their homeland decades later are characterised by melodra-­‐
matic episodes of manoeuvring by traders, politicians and theologians, and of the return of stolen property cloaked as an amicable barter deal, or a return extolled as an act of gener-­‐
osity. International doctrines that urge the return of cultural property are influenced by Western hegemonic ideologies. Natural justice is perverted, as stolen property acquires a (superior) significance in its new context, which merits the extinction of the original proven-­‐
ance. This leaves “generosity” and goodwill as the promises of the future, holding the fate of one Zimbabwe Bird still kept in exile in South Africa. Keywords: soapstone Birds, Great Zimbabwe, archaeological heritage, cultural property, re-­‐
turn of cultural property, cultural symbols, cultural rights, postcolonial theory, western hegemonic discourse, authorized heritage discourse (AHD), nationalism, fait accompli, natural justice, collecting, materiality theory. Edward Matenga, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Box 626, SE-­751 26 Uppsala, Sweden. © Edward Matenga 2011 Studies in Global Archaeology 16 ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐506-­‐2240-­‐9 urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-­‐160193 (http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-­‐160193) Cover illustration: Zimbabwe Bird 1 (from which the national emblems are derived) standing in front of the Conical Tower, Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe. Photo: D. Allen Photography and NMMZ. Insert: photographs and illustrations by Edward Matenga unless otherwise stated. Published and distributed by: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University. Printed in Sweden by Edita Västra Aros, Västerås 2011 This work is dedicated to all the people who helped me to prepare it Maita Shava Museyamwa, Mhofu Yomukono Ziwewera, zienda netyaka, Mutunhu unemago! VokwaNyashanu, Vakapiwa vakadzi munyika yevaNjanja Hekani! Mhofu Yomukono, vari VuHera (Buhera), Mukonde. Vokwasadza dete, Gobvu rinodzipa vana. – Clan praise poem, offering to the ancestors; totem: Mhofu-­‐ Eland. CONTENTS ABBREVIATIONS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 1. INTRODUCTION 15 17 21 21 24 25 27 28 30 31 31 33 35 36 37 38 38 38 39 40 43 Background Structure of the thesis Creating an inventory of the Zimbabwe Birds Interpreting the meaning and significance of the Zimbabwe Birds The changing meaning of cultural symbols International return of cultural property Theoretical Framework Colonialism and the postcolonial heritage discourse Nationalist ideologies and the heritage discourse Archaeology, heritage and materiality Heritage in a globalizing world: Who owns the past? The concept of world heritage, universal museums and return of cultural property Conclusions Research Processes and Methods Literature Study Documentation and description of the Zimbabwe Fieldwork Research: Oral interviews 2. THE RISE OF EUROPEAN COLLECTING AND THE FINDING AND EXPORT OF ZIMBABWE BIRDS SECTION I: THE RISE OF COLLECTING 43 Collecting in the Ancient World The birth of modern “European collecting tradition” The rise of museums 44 45
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European imperialism and the scramble for African cultural treasures Case studies West Africa French imperial collecting in Mali British expedition against the Ashanti Kingdom (1874) The sack of the Benin palace, Nigeria, 1897 Ile-­‐Ife, Nigeria Central Africa Swedish collecting in the Congo Free State King Leopold and the Congo Free State Northeast Africa The granite stele of Aksum, Ethiopia Conclusions 50 50 50 50 51 51 52 53 53 54
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55 SECTION II: TREASURE SEEKERS AND COLLECTING ON THE ZIMBABWE PLATEAU 56 Southern Africa and its connections with the outside world 57 Consumption of cultural goods during the Great Zimbabwe period 1250–1450 AD 57 The 16th century: Enter the Portuguese 58 Nguni Migrations, fall of the Shona State and European incursions from South Africa 59 The first European collectors 60 First collecting explorations at and around Great Zimbabwe – Carl Mauch 61 Diary entry 1 63 Diary entry 2 64 Diary entry 3 64 Diary entry 4 64 Diary entry 5 65 Diary entry 6 66 Diary entry 7 66 Diary entry 8 67 Diary entry 9 67 Adam Render’s trading post at Great Zimbabwe 68
George Philips, elephant hunter and trader 68 Frederick Selous 68 Removal and export of the soapstone Birds to South Africa 70
Acquisitions of the South African Museum in Cape Town 73
Exportations from Great Zimbabwe to Europe 74
Collections from other sites in Zimbabwe 76
Conclusions 77 3. DESCRIPTION OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS AND THEIR PROVENANCE 79
SECTION I: CATALOGUE AND THE ORIGINAL LOCATIONS OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS Making the soapstone Birds Description of the Birds Bird 1 Bird 2 Bird 3 Bird 4 Bird 5 Bird 6 Bird 7 Bird 8 Classification of the Birds Original location of the Birds Birds 2-­‐7: The Eastern (Sacred) Enclosure Bird 8: The royal balcony facing the Western (Royal) Enclosure Bird 1: Philips Ruin in the Valley How many Birds were found at Great Zimbabwe? 79 79 80 82 82 86 86 86 87 87 87 94 94 94 96 100 100 SECTION II: SACRED PLACES AT GREAT ZIMBABWE 102
The Zimbabwe Hill The Great Enclosure Mijeje: the ritual entrances to Great Zimbabwe Chisikana spring Mapa ekwaMugabe: Sacred sites of the Mugabe clanship 103
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104
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SECTION III: DYNAMICS OF TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS PRACTICES AT GREAT ZIMBABWE, CA 1250 AD TO THE PRESENT: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF CHANGE 107
Black curators, traditional custodians, and tourists and museumification of the Zimbabwe Birds White custodians Pre-­‐colonial custodians Archaeological Great Zimbabwe 1250 to 1450 108
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4. MEANINGS OF SYMBOLS 123
SECTION I: MEANING OF THE BIRDS TO THEIR SHONA KEEPERS 124
Archaeology, oral traditions and ethnography Theoretical assumptions on function and meaning of the stone birds Religious practices at Great Zimbabwe Towards an interpretation of the Zimbabwe Birds Public and ritual space at Great Zimbabwe Birds and Shona cosmology The true meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds 124
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129 129
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SECTION II: ZIMBABWE BIRDS REINVENTED: RHODESIAN NATIONALISM AND APPROPRIATION OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS 145
Rise of nation states: a theoretical perspective Birth of Rhodesian nationalism Cultural appropriation: Heritage in the service of a nationalist ideology The birds find new owners and meaning The Birds in Rhodesian iconography Conspiracy of silence The Zimbabwe debate reopened 145
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151
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SECTION III: CELEBRATING RETURN OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS: BIRTH OF CULTURAL NATIONALISM 158
Patriotic history and cultural nationalism The Zimbabwe Birds in post-­‐independence iconography Handover ceremony for the Bird fragment from Germany, May 2003 Traditional chiefs receive the unified Bird at Great Zimbabwe, 7 May 2004 Conclusions 158
160 160
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5. INTERNATIONAL APPROACHES AND ATTITUDES TO RETURN OF CULTURAL PROPERTY Evolution of international law on restitution of cultural property The right to heritage: an issue of human rights Who creates the international laws on the return or restitution of cultural property? The UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) The UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995) The UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) 171 173 175 177 177 180 182 African doctrines on cultural property The Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1981) The Charter for African Cultural Renaissance (2006) The defence of holding nations Cultural property and the postcolonial state: deconstructing national identity Overview of the Western anti-­‐return discourse Bilateral agreements Mali and the United States of America Ethiopia and Italy: the return of the Aksum stele (2005) A tale of unfulfilled demands and failing historical justice 6. THE RETURN OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS 183 183 183 183 183 186 189 189 189 190 191 The birth of African Nationalism and the role of cultural patrimony The rise of African Nationalism in Rhodesia and the return of the Zimbabwe Birds The return of Birds from South Africa (the first return) The return of a portion of Bird in 2000 (the second return) Conclusion 191 192 194 197
203 7. THE FUTURE FATE OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRD IN SOUTH AFRICA 205 A brief History of Cecil John Rhodes Rhodes and a passion for collecting The Zimbabwe Collection at Groote Schuur The position of the South African Government The return of Cultural Objects from the perspective of South African legislation on Heritage Statutory Framework The accessibility of the Groote Schuur Collection to the Public A return in the regional political context of the Southern African Development Community The return and bilateral political relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe Zimbabwe’s position on return of the Zimbabwe Bird at Groote Schuur Heritage Legislation in Zimbabwe Shona customary law and cultural property Epilogue NOTES REFERENCES 205
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215 217 217 219 220 222 222 223 225 226 227 233 APPENDICES Appendix I: Catalogue of artefacts from Great Zimbabwe in the Iziko Museum, Cape Town Appendix II: Gold artefacts in the Iziko Museum, Cape Town, donated by Rhodes and Ashworth Appendix III: Artefacts removed from Danamombe Appendix IV: Adoption of the Zimbabwe Bird emblem on items and logos in the private public sector 249 ABBREVIATIONS AFRICOM African Council of Museums AHD Authorized Heritage Discourse AU African Union BBC British Broadcasting Corporation BSA Co. British South Africa Company BZS British Zimbabwe Society DRC Democratic Republic of Congo FESTAC Festival for Black Arts and Culture GZ Great Zimbabwe NDP National Democratic Party OUV Outstanding Universal Value IHC Intangible Heritage Convention ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites ICOM International Council of Museums MDC Movement for Democratic Change MP Member of Parliament NADA Native Affairs Department Annual NDP National Democratic Party NHRA National Heritage Resources Act (No 25, 1999) (South Africa) NMMZ National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe OAU Organization of African Union PASU Pan-­‐African Socialist Union PF-­‐ZAPU Patriotic Front – Zimbabwe African People’s Union RAF Royal Air Force RMCA Royal Museum of Central Africa SAFA Society of Africanist Archaeologists 15
SADC Southern African Development Community SAHRA South African Heritage Resources Authority SAM South African Museum SRANC Southern Rhodesia African National Congress UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights UDI Unilateral Declaration of Independence (Rhodesia) UNESCO United Nations, Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization UNIDROIT International Institute for the Unification of Private Law WWII Second World War ZANLA Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army ZANU Zimbabwe African National Union ZANU-­‐PF Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front ZAPU ZIPRA 16
Zimbabwe African People’s Union Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to present this work with a tribute to many people who helped me in the long course of its preparation. My work brings together two continents (Africa and Europe) and three countries, Sweden, South Africa and Zimbabwe. To live in another country, even if briefly, as I have done, is a sacred gift, which comes from the soul of the land. This work therefore becomes a symbol of my spiritual connection with the three countries. Funding for this thesis was provided by the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, the Rydberg Fund and the Laboratory for Ceramic Research, Lund University, all institutions in SWEDEN. In this regard sincere thanks are due to the following: in Uppsala, Prof. Gullög Nordquist, Prefect of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History; Prof. of African Archaeology, Paul Sinclair; Prof. Anders Kaliff, Elisabet Green, Sandra Olsson, Eva-­‐Lena Wahlberg, Göran Wallby, Ed Paulette and in Lund, Prof. Anders Lin-­‐
dahl. This work, I believe, stands on a sound theoretical foundation, thanks to the professional counsel of my supervisors, Prof. Paul Sinclair, Dr. Anna Karlström, and Prof. Anders Lindahl. Professors Sinclair and Lindahl are Africanist schol-­‐
ars who have worked extensively in Southern Africa including Zimbabwe and are quite familiar with the subject of this thesis. Without their coaching and urge to thoroughly interrogate its contribution to and fit with existing knowl-­‐
edge systems, this work would not have been worth printing. I note with sin-­‐
cere gratitude Dr. Karlström’s personal effort to seek and provide some of the most recent offerings on materiality theory and the omnipresent, if controver-­‐
sial, international heritage discourse, which provides the theoretical frame for this thesis. I am also thankful to Anders Löfgren and Anna-­‐Gretha Eriksson Swedish National Heritage Board (RAÄ) who provided access to material in their library in Stockholm. Dr. Ing-­‐Marie Munktell (Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala) guided me through the “wonder cabinet”, the ancestor of the modern museum to prove the point that the international business of collecting had come a long way. Over many years of contact with Swedish people, boundaries of work and personal acquaintance have overlapped and in some cases have merged alto-­‐
gether. These colleagues, turned into lifetime friends, came in to lend me much needed support in many different ways: Anders Löfgren and wife, Karin pro-­‐
vided me with accommodation and subsistence in their cozy countryside home in Funbo for the duration of my study visit in 2011, as well as Anders Lindahl and wife Marianne during visits in Lund. 17
Similarly, my interaction with Marie Klingspor, stone conservator and for-­‐
merly President of ICOMOS Sweden, her husband Rikard Rotstein, and friend, Marie de Geer of Katrienholm is also a remarkable story of intellectual and social development. I would like especially to mention the custom wardrobe in response to lower than normal temperatures of the fall of 2010-­‐11. Lastly fellow doctoral and post-­‐doctoral students provided “fast-­‐track” ori-­‐
entation during my short but packed study programme in 2011: Andreas Win-­‐
kler, Carl-­‐Johan Sanglert, Christina Josephson Hesse, Daniel Löwenborg, Erika Lindgren-­‐Liljenstolpe, Frederik Tobin, Marjaana Kohtamaki, Marilee Wood and Michel Guinard. Generosity is the overarching theme and an ethos, which defines Swedish institutions and the people. In SOUTH AFRICA I am indebted to my employer, Khensani Maluleke, Executive Director of Khensani Heritage Consulting, for granting generous study leave in 2011. I have gained much of value from conversations with the following prac-­‐
titioners in heritage and archaeology. Rogers Malungane (Gauteng City Region Academy), Lindiwe Gadd (Thebe Investments), Lindsay Hooper (Iziko Muse-­‐
ums), the late Alta Kriel (Groote Schuur Collection), Tshimangadzo Nemaheni (Mapungubwe World Heritage Site), Lebohang Skholomi and Simpokhazi Sam-­‐
pupu (Robben Island Museum Library), S. K. Mpofu (Cullen Library, University of the Witwatersrand), Thabo Kgomommu (South African National Parks), Dr Webber Ndoro and Graciela Gonzalez Brigas (Africa World Heritage Fund), Prof. Innocent Pikirayi (University of Pretoria), Onesimo Nehowa and Daphine Mlambo (formerly employed at Great Zimbabwe) and Zvinoidaishe Mupambi-­‐
reyi (Swim-­‐Media). In ZIMBABWE I have received fascinating insights from interviews and conver-­‐
sations with Dr Stan Mudenge (Minister of Higher Education), the late David Martin (Africa Publishing Group), Phyllis Johnson (Africa Publishing Group and Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC)), Dr. Edwin Muguti (then Deputy Minister of Health and member of the Hungwe-­‐Fish Eagle Clan), Dr. Godfrey Mahachi (Executive Director NMMZ), Dr. Dawson Munjeri (Zimbabwe Mission to UNESCO), Chrispen Chauke, James Nemerai, Pharaoh Mushambi, Francis Muchemwa, Raymond Mubaya, Elton Sagiya, Steven Chin-­‐
huwo (Great Zimbabwe); Media Kahari and Leonard Hapanamambo (NMMZ), the late George Mvenge and Tafirenyika Masona (NNMZ), Ivan Murambiwa (Director National Archives), Lillian Chaonwa (National Gallery of Zimbabwe), Paul Hubbard (archaeologist), and Watson and Sesedzai Hlangabeza (Chemplex Corporation). My conversations with local elders, Sekuru Samuel Rufuharuzivishe, Teacher Aiden Manwa and Lavender Matambo were a stark reminder of our responsi-­‐
bility to accommodate locally nurtured narratives about places that we, aca-­‐
demics, might want to treat simply as archaeological phenomenon. 18
Special credits are due to Göran Wallby (Uppsala) for customizing the photo-­‐
graphs, Anna Karlström for taking care of the layout of the book, Elisabet Green for “panel-­‐beating” my English, Justin Magadzike (Great Zimbabwe) for produc-­‐
ing the maps, and Graciela G. Brigas (AWHF) and Eric Reisinger (South African National Parks) for photographs. The following provided useful material on the reunification of parts of Bird 8 and photographs and shed light on the transaction to release the portion of the Zimbabwe Bird from Germany in 2000: Art Historian, Prof. Bill Dewey, (Univer-­‐
sity of Arkansas, USA), Dr. Peter Schmidt (former German Ambassador to Zim-­‐
babwe) and Dr. Peter Junge (Curator, Ethnological Museum, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin). I also note several inspirational conversations with Dr. Marion Sephton and Val Botes-­‐Chapman, formerly with the Prehistory Society of Zimbabwe, now living in New Zealand and Australia respectively. Lastly, I mention my family: my mother Kudzai, wife Susan, and children, Ta-­‐
kudzwa, Kudzai, Tichayeva and Unopashe; my childhood benefactor, Sekuru Tobias Muchini (Senior) and wife Martha, and my extended family in Buhera, Zimbabwe. 19
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1. INTRODUCTION The issue of who has the power to control [the] interpretation of the past in the present [has] emerged as a key concern for critical heritage studies as an interdisciplinary academic field. …[The] politics of heri-­‐
tage refer[s] to the ways in which power is manifested through activi-­‐
ties associated with the official process of heritage at the global, natio-­‐
nal and local levels. – Harrison 2010: 1 Background In 1998 African Publishing Group of Harare published my work entitled The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe: Symbols of a Nation. At the time the general view in scholarly circles was that Great Zimbabwe had been “over-­‐researched”. By that they also meant that there were many other aspects of Zimbabwean archaeology and heritage for which there was hardly any public literature. And so it was the academic mood of the 1990s that we were told to leave Great Zimbabwe alone. The man who was to play a critical role in the publication of The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe, the late Mr. David Martin, historian, journalist and publisher, stumbled on my manuscript by chance during a visit to Great Zimbabwe in 1996 when I was a curator there and guided him around the site. When I realised that he was a publisher I gave him two manuscripts, one entitled Great Zimbabwe Site: the Truth and no More Lies1, and another on the soapstone Birds. After a fortnight Mr. Martin wrote to me expressing interest in the second manuscript. In his words a book on the soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe would generate intense public interest because of the value of the Birds in the body politic and body spirit of the nation. Mr. Martin had noted the lack of literature on the subject matter. Mr. Martin seemed to be echoing a view that I had long held, that while quite a lot of research has been carried out about the site of Great Zimbabwe itself and public literature produced, very little was known about the objects that have been found at the site. Generally this remains to the case today as it was fifteen years ago. My interest in the Birds of Great Zimbabwe developed gradually from a postgraduate research on miniature archaeological figurines from Zimbabwe, which had been published in 1993 (Matenga 1993). After that work, I was filled with a sense of irony that in fact there were much more important statuettes whose iconography had been adopted by the nation – the Zimbabwe Birds –, 21
but regrettably whose meaning remained not only a mystery but a mystery that was hidden from the public. Secondly, with my rural upbringing, I fitted easily in the social setting of Great Zimbabwe in 1994, which this proved advantageous considering the need to strike a cordial note with the local elders. To give due credit, I am indebted chiefly to three local elders, the late Aiden Manwa and Lavender Matambo of the Nemanwa clan, and Mr. Samuel Rufuharuzivishe of the Mugabe clan. When I reflect on my discussions with these elders, I realise that I received free “postgraduate” lectures on Great Zimbabwe. I began to see some of the theories that I had long held about Great Zimbabwe since my student years at the University of Zimbabwe being called to question; for instance the persistent academic view that Great Zimbabwe was an archaeological site. The local people said that the site was sacred to them; in fact for them the study of archaeology in itself did not make sense, and the word was not in their day-­‐to-­‐
day vocabulary. Thus in my first writing about the Zimbabwe Birds, I was already initiated, hence my attempt to shift the emphasis from archaeology and to situate the Zimbabwe Birds in an arena the local people understood -­‐ the spiritual arena. In another related development, since 1998, I can say that I had entered the discursive fray that characterises the heritage discourse in postcolonial situations. This is judging from the critical responses that the book received; historian Professor Terence Ranger, a member of the Britain Zimbabwe Society (BZS), was of the view that the book is not an academic piece of work, but an expression of Zimbabwe’s post-­‐independence patriotic histories or nationalist historiography (Ranger 2003). Coupled with this, other things have unfolded. Chief among them was the handover, by Germany to Zimbabwe in 2003, of a half Zimbabwe bird that had been kept in Europe for more than a century. It was a remarkable moment to realize that international return of cultural property, although quite problematic, could be achieved under certain circumstances. Since then I have been excited by the possibility that the Zimbabwe Bird held at Groote Schuur in South Africa, state property inherited from Mr. Cecil John Rhodes, can possibly return home to roost. That will be another example of “historical justice” and will thus restore the set of at least those stone Birds that are known. This and other related heritage issues are situated in a difficult arena of postcolonial discourse of independence, cultural renaissance, restoration, reparations, to name but a few issues. Strategies on how to deal with the after effects of colonialism have given rise to a system of ideas, which has been dubbed postcolonial theory. Postcolonial theory would not have existed without its antecedent and antithesis, the Western imperial hegemonic worldview. It is well known that the discipline of archaeology (and by extension heritage) was developed in Europe and exported as part of colonial baggage throughout the world, and employed as one of the levers of control. Colonial powers controlled the production of knowledge and consumption of knowledge in what has been called the “colonization of consciousness” (Lane 2011: 8). While it is true that particular brands of archaeology and heritage emerged in the colonies, Western influence on the disciplines continues to colour the way the disciplines have 22
been adopted, and continue to be used in postcolonial situations (Byrne 2008: 229-­‐230, Lane 2011: 7-­‐8). This thesis brings together the two connected themes of Western hegemony and the postcolonial responses as I develop a theoretical framework to deal with contestations surrounding imperial appropriation of sacred objects from conquered communities, and the growing international movement in favour of the return of cultural property. This also brings into spotlight cultural collections management as practise as developed in the West and adopted in the rest on the non-­‐Western world. These issues make the thesis a subject of interest not only to Zimbabwean academics, politicians and ordinary citizens, but to the entire global community of nations. Undoubtedly the most important cultural treasures to have been found in an archaeological context in Zimbabwe, the stone carvings are now called the Zimbabwe Birds after the site and country, and this denotes their new status as symbols of a nation – Zimbabwe (Matenga 1998). Today the charismatic Birds are not just valued as cultural antiquities; they are now the most treasured “national heritage” – powerful symbols of the country’s postcolonial nation-­‐
hood. Definitions of “heritage” are wide-­‐ranging and differ a lot depending on who you are talking to. It is better to start with a dictionary, the Oxford English Dic-­‐
tionary, despite the fact that it represents the established Western and domi-­‐
nating perspective in the contemporary heritage discourse. The Oxford English Dictionary defines heritage as: i)
property that is and may be inherited; an inheritance. ii)
valued things such as historic buildings that have been passed down from previous generations. Now to turn to Zimbabwe, heritage in the official sense has been understood to mean “nhaka” in the dominant native Shona language of Zimbabwe, or “ilifa” in IsiNdebele the second language, and thus the adoption of the words to mean that. But there is a slight dilemma here, the word “nhaka” when translated from Shona into English simply means “inheritance” or to be more precise, de-­‐
ceased’s estate, for example wealth or domestic goods that a son or daughter inherits from a deceased parent. This example serves to illustrate that from an African perspective, as indeed also from a global stand point, heritage is a new and evolving concept largely influenced by the way the Western world looks at itself and its relationship with the rest of the world. Byrne argues that the con-­‐
cept of heritage management, in so far as the rest of world has embraced it, is based on a “conservation ethic” by which archaeologists have consciously been trying to mitigate the impacts of their own actions on archaeological resources (Byrne 2008: 230). We might add that publication and dissemination of ar-­‐
chaeological researches has been in part responsible for rise in the illicit or licit movement of cultural property from the colonies to museums and private col-­‐
lections in the colonizing countries. Whereas by contrast, in non-­‐Western socie-­‐
ties interest in material culture focused on places and objects of spiritual or religious significance (Byrne 2008: 231). I can attest that in case of Zimbabwe, 23
ruined places, abandoned buildings or homesteads and are tabooed as haunted by the spirits of their departed owners. Karlström (2009: 2) has observed that with the adoption of archaeology and the rise of the discipline of heritage management, it is no longer the things and their essential value as evidence of something that has happened in the past that is the only interest in the field of heritage studies. From the model of heritage as material, more and more focus is now on heritage as social action. Whereas heritage as physical material tended to emphasize materiality, heri-­‐
tage as social action allows us to understand how material culture is defined and redefined in a continuous circularity and also how it is valued differently by different people (Karlström 2009: 21). Now to return to Zimbabwe the assets, which may be officially called “nhaka”, are not “nhaka” in the strict sense of the word; they are quite diverse and largely in the public domain, which is the reason why the government tends to put a high stake on heritage and matters connected therewith. “Nhaka” is now celebrated through collective memory and as such becomes the manifes-­‐
tation of a people’s common historical experience and is recognized as a one of the key building blocks of a postcolonial state. As a medium through which to express collective identity, heritage tends to have a strong leverage on national politics. Modern nations use heritage in such non-­‐material and symbolic ways to brand themselves and to justify their exis-­‐
tence. Heritage specialist, David Lowenthal, discerns a “heritage crusade”, a worldwide movement in which “heritage more and more denotes what we hold jointly with others, the blessings (and curses) that belong to and largely define a group.” (Lowenthal 1998: 60) Increasingly thus, African governments are defining a central role in heri-­‐
tage development and protection programmes recognizing that it is at the core of the nation’s body spirit. This is now becoming a matter of political intuition to survive. The lessons of the past, which are enshrined as heritage, foster the ability to adapt to change in the future. I will explore this issue in more detail below. For now we can see that given the use of the stone Birds in the imagery of the modern Zimbabwe state they are truly objects of national heritage value. Mindful of this and the current dynamics in the heritage discourse I move on to define the aims of this thesis. Structure of the thesis I have found it difficult to draw a neat line between the aims of the thesis and the theoretical frame within which it is moving. In my view they are one; the theoretical base of the study and the aims illuminate each other and both help to define the main themes. There are four principal aims, which are to: i) provide a comprehensive inventory of the Zimbabwe Birds as archaeological artefacts in a museum collection; 24
ii) define the Birds’ archaeological provenance and attempt to interpret their significance in that context, and as supported by ethnographic studies; iii) evaluate the heritage value of the Birds in the context of changing nationalisms in the colonial and postcolonial eras; and take into account perceptions at the local level which might not necessarily be the same as the official views; and iv) recognising that one of the Birds is kept outside Zimbabwe, provide new African perspective to the international debate on the return of cultural property. This study encompasses several disciplines – archaeology, ethnology, religion museology, politics, international law and heritage management. Furthermore given that so many disciplines converge, it is difficult to argue for a single overarching theoretical frame, but rather to isolate several themes that interconnect. The principal aims of the thesis and theoretical issues that underpin each of the aims are summarised below: Creating an inventory of the Zimbabwe Birds The first aim of the thesis is to inventory the soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe and profile them as Zimbabwe’s most precious works of art to have been found in an archaeological context. The treatment of collections in Zimbabwe as part of heritage inventorying and in academic writing has been superficial. Recognizing the need for heritage institutions to prepare and maintain inventories of objects in their collections, AFRICOM Programme, African Council of Museums, in collaboration ICOM, the International Council of Museums, published a Handbook of Standards for Documenting Museum Collections in Africa. The description of the Zimbabwe Birds in Chapter 3 is guided by a template from the handbook. According to the handbook, cultural inventories are an important management tool to help collections managers to carry out periodic assessment on state of conservation, audit the collections to ensure their security, and to profile them if necessary to raise public awareness. Generally in Zimbabwe archaeological collections have not interested scholars as much as the sites from which they come; they have thus remained outside public knowledge. While it is true that a lot has been written about Great Zimbabwe than any other archaeological site in Zimbabwe, it is a paradox that objects from the site have not received the same level of literary attention. In the current policy landscape, research preferences are in favour of broad spatial or geographical aspects of archaeology and management of the immovable heritage and not on inventories or description of objects and their contexts. Examples of the former are Sinclair 1987, Mahachi 1990, Chipunza 1993, Swan 1993, 2009, Pikirayi 1993, Pwiti 1996, Manyanga 2006 and Soper 2006. Furthermore, issues affecting the conservation and management of sites have also interested scholars as manifest in the works of Murambiwa 1990, Muringaniza 1995, Ndoro 2001, 2005, Fontein 2006 and Sinamai 2006. 25
This trend probably stems from the way institutional arrangements for heritage management have evolved in Zimbabwe. Prior to 1972 there were two separate corporate bodies responsible for the management of heritage in Rhodesia, namely the National Museums of Rhodesia and the Historical Monuments Commission. The former was responsible for administration of museums, and its primary focus was on exhibitions, research, collecting and curating objects. The latter administered national monuments and sites. In 1972 the government formally amalgamated the two organisations, and the union was legislated by an Act of Parliament -­‐ the National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia Act Chap 313 (1976). Curators henceforth performed multiple indoor and outdoor responsibilities as collections managers, monuments inspectors and field researchers. The rationale of unification was to streamline operations and reduce burden on the treasury. At the time Rhodesia was a pariah state ostracised by United Nations sanctions because of its illegal declaration of independence. To mitigate the effects of economic isolation government was thrifty and devised all sorts of means and measures to control public expenditure. In the post-­‐independence period (after 1980) some curators were of the view that the marriage of museums and monuments was unhappy and untenable; monuments and sites were being neglected with the bulk of budget allocations channelled to museum exhibitions and keeping collections. In the 1990s there were some unsuccessful manoeuvres to split national monuments from museums because of the perceived bias in the organisational culture towards museums and their collections. It is apparent, however, that during this period museum collections management did not achieve progress any more than monuments and sites. In the era after 1980 monuments and sites were generously profiled through a number of public programmes, e.g. the preservation of Great Zimbabwe and Khami, which was initiated by UNESCO (Sassoon 1982, Roderigues and Mauelshagen 1987). There is no evidence that movable antiquities received the same attention. Moreover at the time international heritage experts were only gradually starting to accept the notion of the intangible heritage. It is critical to the cur-­‐
rent discourse that we not only acknowledge the objects and material things as mute artefacts but also as part of their contemporary use by indigenous groups, with attachment to and meaning of place, and symbolic and spiritual values. On the literary arena the few academic expositions on collections clearly demonstrate that few scholars have mastered the patience to analyse cultural objects (Matenga 1993, Mupira 1995). Understandably, in a liberal environment in which curators have had the latitude to choose what to do, many curators have found the study, documentation and accessioning of collections a laborious process. That the main casualty of this apparent lack of policy is collections management speaks for itself. The potential to unlock the richness of the country’s movable treasures as public knowledge to reflect on the sites from which they were obtained and the archaeology of the country in general is yet to be realised as literature is scarcely available and there appears to be no clear policy direction. 26
Chapter 3 (Section I) provides a detailed catalogue of the Zimbabwe Birds. In addition a typological classification, if impressionistic, is attempted. Classifications of art objects are quite problematic as there is nothing intrinsically significant about whatever attributes are used. They remain at best a means to understanding the Birds in the present, and do not necessarily imply that the makers or the users of the Birds used the same or any classification schema. The site where the Birds were found, Great Zimbabwe, is described in Chapter 3 (Section II) in the context of provenance of the Birds. We can better understand the stone Birds if they are described in relationship to the places where they were found. This contextual relationship is one of the fundamental laws of archaeological inquiry. Section III shows how heritage aspects of the site have been changing as well as perceptions about its significance. Interpreting the meaning and significance of the Zimbabwe Birds The second aim of the thesis is to generate general knowledge and stimulate public interest and debate on the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds, recognising that there is a critical knowledge gap on Zimbabwe’s movable cultural heritage. It is amazing how little people know about objects that have become national emblems and are now firmly perched in the public domain for lack of definitive literature about their origins and meaning. The Zimbabwe Bird emblem is found on symbols of national iconography including the national flag and coat-­‐
of-­‐arms; it has been incorporated on the logo of several other public and private organisations, and corporate bodies. By generating public literature I hope to eliminate the paradox of ignorance about the origin and meaning of symbols in everyday use2. At this stage of the thesis I imagine a hypothetical situation in which the country had not been annexed and occupied by the British when the meaning of the Bird emblems started to shift in relationship to the new political circumstances. Supposing that this was the case, what would have been the “true” meaning of the stone Birds? I will not try to interrogate further what I mean by “true” meaning, as I am fully aware that the “truth” is a mental construction, and therefore its meaning is relative. So further to this, I put a qualification, that by the truth I mean the meaning 19th century Shona keepers of Birds attributed to them. But lest I forget that I am dealing with objects found in a largely archaeological context, the interpretation of function and meaning is strictly speaking based on assumptions and circumstantial evidence that can be deduced. As a starting point I consider a scientific inquiry as the only way to possibly arrive at a “true” meaning of the stone Birds. This comes with its own dilemmas, for example, that the canons of scientific investigations based on “evidence” have been developed in the West. So we are not entirely “free” from the Western frame of reference. The second dilemma is that it is possible that even within the pre-­‐colonial context the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds was probably not static. However, this does not make the search for meaning(s) a futile exercise, as all meanings have to be accepted as valid. 27
A multi-­‐disciplinary approach is one of the ways to counter personal biases by using more than one interpretive frame. For instance belief systems and practices of the descendant Shona people – the indigents of the country – may provide clues about the contexts in which the Birds were used in the past. The changing meaning of cultural symbols The third aim of the thesis is to examine the usage of the Zimbabwe Birds after their discovery in order to illustrate the tendency of cultural objects to carry different meaning at different times. Studies in materiality are beginning to shed more light on this role of cultural objects. The ramifications of trying to pinpoint meaning are not just problematic with regard to the Zimbabwe Birds, as they permeate the whole subject of interpretation of Great Zimbabwe as material culture. From time to time I conducted guided tours of Great Zimbabwe, particularly on the occasion of important visitations. I can attest that I varied my narrative on each occasion, depending on who was my guest and what questions were asked. Within a broad interpretation frame, my narrative always had to change in content and points of emphasis. For example, I found that Zimbabwean politicians were interested in a “glorious” history of the site and how it had inspired the country’s struggle for freedom from colonial rule (struggle narrative). To Zimbabwean families of “middle class” background, where were Munhumutapa and the Rozvi in the storyline (dynastic narratives)? Academics were obsessed with Great Zimbabwe’s connections with the outside world which took centre stage; how it was influenced by those connections and vice versa (complex state formation and civilization). I realised that I was not alone in this dilemma, as dedicated guides also had license to vary their narratives according to the needs of the visitors. The problem of multiple narratives was confirmed during interviews with one of the Education Officers, Ms Daphine Mlambo, who said they had to have a kit to confront the persistent myth that Queen Sheba, the 10th century BC Yemenite monarch built and occupied Great Zimbabwe. Ms Mlambo said the legend was popular with and entrenched in the minds of South African visitors, and in response the guides had to develop a narrative kit to deal with it. According to Ms Mlambo, over time a storyline with particular slant crystallised for offering to South African visitors; an interpretive frame that the Queen of Sheba could not have built Great Zimbabwe. These experiences show that there is nothing really intrinsic in the meaning of things. With the benefit of hindsight I can confirm that there is no “one-­‐size-­‐fit-­‐all” interpretation model. This is a matter of the mind of those who observe and interact with the site and beyond the grasp of official custodians of interpretation. In her groundbreaking work on dynamics of male and female identities among the Manyika, a segment of the Shona, Anita Jacobson-­‐Widding contends that the meaning of cultural symbols are a matter of individual interpretation (Jacobson-­‐Widding 2000: 38). There is no structure or coherence, or any consistent meaning to be attached on cultural symbols, literary texts and works of art. Jacobson-­‐Widding likens cultural symbols to items in a store where anybody can buy what they want and use the items as they so wish according to their whims, wishes and practical needs. As such the intrinsic meaning of a 28
symbol matters as much as its changing meanings (Ibid: 39). Symbols may assume new meanings in new contexts. Some symbols have elastic potentials as they keep reappearing in different contexts with slightly altered meanings, or with entirely different meanings (Ibid: 42). The shifting and cumulating meanings demonstrate the communion and conflict between heritage and history. David Lowenthal (2008: 23) argues that the meaning and significance of heritage tend to change over time. Heritage is inherently like that; it is a moving target rather than a constant factor. History and heritage operate in the same arena in a relationship of symbiosis and conflict. The aim of historical inquiry is objectivity about what happened in the past, although this is practically not achievable. On the contrary, while history can be said to be the mother of heritage, the latter is pliable: Merely to inherit is not enough; people must realise that they are heirs to the past, heirs to the collections which they own, free to decide for themselves what they are going to do with the past, and what it means for them now and what it may mean for them in the future. Chapter 4 is divided into three sections. In Section I I attempt to search for the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds to their 19th century keepers. This is not to suggest that at the time the meaning was “frozen” and was not subject to shifts as what happened afterwards. But a theoretical framework to reconstruct meaning can be postulated. Section II shows how the Zimbabwe Birds were reinvented by their new owners from the end of the 19th century – the Rhodesian settlers. The Rhodesian rulers exploited the fickleness of heritage, conflating an imagined past with their own agenda of occupation by arguing that the Bird carvings were bequeathed to them by the Caucasian builders of Great Zimbabwe and their colonising mission was only to connect with their past. The creativity of the 19th century founders of Rhodesia and succeeding generations to “adopt” and “adapt” to the new country and its culture, and to appropriate the Zimbabwe Birds as part of their own (new) history is a symptom of imperial expression power, which is a central theme explored in the thesis. Quite related to this, but happening later, the Birds have fitted into Zimbabwe’s postcolonial political narrative of cultural rebirth, historical justice and economic empowerment (Section III). These present us with a dramatic irony about how cultural symbols can be used to define a nation through reconstructed antiquity into an ancient pre-­‐colonial past. There was no such country called Zimbabwe before 1980. Yet the new Zimbabwe state has adapted the Zimbabwe Birds and visualises a pre-­‐Rhodesian state to which the modern Zimbabwean state is connected. The return of the Zimbabwe Birds and their place the nation’s iconography has stoked “cultural nationalism” (Lowenthal 1998: 63). Cultural nationalism or cultural fundamentalism, “rather than asserting different endowments of human races, emphasises differences of cultural heritage and their incommensurability, it links politics of identity and a need to belong” (Rowland 2005: 105). The tendency to use heritage to serve a political ideology has thus continued in the post-­‐independence era. Sections II and III describe the same setting for three different events taking place at 29
different times but dramatizing a common theme -­‐ the changing meanings and usage of the Zimbabwe Birds. International return of cultural property The fourth aim of the thesis is to critically interrogate what heritage experts think about the growing call for international return of cultural property in the case of known wrongful acquisitions that took place in historical times. It seems that it does not really make any difference whether the heads of argument are for or not for returning cultural property, they are still have to Western “fit” to Western frame of civic dialogue, of “international” conventions and charters. The debate is encapsulated in the Western hegemonic discourse and it seems that the rest of the world has a long way to travel before they can extricate themselves from this conundrum. The Zimbabwe Birds are among the many cultural objects taken away from the care of local custodians, and moved to far places in South Africa and Europe as spoils of conquest. The main actors were agents of European nations at the time of imperial conquests in the 19th and early 20th century. There is no continent which was spared from the plunder of cultural heritage during the imperial crusades. In a self-­‐cleansing rite, Western institutions holding on to these objects pride themselves as being the custodians of a “global heritage”. On the other hand, protagonists for the return or restitution of cultural objects represent a strong “parochial” response to globalisation of heritage that has provoked the series of campaigns that have brought about restoration of some of the objects to their places of origin. Heritage studies, such as this thesis are a necessary safety valve for both aggrieved nations to vent their frustrations about unfulfilled returns of precious objects held by institutions outside their borders, no matter where those nations maybe located, and the opposing side to outline their defence. So, regarding the Zimbabwe Bird in South Africa, the thesis is an attempt to break the silence and reopen the subject. The thesis thus contain multiple and disparate themes which have influenced its plot and structure. This storyline moves forward and backward between national and international themes. Chapter 2 provides the global historical setting on the subject of collecting. (Section I) The practice of collecting cultural objects and building institutional and private collections is foreign to Shona culture, and indeed many African cultures, at least as far as I know. But it has been widely practised in the West as the indulgence of powerful nations and individuals and is ingrained in their culture. The chapter highlights the ironies and paradoxes of collecting. For example I doubt that the Zimbabwe Birds would have received such international spotlight had they not been “collected” and travelled. Today they are part of a “museum collection”. In their past life they were not a museum collection. Chapter 2 also takes up collecting with specific reference to Zimbabwe, and introduces the Zimbabwe Birds as objects in the context of a “collection” (Section II). As we saw, Chapter 3 Section III provides insight into heritage aspects of the site. It shows that perceptions about the significance of Great Zimbabwe and how the site can be used having been changing over time for as far as we trace 30
its history into the past. This provides a general theoretical frame of materiality, which foregrounds Chapter 4. Chapters 5 and 6 elaborate on the theme of return of cultural property. Chapter 5 is on current international approaches to return of cultural property. Here we meet with the postcolonial discourse as partly an extension of Western political schemes of cultural imperialism. Against this background there is general consensus to assert cultural property rights as human rights. This chapter also explores the possibility of applying African customary law to support arguments for return. It reveals that the debate on return is on-­‐going, and that the thesis does not pretend to be an exhaustive critique on this much controversial subject. Chapter 6 shows how mutual good will between nations, and not the prescripts of international law, has proved to be effectual in the two deals that have led Zimbabwe to win back its prized stone Birds. It interrogates “goodwill” against the unequal power relationship between holding and requesting nations exemplified in subtle choices of words, e.g. “loan” to “return” in the few instances in which returns have been transacted. Chapter 7 is an attempt to construct an argument for the return of objects of national cultural value that are still being held by institutions outside Zimbabwe, in particular the Zimbabwe Bird which is part of Groote Schuur collection in Cape Town South Africa. Therein also are the technical points that might undermine a bid for return. The terminology “national cultural value” is interrogated. Does modern nationhood apply with respect to objects that were stolen before the nation claiming them had been formed? How valid is a nation’s claim to a past before the nation was created? Are modern national boundaries the same as cultural boundaries? Who owns the past? Is not a former colonial power’s claim to a past in which it once had territorial rights a valid claim to cultural objects appropriated at the time? Chapter 7 takes us back to international and national policy frames in a mock trial of those who hang on to requested artefacts. Hopefully it should be an interesting academic exercise for heritage managers who might want to build a case for restitutions in the future. Theoretical Framework The foregoing is a statement on the aims of the thesis and a rundown of themes that are explored. Occasionally, I have referred to the theoretical frame of this study and have shown the overlap of archaeology, history and heritage management, and stated that the subject matter is located at the centre of these disciplines. It is necessary to revisit theory in order to provide a synthesis of the conceptual basis of this study. Colonialism and the postcolonial heritage discourse History, archaeology and heritage management are evolving disciplines or practices at least in the southern African context, which came with colonial rule in the 19th century. Cultural anthropology looks like it is the mother of all these disciplines which reflects the way knowledge was produced and used in the 31
colonial era as one of the tools of hegemony emphasising the difference between the colonisers and subjects. The asymmetrical balance of power has dictated the processes of creating and conserving heritage: how objects have been collected, valorised, appropriated and returned if necessary. Community notions of place and object and what was worthy of preservation had to pass the approval of Western value judgements on what was and what was not heritage. Laurajane Smith has coined the word “authorised (or authorising) heritage discourse” (AHD) to denote the leveraging power of Western value systems on archaeology and heritage management (Smith 2006, Harrison 2010: 26-­‐27). As Western imperialism started to collapse in the second half of the 20th century, postcolonial studies emerged as a set of theory and literary criticism on how societies were dealing with the trauma of colonialism (Harrison and Hughes 2010: 236-­‐237). But as scholars started grappling with more subtle consequences of colonialism they went further to postulate a “postcolonial theory” which contends that colonial actions and experiences and postcolonial responses or critique together form one experiential continuum. The two are one and cannot be separated from one another. Thus postcolonial theory sees the Western world as continuing to play a strong leverage on the way the rest of world looks at its own heritage and the West looks at that heritage too, while probably the West has not allowed space for the “others” to think and practice the way they think about Western heritage. Increasingly international organisations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International Council of Museums (ICOM) are charting their own official heritage discourse and their desire to control it is manifest in the issue of a plethora of rules and regulation (policies, documents, conventions, charters) on the management of a “global heritage”. But while, for instance, these international bodies purport to be custodians of civic laws on requesting returns, they cloak the Western hand behind the crafting of clauses allowing possessors of items considered to have been improperly acquired to make good their booty. This Western conspiracy is masked in technical qualifications with regard to retroactivity and time limitations, and the irreversibility of historical acquisitions as against modern illicit trafficking of cultural objects (see Chapter 5). The principles of scientific investigations that we use today have been developed in the West, and much as we might cherish an “indigenous” interpretive model, no such independent model exists. Presently canons of heritage identification and interpretation are dominated by the Western discourse. Karlström has observed that the new generation of researchers maintain strong connections with Western schools of thought, having been educated there; they cannot pretend to have completely divested themselves of the influence of tutorship at Western universities (Karlström 2009: 45) Archaeologist Paul Lane is of the view that “postcolonial archaeology” (and by extension postcolonial heritage management) has significantly grown out of the Western “canon”. The new breed of African archaeologists has “developed a more critical gaze and [has] created the intellectual space for different voices to 32
be heard, making different identities visible and facilitating different modes of discourse …” (Lane 2011: 18). Edward Said has observed that the Western dominated discourse has not only fostered mimicry, but also takes the form of anti-­‐Western backlash in which the victim behaves like the perpetrator. Said appears to suggest that the non-­‐Western world must also construct “the other” to assert their own superiority (Said 1978). In other words Said identifies the postcolonial critique as a reaction against colonialism in which the colonized use the same language as the colonists; the colonised objects become critical subjects; from passive to active opponents. The postcolonial critique moves within the same discursive structure as colonialism, i.e. it accepts that there are essential differences between different cultures and different kinds of people (for example black-­‐
white,) and that they have different characteristics and value systems. Postcolonial theory was developed from the postcolonial critique, it recognises the same problems as within postcolonial critique but is more focused on the complexity of the problem than on the problem itself. It is searching the complexity, and not seeking final solutions to the problem. It recognises subjectivity, nothing has neutral value and it urges us to position ourselves and make ourselves visible in the hierarchy and power structures. However, contemporary postcolonial theory has developed a lot from what Said presented. It is today a distinct field of study, but interdisciplinary in its essence, primarily concerned with unveiling, contesting and changing the way that colonialism structured societies, and the ideologies associated with colonialism. It questions the binary opposites (for example black versus white) and instead recognizes the subtleties and the nuances. If we now return to the heritage field, this is a similar approach within contemporary “critical heritage studies”: a critical analysis of heritage itself (Harrison and Linkman 2010: 75-­‐
77), an approach that has been foundational for the arguments in this thesis. In conclusion, I observe the non-­‐Western scholars may be seeking alternative ways of presenting their pasts, but the Western authorized heritage discourse continues to permeate existing notions of heritage, and that this continues to impact on postcolonial heritage studies. At all the various levels at which the heritage discourse has taken place and is being played out, it is not difficult to see that heritage places and objects are largely defined and seen with a Western lens. The question of who has the power to own and control the past is a key issue in the “production” of heritage and this is what makes heritage a political science. It is a critical question at all levels: local, national and global. The creation and re-­‐creation of heritage values and the resultant fleeting meanings of heritage at the local, national and global level has led some scholars to contend that there is no such thing as heritage (cf. Smith 2006: 13-­‐
16). Nationalist ideologies and the heritage discourse Taking the theme of authorised heritage discourse from the international to the national arena and below, one of the central themes of the thesis is to show how the past is used in the present, and the ways in which the politics of the past are expressed through the official and unofficial processes of heritage 33
management in contemporary societies. Rhodesian settlers for example used archaeological heritage to marginalize indigenous people by distancing them both practically from the everyday management of their own heritage, and conceptually by conspiring in the concept pre-­‐colonial Semitic occupation, which posits a complete break from their historical past. During the colonial era the official heritage discourse nurtured what Harrison and Hughes call a “false consciousness of the past – the presentation of the past in an inaccurate manner” (2010: 18) (see Chapter 4 Section II). In the same way heritage themes have shaped the post-­‐independence Zimbabwean political landscape by helping to create a national identity through the creation and promotion of national narratives. Heritage is “primarily about establishing a set of social, religious and political norms that the [postcolonial] nation state requires to control its citizens, through an emphasis on the connection between its contemporary [agenda] and the nation’s past” (Ibid:18) (Chapter 4 Section III, Chapter 6). Thus in postcolonial narratives, heritage places and objects now loom larger than the Oxford definition of heritage which was given above. The intangible practices of heritage such as “language, culture, popular song, literature or dress, are as important in helping us to understand who we are” as the physical objects and places (Harrison 2010: 9, Harrison and Hughes 2010: 236). Equally important is the responsibility to conserving heritage and the choices we make about what to keep from the past and what to discard. In this way heritage has been linked to the conservation movement (Harrison 2010: 13). The rise of the postcolonial state has been accompanied by new heritage themes. State efforts have been expended on how they can create unifying imageries to deal with issues of multi-­‐ethnicity which are seen as undermining programmes of nation building. Unfortunately one of the casualties of the imposition official heritage texts are the practices and perceptions of local communities about places and objects that may have been handed down as tradition from the ancient past. Recently there have been scholarly critiques on the apparent competition between state agenda and local voices on how the same heritage is perceived at the level of local communities in Zimbabwe. The titles of the recent works on this subject, Your Monuments, Our Shrine: Preservation of Great Zimbabwe (Ndoro 2001), and The Silence of Great Zimbabwe: Contested Landscapes and the Power of Heritage (Fontein 2006) both on the management of Great Zimbabwe, are loaded metaphors of perceived pent-­‐up concerns of local communities on the apparent lack of accommodation of local narratives and views on how the site should be managed. Uppsala University Professor of Archaeology, Paul Sinclair, argues there has been abuse of heritage in the despotic environment of the postcolonial era in Africa and other parts of the world. So if cultural property rights are human rights, then most postcolonial nationalists in Africa are least qualified to be custodians as there has been very little progress in upholding universal human rights as they have been propounded in UN Charters. For instance the postcolonial kleptocracies that brooded in Africa have provided fertile ground for illicit movement of cultural objects. In my view we should not only address cultural and political rights, but also economic and developmental rights as the 34
wider implications of universal rights. This will hold the West to account for the economic benefits of international trade in cultural objects have accrued to Western capital. Archaeology, heritage and materiality Looked at from another perspective this thesis is about the production and re-­‐
production of heritage. From the foregoing it is clear that heritage is the focal point of the multidisciplinary study with the other disciplines such as archaeology, history and anthropology forming the surrounding crucible or workshop in which it is created. In this section I analyse the development of archaeology in relation to changing perceptions about materiality and how this has impacted on the development of heritage. Archaeological inquiry for the greater part of its existence has been founded on empirical observation. The empirical paradigm primarily focuses on physicality of objects measured by parameters such as form, material and manufacturing techniques (Meskell 2005: 2), and draws a neat line between these and cultural expressions. Regarding art objects, aesthetic appeal has also been included and considered in relationship to these physical properties. “Artefact”, “monument” and “relic” are standard archaeolo-­‐
gical nomenclature denoting physicality. This conceptual understating of objects cross-­‐cut many practices in the West such as museum collection and the antiquarian movement which stoked collecting in the 17th and 18th centuries, and which itself was responsible for the birth and growth of archaeology. In the 20th century the tenets of the ICOMOS Venice Charter (The International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (1964)) placed great emphasis on the material form and authenticity of the fabric. The term heritage is thus not to be found in the text of the Venice Charter. During the last two decades, however, this understanding of materiality has largely been overturned. Progressively scholars have begun to see “monuments” and objects as situated in the “unstable terrain of interrelationships between sociality, and materiality” (Meskell 2005: 2). The new perspective on materiality deals with the dialectic between people and things (Ibid: 4). Material and cultural expressions are perceived to be embedded into each other where the latter are prone to almost inevitable but unpredictable change; it is therefore necessary to study “specific moments to understand particular contextual notions of the material world and its propensity to forge, shape, interpolate and possibly even challenge social relations and experiences” (Ibid: 6). In other words “[cultural] objects exist in relationship to the specificities of temporality [i.e. time], spatiality and sociality, and we must be mindful of the flipping back and forward ancient and contemporary situated understandings” (Ibid). Thus materiality deals with “the deployment [and redeployment] of object in [past] and contemporary practice” (Ibid: 7) and tracing their biographies. Materiality has become such a topical concept in archaeology and anthropology that a metaphor has been coined to explain it, that scholars must be able to “think through things” (Henare et al. 2007) rather than around them. 35
It is necessary to explain the import of this to the aims of the thesis. Materiality theory as a methodological tool to understand cultural objects perfectly fits the postcolonial theoretical frame in its premise that no particular time, place or cultural context can claim absolute or exclusive “ownership” of an object. In other words the meaning of an object is composite in relationship to its contemporary social and cultural setting, and point where materiality theory and postcolonial theory converge to address the same social-­‐cultural dynamics. However it is important to point out that seen this way, materiality becomes a complex political arena. It would seem, for instance, to justify Rhodesian adoption of the Zimbabwe Birds into their own nationalist ideology as a valid cultural expression. Materiality theory can also be used to validate the determination of Western institutions not to part with cultural objects that were looted during colonial campaigns to which they attach their own meaning and sentiments as proceeds of conquest. Put in other words it is no longer valid to argue that an object has been (forcibly) removed from its context and therefore must be returned because wherever the object ends up it will find a new (valid) context and meaning. In this way postcolonial theory will inevitably be seen as in direct contradiction to the laws and calls for repatriation of artefacts (Gosden 2000: 241ff, cited in Källen 2004: 30). The argument becomes circular and might break down in the face of claims from where the object came from in the first place where there still is a valid context, significance and memory of loss. But Källen hastens to add that these contradictions in postcolonial theory and materiality can be resolved first by acknowledging that the past is multi-­‐layered and its heritage value must be formed as a process of negotiation, recognising the plurality of present interests in the past concerning culture politics and identity (Källen 2004: 30). Heritage in a globalizing world: Who owns the past? The growing unification of the world into one global human community has sent nationalists all over the world soul-­‐searching about the future fate of the nation state in the unfolding scenario. There is an underlying fear that the exis-­‐
tence of the nation state is threatened and it will cease to be relevant. Thus politicians have found heritage to be a handy tool for self-­‐redefinition in a glob-­‐
alizing world. It has been argued that an “increasing obsession with belonging [to a nation] is the flip side of increasing global flows in recent times” (Row-­‐
lands 2002: 105). Thus customized vocabulary such as “cultural fundamental-­‐
ism”, “production of locality” is springing up to articulate this phenomenon (Rowlands 2002: 105). Rowlands argues that “cultural heritage” sustains powerful nationalist my-­‐
thologies, which seek to reclaim and possess lost pasts and to redeem the glory of ancient pasts. In the example of Zimbabwe in Chapter 9, “heritage is infused by a sense of melancholia and grief for lost object and lost sense of identity” (Ibid: 106). This becomes a rallying point for civic consciousness and draws the line between national and global agendas. Thus heritage remains a site of con-­‐
testing narratives (Kuklick 1991, Rowlands 2002: 108-­‐109) as state systems, in particular, employ strategies to select and sometimes foist self-­‐serving memo-­‐
ries whilst silencing and conveniently forgetting others. 36
So, a question has been posed: Who owns the past? The answer, if somewhat cynical, is to be found in the postcolonial theory: the past is not necessarily owned by those who belong to it, but by those who have the power to influence which narratives to highlight and foreground. Or, perhaps, equally cynically, the past is owned by those who think they own it (Karlström pers. com). The concept of world heritage, universal museums and return of cultural property Lastly, I consider the concept of “World Heritage” and “Universal Museums" within the ongoing contentious debate on return of cultural treasures, one of the themes dealt with in this thesis. The return, or non-­‐return of treasures, could be one of the indices to show who owns and who does not own the past. Yet some scholars think that they have found a magical solution to deal with requests for return of cultural property – the concept of “encyclopedic muse-­‐
ums”. According to Cuno (2008: xxxi-­‐xxxiii): [It] is the promise of encyclopedic museums [or universal museum]: the mu-­‐
seum as a repository of things and knowledge, dedicated to the dissemination of learning and the museum’s role as a force for understanding, tolerance, and the dissipation of ignorance and superstition, where the artifacts of one time and one culture can be seen next to those of other times and cultures without prejudice. This is the concept of a museum dedicated to ideas not [nationalist], the museum of international, indeed universal aspirations, and not of nationalist limitations, curious and respectful of the world’s artistic and cultural legacy as common to us all. The concept of encyclopedic museums and its recent elaboration in the Declara-­‐
tion on the Importance and value of Universal Museums (2002) might sound sincere as a project to create a “world heritage” of objects. But as with many of the ideas in the postcolonial discourse proposing how the world should rede-­‐
fine postcolonial relationships, and set standards of civic conduct, it is applied in one direction – to the “others”. At the present time a universal museum is likely to be a Western museum, which will “globalize” things acquired from former colonies, and there will be no museum in the former colonies to “global-­‐
ize” ill-­‐gotten collections from the West because there have never been such collections. This is just how difficult it is to harmonize postcolonial relation-­‐
ships between the West and the developing world. But the contradictions become even more treacherous when you consider the World Heritage List, which is based on criteria of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Firstly, it has never been made clear what OUV includes. Secondly, here I find that the value system of universalism as espoused in the universal museum has been inverted: Third world art objects held in Western institutions may be “universalized”, yet more than 75% of UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Western countries because the “others’” heritage apparently does not meet the criteria of OUV. But here it can also be argued that inclusion of the intangible heritage is as a response to address these imbalances. The majority sites of this category are 37
located in the non-­‐Western world. Harrison and Rose (2010: 246) have noted that: UNESCO adopted the concept of intangible heritage as part of a programme of expanding its overall conception of heritage and developing … more inclu-­‐
sive definitions of [World] [H]eritage … [and] more representative ap-­‐
proaches to cultural heritage … [It] constitutes one of the most important his-­‐
torical shifts in heritage to occur in the twentieth century. Yet others are cynical and argue that intangible heritage is the heritage of non-­‐
industrial societies and implies “primitive” in a polite way. In other words, UNESCO acknowledges “indigenous values” while the problem persists that we continue to move within frames set with Western standards (Karlström pers. com). The listing of intangible heritage, nevertheless, remains a good intention. Conclusions The narrative on the soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe and related issues of meaning, and ownership politics, and return of cultural property will now unfold in the foregoing theoretical frame. The point has been made that heritage is a socio-­‐cultural construct, whose meaning is dependent on context, which almost always changes in space and time. Materiality theory will be applied to show that cultural objects are not valid by themselves without a subject that ascribes a meaning, and as such the meaning of objects becomes subject to change once their social context (or subject) has changed. Postcolonial theory shows that social and political power differentials have considerable influence on how heritage is created, recreated and consumed at local, national and global levels. Research Processes and Methods Literature Study A thorough literature study is imperative to all types of research in order to put the subject matter into context. It is helpful in understanding the rationale and contribution of the study to new knowledge and insight. Literature study and desktop research encompassed a wide variety of sources including books, journals, reports, articles, government reports, international policy documents and internet websites. Heritage laws in Zimbabwe and South Africa were studied in order to ascertain the current legal status of cultural collections in relationship to issue of international return of cultural property. Furthermore, the purpose of a literature study is to demonstrate that there is a sound theory base for the research. Postcolonial theory and critique foreground this thesis, and they touch nearly every pertinent issue. It is the frame within which knowledge has been produced and continues to be processed. Many scholarly works on postcolonial theory and its ramifications on the use/abuse and meaning of heritage have been consulted, including Harrison (2010), Lowenthal (1998), Rowlands (2006) and Smith (2006). Studies in materiality theory were supervised, which have demonstrated that the meaning of cultural objects is not cast in stone. They are subject to 38
change when environmental conditions change, and depend on the subject observing them. So when we talk about heritage, its ownership and interpre-­‐
tation, there are no fixed frames of reference. The main literary sources which were consulted were Meskell (2005), Henare, Holbraad and Wastell (2007) and Rowlands (2006). While there has been little literary focus on the Zimbabwe Birds per se, quite a lot of primary and secondary material is available on Great Zimbabwe and the ethno-­‐history of indigenous populations that has served as source material to construct a more complete story on the Zimbabwe Birds. The following sources have been consulted in order to understand what I have called the traditional meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds (Bullock 1927, Summers 1963, Galarke 1973, Hodza and Fortune 1979, Huffman 1996, 1981, Matenga 1998, Jacobson-­‐
Widding 2000). Although Great Zimbabwe in itself is not the subject of the thesis, it is nevertheless important and unavoidable as the provenance of the Zimbabwe Birds. One of the hypotheses that underpin this research work is that the usage of the site has been changing over time. Hence it has been necessary to undertake “archaeology” of change, whereby literature on the chronological development of Great Zimbabwe from its occupation days to the present has been researched (Garlake 1973, Sinclair 1987, 2010, Huffman and Vogel 1991, Pikirayi 2001, Manyanga 2006). The recent history of Great Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Birds can be said to begin around the last decade of the 19th Century, whereby conventional archaeology ends, and recent history begins with new imperative issues such as interpretation, ownership and use of the site (and the Birds). With the benefit of hindsight we can better understand interpretation and use of cultural object such as the Zimbabwe Birds, within the frame of modern heritage management studies. Many sources have illuminated this theme including Summers (1963) Mtetwa (1976), Matenga (1998), Ndoro (2001) and Fontein (2006). One of the principal themes dealt with in this thesis is the subject of return of cultural property in cases of perceived wrongful acquisition and export from country of origin. This has been a subject of quite active international debate and a lot has been written about the subject (Greenfield 2007, Schmidt 1996, Prott 2010, Cuno 2006, 2009, UNESCO Museum International 2005, 2009). Documentation and description of the Zimbabwe Chapter 4 provides a catalogue of the Zimbabwe Birds. The purpose of the catalogue is to provide an inventory of the physical attributes of the Birds according to standardised terminology and vocabulary. ICOM collaborating with AFRICOM published a Handbook of Standards in Documenting African Collections (1996). The aim of the handbook is to facilitate collections management by museums; ensure the security of objects; ensure the security by providing minimal information for their identification; provide information for research, exhibition and educational programmes; and to pave way for the computerisation of collections. While the catalogue in this thesis is principally descriptive, it is based on a list of attribute fields or diagnostic properties which aid identification. The 39
properties of an object fall into three dimensions of space, form and time. Space means the site from which an object has been obtained and the actual spot on the site where the object was found – i.e. the object’s provenance. Form means the material or fabric from which it is made. Shape, size, colour are sub-­‐
attributes. In broad terms the methods by which the object was formed, i.e. the manufacturing techniques are also subsumed under form. Time include such information as the age of the object and the chronological history of the object which might include changes in form, condition or function over time. The following attribute fields guided the descriptions: Photograph Accession No Institution where object is kept Acquisition date Site of origin (source) Material Manufacturing technique Dimensions Physical description Condition Fieldwork Research: Oral interviews Interviews were conducted in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It was important that the interviewees be at least conversant with the subject of archaeology, heritage management or history. These were focus interviews held with a selection of knowledgeable people on the subject of return of the Zimbabwe Bird held at Groote Schuur. The late Alta Kriel, curator of the Groote Schuur collection provided invaluable insight into views of those curating the Groote Schuur collection. Lindsay Hooper, curator at the National Cultural History Museum (Iziko), formerly the South African Museum, Cape Town elaborated on the negotiations which led to the return of five Zimbabwe Birds in 1981. Dr Stanislaus Mudenge, a Zimbabwean academic, historian and politician and Dr Godfrey Mahachi, Executive Director of National Museums and Monuments, both offered insightful views on return of cultural property, which although personal, I have taken the liberty to use them as a reliable barometer of public opinion on return of the Zimbabwe Bird at Groote Schuur. The oral fieldwork research was a critical component of the study to develop a broader and deeper understanding of the issue of return, particularly whether an African country can demand return of cultural property from another African country. 40
E ZI
ZAMB
N
W
Chirundu
E
Kasekete
Kariba
Guruve
S
100
0
Scale in kms
Chinhoyi
Mutoko
HARARE
ZAMB
E ZI
Victoria
Falls
Nyanga
MUTARE
Chivhu
Manyanga
Khami
Alte
GWERU
Danamombe
r Sit
e
MASVINGO
BULAWAYO
Mashava
Mapungubwe
Beitbridge
LIMPOPO
MALAWI
ANGOLA
Great Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWE
MO
CA
MB
IQU
E
ZAMBIA
Great
Zimbabwe
NAMIBIA
BOTSWANA
SOUTH
AFRICA
1000km
0
Scale in kilometres
Fig. 1. Map of Southern Africa and Zimbabwe showing the location of Great Zimbabwe and other sites
mentioned in the thesis
42
2. THE RISE OF EUROPEAN COLLECTING, FINDING AND EXPORTING THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS This chapter is divided into two sections. Section I is an outline of the history of the European antiquarian collecting practice. The aim is to show how objects may lose their (sacred) provenance and become collectible treasures ending up in a museum display or storeroom in a distant place. The Zimbabwe Birds have gone through a similar shift in provenance. Section II focuses on collecting in Zimbabwe. There is lack of evidence for and documentation of outward movement of cultural goods during several centuries of commercial interaction with Arabia, Persia and Asia prior to the 15th century. The archaeological record only provides evidence for the importa-­‐
tion of glass beads and ceramic ware (Chinese celadon and blue on white por-­‐
celain, and Persian stoneware (Garlake 1968, 1973)). SECTION I: THE RISE OF COLLECTING The cultural assets of poor nations are being exported to rich nations. Examples to the contrary do not exist. – Sidibe 1996: 79 So much is available on the collection of treasures as historical books and criti-­‐
cal literature to fit into one chapter of an academic thesis. I have therefore de-­‐
cided to set arbitrary limits as to what I can present here to achieve the aims of the chapter; i.e. to show that collecting led to an unbalanced, indeed unfair, unidirectional movement of cultural objects from one part of the globe to an-­‐
other. I will focus more attention on the phenomenal growth of European or Western collecting in the post-­‐medieval era. The West may be defined histori-­‐
cally, culturally and geographically as comprising Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Western people share a common heritage that may be traced back to the Greco-­‐Roman civilisation in Europe. Western culture was subsequently shaped by the Renaissance and Enlightenment movements as much as by the rise of industry and mercantile capitalism. A new consumer culture emerged that spurred Western European nations to seize territory overseas, spawning settler colonies such as North America, Australia and New Zealand, which themselves became part of the West. In Section I of this chapter I outline the earliest evidence of destruction of the “other’s” cultural property with respect to the sack of Constantinople in 1204 AD by papal forces. Destruction of cultural property takes more than one 43
form and the motivations tend to vary from case to case. Inevitably, collecting results in varying scales of destruction, not least that of the provenance of the objects. Intentional or non-­‐intentional destruction of cultural property has been reported in several conflict situations such as the civil war following the break-­‐
up of Yugoslavia and the almost perpetual war in Afghanistan. The bombing of churches and mosques in Bosnia-­‐Herzegovina, for instance, was caused by the desire by both sides in the conflict to induce “cultural oblivion”, where the enemy with its artefacts and monuments will lose the sense of history and place. According to Harrison, the Yugoslavian conflict is one of the graphic cases of iconoclasm in recent times. The perpetrators saw a “connection between particular objects, places and practices and collective memory” (Harrison 2010: 165). The process of destroying or removing such things is also an attempt to clear the way for the creation of new collective memory. The destruction of Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001 was instigated by religious fundamentalism according to the Islamic sanction to destroy profane images (ibid: 154-­‐173). This was a case of iconoclasm and as such was widely practiced by European missionaries in Africa when confronting fetish objects. In this respect, I cite the work of a Swedish missionary in the Congo Free State to il-­‐
lustrate iconoclastic practices. Cultural property is also destroyed as collateral damage in war zones; for instance, both allied and Nazi bombings in the Second World War caused much unintentional and intentional damage to historic buildings. Incidentally, the man responsible for the destruction of heritage buildings in Dresden between 1942 and 19465 was a Rhodesian, Sir Arthur Harris (1892-­‐1984), who commanded the Royal Air Force (RAF). “Bomber Harris”, as he was called, stirred controversy by arguing that targeting civilians and buildings would shorten the war (Sinclair pers. com.).
However, this thesis will deal more with the destruction of provenance, which always accompanies the removal of an object from its place of origin. Such damage is often under-­‐estimated in the western dominated cultural heri-­‐
tage discourse, although it is irreversible in most cases. I will only draw on cases from sub-­‐Saharan Africa to illustrate the various modes of intercourse between producers and collectors, rather than globetrot for examples. This resonates with the other aim of my thesis, to illustrate the African experience in the European collecting movement, which involves the destruction of one prov-­‐
enance and the creation of a new one. I will cite examples of the application of forces, which rips objects out of their context. Lastly, I will critically examine the notion of a “European collection tradition” (Pearce and Bounia 2008), as apparently one of those self-­‐cleansing rites, which characterise the Western dominated postcolonial heritage discourse. Once it is accepted as a tradition, it is implied that similar to all social practices, rites or religion, its practitioners do not have to explain it; nor can those who might find it unpleasant question its logic. Collecting in the ancient world Russell Belk, the American Professor of Marketing and specialist in consumer behaviour made the interesting observation that it is difficult to separate col-­‐
44
lecting from the development of a consumer culture (Belk 1995: 64). To this we might add that political power differentials in a society also determine who consumes what. Obviously, those who wield power, whether it is the church, state or individuals are more likely to be the ones to develop special tastes for and have access to treasured goods. Thus collecting, consumerism (or materi-­‐
alism) and power are inextricably bound together. Power and materialism seem to be eternally present in all collecting actions, and only tastes, scale and place change over time. Treasure collecting dates back to the earliest documented human civiliza-­‐
tions. For a long time, a penchant for foreign objects has been the indulgence of powerful individuals and stronger nations; it has characterised collecting from the time of Hellenistic Greece after its unification by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. The Greeks developed a taste for exotic goods especially from Persia (Taylor 1948, cited in Belk 1995: 22). Oriental carpets, wall hangings, furniture, gold and silver found their way to Greece and were displayed with paintings and statues in the homes of the rich. The city of Scyon in ancient Greece became a trade centre with artists and art dealers (ibid). After the fall of Greece to the Romans during the second Punic Wars (212 BC), the centre of collecting shifted to Rome. Greek treasures comprising cult images, votive offerings and artwork were plundered and brought to Rome. In those ancient times, and this happens even today, war was an opportunity by which the victor took the treasures of the vanquished. During the Roman era, rulers were the first to collect, but gradually the situation gave way to private collectors. Rome became a trade centre for art dealers and booksellers. By the time of the birth of the Roman Empire in 27 BC, there was a collecting frenzy and most wealthy people accumulated such objects in their private homes. As Belk puts it, the Romans ushered “an era of luxury, extravagancy, snobbery, envy, and vanity which lasted until the fourth century AD” (Belk 1995: 23). In both Greece and Rome, popular collecting experienced a surge after the lifting of sumptuary laws that prohibited people from accumulating certain kinds of private property. Belk notes that the collecting movement was not an isolated development; it was connected to a growing consuming tendency in society (Belk 1995: 24) The birth of the modern European collecting tradition
In Europe during the Middle Ages, antiquarian collecting was the privilege of royalty and the Church. The church collected holy relics to boost their prestige and power, and in this regard, the bones of saints were much sought after. Belk observed that “not only was the possession of relics a source of prestige and power for local churches that came to own them, they provided a source of hope in miracles for the masses” (Belk 1995: 27). A high demand for relics by the church stoked the theft from other locales and the production of fake relics. This mind set infused greed into societal norms and the climax was the sacking of the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 AD. Thus, what had started as a papal order to attack Muslims in Egypt and the Middle East was diverted towards Constantinople, where Venetian soldiers 45
sacked the city, looting and destroying precious Roman and Greek artwork. The library of Constantinople was also destroyed. Belk notes that the plunder largely became the property of the church, with very little going into private hands (Belk 1995: 28).
A sudden upsurge in collecting coincided with the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance. The Renaissance gave rise to a romantic way of looking at the classical world as a past example of human achievement, which prompted the growth of antiquarianism (Thomas 2004: 6). Thus, from the 14th century, private people collected Greek and Roman artefacts. While in the past, kings and princes had amassed treasures and put them into their per-­‐
sonal vaults and the relics of saints had been kept in churches and monasteries, during the Renaissance period, such collections were displayed ostentatiously by the nobility and mercantile princelings to substantiate their claim to power not just as hereditary princes, but also as wealthy people. This new practice led to the emergence of “cabinets of curiosities” (Thomas 2004: 13) or “Wunderkammern” (Belk 1995: 28). Cabinets took various forms from furniture, displays of geological specimens, plants, antiquities, animals, paintings or botanical gardens. An interesting development during this period was that collecting was no longer the privilege of the church, state and nobility, but mercantile families had also entered the fray (Belk 1995: 29). These won-­‐
der cabinets of curiosities were also spurred in part by the discovery of over-­‐
seas lands in the 16th and 17th centuries. Cabinets were enriched by the inclu-­‐
sion of novel items of “others” (Belk 1995: 30, 32): The excitement of finding new things in the world during the age of discovery in Europe produced not only explosions of consumer culture and fashions, but explosions of interest in collecting and displaying wondrous objects. … these collections made visible the growing desire or passions for things. … the desire was imaginative and nearly boundless.
Cabinets tended to be collections of nearly everything (Thomas 2004: 15, Belk 1995: 32). There appeared to be no thematic ordering of things by any typo-­‐
logical scheme. This was partly because taxonomical ordering of things, such as the separation of natural and artificial things was not considered useful until the Enlightenment, and that it characterised the indifferent treatment of the things of the “others”. I had a rare opportunity to be guided through the Augsburg Art Cabinet in Uppsala, one of the few wonder cabinets in the world that still exists holding all its artefacts. It is a very compact piece of furniture, and at first sight, it is diffi-­‐
cult to imagine that it has the space to hold a thousand objects. The cabinet is the centrepiece of the Museum Gustavianum at Uppsala University. Originally, it was royal property of King Gustavus Adolphus II donated to him by the city of Augsburg in Germany during a visit in 1632, the city honouring him for his Protestant crusades. Unfortunately, the king was killed in battle at Lützen in the same year, before his prized gift was transported home to Uppsala. King Charles XI donated it to Uppsala University in 1694, and to affirm its educa-­‐
tional value, it was placed in the library hall at Gustavianum (Augsburg Art Cabinet 2003: 3-­‐14) (Fig. 2). 46
Fig. 2. One of the few surviving wonder cabinets in the
world, the Augsburg Art Cabinet, Museum Gustavianum,
Uppsala (Photo M. Wood)
The rise of museums
Generally, in the 18th and 19th centuries European collecting became more di-­‐
verse, more specialised, more popular and more taxonomic. At the forefront of the collecting frenzy were Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Spain. Throughout the 18th century, French and British aristo-­‐
cratic, professional and mercantile families, in particular, imported artworks from other countries and parts of the world (Greenfield 2007: 97). Archaeologi-­‐
cal expeditions were launched and brought in various treasures, most of which were deposited in museums, but some also went into private collections. The popularity of wonder cabinets waned with the onset of the Age of Rea-­‐
son, the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement in Western Europe that grew out of the realisation that new knowledge could be acquired by breaking the barriers imposed by religion and superstition. Johan-­‐
nes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton had demonstrated by disproving certain theories that had been held as unquestionable truths about the earth for many centuries. It was realised that more knowledge could emerge from observation and by making reasonable deductions.
In the same way, collectors realised that they derived knowledge from the study and classification of objects and the museum was an ideal place, rather than the private confines of wonder cabinets (Thomas 2004: 27ff). As a result, people began to hand over their private collections to museums and to public exhibitions. As European countries acquired colonies overseas, they began to move items from those possessions into museums to show the living cultures and everyday life in the colonies. Most of the great museums of the world were founded in the 19th century, which was a period of enormous growth in collections. The museum age was inspired by a growing nationalistic consciousness and concern for the construc-­‐
tion of systems of knowledge to support the advancement of society (Greenfield 2007: 97). The development of the modern museum can be traced back to 1675, when the Ashmolean Museum was founded at Oxford with the intention to collect specimens for study. However, it remains true that most of early mu-­‐
seums that have since become grand institutions grew out of a nucleus of col-­‐
lections donated by individuals, such as John Tradescant did to the Ashmolean Museum (Pearce and Arnold 2000: xiv). In a related but parallel development in 1663, King Frederick of Denmark had set up a kunstkammer (art chamber) in Copenhagen, a national museum of objects (Thomas 2005). The collecting movement gained impetus with the establishment of the British Museum in 1753. Now undoubtedly the largest and richest museum in the world, it ben-­‐
efited immensely from British imperial exploits and the attendant collecting passion. As with the Ashmolean Museum, the initial collection comprised pri-­‐
vate donations, principally a bequest by Sir Hans Sloane, which by its sheer scale was an institution in its own right, mainly comprising Egyptian antiqui-­‐
ties, but also natural history specimens, printed books and manuscripts (Pearce and Arnold 2000: xvii-­‐xviii). Now the museum is principally a cultural museum, holding collections from virtually every part of the world, being mainly a con-­‐
sequence of Britain’s imperial conquests in the 18th and 19th centuries, and this remains one of the key legacies of that past. The British Museum collections are 48
the subject of growing controversy as many countries continue to question the ethic, even the legality of retaining objects forcibly taken from other nations, in spite of requests from those nations for restitution. To the list of prominent 19th century collectors, we must add the Swedish explorer Sven Anders Hedin (1865-­‐1952) (Greenfield 2007: 97). He studied in Stockholm and Berlin. From 1880, he mounted four major expeditions that covered Russian, Tibet, China, central Persia and Mongolia. The Museums of Ethnography in Stockholm and Göteborg house his ethnographic and archaeo-­‐
logical collections from China, Mongolia, Tibet and Persia and those of his col-­‐
leagues. Some objects were exchanged with the major museums of the world. A controversial man because of his leanings to Nazi Germany, among the honours Hedin received for his work was Knight Commander of the Indian Empire (Great Britain) and the accession to Swedish nobility by King Oscar II. The ethics of his collecting activities have lately been debated within the field of Swedish museums. Other prominent collectors were Lord Elgin and Aurel Stein. Lord Elgin’s removal of the Parthenon marbles in 1801, taking advantage of a diplomatic privileges, and the handing over to the British Museum, remains one of the most intractable issues in history of restitutions (Harrison 2010: 181), Green-­‐
field 2007). Inspired by Sven Hedin, the Hungarian Aurel Stein (1862–1943) carried out four expeditions to Asia, and the infamous collection, supposedly a purchase, of the Mogao Buddhist Manuscripts and cave paintings in 1907 and handing them over to the British Library (for which he was knighted) is an unforgivable sin for the Chinese (Cuno 2008: 88-­‐89). British collecting power reached a peak during the Victorian period, when the ranks of collectors were swelled by amateurs. The Great Exhibition of works of industry and art in London 1851 gave the collecting movement added momentum. In the words of its patron, HRH Prince Albert, the exhibition was for the purpose of “competition and encouragement”; and while initially they had intended to display only British creations, the exhibition was open to all nations. Thus, collection in Britain became institutionalised and internation-­‐
alised (Pearce et al. 2002: 4-­‐5, Belk 1995). The Louvre Museum in Paris ranks as the second greatest museum of im-­‐
perial collection after the British Museum, benefiting initially from the loot of archaeological expeditions in Egypt and the Middle East. Collecting became so popular in Britain that guidebooks were published to assist amateurs how to go about it. Throughout the 18th century, the English aristocrats, professional and merchant classes moved objects from the Euro-­‐
pean continent and other parts of the world to England. The royal collections of France kept at Versailles were dismantled in the wake of the French Revolution and British collectors took them to England. Collections in England were a sta-­‐
tus symbol and adorned grand country houses (Belk 1995). The practice of collecting was influenced by English ideals of countryside gentility. This in-­‐
volved being able to document a genealogy associated with famous paintings, heirlooms, manor houses and other treasures.
49
European imperialism and the scramble for African cultural treasures The 18th and 19th centuries were a period of significant growth in European collecting, in particular in the Netherlands, France and England, and coincided with the establishment of overseas territories. Advanced technological and military capabilities brought about by the industrial revolution entrenched notional differences between “civilised” Europeans and “primitive” overseas peoples. It also stoked the demand for raw materials, which could be met by exploitation of overseas sources. Collecting also extended overseas and became one of defining features of European imperialism. From the 19th century, interaction between Europe and Africa underwent fundamental transformation from trade contact and exploration to colonial conquest. The term “Scramble for Africa” has been coined to mean the competi-­‐
tion between European nations to grab territory, and it implied a scramble for resources, largely achieved by military means. It opened the way for mass movement of artifacts to Europe. Such appropriations were easily justified and explained as “right of conquest” (Shaw 1986: 46). Iconoclasm is closely con-­‐
nected with an age-­‐old Christian theological debate and we see it in action in the Congo Free State. The Nigerian art historian, critic and artist dele jegede3 puts Europe’s inter-­‐
action with Africa in a broader perspective. The threshold of exploitation was “slavery, [and] through colonization to the post-­‐independence era, Africa ... has remained a pawn on the chessboard of Western economic interests”. Notions of racial superiority justified by mechanistic achievements influenced the study of African art. European ethnologists and anthropologists regarded African art with “condescension, [as objects] to be exhibited as evidence of the supremacy of European civilization and the barbarism of the exotic cultures of Africa”. This view went along with that of the missionaries who “insisted that the work of God could not go apace until heathenish fetishes and idols had been destroyed” (jegede 1996: 125-­‐126). The following case studies are just a few examples from three regions in sub-­‐Saharan Africa. They do not represent the scale of the plunder at all, but may only serve to illustrate the modus operandi. Case studies West Africa French imperial collecting in Mali Samuel Sidibe gives a graphic account of the pillage of Malian artefacts that began with the French occupation of the Western Sudan at the end of the 19th century, and which continued unabated for over a century. The royal treasures of the kingdoms of Segou, Tukulor and Kenedougou were seized and taken to France. The pattern of systematic plunder continued during the French colonial administration. Of particular note was the mission led by Marcel Griaule be-­‐
tween 1931 and 1933, which was organised under the auspices of the French government and the French Institute of the University of Paris. Colonial admin-­‐
istrators based in Mali also engaged in excavations and movement of materials to France, a decision that could only be justified by virtue of conquest. The 50
French Institute of Black Africa founded in 1936 and based in Dakar, Senegal became a conduit for the transfer of cultural material from Mali to Senegal and France, including the steles of Gao Sane. Unfortunately, the inertia of plunder in Mali has been difficult to stop and it continued for the larger part of the 20th century. Recently, objects have removed from sites in the Inland Niger Delta famous for their terracotta artefacts (Sidibe 1996: 79-­‐80). The British expedition against the Ashanti Kingdom (1874) The colonization of the Gold Coast was a gradual process beginning in the 16th century. The major attractions were gold and slaves. The balance of power be-­‐
tween the invading Europeans was unstable; thus, the coastal castle changed hands from the Portuguese to the Swedes, Dutch, Danes and finally to the Brit-­‐
ish (Appiah 2009: 95-­‐109, L’Ange 2005: 43). Initially, penetration of the Gold Coast hinterland proved to be difficult owing to the powerful Ashanti Kingdom based at Kumasi. Its power was based on the legendary golden stool, the found-­‐
ing soul of the nation. Recognizing its importance, the British had demanded on several occasions in the late 19th century that the Asantehene (the kings) hand over the stool. (Greenfield 2007: 119). The Asantehene had refused to comply and instead buried the stool. The first British attempt to invade Ashanti in 1867 was successfully re-­‐
pulsed and was a military disaster for the British. On this occasion, the Ashanti King, Kofi Karikari, had declared war on Elmina Castle on the coast, prompting the British invasion. In 1874, British army invaded Ashanti again with Sir Gar-­‐
net Wolseley as commander of the operational. This man was an unscrupulous imperial soldier, who had seen battle in several places in the world (L’Ange 2005: 75). Upon entering Kumasi, the British forces helped themselves to the gold artefacts that lavishly decorated the town, especially the King’s palace, in a mystical ritual tradition. Notable among the objects that were looted were the king’s sword, pure hammered gold masks in the shape of a ram’s head, or that of a man, breast plates, silver plate, swords, bags of gold dust and nuggets, carved stools with silver mounts, knives set in gold and silver, calabashes worked in silver and gold and a 20 cm high golden head. The last artifact, which is in the Wallace collection in London, is said to be the largest gold artwork to have been found in Sub-­‐Saharan Africa (Greenfield 2007: 119). Much of the loot was transferred – by virtue of conquest -­‐ to the Museum of Mankind (part of the British Museum) in London, where they remain. In 1895, Lord Baden Powell, who became the renowned founder of the Boy Scout Movement, was a soldier of fortune who entered Kumasi again with Brit-­‐
ish troops, and despoiled Asante Nana Prempeh’s palace treasures (Appiah 2009: 99) The sack of the Benin palace, Nigeria (1897) The exploitation of cultural objects in Nigeria is a well-­‐known case study of cultural destruction. One of the key episodes of the British conquest of Nigeria was the military expedition against the Oba (king) of Benin (now Edo State) in 1897, during which the much famed Benin bronzes, brasses and carved ele-­‐
phant tusks were seized from the palace and now form part of the British Mu-­‐
51
seum collection and the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm. It is a classic ex-­‐
ample of plunder, the spark having been caused by the Oba of Benin’s refusal to entertain a request by the British Vice Consul, J. R. Philips, to visit the Oba at his royal Palace. A visit was not possible, since an important national ceremony was about to take place, a ceremony that strangers were not allowed to watch. Ignoring this sanction, Philips had set out for Benin. The local chiefs must have been incensed by this discourteous attitude and without the knowledge of the Oba they laid an ambush and killed the visiting party, sparing only two mem-­‐
bers, who escaped and broke the news of the massacre. In response, the British sent a punitive naval expedition. After overrunning Benin City, the British troops helped themselves to the assets of the King, removing 2000 royal arti-­‐
facts from the palace. Some of the items were given to the British Museum, while others were sold off to meet the cost of the expedition. As a result, the Benin assemblage was dispersed into museums and private collections throughout the world, especially museum collections in Germany and Austria. The bronze heads were scattered. One brass head is in the British Museum; a second is with an anonymous British collector; a third is in a private collection in California, and a fourth, exquisitely carved in ivory, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Obayiuwana 2010: 12). Here again we see the application of the unilateral law of “virtue of conquest”.
The following account gives an idea about the significance of these objects at the place of origin. The most famed of Benin masterpieces are four heads or masks /pendants representing the Mother Queen, Idia, held sacred in Benin traditions. Fondly remembered as the only woman who went to war, Idia had helped her son defeat her brother in a succession civil war. Helped by his mother’s wise counsel and mystical power, the son became king of Benin from 1504 to 1550. Idia was therefore accorded special royal privileges as the Iyoba (queen mother). The heads were made in her honour and were worn as pen-­‐
dants at traditional ceremonies to ward off malevolent spirits (Kaplan 2000: 15). The British had destroyed an institution of an exclusive guild of specialist casters and sculptors that the Benin kings had run for a long time (Eyo and Willett 1980: 18-­‐19). Appeals to return the Benin items on loan terms launched through ICOM have been ignored with no volunteers to date.
Ile-­Ife, Nigeria
Early in the 20th century, the well-­‐travelled German ethnologist Leo Frobenius heard about the sacred grove of the goddess of the sea, Olukun, in Ile-­‐Ife in Nigeria and set out on a scientific expedition in 1910. With a wide exposure to the history of ancient Greece, Frobenius concluded that he had discovered the lost city of Atlantis, a Greek outpost in Africa, and that Olukun was Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea4 (Eyo and Willett 1980: 11, Barley 2000: 100, 101, Garlake 2002: 18). Getting information from the local residents, he learnt that ritual bronze heads of Olukun were buried at the foot of a large tree and that they were retrieved when required for ritual functions. He arranged to retrieve one of the bronze heads, which he bought for £6, a bottle of Scotch whisky and a tumbler. When the British District Officer Charles Partridge heard about the 52
transaction, he protested and Frobenius returned the bronze head and recov-­‐
ered the money (but without the other gifts – the Scotch and the tumbler). Fro-­‐
benius did however take a number of terracotta heads that were deposited at the Museum für Volkerkunde, Berlin (Eyo and Willett 1980:11). The where-­‐
abouts of Frobenius’s prized bronze heads are not known. A cast copy of the bronze head is in the Museum at Ife. There is another bronzed head in the Brooklyn Museum whose provenance cannot be ascertained, but a plaster copy of which was with the British Museum by 1910 (Eyo and Willett 1980: 10, Gar-­‐
lake 2002: 123, 193). Frobenius is suspected to have had been involved in the movement of this specimen.
Subsequently in 1938, thirteen life-­‐size bronze heads were found during the digging of a house foundation at Wumonnijie, near the royal palace of the Oni of Ife. One of the heads was bought by Professor William Bascom, at one time the Director of the H. Lowie Museum of Anthropology at the University of California Berkley. Two of the purchases by Bascom were eventually returned to Nigeria. Another one was bought by an Englishman, Mr Bates, who worked for the Daily Times of Nigeria. He eventually sold it to Sir Kenneth Clarke, later to become British Secretary for Home Affairs and Lord Clarke. Central Africa Swedish collecting in the Congo Free State The Swedish ethnologist Gustafsson-­‐Reinius brings to light the existence of large quantities of Congolese artifacts in the Swedish National Museums of Ethnography that were brought in by Swedish collectors operating in King Leo-­‐
pold’s Congo Free State. Most of the objects are not properly documented, and for those whose contexts of acquisition are known, they embody tales of the horrors of the European contact period and occupation. The accession records contain interesting anecdotes that reveal how the collections were transacted: – “taken in battle and two slaves had been offered to get it in return”, or handed over voluntarily after the owner had become a Christian (Gustafsson-­‐Reinius 2009: 77). The Swedish missionary Svante August Flodén destroyed 2000 “fetish” idols in a bonfire with gunpowder explosion staged to frighten the spectators into conversion. As people scattered away to take cover, Flodén had saved some of the idols which he donated to the ethnographic museum in Göteborg. Neverthe-­‐
less, Sweden was never a colonial power, in the real sense. This tends to conceal the fact that its nationals served in the Congo as soldiers, missionaries, engi-­‐
neers, explorers and collectors attracted by King Leopold’s rhetorical invitation to all people from the civilized nations of the world to do philanthropic service against “Arab slavery, heathendom, and primitivism”. The “violent exploitation of people and goods” came as a sad irony and is one of the darkest patches in the history of colonialism in Africa (Gustafsson-­‐Reinius 2009: 76-­‐79). The above account hardly makes historical sense, except as a collection of anecdotes on Swedish collecting exploits in the Congo Free State that will rarely find their way into mainstream public literature on European collecting. The point I am trying to illustrate is that the full extent of the plunder of objects is not known, 53
and there are records in museums throughout Europe and the West that are yet to be unravelled. King Leopold and the Congo Free State
King Leopold’s Congo Free State is cited as one of the worst examples of colo-­‐
nial misgovernment. Since this thesis is not about human rights issues, I will focus on the cultural collections from the Congo’s diverse cultures directed by the Belgian king, whose manner of acquisition we have seen in the Swedish anecdotes. In typical fashion of the time, the Royal Museum of Central Africa (RMCA) traces its foundations to the international colonial exposition that King Leopold organized in Brussels in 1897 to showcase his conquest collection of cultural and natural specimens from the Congo Free State. The Museum build-­‐
ing in Tervuren was built 1904-­‐1910 to house the collections. In a critical com-­‐
mentary on the exhibits in RMCA, Jean Muteba Rahier argues that the RMCA embodies an “exhibitionary complex” in similar manner to other Western im-­‐
perial museums in grand exhibitions. They were characterised by the involve-­‐
ment of the state. There were sites permanent display power, power to collect from the “others” and to display them, and power to provide knowledge to their public (Muteba Rahier 2003: 63).
Northeast Africa
The granite stele of Aksum, Ethiopia
In 1935, the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini ordered one of the giant granite Stele standing at Axum to be removed and transported to Rome as “conquest” loot. At the same time, Italy invaded Ethiopia, resulting in an occupa-­‐
tion that lasted until 1943. The stele was relocated to the Piazza Capena in the centre of Rome, adorning the façade of the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) headquarters5. Standing 21m and weighing 160 tonnes this was largest and heaviest monument ever to have been exported from Africa to Europe. Mussolini subsequently invaded the country in 1935. The background to the plunder was Mussolini’s desire to settle an old grudge with Ethiopia – the defeat at Adowa of Italian forces by the Ethiopian army. In 1889, Italy helped Menilek of Shewa to ascend to the Ethiopian throne in a power struggle following the death of King Yohannes IV. In the Treaty of Wuchale signed between the two parties, the Italians understood it to mean that they had established a dominion over Ethiopia. Menilek interpreted the treaty differently, and in 1893, he renounced the treaty. The Italians responded with military action, but despite initial victories, an Italian force of 14 500 men was routed at Adowa on March 1, 1896. Various treaties concluded with Italy, France, and Great Britain in the years up to 1898 established the borders Ethi-­‐
opia and preserved its independence. Jara Haile Mariam writes that the giant steles of Axum define the city’s his-­‐
tory as the centre of then Axumite Kingdom from the third millennium BC, when they served as mortuaries of the necropolis of the kings and nobility. In the third and fourth centuries AD, the first Christian church in sub-­‐Saharan Africa was established in Aksum. Although the giant steles were erected in the pre-­‐Christian period Axum has come to symbolise Ethiopia’s transition to 54
Christianity (Mariam 2009: 49). The historic city was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1980.
In 2003, the Ethiopian President, Meles Zenawi, could not help interrupting the speech he was giving at the FAO headquarters in Rome, where the obelisk happened to be standing, to make an impassioned plea for the return of the obelisk. The obelisk was returned in 2005 and re-­‐erected at Axum in 2007. Conclusions Collecting has evolved from a distant past and the state, institutions and citi-­‐
zenry of the earliest known civilizations of Greece and Rome built public and private collections that included exotic treasures. In the Europe of the 18th and 19th centuries, and particularly in Victorian Britain, collecting gained added impetus as a fashionable taste and pursuit of museums, of the wealthy and of soldiers who were at the front of advancing imperialism. In addition to reflect-­‐
ing growing European materialism and ostentatious tastes, it was part and parcel of an imperial ideology of the appropriation of natural and cultural re-­‐
sources. The full extent of “cultural hemorrhaging”, as art historian dele jegede calls it, is immeasurable partly owing to a lack of sufficient documentary evidence (see Section II) and because one can never estimate the damage without an understanding of the spiritual, cultural and emotional value of the objects for the people who were dispossessed. The issue of contemporary meaning of ob-­‐
jects to their owners will be discussed in Chapter 4. dele jegede poignantly observed that “if there is any part of Africa that has not been touched by de-­‐
structive activities of antiquarians, it is not because attempts have not been made; rather it is probably because there is nothing worthwhile to harvest” (jegede 1996: 126). Pearce and Bounia (2000) advance the notion or theory of a “European col-­‐
lecting tradition”. In their words, “collecting together of particular objects has been part of this creating and defining process in the European tradition …” (Pearce and Bounia 2000: xiii-­‐xiv). They argue that successive generations have merely been drawing on and making use of the experiences of their forebears to collect in order to support wide ranging social actions, such as to respect the departed, transmit knowledge, construct systems of knowledge, and the sites where this social action takes place could be a church, museum, study etc. (Ibid: xiv). Thus collecting is said to be ingrained in European social practice, having been transmitted through many generations (Ibid: xv):
[E]ach generation making its own use of sites, customs and ideas that have come to it from the past, and also creates quite new notions; manifestly, also these older fragments are seen to pass something of their earlier form and content down the line.
This is true of all social practice, and collecting is no exception.
This notion of collecting as evolving (past and present) social practice ex-­‐
plains contradictions inherent in the discourse. First, it was collection by “vir-­‐
tue of conquest”, and now the on-­‐going determination to retain those items that 55
were plainly ill-­‐gotten and are requested by their original owners. These are the contentious issues embedded in the postcolonial heritage discourse, the subject of this thesis. The non-­‐western world is likely to see these as patronage theories that continue to be invented and re-­‐invented to explain past collecting actions aimed to make a head start in the heritage discourse. Pearce and Bounia seem to maintain that present generation Europeans are saying that “it was our ancestors who did it and not us, we only inherited a tradition and objects from the past, but we may now attach our own values to these objects”. However, in the interest of fair play, we must match contemporary European voices with contemporary voices from where the objects came. These contestations will be dealt with Chapters 5 and 7. SECTION II: TREASURE SEEKERS AND COLLECTING ON THE ZIMBABWE PLATEAU
I examined the best specimen of the four 'bird' stones and decided to dig it out; but while doing so, Andizibi and his followers became very excited, and rushing around with their guns and assegais, I fully ex-­‐
pected them to attack us.... By means of a native, who spoke a little Sesuto [Sotho] ... I was able to tell Andizibi that I had no intention of removing the stone, but that I was quite prepared to buy it. This evi-­‐
dently pacified him, for I was not molested any further. Next day I re-­‐
turned with some blankets, and other articles and in exchange of these received the one "bird" stone and a round perforated stone.... I stored the remaining stones in a secure place, it being my intention to return and secure them from the natives. – Posselt 1924: 74-­‐75 The following is an account of early European antiquarian collecting adven-­‐
tures on the Zimbabwe Plateau. It reflects similar patterns of the deployment of imperial power (see the case studies above), while in some cases, collectors travelled on their own account, and were not answerable to anyone for their actions. Where accounts of their exploits exist, they must be read with caution; it is a matter of what they chose to record or not to record. The section will focus on collecting at Great Zimbabwe with Carl Mauch, Willi Posselt, James Theodore Bent, and Richard Hall being the principal actors. The latter two were Mr Cecil John Rhodes’ henchmen. Rhodes was involved in more than one way, both as the imperial architect of Rhodesia and as a collector in his own right. There are missing links in the storyline, a typical feature of the shady way in which objects were moved, with one provenance being disman-­‐
tled and another being created. This section provides the background to the dramatic transition of sacred artifacts from a shrine to museum collections inside and outside Zimbabwe. The “museumification” of objects will be dis-­‐
cussed in detail in Chapter 3.
In reading the accounts of early collectors cited in this chapter, it should be clear that the target readership did not include indigenous populations; they 56
were written for Europeans and their future descendants. To borrow from Susan Pearce, we are hearing the “Collector’s Voice” (Pearce et al. 2000). This has become a loaded stock phrase ever since the publication of the series by the same name edited by Susan Pearce, in collaboration with several heritage ex-­‐
perts. The Collector’s Voice is a systematic republication of the accounts and correspondences of Europe’s great collectors. They might sound like anecdotes, but the collectors’ voices provide valuable insight into Western collecting as an established tradition, and subtly seem to provide justification for it. Not least important is the fact that that the collector’s voice also creates a new context and provenance for the objects.
Southern Africa and its connections with the outside world It is difficult to pinpoint the earliest date of southern Africa’s trade connections across the Indian Ocean with the Middle East and Asia. At the time of Al Ma-­‐
sudi’s epic visit on the east African coast in 916 AD, India and China had also entered the commercial network indicated by Chinese ceramic ware and Indian glass beads on southern African Iron Age sites. Arab and Swahili traders oper-­‐
ated on the east African coast from Somalia to Mozambique. Glass beads, painted glazed ware, earthen wares, and blue and white splashed ware first appeared in the Early Iron Age period and are attested by radiocarbon dates from the 7th century AD (Sinclair 1987: 87, Huffman 2007: 75), evidence of the import of cultural goods from Arabia and the Persian Gulf. As to what southern Africa gave in exchange is a matter of archaeological guesswork; natural pro-­‐
ducts have been named: ivory and animal skins, gold and rhino horns. There were at least two streams of traffic between the coast and the interior linked to coastal towns at Chibuene and Sofala. Chibuene, located at 22˚ south latitude, served a southern route through the zimbabwe of Manyikeni and running along the Save River corridor. So far it has yielded evidence of considerable commer-­‐
cial activity (Sinclair 1987: 86-­‐90). Sofala, located south of present day Beira, was a busy entreport in the 16th century, at least as attested by contemporary Portuguese accounts (Wilmot 1896, Hall and Neal 1904, Huffman 2007: 75-­‐76). During the first half of the second millennium, socio-­‐economic changes on the Zimbabwe Plateau gave rise to stonewalled settlement of the Zimbabwe tradition from the middle of the 13th century AD. This marks the earliest devel-­‐
opment of urbanism in southern Africa (Sinclair 1987, 2010, Pikirayi 2001, Manyanga et al. 2010). The following section is intended to provide a glimpse of the changing consumption behaviour in relation to the international network. Consumption of cultural goods during the Great Zimbabwe period 1250 – 1450 AD More than 100 000 glass beads have been recovered at Mapungubwe that pre-­‐
dates Great Zimbabwe by at least a century. More than a quarter of the beads and 12 000 gold beads have been found in royal mortuary contexts (Wood et al. 2010: 1898). Wood et al. also speculates that cotton cloth was a prized import, although its survival record in archaeological contexts is poor. The beads from the Limpopo Valley have been traced to a source in the Middle East, Fustat. 57
Beads from contemporaneous Zhizo site on the north side of the Limpopo (in Zimbabwe) also came from the same source, possibly Iran (Ibid: 1903). At the peak of Great Zimbabwe’s prosperity between the 13th and 15th cen-­‐
turies, there were signs of remarkable expansion in the local consumption of ornamental goods and household ware. Firstly, the construction of magnificent stonewalls served to differentiate living spaces of the emerging ruling political and social elite. Secondly, the growing taste for ornamental goods is also at-­‐
tested by a dramatic expansion, especially in the volume of exotic cultural goods imported from Persia, India and China. The hoard of foreign goods com-­‐
prising Chinese celadon dishes and stoneware, Persian wares, Near Eastern glassware discovered in 1903 in the Valley Ruins, and the more than 30 000 glass beads found in the same area in 1941, should provide a picture of the scale of demand for exotic goods (Garlake 1973: 131-­‐135). There appears to have been a shift during the Zimbabwe period to an Indo-­‐
Pacific source, i.e. Indian and Southeast Asia (Ibid: 1905). Wood et al. suggest that “beads provided an alternative expression of wealth and power that was not prone to the vicissitude of cattle-­‐keeping”. Ornamental goods have a sym-­‐
bolic value and not an intrinsic value. Thus, they cannot be a substitute to cattle. It is simply an urge, inherent in human nature, to want to accumulate exotic ornaments in order to cut a high social profile. The archaeological evidence shows only ornamental goods in the import in-­‐
ventory and the notable absence of industrial goods, which could partly explain why this part of the world did not join in the industrial revolution, as was soon to happen elsewhere. In the local industry, gold, copper and bronze were also processed into a variety of ornaments, household ware and regalia for domestic consumption. At Great Zimbabwe, gold wire was used for making bracelets and anklets; there were several shapes of gold beads, and sheet gold was riveted, using gold nails to cover wooden utensils (Garlake 1973: 114-­‐116, Swan 1994, 2009, Meyer 1998: 203-­‐204). The 16th century: Enter the Portuguese About fifty years or a generation lapsed between the collapse of Great Zim-­‐
babwe and the arrival of the Portuguese. The first Europeans to travel into the hinterland of Sofala seeking gold encountered ancestral Shona people, first under the rulership of Munhumutapa and later under Changamire Rozvi. They also took over the port Sofala in 1506, thereby displacing the Arab and Swahili traders. Although an attempt to control the Zimbabwe Plateau was resisted and failed, they maintained a continuous presence on the Zimbabwe Plateau for three centuries from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The Portuguese brought in both European and oriental goods to Zimbabwe, as shown by the finds from Danamombe (Cooke 1970). The range of goods obtained from Zimbabwe re-­‐
mained the same as in previous years. While the Portuguese had made a head start, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Spain entered the scene in the 17th and 18th centuries. The colonization of North and South America and Australasia led to mass migration and the largest settlement of European communities outside Europe. At about 58
the same time as the Portuguese were struggling to maintain a foothold on Munhumutapa’s lands, the Dutch occupied the southern tip of the African con-­‐
tinent in 1652 to establish a strategic stopover point for commercial vessels travelling to India. One and half centuries later, in 1806, the British occupied the Cape displacing the Dutch, fearing that France might move and gain a stra-­‐
tegic advantage. The colonization of southern Africa slowly gained momentum from the cumulative effect of events happening in far places. The situation dramatically changed during the second half of the 19th cen-­‐
tury. Firstly, the African political landscape itself changed dramatically in the wake of the northward migration of the Nguni from Kwazulu-­‐Natal seaboard during the 1820s and onwards. Secondly, the European expansion northwards from the Cape came on the heels of Nguni movements. The Nguni migrations, the fall of the Shona State and European incursions from South Africa The European expansion north of the Limpopo Rover ushered in the modern era of collecting and long-­‐distance transfer of cultural objects. Things began to fall apart in the area south of the Limpopo – present-­‐day South Africa. As stated above, the Nguni upheaval in the eastern parts of South Africa might have be-­‐
gun as an isolated development, but eventually it became intertwined with the European northward expansion and, accompanying it, the frontier of treasure seeking. The Europeans only began to make northward trips across the Lim-­‐
popo after the Nguni migrations across the Limpopo. Here, I trace the birth of the Ndebele State under King Mzilikazi. Its long-­‐
distance migration was initially caused by political upheaval among the Nguni-­‐
speaking peoples in Zululand (present-­‐day KwaZulu-­‐Natal Province of South Africa). This followed the coming to power of Tshaka of the Zulu, a segment of the Nguni, in the 1820s. Tshaka ruled with an iron fist and this is cited as the main cause of the Nguni migrations. Mzilikazi Khumalo was one of those who refused to submit to Tshaka, and he led several hundred followers, who later called themselves the Ndebele, in a migration across the Drakensberg Moun-­‐
tains and initially settled on the Highveld beyond. However, this triggered a series of conflicts with the Sotho and Griqua people living there. They fought back, only allowing the Ndebele a brief sojourn. The migration continued, also prompted by the arrival of the Afrikaners in 1836. The northward trek of the Afrikaners was another migration prompted by resentment of the British occu-­‐
pation of the Cape (Blake 1978: 15-­‐19, Rasmussen 1977). Fighting broke out in the Marico valley between the Ndebele and the Afrikaners in October 1836. After a series of skirmishes, the Ndebele were defeated in a fierce battle in January 1837, which compelled them to move again and to settle in southwest-­‐
ern Zimbabwe (Edgecombe 1986). This marked a turning point and paved the way for the establishment of the South African Republic of the Transvaal in 1852, while north of the Limpopo, Mzilikazi founded the Ndebele state (Blake 1978). For some time, the Limpopo River became the frontier of the European northward expansion. By the time of the arrival of the Ndebele in 1838, the Shona state under the Changamire Rozvi 59
rulership had already been severely weakened by attacks by other Nguni groups who had trekked north ahead of Mzilikazi in the 1830s, notably the Ngoni under Zwangendaba. The Ngoni siege in 1831 of the Rozvi capital at Da-­‐
namombe forced the king, Chirisamhuru, to commit suicide (Beach 1980, Blake 1978). The royal family was scattered with the main branches settling in Bikita and Buhera in the east. By 1866, the Shona state had ceased to exist (Beach 1980, 1994). For nearly two decades, Ndebele imposed an embargo, smarting from defeat in 1836-­‐1837, had prevented European traders and hunters from crossing the Limpopo River. In 1853, however, after some diplomatic activity, Mzilikazi normalized relations with the South African Republic and a treaty of friendship was signed (Blake 1978: 21). Mzilikazi also lifted the travel ban for Europeans, on condition that those who wished to visit had to obtain authority from the Ndebele capital, Bulawayo. Another turning point had been reached as the new arrangements opened the floodgates for trans-­‐Limpopo movement of hunters, traders, collectors and others, seeking mining rights. After the death of Mzilikazi in 1868 and the installation in 1870 of his son, Lobengula, to succeed him, the pressure of visiting Europeans escalated, more so since gold deposits had been discovered in 1867 (Blake 1978: 25). It is said that the fortune seekers were such a nuisance that sometimes, Lobengula left the royal court for days without disclosing his itinerary or whereabouts. It is in this political setting that we see the first appearance of treasure seekers. The first European collectors The first Europeans to venture into the interior of Africa fall into two main categories, missionaries and explorers. In some cases, missionaries doubled up as explorers; both exploration and evangelism were the urges of the Enlight-­‐
enment era. The official accounts of explorers are melodramatic modern ver-­‐
sions of sagas that have coloured colonial historiography. For the undertaking, which was no doubt fraught with considerable risks, the portrait of an explorer was one of a male adventurer sacrificing himself in the quest for scientific knowledge. However, other aspects of early exploration may alter this symbolic representation of sacrifice. The collecting ethic of some of early explorers was not always above reproach and, with the benefit of hindsight, we might add that it portended worse things to come: the systematic looting that came with colo-­‐
nial occupation. Carl Gottlieb Mauch spent eight years between 1865 and 1872 travelling in southern Africa (Fig. 3). He is therefore fondly admired in colonial literature for his contribution to the geological and geographical knowledge (Burke 1969: 1-­‐
5), but his treasure collecting adventures are scarcely mentioned. Mauch’s in-­‐
terest in exploration started as early as the age of ten, when he received a world atlas, and noticed that there was virtually nothing known about the interior of Africa. Apparently, his diaries were not intended as public documents, for the diaries covering his early journeys to the Zimbabwe Plateau (1865-­‐1868) are presumed to have been lost (Burke 1969: 3). However, he sent articles for pub-­‐
lication in Dr A. Petermann’s Geographischen Mitteilungen (Geographical Re-­‐
60
leases) and he received a stipend for his contributions, which he used to finance his expeditions. The Geographischen Mitteilungen was Germany’s oldest geo-­‐
graphical journal, launched in 1855 with a good reputation and wide circulation of 4000 copies. Several famous people contributed to the journal, including the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, who published the findings of is oriental expedi-­‐
tions (Section I in this chapter). After Mauch’s death in 1875, the diaries were inherited by his mother, and they passed on to his brother Joseph who lived in New York. The diaries subse-­‐
quently changed hands before they landed in the archives of the Linden Mu-­‐
seum in Mauch’s native town of Stuttgart (Burke 1969: 6-­‐7). Mauch’s third visit to the Zimbabwe Plateau in 1868-­‐1869 ended in a fiasco. He travelled in the company of a friend by an undesignated route. They were caught by Ndebele troops that regularly monitored the southern border areas for illegal crossings and they were charged with spying for the South African Republic of the Transvaal. After release, Mauch returned to South Africa (Burke 1969: 3). Mauch embarked on the 5th journey north of the Limpopo in 1871. This time, the objective was to investigate reports of the existence of the stone ruins of Great Zimbabwe. In this desire, he was influenced by Dr A. Merensky of the Berlin Mission in Sekhukuniland, who had heard about the existence of the ruins from the Pedi chief (Sekhukuni). In 1862, in the company of a fellow mis-­‐
sionary, the Rev. Nachtigal, Dr A. Merensky had set out to visit the ruins, but the journey had been foiled by an outbreak of smallpox (Burke 1969: 4). Initially, the plan had been that either the Rev. Merensky or Grützner would accompany Mauch. In the event, Mauch travelled alone, and he was ultimately rewarded in spite of the difficulties he faced. Resentment by local inhabitants who were suspicious of his intentions, desertion by porters and robbery of his trade goods -­‐ the sole source of his subsistence; these tribulations nearly broke his spirit before being saved from disaster by Adam Render, a German trader living in Chief Charumbira’s lands near Great Zimbabwe. Strangely, Mauch provided only sketchy details about Adam Render, who had lived in the area since 1868, and scarcely acknowledged him. Known to the local people as Sa-­adama6 (Hall 1905: 9, Carruthers pers. com), Render hunted elephants and traded from a mountain post at Bika Village, 20 km southwest of Great Zimbabwe. Mauch stated in his diaries that Render had become socially degraded by marrying the daughter of Bika (Burke 1969: 134), having aban-­‐
doned his first white wife and children in the Transvaal (Carruthers pers. com). However, there is no doubt that Render played a critical role in facilitating Ma-­‐
uch’s visit to Great Zimbabwe, although Mauch could not help taking credit for being the first European “discoverer” of Great Zimbabwe. The first collecting explorations at and around Great Zimbabwe – Carl Ma-­
uch Mauch’s negotiations to enter Great Zimbabwe lasted a week. One of the set-­‐
backs was the longstanding rivalry between local clanships of Mugabe and Ne-­‐
manwa over the control of the site, which will be described in detail in Chapter 4. This was not only a land issue; it also concerned religious matters and pride 61
Fig. 3. Carl Mauch (Photo National Archives of Zimbabwe
(NAZ))
Fig. 4. The magic pot searched for by Mauch in 1871
and found by Harry Posselt in 1901
associated with priestly functions at the site. Nemanwa had forged an alliance with Charumbira and neither recognized Mugabe’s takeover of the ruins. Ma-­‐
uch’s sojourn in Charumbira’s country therefore placed him out of favour with Mugabe. Permission was initially withheld and instead, he was required to present himself before the Chief at his residence about 10km southeast of Great Zimbabwe. After two days there, he was finally allowed to visit the site on 11 September 1871 (Burke 1969: 140-­‐144). Below, I refer to Mauch’s personal diaries and follow him on his collecting trail. It is necessary to reproduce extracts of the personal accounts to give the reader a rare and authentic view of the personality of the author. I believe this is necessary, since my thesis is challenging popular stock perceptions. Diary entry 1: Mauch searches for a magical pot Mauch and Render climbed a mountain in unsuccessful attempt to find a magi-­‐
cal pot reported by local inhabitants to be located on the summit. In spite of taboos barring access to the Mountain, Mauch forced Bika’s sons (despite their reluctance) to guide him to the pot (Burke 1969: 137-­‐138, 139-­‐40). The pot was found thirty years later by another collector, Harry Posselt, who was guided by local people (Hall 1905: 9, 155-­‐157) (Fig. 4). The diary entry from Thursday 31 August reads (Burke 1969: 137-­‐138): First we were told of a mysterious pot supposed to be found on a high hill only a short distance from here. This mountain must be a curiously ghostly mountain as, according to the sayings of the “old Kiffirs”, sheep and goats can be heard crying by night. The grass on its summit can never be burnt, but on a certain night a fire runs around the mountain and on the following morning the mountain is burnt bare. None of those present had ever been so rash as to climb the highest part of the mountain because once, in olden times, one im-­‐
pertinent man became mad on the summit, another died and a third had all his hair shaved off without seeing the hand that did it. The pot is supposed to have 4 legs and to be filled with a yellow substance and it also walks on the mountain from place to place to place. One man, it is said, once encountered it and wanted to push his hand inside to extract some of the shiny matter, but then the two sides suddenly clamped shut and cut off his hand. So it was de-­‐
cided to search for it the day after tomorrow in order to solve the queer rid-­‐
dle.
And the diary entry from Sunday 3 September 1871 says (Burke 1969: 139-­‐
140):
… [W]e started with Pike’s sons and some others on our way to Spook moun-­‐
tain. … This was reached soon afterwards. … Here, now, the people’s fear showed itself clearly. Several times they returned my gun, sat down, revived their courage, took the gun once more for a few paces, handed it back again and so forth -­‐ till finally the stayed behind altogether. … Though the view was magnificent, this was not what we were looking for and there was no trace of the pot. 63
Diary entry 2: Mauch finds relics at Great Zimbabwe and speculates about thefts at the site Mauch described movable relics he found on the Zimbabwe Hill Complex -­‐ soapstone monoliths and a dish. It is not certain whether or not he took them. A notable revelation from Mauch’s diaries is speculation about theft taking place at the site. Did he mean that local people were stealing from the site, or was he referring to Europeans? A cloud of suspicion hangs over Render, as we know that he was operating a trading post at the site. According to the diary entry from Monday 11 September 1871 (Burke 1969: 146), one of the monoliths: … showed some decoration. It was still 8 feet long with an elliptical section of 4 x 2½”. Its material was greenish grey, scaly soapstone. The accompanying sketch shows the part of this beam on which the decorations are still visible. Another relic is a bowl … of soft soapstone of greenish grey colour … Besides these two items I could not discover anything else and it may be that much has been stolen already or that such things are hidden caves and kloofs.
Diary entry 3: Mauch finds a double iron gong Mauch carried out further explorations in the Great Enclosure. On his way back to the Hill, he came across a double iron gong. Did he collect it? A number of double iron gongs were found at Great Zimbabwe, five of which were sent to the South African Museum in Cape Town. Their origin has been much specu-­‐
lated on, but it is more likely that they were imported from Shaba in the south-­‐
ern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Five double iron gongs were removed during Bent’s explorations in 1891 and given to the South Afri-­‐
can Museum collection in Cape Town. In the diary entry from Monday 11 Sep-­‐
tember 1871 (Burke 1969:147), it can be read: I looked around what I believed to be out-­‐buildings and found an object of the shape sketched here which was of iron. Its use was a complete riddle to me, that it proves most clearly that a civilized nation must once have lived here. It consists of 2 triangularly shaped shells which are connected by an iron arc. Diary entry 4: Mauch and Render cut splinters of wood from the Hill and Great Enclosure Cedar wood would confirm the hand of Queen of Sheba behind the construction of the stonewalled settlements. Where did Mauch keep the wood? It was prob-­‐
ably taken to Germany, but its present location or fate is not known.
Wooden finds have been very rare at Great Zimbabwe and they are treated as special finds. St Claire Wallace, site curator from 1910 to 1948, mentioned the finding of lintel wood at the Great Enclosure’s north entrance. Recent stud-­‐
ies reveal that the wood in question was a tropical hardwood, Spirostachys afri-­
cana, (tambooti or African sandalwood). As Mauch noted, tambooti is a pest-­‐
resistant and long-­‐endurance wood, suitable for structural use in buildings, such as in lintels to support stonework entrances. The Shona people believe that its strong odour guards against witchcraft and evil spirits. They smoke the interior of buildings to drive out evil spells. Thus, its use at the Great Enclo-­‐
64
sure’s entrances would have been consistent with this belief system. In 1952, a tambooti lintel was removed from a cross-­‐drain in one of the inner walls of the Great Enclosure and sent for 14C dating. This resulted in an anomalous date of 591±1207 (Summers 1963: 56-­‐57). In 1995, a piece of wood was found embedded in the perimeter wall the Great Enclosure near the western entrance. It was identified as the heartwood of mopane (Cholophospermum mopane), another common tropical hardwood (Matenga 1997:6-­‐13). According to the diary entry, Wednesday 6 March 1872, Mauch described the stealing incident thus (Burke 1969: 189-­‐190): We soon reached the foot of the mountain without further incidents. Mr. Render went straight to the summit to keep the chief busy there and to divert his attention from the area below. I went alone with my sketch-­‐book and armed with my revolver to the House of the Great Wife [the Great Enclo-­‐
sure]... Always taking advantage of the tall grass, ... I crept into the interior... I did cut some splinters off the cross-­‐beam over the northern entrance. ... Equally strange is the fact that none of the numerous borers ever tried to at-­‐
tack it. The wood is still quite healthy, of reddish colour, exudes a weak odour, but burns with a strong one, similar to a torch. A comparison of it with the wood of my pencil shows great similarity and therefore I suppose strengthened by further hypotheses, that it must be cedar wood.
Returning to the Zimbabwe Hill, it was Render’s turn to steal (Burke 1969:190): ...while I tried to keep the chief near me by showing him several instruments, Render, all of a sudden disappeared with a hidden axe, went to the interior of the higher ruins [Western Enclosure] and cut off 3 pieces of similar wood which had been used for the same purpose and brought these to a good hid-­‐
ing place.
Diary entry 5: Local people were suspicious of the repeated visits by Mauch and Render to the ruins The repeated visits by Mauch and Render to Great Zimbabwe had provoked hostility and growing divisions among the local communities. On this occasion, it was likely that people had heard about their theft from the site on the previ-­‐
ous day. The diary from the same day as above, Wednesday 6 March 1872, reads thus (Burke 1969: 188):
Returned successfully from yesterday’s “wood stealing” expedition. … The visit to the ruins had given to unpleasant suspicions among the inhabitants of the country lying between the Tokwane and Mosegase [Mushagashi] con-­‐
cerning us two whites, and also perturbed our local companions. The suspi-­‐
cion had already been responsible for minor quarrels, the cutting down of maize, and also for the death of, unfortunately, a quite innocent person. No sooner was rocky drift of the Tokwane than war-­‐cries were heard from the opposite mountainside, the war trumpet was sounded and the call to arms given with order to descend upon us. An exchange of unfriendly remarks took place during which the indignant enemies became aware of the fact that we were well armed and therefore would be dangerous enemies.
65
Diary entry 6: Local people were not willing to give information about Great Zim-­
babwe
Mauch was frustrated by the reluctance of local inhabitants to give information about the site (Burke 1969: 140, 185). He complained that he "could not learn more [about Great Zimbabwe] and the wish is very close to my heart to be able to find a solution now". He was referred to Bebereke, a spirit medium of the Nemanwa clan, who was reputed to be the most knowledgeable authority. In spite of Mauch’s attempts to impress the spirit medium, Bebereke was not co-­‐
operative, deliberately leaving the talking to his "secretary". In his diary from Thursday 22 February 1872, Mauch writes (Burke 1969:184):
To impress him I provided for the utmost cleanliness and tidiness inside and outside the hut [in which Mauch lived] … So as to prolong his awe, I laid books and papers in front of my bed, and put my tin box, containing medi-­‐
cine, on the elevated centre of the interior and on top of this I placed my bull’s eye lantern which had been admired by so many already. To encourage him to ask question I hung brightly coloured pictures on the wall opposite the door. To flatter him I spread a mat on the floor for his use and so as to loosen his tongue there stood a pot of strong beer. And further on, the same day (Ibid: 215): … I have succeeded in getting very important details about Simbabye [Great Zimbabwe]. This I accomplished by a rather dangerous stratagem against Be-­‐
bereke while he visited Zikara [Nezvigaro]. I treated him just like any other Makalaka [Shona (person)] and made him know that by the reticence and si-­‐
lence which he showed towards me he was not doing anything good, as I would straight away go to my Captain, who would rebuild Zimbabye [Great Zimbabwe] gain and would, instead of electing him as high-­‐priest, install somebody else. That had the desired effect. True to his promise he arrived yesterday morning and showed himself very willing to answer the many questions I put to him. Diary entry 7: Mauch did not want his presence to be known to the Ndebele sol-­
diers Mauch was concerned lest the Ndebele knew that he was in the area, visiting the ruins. As a precaution, he sent a letter to the hunter and trader George Philips, who was travelling in the company of Ndebele troops, to warn him that his presence should be kept a secret (diary entry Monday 25 October 1871, in Burke 1969:158): Philips arrived suddenly on horseback and fortunately without being accom-­‐
panied by any Matabele. So I did not have to look for a hiding place. During our conversation he pointed out to me on several occasions that it would be better for my work not to say anything nor mention my name; a suggestion to me which I earnestly asked him to take heart. …. I believed that I had to make him aware of the importance of my undisturbed presence and my work here and NOT to mention gold or the ruins. I expect that as long as he remains in the country of the Matabele he will keep his promise and not make my pres-­‐
66
ence here public. Early this morning, I accompanied him out to the rocks and once more, asked him for a promise to keep dead silence. Diary entry 8: Mauch hid from Ndebele troops On 5 February 1872, the Ndebele troops arrived at Bika village. The day after, Mauch describes the encounter in his diary as follows (Burke 1969: 181): Not having been summoned myself, I did not feel obliged to put an appear-­‐
ance. I guessed that, as my name is almost incorrectly pronounced by the Makalaka [the Karanga], it must sound entirely different in the Matabele lan-­‐
guage and thus they could not be suspicious of my presence here. The more so Philips, most probably, had not mentioned my real name to them. But should they see my face, then I would immediately be recognized and my work here would come to an end. So I remained hidden behind a nearby boulder to listen to their conversation. They soon inquired about Render's brother and I was not a little astonished when they did not doubt Render's quick answer that I was away hunting. … they departed after a stay of one hour. … In this way passed the storm above my head and a prosperous pro-­‐
gress for my journey is in sight. Diary entry 9: Mauch destroyed the dentelle pattern on the summit of the conical tower Writing in 1904, Hall and Neal state that Mauch was responsible for the partial destruction of a section of the dentelle pattern that decorates the crown of the conical tower in the Great Enclosure (Hall and Neal 1904: 202). This means that he had probably climbed the 11m tall tower and had possibly tried to open it. Later, the Rhodesian public thought that treasures might be hidden in the core of the tower. The British archaeologist Gertrude Caton-­‐Thompson dispelled the curiosity by opening a section of the tower at the bottom and digging a trench (Caton-­‐Thompson 1931: 94-­‐99). Personal diaries constitute an important private space in which their authors write their experiences and feelings. Mauch’s diaries were published and made public documents many years after his death. I am not sure that he would have been delighted to see the diaries published without some degree of self-­‐censorship, especially to conceal the self-­‐confessions of theft. The wood stealing is the first known case of removal or dismembering of cultural property. Mauch intended to use the wood to solve a riddle about the origins of the ruins, which does not justify the theft. However, the fact that Ma-­‐
uch had already formed an opinion that the Queen of Sheba had possibly built the ruins meant that he could be absolved for taking what supposedly did not belong to the native custodians of the site. Lastly, it is necessary to examine the legal aspects of this incident. In mod-­‐
ern criminal justice, stealing is a criminal offence. In Shona customary law, tak-­‐
ing things from a shrine was tabooed. Whichever route we take, the gravity of the offence speaks for itself. 67
Adam Render’s trading post at Great Zimbabwe
Adam Render opened a trading post at Great Zimbabwe. A plaque erected in the 1950s marks the site near the Great Zimbabwe Site Museum on the foot of the Zimbabwe Hill. He traded extensively in ivory (Hall 1905: 9, map opp. p. 8) (Figs 5, 6). It is a mystery how Render managed to secure such a privilege, since the site was out of bounds to strangers. Render lived at Charumbira, while the site was under the jurisdiction of Mugabe, and securing a trading post in dis-­‐
puted territory controlled by his host’s enemy required some diplomatic skills, if not double-­‐talking. One is left wondering about Mauch’s reference to people possibly removing things from the site (Burk 1969: 146). To whom was he referring? It could certainly not have been the local people, but his fellow Euro-­‐
pean visitors. Render did not leave behind diaries, but we are now aware that he connived with Mauch to steal wood from Great Zimbabwe. Render will therefore remain one of the most mysterious characters to have been connected with Great Zim-­‐
babwe during the critical years before colonial occupation. George Philips, elephant hunter and trader George Philips, a friend of Adam Render, was a hunter and trader and traded in ivory operating from the Ndebele capital, Bulawayo. Here is another mysterious figure and probably the second European to see Great Zimbabwe. Hall (1905: 9) writes that he had visited Adam Render at Great Zimbabwe in 1868, but we are not provided with further details. He visited again in 1872 at the same time an Ndebele force was on a raiding mission in the area. A subset of stone enclosures in the central Valley Ruins was named Philips Ruins after him, but there are no details given in connection with his visits to the site. Frederick Selous The collecting journeys of Frederick Courtney Selous are documented in his book, where he refers to brief visits to the site (Summers 1963: 13). Selous was granted hunting rights by Lobengula. Shooting many elephants in Zimbabwe, he attained world fame as an ivory trader, also collecting animal specimens of all kinds, which he sold to museums and private collections in England and America. He also left important ethnological records on the indigenous peoples. On the strength of his familiarity with the country, Selous was appointed to guide Rhode’s Pioneer Column (Rhodes’s invading army) that occupied Mashonaland and founded Rhodesia in 1890 (Selous 1893). Summers is of the view that there were many more European visitors who left no record (Sum-­‐
mers 1963: 13). This frustrates any attempts to undertake an audit of the things that might have been removed from the site prior to 1890. 68
Fig. 5. The site of Adam Render’s trading post at Great Zimbabwe
Fig. 6. Plaque marking Render’s trading post
The removal and export of the soapstone Birds to South Africa
The first transaction, supposedly a purchase, involving a stone Bird from Great Zimbabwe took place in August 1889, i.e. a year before Rhodesia was founded, and represents the first historic cultural exportation from Zimbabwe. Willi Posselt, a regular hunter and trader operating from South Africa was on an expedition north of the Limpopo. Local people of Chief Mativi in Chivi Com-­‐
munal Lands told him about Great Zimbabwe, and there were reportedly some stone images of a king and queen. In his imagination, such finds would confirm the popularized view of the African possessions of the Queen of Sheba. Expect-­‐
ing to find the emblems of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, so he writes, Posselt visited the site on 14 August, thus becoming the fourth earliest Euro-­‐
pean known to visit the site8. As a rule, permission to enter the ruins was granted by Chief Mugabe. Again it is noted that the timing of his visit was unfor-­‐
tunate, as Mugabe was on the brink of going to war with his rivals, Charumbira and Nemanwa. Mugabe had proposed as a condition that Posselt help him in the war, but Posselt refused to be drawn into the conflict. Permission to enter the site was nevertheless granted. Posselt saw four soapstone Birds planted in what is now called the Eastern Enclosure during a second visit to the site. He decided to remove one of the Birds, one that in his opinion was the finest specimen, but he was stopped by the site’s custodian, Haruzivishe, brother and close advisor of Chief Mugabe9 (Fig. 7). In accordance with tradition, Haruzivishe was posted at the village to guard the site and the stone Birds. He and his men brandished their weapons in protest and were ready to stop Posselt with force, if necessary. Posselt was also armed, but sensing the danger of continuation with the operation, he called off the plan and retreated. The next day he changed tactics and paid a “price” in blankets and got the prized Bird. The following is his account of the incident (Posselt 1924: 74-­‐75):
I examined the best specimen of the four 'bird' stones and decided to dig it out; but while doing so, Andizibi [Haruzivishe] and his followers became very excited, and rushing around with their guns and assegais, I fully expected them to attack us. I went on with my work and told, Klaas [his Sotho porter], who had two loaded rifles, to shoot the first man he saw aiming at either of us. By means of a native, who spoke a little Sesuto -­‐as I did not know any Mashona-­‐ I was able to tell Andizibi that I had no intention of removing the stone, but that I was quite prepared to buy it. This evidently pacified him, for I was not molested any further. Next day I returned with some blankets, and other articles and in exchange of these received the one "bird" stone and a round perforated stone. The former was too heavy to be carried, and I was therefore obliged to cut off the pedestal. I stored the remaining stones in a secure place, it being my intention to return and secure them from the na-­‐
tives.
There are some important gaps in Posselt’s account of the exchange deal. He does not state why he thought the objects were important and worth collecting, or why Haruzivishe would not allow him to take the Bird. Since we are aware that he eventually sold the Bird, we can infer that he at least saw commercial 70
Fig. 7. Chief Chipfunhu Mugabe and his retinue. Haruzivishe
is immediately left of the Chief (Photo NAZ)
Fig. 8. Layout map of Great Zimbabwe
showing Posselt’s camp in 1889-90 (Hall 1905: 7)
Fig. 9. James Theodore Bent
(Photo NAZ)
value. The phrase “best specimen” means that he found it aesthetically pleasing as a work of art, which was the basis of its commercial value. In the story we are not told for what purpose Haruzivishe said he was keeping the Birds. Per-­‐
haps Posselt decided to keep the information to himself. This infamous excerpt from Posselt’s article has been cited in several schol-­‐
arly works and critically analysed, and interpretations are various (Matenga 1998, Munjeri 2009:17, Hubbard 2009). It has been said that Haruzivishe re-­‐
ceived a bribe, or sold the bird, which was dereliction of duty. Other views are sympathetic on account of the resistance that he had put up the previous day; he was cheated. By the mere fact that Posselt dangled a bribe, the relationship between the “seller” and the “buyer” became unequal in favour of the latter. It seems as though that later, Haruzivishe must have regretted the transaction for, as Posselt writes, although Haruzivishe promised to show him other interesting items, upon his return, "for some reason or other he professed ignorance, and I did not see anything more" (Posselt, 1924: 75). Posselt took the stone Bird to South Africa, where he initially had intended to sell it to the President of South African Republic, Paul Kruger, for inclusion into the collection of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria. It is not surprising that being German, Posselt initially preferred to sell the stone Bird to Kruger. Six years later, the German Kaiser Wilhelm expressed sympathy with the Afrikaner resistance to British imperial pressure by sending a telegram to Paul Kruger, congratulating him for successfully repelling the Jameson Raid from Rhodesia, which had been orchestrated by Cecil Rhodes. This attitude reflected the pre-­‐
vailing polarization of the white South African society between those who sym-­‐
pathized with the Afrikaners and the protagonists of British imperial expan-­‐
sion. In the event, although Kruger expressed interest, he procrastinated until Posselt approached his political arch-­‐rival, Cecil John Rhodes, who bought it for a personal collection at his Groote Schuur residence in Cape Town. From its place in a shrine, because of the antiquarian tastes of an English gentleman (Belk 1995), the Bird was now put into a household collection. Another important detail missing from Posselt’s account that adds to our curiosity is that Hall writes that Posselt established a camp outside the Great Enclosure to the west, (Fig. 8) where he stayed in 1888-­‐89. To provide his own subsistence, he had cleared ground south of the Great Enclosure, where he grew some crops (Hall 1905: 7). If Posselt arrived at Great Zimbabwe for the first time in 1889, Hall actually meant to write 1889-­‐90 instead. What was Posselt doing at the site after collecting the Bird in 1889, and why did not he mention this part in his accounts? In 1901, Willi Posselt’s brother, Harry, found the magical pot that Mauch had looked for in vain, after persuading local people to disclose its hidden location. After the establishment of the Rhodesian state, the Posselt brothers had approached Rhodes with a proposal to take the land on which Great Zimbabwe was situated, but Rhodes had declined.
To put all these events into a historical perspective, a year later in Septem-­‐
ber 1890, Rhodes send a military column to occupy the land between the Lim-­‐
popo and the Zambezi River, in what can be regarded as the last scenes of the European partition of Africa. At the time, a great deal of romance and idealism had been created around the existence of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, whose 72
origin was credited to everybody other than the indigenous inhabitants -­‐ the Sabaeans, Phoenicians, Hebrews or Egyptians. Rhodes had staked his vast wealth created in the diamond and gold fields of South Africa to this project. Nine months after the occupation in June 1891, Rhodes commissioned James Theodore Bent to carry out “archaeological” investigations at Great Zim-­‐
babwe (Fig. 9). Bent was appointed on the strength of his experience with Mid-­‐
dle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures, in the hope that he would bolster claims popularized by the new settlers that Great Zimbabwe had Semitic con-­‐
nections. Rhodes and the BSA Company instructed Bent to remove the Birds that Posselt had left on the Zimbabwe Hill Complex. According to Hall, many ap-­‐
proaches had been made to Chief Chipfunhu Mugabe by European visitors in-­‐
terested in purchasing them, but the chief had persistently refused (Hall 1905: 106). Understandably, the decision might therefore have arisen as a result of concern that the stone Birds would eventually be stolen. We infer that because Rhodesia did not have a museum at the time, the Birds were deposited in the South African Museum in Cape Town. A museum was found to be the ideal place for the new treasures. Furthermore, it must be noted that the new Rho-­‐
desian government had not enacted cultural property laws. It was only nine months after its inception, and legally speaking, the country was in liminal ground in which “by virtue of conquest” was the de facto law.
In 1892, the Birds travelled overseas as part of the collection from Great Zimbabwe, including the Bird from Posselt, to an exhibition in London. Upon their return to Cape Town the following year, they were sent to Kimberley for another exhibition. In 1893, Rhodes officially presented the Zimbabwe collec-­‐
tion including the Birds to the South African Museum, retaining the Posselt Bird, which he took back to Groote Schuur10. In July of the same year, Rhodes announced his last will, through which the Groote Schuur residence and its possessions were to be kept intact under the management of the Rhodes Trus-­‐
tees (see chapter 7).
From their exalted place in a shrine, because of the European practice, the Birds were now put in a museum, [a repository of things and knowledge, dedi-­‐
cated to the dissemination of learning” … “to be admired [for] their beauty and workmanship … and the sophistication of the culture within which [they] were produced” (Cuno 2008: xxxi).
The acquisitions of the South African Museum in Cape Town At the instruction of Rhodes, a large number of objects collected by Bent and later by Richard Hall were deposed at the South African Museum in Cape Town. In 2006, the author was granted permission to examine records of objects from Zimbabwe housed in the South African Museum, now incorporated under the Iziko flagship. A majority of these came from Great Zimbabwe and arrived there in 1893, following excavations in 1891. Bent handed over the items to the BSA Co, which was the government of Rhodesia by mandate of the royal charter. As the records show, the latter handed them over or donated them to the South African Museum. There are at least 90 entries in the South African Museum 73
accession records and in the majority of these, the objects had been found by Bent and donated by the BSA Co (Appendix I). The objects donated by the British South Africa Company include:
• Many soapstone objects described as “phalli” and pendants
• A complete soapstone bowl (SAM 7867) and several sherds of broken bowls
• A soapstone pillar (SAM 7880) decorated with various incised patterns (a longer portion is in the British Museum) • Graphited pottery • Five pairs of double iron gongs • Two serrated bronze spearheads • Six iron adze • Ten iron arrowheads • Imported glass beads • Imported porcelain (SAM 7890, SAM 7893) • Imported six decorated sherds of Arab glass (SAM 7884, SAM 670) The South African Museum accession records indicate that in 1893, Rhodes donated a number of gold objects from Great Zimbabwe, and these have re-­‐
mained in the museum. The objects include tacks, rods, wire, foil, beads, nug-­‐
gets and chain or necklace links. Although it is not indicated in the records how Rhodes acquired the artifacts, it is certain that they were found by Bent. As corroboration of this, among the items listed as having been handed over to the British South African Company by Bent and subsequently donated to the South African Museum, there were no gold artifacts. Gold was probably the most pre-­‐
cious metal at the time, apparently handed over directly to Rhodes (and not to the BSA Co), who donated the gold objects from Great Zimbabwe to the South African Museum. The other donations of gold from Great Zimbabwe were made by the Reverend G. L. Ashworth, whose connections with the site are obscure (Appendix II). A decade after Bent’s exploits, Richard Hall was put in charge of the site as curator, and another assemblage of cultural objects were moved to the South African Museum. The scale of the looting at Great Zimbabwe is difficult to estimate owing to lack of information. Hall made several passing references to the scourge of treasure hunters who had prowled in the Great Enclosure and other parts. They include the mentioning of Thomas Bailey, an Australian who died at the site in 1893 and whose grave stood on the west side of the Great Enclosure (Hall 1905: 19-­‐20). Exports from Great Zimbabwe to Europe The fate of the lower part of a Zimbabwe Bird (Bird 8) and its series of migra-­‐
tions in Europe is an eventful drama, despite gaps in the storyline. How this portion left Great Zimbabwe, and possibly came into the hands of Cecil Rhodes (if briefly) and ended up in Berlin, remains a mystery. The date of its initial 74
movement is unknown. Richard Hall writes about a lower portion of a Bird removed from Great Zimbabwe by an unspecified collector and sold to Cecil John Rhodes (Hall 1905: 105). However, as it turned out, Rev. Karl Theodor Georg Axenfield, of the Berlin Mission in South Africa, eventually acquired a portion of the half Bird and sold it to Berlin Museum für Volkerkunde for 500 Reichsmark in 1907. It was inven-­‐
toried III D 3170. The Curator of African Collections in the Berlin Museum of Ethnology, Dr Peter Junge, stated in a correspondence with the author (17 March 2003) that Axenfield was a well-­‐known theological inspector in the mis-­‐
sion. Correspondence housed at the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation discloses the transaction between Axenfield and Felix von Luschan. There is no direct reference as to who brought the Bird to Germany, but it is presumed that Axenfield did. The circumstantial connection between Rev. Merensky and Rev. Axenfield is not difficult to see. Attempts to get further information from the Berlin Mission headquarters in Germany regarding the pastoral activities of Rev. Axenfield in South Africa were unsuccessful. This was despite initial prom-­‐
ises that the Church’s archives would avail details11. If Hall should be believed, the role that Rhodes played will remain equally a mystery, as it is unlikely that Rhodes would have turned over the Bird to a German missionary. The art his-­‐
torian Professor William Dewey, an expert on this subject, shares the same view. At a time when Anglo-­‐German relations were at low ebb, it was unthink-­‐
able that a German missionary would have approached Rhodes with such an offer. Instead, Dewey speculates that the German Posselt brothers might have had a hand in the movement of the Bird and its acquisition by the German mis-­‐
sionaries. This theory sounds plausible given Willi Posselt’s silence about his extended stay at Great Zimbabwe (Hall 1905: 8). However, new information has surfaced since the voluntary release of the Bird by its captors in 2000. The historian Dr Mudenge thinks that the missing link has been found. When recently interviewed by the author, Dr Mudenge revealed that sometime after the Bird had been received, the office of the State President received a letter from the great-­‐great grandson of the Reverend A. Merensky of the German Mission in Sekhukuniland (South Africa). He de-­‐
manded that the Zimbabwean Government return to him, as Dr Mudenge put it, “shiri yavasekuru vake”, in other words “his great great grandfather’s bird”. The complainant was writing from South Africa. At the time, Dr Mudenge was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and so the letter was forwarded to him for his opin-­‐
ion. A decision was made to not respond to the letter, and a copy was filed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mudenge, interview 23 April 2011). Reverend Merensky had long been excited about the possibility of finding Great Zim-­‐
babwe, “in the country Northeast and East of Mosilikatse [Mzilikazi king of the Ndebele] [where] the ancient Ophir of Solomon is to be found and in the time of the Ptolymies Egyptian trade penetrated to our coasts”12 (Burke 1969: 4). As we have seen, he had planned with fellow evangelists twice to visit the ruins. There was a period of silence about the Bird until James Walton wrote in the South African Archaeological Bulletin, 1955 that, “A little while ago, Roger Summers drew attention to Carl Eistein’s Afrikansche Plastik which contains a photograph of a Zimbabwe Bird preserved in Volkerkundemuseum in Berlin”. 75
Walton’s article contains a sketch of line drawings of the Zimbabwe Birds, in-­‐
cluding the Berlin fragment. Mystery also surrounds the acquisition of an anthropomorphic soapstone object by the British Museum, which was accessioned there in 1923. The figure is believed to have been found at Great Zimbabwe, although the circumstances of its movement are unclear. What we do know is that the figurine was first mentioned in a brochure on exhibits from Great Zimbabwe and other sites dis-­‐
played at the British Museum in 1930. The figure is reportedly from “the ‘main ruin’ [Great] Zimbabwe: purchased 1923”. It is not clear what the exhibition’s curator meant by “main ruin”; possibly the Zimbabwe Hill Complex rather than the Great Enclosure (British Museum 1930). The object may at least be de-­‐
scribed as anthropomorphic with a sophisticated design of the head, which resembles a human head but has some animal features. The head surmounts a rectangular trunk that tapers and is pointed at the bottom end. A pair of breasts is distinctly sculpted, but the arms and legs are excised on the trunk in low relief. Garlake (1973: 121) writes that another figurine of close resemblance and also presumed to be from Great Zimbabwe is in the Tishman Collection, now part of the Disney Corporation in New York. Objects like this have been interpreted variously as votive offerings, symbols of a fertility complex or royal regalia (Matenga 2000a). An accession record (SAM 7880) in the Iziko Cultural History Museum (South African Museum) indicates that a long soapstone pillar from Great Zim-­‐
babwe, decorated with incised diamond (rosette) patterns is with the British Museum. As we have seen, the South African Museum acquired a short pillar with similar decorations. The uncertainty as to the actual number of Birds found at Great Zimbabwe will be dealt with in detail in Chapter 3 in the catalogue. Suffice it to say at this stage that Hall states that ten Birds were found at Great Zimbabwe, eight of which can be accounted for. The problem of numbers obviously arises from the fact that we are trying to account for stolen objects. There are some mysterious collectors, possibly including Austrian scientists visiting Great Zimbabwe in the early years of Rhodesia (Hall 1905). So for now, it is enough to say that the numbers simply do not add up. Collections from other sites in Zimbabwe
The treasures removed from Danamombe fall into two groups, the first re-­‐
moved by W. G. Neal and Frank Johnson of the Rhodesia Ancient Ruins Com-­‐
pany in 1895 and the second by Mr Thomas Gordon Quig Ryan, later a farmer, between 1907and 1911 (Cooke 1970) (Appendix III). In 1895, Neal and John-­‐
son obtained a licence to establish a business, the Ancient Ruins Company, to “explore and work for treasure” at Zimbabwe-­‐type sites (with the exception of Great Zimbabwe) (Hall and Neal 1902: 150, Garlake 1973: 70). The target of the Ancient Ruins seems to have been gold, but without details of their operations, it is likely that they collected other items that they came across, and which have not been accounted for. It is estimated that between 1895 and 1900, when the company was in operation, it “mined” 2000 ounces (62.2 kg) in gold artifacts 76
from sites in the west and central parts of the country (Hall and Neal 1902: 91). Hall, Neal and company would have appropriated most of their finds as profits of a venture that had been legitimized. However, Cecil Rhodes played an im-­‐
portant role as the owner of the country, and that explains why some of the loot ended up in his collection at Groote Schuur. The company was dissolved in 1900 owing to public pressure, and later scholars were to regret the activities of the Ancient Ruins Company as well as the decision by Rhodes to authorize such destruction in the first place. Excavated holes at Nalatele, Danamombe and Regina (Zinjanja) can be seen today as telling reminders of a past destructive spree. The exploits of the American Frederic Russell Burnham, Thomas Ryan and Captain Rixon is proof that there were many operators in the field (Swan 1994: 68-­‐69). Not all the finds collected by Mr. Ryan can be accounted for, which leads to the speculation that they are housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, or the British Museum. Part of the collection (including a brass cannon) was said to have been donated to St George’s Boys College originally in Bulawayo, which later moved to Harare. The items cannot be traced (Cooke 1970: 45-­‐49). Silver, bronze and gold wares that were thought part of such collections, formed part of a Jesuit Missionary’s altar furniture (Marconnes 1933). Around 1904, the miner Edward Andrews collected soapstone figurines from a small zimbabwe-­type site on the eastern limits of Mutare, near the Mozambique border. They were published by David Randall MacIver in his pioneering book on the Zimbabwe culture: Medieval Rhodesia (1906). Andrews “donated” his finds to the Rhodes Trustees, who in turn handed them over to the British Museum. In 1989, the collection was kept in one of the storage houses of the British Museum of Mankind, where the author had an opportunity to examine them in 1989. The c. 136 figurines form one of the largest assem-­‐
blages of figurines found in an archaeological context in Zimbabwe. The collec-­‐
tion includes birds, but human figures dominate the collection, featuring fe-­‐
males depicting genitalia and five individual or separate carvings of genitalia (Matenga 1993: 77-­‐78, Bordini 1974, 1978). Conclusions
This chapter has attempted to create democratic space to understand two op-­‐
posing worldviews about collecting. The first section shows how the Western hegemony discourse sees its collecting tradition as the virtuous fruit of the enlightenment revolution. However, when we see collecting in action, we begin to question the methods used and the consequences, such as the dismember-­‐
ment of shrines (e.g. Ashanti, Benin and Great Zimbabwe). In the liminal ground or phase between the collapse of pre-­‐colonial power structures and the imposi-­‐
tion of new legal and administrative systems, the phrase – by virtue of conquest – was coined to justify unilateral and extrajudicial appropriations of cultural property. An intriguing aspect of collection is the lack of pertinent information that generally makes it difficult to establish the context of objects. Thus, even as I have tried to democratize the discursive space, there is inevitably undue reli-­‐
ance on the voices of the collectors. This is a recurring theme in the thesis. 77
The final section is not an attempt to account for all the objects that were removed from Zimbabwe during the run up to Rhodesian occupation and im-­‐
mediately after. If it were, I would have been accused of having failed to do justice to this difficult subject. For instance, while Lobengula appears to have left Bulawayo in 1893 with most of his royal treasure after burning the capital (Blake 1978: 107), we are surprised to find Lobengula’s royal elephant seal and brass drinking vessel cast in the shape of an elephant in the Groote Schuur col-­‐
lection. The latter, a prized possession, had been custom-­‐made by the Tati Company Ltd in the shape of the royal symbol – iNdlovu (Elephant). These items were taken at Bulawayo and confiscated by Cecil Rhodes – by virtue of conquest. The personal involvement of the statesman and imperialist Cecil Rhodes, and the role of the BSA Co as both the government and a corporate body mark the triumph of Victorian antiquarianism. Chapter 4 takes this story further by discussing the settler search for a national identity and the worldview that Great Zimbabwe and its artifacts were not of indigenous workmanship, which would justify expropriation. The present chapter has also introduced the museumification of the cultural objects and how in this was imposed a colonial context at the expense of their ritual contexts. This theme will be dealt with in Section II of the following chap-­‐
ter. 78
3. DESCRIPTION OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS AND THEIR PROVENANCE This chapter is divided into three sections. The first (Section I) is a detailed descriptive catalogue of the Zimbabwe Birds and refers closely to early written accounts to show their original positions. This part is intended to stand as a primary reference for their future management and conservation in a museum collection. The section also undertakes a forensic audit of the Birds: One Bird confirmed to be in South Africa, and possibly several other Birds removed and not accounted for.
Section II seeks to provide proof of religious activity at Great Zimbabwe by pinpointing places that have been connected with such activity and comparing with the original locations of the Birds. Section III traces the ever-­‐changing landscape of traditional religious prac-­‐
tices at Great Zimbabwe. The transformation of the Birds from sacred objects to museum collections is mirrored by and set against the background the chan-­‐
ging usage of Great Zimbabwe and its de-­‐secularization as the Birds’ sacred provenance. The narrative is situated within the frame of the materiality theory, and tracing the social and political actions that produce change is an archaeological investigation. SECTION I: CATALOGUE AND THE ORIGINAL LOCATIONS OF THE ZIM-­
BABWE BIRDS Making the soapstone Birds The Birds are carved from soapstone, also called talc or steatite. Soapstone is a white/grey or green metamorphic mineral of hydrated magnesium silicate [Mg3Si4O10(OH)2] with a layered structure; it is soft and greasy. Archaeological evidence of both utilitarian and non-­‐utilitarian soapstone handicraft dates to the first and second millennium AD. Items range from dishes, monoliths, smok-­‐
ing pipes, metal drawing plates, ingot moulds, pendants, figurines, etc (Bent 1896, Hall 1905, Garlake 1973, Matenga 1993). Generally, however, soapstone artefacts are a rare occurrence in archaeological contexts, and this limited ap-­‐
plication does not correspond with its abundance in the country. There is a correlation between the occurrence of gold-­‐bearing deposits and soapstone. The source nearest to Great Zimbabwe is 9 km west of the site in the Charumbira communal lands. Other notable soapstone quarries are found south of Masvingo Town, on the east bank of the Mushagashe River north of 79
Mashava
MASVINGO
Mu
sha
ndik
e
e
kw
To
LAK
Bondol
Mission
Chivi
KEY
EM
UTI
RIK
WI
GREAT ZIMBABWE
Morgenster
Mission
Soapstone quarry sites
N
M
u
10km
wi
S
rik
0
Mapanzure
Bussiness Centre
E
W
Ngomahuru
Hospital
Fig. 10. Active soapstone quarry sites near Great Zimbabwe
Fig. 11. Bird 1
Height, head to legs: 26.7cm
Bird 1(Fig. 11) This is the Bird depicted on the coat-­‐of-­‐arms and on the national flag. It has become a venerated national symbol and is now referred to as the “Zimbabwe Bird”. Height: head to legs – 26.7cm Total height: Bird and pedestal – 1.64 m. The maximum breadth of the Bird is at the chest (7cm), which is expanded forward. Running down the chest is a slight ridge lined on either side by zigzag (chevron) incisions. Overall, it gives the impression of a string of diamond pat-­‐
terns. The pedestal or beam is 23 cm in maximum width (side view) and 6 cm thick (front view). On both legs, joints are marked by slight nicks with faint chevron incisions. The Bird is squatting with bent legs on a short span of chevron motif on the narrow side of the column (front). Three talons are marked on each leg. An elliptical hole is pierced through to make a distinction between the base pillar, the legs and the tail, which extends beyond the breadth of the pillar. Below the bird, on the left broad-­‐side of the pillar, there are two bands of chevron pattern, which together span a height of 8cm. The lower band of chevrons continues across the front side to the right broad-­‐side of the pillar, but it does not con-­‐
tinue to the posterior aspect, i.e. below the tail of the bird. Rather than continue the upper band of chevron on the front and right broad-­‐side of the pillar, the artist decide to place two pairs of incised discs here (a pair in each area, the broad-­‐side having much larger discs 7cm in diameter). A 40 cm long crocodile is carved in relief below the chevron pattern on the narrow front aspect and appears to be climbing the pillar. A number of details are provided: eyes, ears, long muzzle and the ‘cog wheel’ teeth. The Bird was found and removed from the Philips Ruins in the Central Val-­‐
ley by the curator of the site, Richard Hall, in 1903 (Fig. 12). It is the only specimen that was not found on the Hill Complex, and one of two that were not exported. The specimen is rated as being of refined workmanship and a reflec-­‐
tion of more creativity when compared to the other Birds. It stands out as a monument of high technical accomplishment. Bird 2 (Fig. 13) Height: head to legs – 32.1 cm Total height: Bird and pedestal – Unknown, column broken and removed in 1889. The Bird is squatting with bent legs carrying five talons each and perching on a short horizontal excised ridge (cestus). It is 10 cm at the maximum breadth at the chest. The eyes are marked by bosses outlined by a ring of bead-­‐like studs. The Bird is decorated around the neck (except in the front) by incisions, which roughly make a string of diamond patterns. The same diamond pattering is found along the crest of the head and down the spine. Wings are carefully excised and a short tail is distinctly marked. 82
Bird 1 (Photo NAZ)
Fig. 13. Bird 2
Height, head to legs: 32.1 cm
Fig. 14. Bird 3
Height, head to legs: 47.5 cm
The above description is based on an examination of the plaster cast that is at the Great Zimbabwe Site Museum. The actual specimen housed at Groote Schuur, Cape Town, was one of the first artefacts to be removed from Sacred Enclosure in August 1889 by Willi Posselt and subsequently purchased by Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia. Posselt described it as the finest of the four Birds that he found standing in the enclosure at the time. He severed the Bird from the column, finding it too heavy to carry. The column appears to have been squarish (7.5 cm x 12 cm), with the broad sides on the side aspect. ** Birds 3 to 7 were removed from the Sacred Enclosure in 1890 by Bent and at the behest of Cecil Rhodes, they were donated to the South African Museum and housed there until 1981, when they were returned to Zimbabwe**. Bird 3 (Fig. 14) Height: head to legs – 47.5 cm Total height: Bird and pedestal -­‐ 1.48 m. The Bird is plump and heavy, the column oval, approximately 48.7cm in cir-­‐
cumference and tapering to the bottom end. Its front aspect breadth is 10 cm. Its maximum breadth back to front (side profile) is 22 cm. The bird has an erect neck, sticking out vertically and tapering slightly. The wings are roughly square-­‐cut with plumage shown by parallel incised lines divided into two areas on each wing: parallel vertical lines on the upper side and oblique lines meeting below. The wings are separated from each other by an incised spinal line at the back. A short tail has oblique parallel incisions which converge on the centre in a herringbone fashion. The bird is perching on a ring carved around the pedes-­‐
tal on five and four talons on the right and left legs respectively. The pillar is more or less cylindrical, which is very much unlike that of Bird 1. The beak is broken, but projected, it would appear that it looked upwards more than any of the other Birds. The specimen is generally rated as being of crude artwork. Bird 4 (Fig. 15) Height: head to legs – 32.7cm Total height: bird and pedestal -­‐ 1.745m. This bird may be distinguished by a short panel of chevron patterns in front, above which four talons on each leg are squatting. This is the tallest of the eight birds (i.e. Bird and column). It is 10 cm in breadth at the chest. The column is flat-­‐squarish (7.0 cm x 14.5 cm), tapering very gradually to the bottom end, with the wider sides on the side aspect. Eyes are marked by bosses. The left side (side profile) of the beak is chipped, but the right side is intact. There is a spinal line, and at midsection, the wings indent to leave a diamond pattern be-­‐
tween them. The tail is distinctly pointed. Bird 5 (Fig. 16) Height: head to legs – 32.6 cm Total height: Bird and pedestal -­‐ 1.725 m. This is the second tallest Bird (Bird and column). It is 9 cm in maximum breadth at the chest. The Bird is a perching short horizontal carved ridge (ces-­‐
86
tus), with four talons on each leg. The column is flat-­‐squarish (10.0 cm x 12. 0 cm) and tapers to the bottom end. The beak is broken, eyes are bosses and wings are carved, but plain. As with Bird 4, the wings leave a diamond gap be-­‐
tween at the back. The tail is distinctly marked. A shallow depression on the right side of the Bird presents an asymmetry (left to right profile). It seems as though this was a natural deformity in the material, which the sculptor could not eliminate without significantly reducing the size of the Bird. Bird 6 (Fig. 17) Height: head to legs – 32.0 cm Total height: Bird and pedestal -­‐ 1.53 m. The Bird is standing on an oval column 44.5cm in circumference at the top end, tapering to the bottom end. The Bird is 8 cm in breadth at the chest. Eyes are marked by bosses; the plumage is marked by oblique parallel incisions, with a pair of incised discs on the right wing. There is another pair of incised discs on the column below the Bird image on the same side. Indentations on the wings make a diamond motif at the back as in Birds 2 and 5. A spinal line is bordered by lines of punctuates. The Bird appears to have been chipped at the chest and on its left side after it had been sculpted. It has 4 talons depicted on each leg. Bird 7 (Fig. 18) Length: 19.0cm (broken). This broken lower portion of a Bird without a column, apparently broken off, is 20cm tall. The column is slight oval (almost round), 30.0 cm in circumfer-­‐
ence. Breadth at the chest is 8 cm. Similar to Bird 3, it is perching on a ring ex-­‐
cised around the column, to which the legs drop straight with 3 talons on each leg. The wings appear to have been square-­‐cut with plumage marked as oblique parallel incisions. The wings are separated at the back by a vertical groove. The tail has herringbone incisions with its edge marked by a ring-­‐like ridge. Bird 8 (Fig. 19) Height: head to legs – 43.5cm Total height: Bird and pedestal 0.62 m. This is the tallest of the Birds when we consider the Bird only, without col-­‐
umn. The portion of the column below the Bird is 18.5cm. The actual Bird is thus standing 43 cm above the column. The column is oval and 41.0 cm in cir-­‐
cumference. The Bird is squatting on a ring with 5 talons on each leg. Maximum breadth is 9.5 cm at the chest. The head has distinct ridges bordered by incised lines running vertical down the front and back. Eyes are marked by incised discs with a central punctuate. This Bird is the only specimen with a complete beak, although it does not look like a bird beak. It shows lips with raised rims. Nostrils are situated on a nearly vertical slope at the end of the beak and not in the upper horizontal area, as would be expected. Owing to this strange shape and placement of the features, some scholars have speculated that this speci-­‐
men is not a bird, but some imaginary animal. However, maybe to assure us that it is a bird, wings are excised, separated at the back by a vertical groove. 87
Fig. 15. Bird 4
Height, head to legs: 32.7cm
Fig. 16. Bird 5
Height, head to legs: 32.6 cm
The tail is marked with vertical midrib. The figure depicts a stiff erect neck. Legs with five talons each dropping straight perch on a ring excised around the column. As we have seen in Chapter 2 Section II, for a century Bird 8 was broken into two parts that lived apart in Europe and Zimbabwe. The first reunion was occa-­‐
sioned by an international exhibition of Zimbabwean material in Belgium in 1998, after which the two parts separated again. They were permanently joined in 2003, after the return of the lower part from Germany. They were joined using steel epoxy, which can be reversed by introducing methylene chloride (Mahachi, G. Memo 15/09/2003) The upper portion, which remained in Zimbabwe, was found by Richard Hall in 1902 in the Royal (Western) Enclosure. Bird 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Year Height Bird + found (cm) column (cm) Decoration Provenance History 1903 26,7 164 Chevron Crocodile Discs 1889 32,1 Unknown Diamonds (column broken in 1889) Sacred Purchased by Enclosure Rhodes Groote Schuur, Cape Town 1891 47,5 148 Incisions Sacred SA Museum Enclosure 1891-­‐1981 GZ Museum 1891 32,7 174,5 Chevron Incisions Sacred SA Museum Enclosure 1891-­‐1981 GZ Museum 1891 32,6 172,5 -­‐ Sacred SA Museum Enclosure 1891-­‐1981 GZ Museum 1891 32,0 153 Incisions Discs Sacred SA Museum Enclosure 1891-­‐1981 GZ Museum 1891 19,0 min Unknown (broken) Incisions Sacred SA Museum Enclosure GZ Museum ? 43,5 62 min (broken) Incised cow 90
Central Valley Western Enclosure Bulawayo Museum until 1981 Volkerkunde Museum Germany 1906-­‐1944, Russia 1944-­‐1978, East Germany 1978-­‐ 1991, Volkerkunde Museum 1992-­‐2000
Present location GZ Museum 1981-­‐ GZ Museum Fig. 17. Bird 6
Height, head to legs: 32.0 cm
Fig. 18. Bird 7
Height: 19.0cm
Fig. 19. Bird 8
Height, head to legs: 43.5cm
Classification of the Birds Peter Garlake has attempted a typological classification of the Birds and identi-­‐
fied two groups (Garlake 1973: 120, 1982: 58). Group A comprises three Birds, 3, 7 and 8. Birds 3 and 8 are complete, while 7 is broken with the upper part missing from the mid-­‐section of the wings. These specimens have straight legs and toes that perch on a horizontal round moulding. The wings are squared up at the bottom. The complete Birds depict a neck and head looking straight up; body, neck and head grade into each other without boundaries. Group B com-­‐
prises 5 Birds, 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. One of their important distinguishing features is that they squat on bent legs. Two Birds (1, 4) have chevron patterns, while two (1, 6) have recessed discs. The Birds are also distinguished by their heads, which look forward. Original location of the Birds Currently the Birds are on display in the site museum at Great Zimbabwe. It is therefore understandable that most visitors are curious to know about the original location of the Birds. No oral accounts exist concerning the Birds before they were removed at the end of the 19th century. Thus, the closest one can get to know the original locations is to read the early accounts of those who re-­‐
moved the birds. There is, however, speculation that some Birds, especially those that came from the Zimbabwe Hill Complex, may have been moved from place to place. Regardless, it would be interesting to know what locations they occupied at any particular time. We know from the earliest written accounts that the Birds were in three separate locations and removed on four separate occasions in August 1889, 1891, 1902 and 1903 (Fig. 20). The accounts read thus: Birds 2-­7: The Eastern (Sacred) Enclosure Five birds (2-­‐7) used to be in the Eastern Enclosure, otherwise known as the Sacred Enclosure (Fig. 21). The locality has been considerably altered over the years and the description by Bent (1896: 129) at the time of their removal goes as follows:
The south-­‐western end14 of this line of ruins [on the Zimbabwe Hill Complex] was obviously a temple; it has been lately used as a cattle pen by the chief [Mugabe], but the soil has not been disturbed. On removing the soil we came across a level of cement [dhaka] floor, supported on an elaborate system of under-­‐walls filled up with large stones on which the cement floor rested, .... In the centre stood the altar, an angular structure of small granite blocks, which fell to pieces a short time after exposure to the air; when we removed the soil which had buried this altar, around it we found the phalli [conical objects made of soapstone], the Birds or soapstone pillars, and fragments of soap-­‐
stone bowls .... (Figs 22, 23). The Sacred Enclosure is the second largest of many enclosures on the Zimbabwe Hill. Its floor was originally elaborately designed with a sunken passage 94
N
MAPA
Bird 8
E
W
Birds 2 - 7
S
Eastern(Sacred)
Enclosure
50
0
100m
Scale in metres
OU
TSP
AN
R
UIN
S
ER
INN
TER
IME
PER
WALL
EAST RUINS
Mujejeje
Bird 1
MUSEUM
THE RIDGE
THE VALLEY
Chisikana
THE GREAT ENCLOSURE
Fig. 21. The Eastern Enclosure
Fig. 20. Layout map of Great Zimbabwe showing the original locations of the Birds and the
sacred sites
running from east to west and earthen altars, where the soapstone phalli and birds were planted. To the west and north it is flanked by large towering boul-­‐
ders and overlooked by a natural balcony, which lends this place its sacred aura. The substantial southern wall used to carry dentelle decoration produced by setting a row of stones like a cogwheel on a horizontal plane. Bird 8: The royal balcony facing the Western (Royal) Enclosure
According to Hall, the upper portion of Bird No. 8 was in the Western Temple, meaning the Royal or Western Enclosure (Fig. 24). This upper portion was kept at the Museum of Human Sciences (formerly Queen Victoria Museum in Harare (Summers 1963: 70).
Hall does not pinpoint the exact site within this area. When I made inquiries in the mid 1990s doing research for the book The Soapstone Birds of Great Zim-­
babwe: Symbols of a Nation, Mr Moses Magabadera15, Tour Guide, told me that the Bird had been found on a balcony overlooking the Western Enclosure. This is a semi-­‐natural platform, whose present appearance is now much changed and thus different from what it looked like at the time when the ruins were first explored, and for the benefit of the reader it is important to refer to the original description. I cannot vouch for the veracity of this account. As we have seen, the place and circumstances of the removal of the lower part of this specimen re-­‐
mains a mystery.
Bent describes the platform as follows (1896: 126-­‐127):
At the summit of the mountain are huge boulders about fifty feet high. Im-­‐
mediately below the highest is a curious little plateau which had been deco-­‐
rated by the ancient occupiers; it is approached by passages and narrow steps on either side, and a curious passage through the wall below, covered with huge beams of granite to supper the super-­‐incumbent weight . The steps on one side were made of the same strong cement, and the wall to the left was decorated with ... [a] design of stones, placed for six rows (dentelle pat-­‐
tern now missing)16, .... The little platform itself was decorated with huge monoliths and decorated pillars of soapstone, the patterns on which were on which were chiefly of a geometric character, and one of which was eleven and half feet in height (the monoliths have been removed)17. Here too were un-­‐
earthed many stones of natural but curious forms ....(Fig. 25).
The balcony overlooks the Royal Enclosure from the east. This enclosure is the largest of the enclosures on the Zimbabwe Hill believed to have been the pala-­‐
tial residence of the king. The assemblage of artefacts that have been recovered here, such as the serrated bronze spears and gold, are evidence of royal regalia. The interior of the Royal Enclosure has been altered to some degree in the last century during excavations (Douslin 1922) and a partial reconstruction of the perimeter wall (Summers 197: 4). A large earthen platform used to dominate the interior, which concealed an amazingly rich archaeological record of suc-­‐
cessive earthen floors, the building blocks of the platform. 96
Fig. 22. Layout plan of the Eastern
Enclosure showing the original
position of the Birds (Hall 1905)
Fig. 23. Cross-sectional view
of the Eastern Enclosure
(Hall 1905)
Fig. 24. View of the balcony and the covered
passage from the Royal Enclosure
Fig. 25. View of the balcony
in the 1890s, showing the
dentelle frieze (Photo NAZ)
Fig. 26. The Philips Ruins in the Valley, where
Bird 1 was found in 1903
Fig. 27. Layout plan of the
Philips Ruin (Hall 1905)
Bird 1: Philips Ruin in the Valley This Bird remained in the country on display in the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo (formerly National Museum) (Summers 1963: 70) until 1981, when it was returned to Great Zimbabwe. Some of the locality features as described by the finder, Richard Hall, no longer exist (Fig. 26). The Bird was found on the east side of a high and massive wall and the south side of a small conical tower in the northeast enclosure of these ruins, being buried in soil and block debris to a depth of 3 ft. It was upside down with the base against the side of the cone, from the summit of which most probably it had fallen, as the cone, which is approached by two steps and a plat-­‐
form18 on its east side, was covered with granite cement [dhaka] while the base of the beam bears marks of its having once stood embedded in granite cement (Hall 1905: 107) (Fig. 27).
On pp. 380-­‐381, Hall provides further details about the conical tower:
It is 6 ft. 6 in. in height, but judging from the block debris it was once much higher. At 3 ft 6 in. above the granite cement floor at its base it has a cir-­‐
cumference of 18 ft. 10 in. It is impossible to measure the circumference of its base, as a large round cement step extends between it and the south wall of the enclosure. The tower, which has a noticeable batter-­‐back, is very well built. … On the east side of this tower and built up against its east side, is a small rounded platform 3 ft. high, covered with granite cement, which is ap-­‐
proached by two steps.
How many Birds were found at Great Zimbabwe? The oldest accounts of the Birds are the writings of those who removed them, i.e. Willi Posselt, James Bent and Richard Hall. How much faith we can place on these accounts in the absence of other independent verification is an open question. The currently accepted total number of Birds found at Great Zimbabwe is eight. For now, there is little hope of breaking through the mystery of numbers. We must rely on the accounts of those who removed them, among them Rich-­‐
ard Hall (Hall 1905: 105-­‐106). He counts ten Birds, making nine complete Birds and a portion of a tenth, of which today seven and one half can be accounted for.
Here we try to follow the count. Hall states that eight Birds had been recov-­‐
ered prior to his 1902 excavations (Hall 1905: 106) (Hall subsequently found the upper portion of a Bird and a full Bird in 1902 and 1903 respectively). Hall goes on to account for the eight Birds as follows:
• “Two, it is known were taken to Johannesburg in 1890, and about the same time the lower portion of a bird was removed and sold to Mr. Rhodes … to-­‐
gether with a section of a beam upon which it once stood” (Hall 1905: 106-­‐
107). The latter specimen remains a mystery. It is intriguing how the lower portion ended up with the German missionaries. Furthermore, we speculate that Hall presumably includes the Bird removed by Posselt in 1889, although he 100
does not state so here. Effectively, however, it makes two complete Birds and a lower half bird.
• If the 1890 Birds do not include the one removed by Posselt, this would account for three and half Birds. Nevertheless, for now, we reserve this possi-­‐
bility and remain with a count of two and half Birds. • In 1891, Bent removed four Birds and the portion of a fourth (Ibid: 106) (Birds 3-­‐7). Hall adds that Bent did not discover them, as their positions were not known to the European settler prior to his visit. This makes six complete Birds and two half birds.
• In 1902, Hall found the upper portion of a Bird 8, which by his own account fitted a lower portion referred to earlier that had been moved to Johannesburg and reportedly sold to Cecile Rhodes (Hall 1905: 107) (Bird 8). The total comes to seven complete Birds and one half Bird.
• In 1903, Hall found a Bird (Bird 1) in the Valley Ruins (Hall 1905: 107). The total comes to eight complete Birds and one half Bird.
• However, if the 1889 Posselt Bird is not among those removed to Johannes-­‐
burg in 1890, we would have nine complete Birds and one half Bird. This figure tallies with Hall’s count of ten Birds.
However, the mystery does not end here; there are other missing links. Many attempts had been made to buy the Birds from Chipfunhu Mugabe, the incum-­‐
bent chief, who had refused to part with them (Hall 1905: 106). From 1889, it appears that many European parties had visited the site. Hall writes, “on the authority of early visitors, and of Mogabe [Mugabe] Handisibishe [Haruzivishe], there are still two Birds to be accounted for. Possibly the mention of them may lead to their recovery” (Hall 1905: 105). He went on to state that there was a general belief that one of the Birds had been taken to a museum in Austria, and that was likely as two Austrian scientists has visited Rhodesia (Hall 1905: 106-­‐
107).
There are several references to treasure hunters coming to the site (Hall 1905); hence the suspicion that some of the soapstone beams found in several places, including the sites where the Birds were removed, might have carried Birds. Haruzivishe received a government allowance for warning unauthorized prospectors from the site (Hall 1905: 41).
He also states that (Hall 1905: 105):
a portion of a soapstone beam 2 ft 6 in. long and 1 ft 5 in. in circumference, formed part of what is known to have been a tall and slender pillar, which was once surmounted by a Bird. This stood on the north wall of the Western Temple on the Acropolis [Zimbabwe Hill Complex], and was found in 1902. This beam is completely covered with the mostly delicately carved chevron.
101
It is not certain whether it is the same pillar mentioned in the same publication on p. 107, as the section of a beam once surmounted by Bird 8. Hall also states that there were four major localities at which soapstone beams were found:
(i)
The Great enclosure on the summit and the east and southeast sec-­‐
tions of the perimeter wall, which bears the chevron pattern, and on and around the dhaka platform situated to the north of the conical tower,
(ii)
The Royal (Western) Enclosure on the Zimbabwe Hill Complex, at the bases of the northern wall,
(iii) The Eastern Enclosure, “on the summit and at the bases of the arc wall … decorated with dentelle pattern and facing east”. The sum-­‐
mit and the bases of the main wall with decoration on and around the dhaka platform (or “altar”) within the same enclosure,
(iv)
The Philips Ruins Valley, “on the summit and at the bases of the arc wall facing east …”. Here the fragments of beams were quite nu-­‐
merous. Hall writes that some of the beams were mostly decorated with chevron pat-­‐
terns (Hall 1905: 104-­‐105). Hall also writes (1905: 105) of: a portion of a soapstone beam, 2 ft 6 in. long and 1 ft 5 in. in circumference, [which] formed part of what is known to have been a very tall and slender pillar, which was once surmounted by a Bird. This stood on the north wall of the Western Temple [Western Enclosure] on the Acropolis [Zimbabwe Hill Complex], and was found in 1902. The beam is completely covered with most delicately chevron pattern. No further details are given that can be helpful in locating the beam. Possibly it is the one in the British Museum for which a replica is displayed in the Iziko Museum in Cape Town, South Africa (Hooper pers. com).
A prohibition order had been issued and a notice erected by the Great En-­‐
closure against “digging … for curiosities and relics of any sort within the [Great] Zimbabwe Reserve”19 (Hall 1905: 3).
SECTION II: SACRED PLACES AT GREAT ZIMBABWE
In the recent past few years, the religious importance of Great Zimbabwe has come into sharp focus as a result of political developments in the country. The first development has been the historic rapprochement and unification of the two main political parties, ZANU PF and PF ZAPU, in 1987. On two occasions in 2001 and 2003, the unity day anniversary 22 December was celebrated with colourful musical performances or galas were held at Great Zimbabwe. The second development was the return to Zimbabwe of a lower portion of a Zim-­‐
babwe Bird from Germany, the handover ceremony of which was presided over by the State President. Both these events show that the state and the various 102
publics have reflected on the spiritual connection with Great Zimbabwe, and both events demonstrate growing realization that it needs to be revitalised. From an historical perspective, there is sufficient historical proof of the high-­‐level activity of the Mwari institution at Great Zimbabwe, at least in the 19th century, although some scholars have been doubtful (Mtetwa 1976: 90-­‐
114, Beach 1973: 11). Religious activities of this nature were not peculiar to Great Zimbabwe alone, as evidence shows that it was widely practiced at simi-­‐
lar sites – Khami, Manyanga, Kasekete, Dzata (South Africa) and Mapungubwe (South Africa) (Sinamai 2001). The geographic extent of reverence to Mwari generally correspond to the extent of lands occupied by the Shona and their affiliates, the Venda in Zimbabwe and South Africa and the Kalanga in Zim-­‐
babwe and Botswana. Below Mwari are territorial/clan and family ancestral spirits. In the 19th century and today the principal and most active Mwari cen-­‐
tres are in the Matobho Hills and in Vendaland (Daneel 1970). However, it appears that Mwari ceremonies continued at Great Zimbabwe despite the power shift to the Matobho, with local clanships being responsible for priestly functions as hosts to annual or seasonal ceremonies. In colonial nomenclature, Mwari is described as a cult, which carries a con-­‐
notation that it is a lesser or primitive religion. In post-­‐colonial discourse, the word primitive is avoided as it also carries bad connotations of pre-­‐civilization. I think it is better to accept that the worship of Mwari is a religion. There has been an attempt by scholars to discount claims that Mwari wor-­‐
ship was practised at Great Zimbabwe (Beach 1973, Mtetwa 1976), which runs counter to the accounts of early travellers (Mauch in Burke 1969: 216-­‐217, Hall 1905: 93-­‐94, Posselt 1924, Matenga 1998, Fontein 2006: 15). However, both Beach and Mtetwa are hailed as professional scholars who stayed clear of po-­‐
litical ideologies. Nevertheless, we cannot rule out the possibility that in the 1970s, the University of Rhodesia’s History Department was under pressure not to promote theories suggesting any connection between the African popula-­‐
tion majority and Great Zimbabwe, which had been proscribed. In my view, it would have been quite sensitive at the time to write theories of Mwari at Great Zimbabwe when ZANLA forces had had its debut military operations in the northeast of the country, marking the first successful infiltrations.
Today, the state of traditional religious practices at Great Zimbabwe shows a dichotomy between practice and the desired state. The desired state is articu-­‐
lated by local communities who lament that the voice20 of Mwari has been muted, and therefore they bemoan “the silence of Great Zimbabwe”, to borrow a phrase from Fontein (2006). The following is a brief guide to sacred places at Great Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Hill As we are now aware seven of the eight known Birds (Birds 2-­‐7 and 8) come from the Zimbabwe Hill. In 1872, Bebereke, a priest, “svikiro”, of the Nemanwa clanship told Carl Mauch about dedications performed to Mwari by the Rozvi21 at Great Zimbabwe during his childhood, perhaps in the early 1820s. The cere-­‐
mony usually lasted three days. This was prior to the arrival of the VaDuma 103
under Chief Mugabe in the 1820s. At intervals ranging from two to four years, the Rozvi overlords of the country held a post-­‐harvest ceremony (some kind of thanksgiving). A large herd of cattle was driven to the site. A high priest as-­‐
sisted by a two virgins, two young women and one man went to the top of the Zimbabwe Hill, called Nharirire yaMambo22, leading two black oxen and a heifer. The heifer was tied down and burnt alive, one oxen was slaughtered and served to the party of attendants, while the other oxen was driven down the hill, butchered its meat scattered and left to be devoured by “vultures, and thieves (magororo) and scoundrels” (Burke 1969: 216-­‐217). The priest then entered the cave, and with a prayer he poured beer. Meanwhile, the attending crowd were singing and clapping hands. The cave referred to is on the Zimbabwe Hill below the Eastern Enclosure, where Birds 2-­‐7 were located. It has been tested that by acoustic effect, words can be transmitted from the cave to the Great Enclosure. The Great Enclosure Hall reported seeing evidence of ceremonial activity in the area near the conical tower in the Great Enclosure. Both clanships of Mugabe and Nemanwa held ceremonies in the Great Enclosure, where black oxen were also sacrificed (Hall and Neal 1904: 131, Hall 1905: 259).The last recorded ceremony in the Great Enclosure was by Hall in 1904 during a drought. The ceremonies are said to have been stopped when the rains came (Hall 1905: 93, Huffman 1996). The Great Enclosure, which is called Mumbahuru23 by local people, is the largest building at Great Zimbabwe, and, as far as is known, the largest pre-­‐
colonial structure in Sub-­‐Saharan Africa (Fig. 28). Located inside this enclosure is the conical tower, probably the most intriguing monument at the site. There has been considerable speculation about its use in relation to other buildings. There are no reasonable grounds to doubt the account of the local people based on oral traditions in Great Zimbabwe’s heyday, that it was the residence of the senior wife of the king (as its name implies). This is considering that Shona ethnography also points to the influence that such a persona has on politics of the palace. It should be mentioned here that the view that the building was a girls’ initiation school (Huffman 1984) has been dismissed as most unlikely. Religious ceremonies in the Great Enclosure possibly date back to the time when the enclosure was completed and continued after the site had been aban-­‐
doned. Mijeje: The ritual entrances to Great Zimbabwe When I was Director at Great Zimbabwe, I developed a personal acquaintance with the late Mr Aiden Manwa24, known affectionately as Teacher Manwa, an elder from the clan by the same name. Mr Manwa came to my office at the be-­‐
ginning of every year seeking a permit to enter the site to perform the clan rituals which, he said, his ancestors used to do. The official position was that public ceremonies had been disallowed following a near violent incident in the 104
Fig. 28. The Great Enclosure, view
from the Zimbabwe Hill
Fig. 29. Mujejeje, sacred entrance to Great
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Hill in the background
Fig. 30. Detail of
Mujejeje
1984 between members of the feuding Nemanwa and Mugabe clans. However, the permit was granted and renewed at the beginning of every year; and we agreed that it was a secret pact between us. With the passage of time, we built mutual trust. One day Mr Manwa came to my office, and said that he wanted to take me through “the customs of the el-­‐
ders and the way they used (nzira dzavakuru) to enter the monument to per-­‐
form prayers”. He said it was good for my spiritual being as director of the site. Thus, early one morning in June 2000, I accompanied him on a ritual entry into the site. We walked barefoot along a trail rounding the Zimbabwe Hill via the north side, approaching the Valley Ruins from the eastern side. We came to a linear intrusive vein of quartz exposed on solid granite making a narrow bar ridge, situated 400 m in the eastern limits of the Valley Ruins (Figs 29, 30) Mr Manwa told me that this was a ritual entrance to the ruins. He said that there were several such “thresholds” across the trails used by people entering the site from different directions, but they did not look the same. We each brought a stone and offered prayers seeking permission to enter the site. We tapped along the length of the bar (to open the way), crossed to the other side of the bar, and tapped again backwards to shut out evil spirits. On our way out of the ruins we offered prayers in the ruins and on the Zimbabwe Hill we traced our way back and repeated the rite to open, leave the site and close the door as it were. I later read about the entrances or exits in Hall (1905: 56-­‐57) and Summers (1971: 115). Summers writes that: individuals reaching this point in the course of a journey to Great Zimbabwe would pick up a pebble and tap it along the line, meanwhile murmuring a prayer to the ancestral spirits for their aid in the coming confrontation with the authority. From this line there is a first clear view of the Acropolis of Great Zimbabwe. Chisikana spring The spring located about 300 m west of the Great Enclosure is at the head of the Chisikana stream that flows north into the Mushagashe River, now below the artificial lake, Mutirikwi. The earliest mention of the pool is by Hall (1905). A concrete sealing was introduced in the 1950s, as part of the landscaping of a golf course. Both the Nemanwa and Mugabe clanships hold the spring as sacred. In consideration of the wishes of both communities, NMMZ removed the con-­‐
crete sealing and re-­‐commissioned the spring in July 2000 in a traditional ceremony in which all three communities (Mugabe, Nemanwa and Charumbira) were represented. For Nemanwa the spring is at the centre of a founder myth, a great grandmother, “Ambuya Chisikana”. She was a young girl found sitting at the spring, her origins unknown. Nemanwa adopted, and later married her to become the “mythical” progenitor of the clan. Mugabe says the spring is where their great aunt, “Vatete” Chisina, a young girl sent to fetch water at the spring, was abducted by a mermaid, “njuzu”, never to be found again (Matenga 2000b: 15). 106
Mapa ekwaMugabe: Sacred sites of the Mugabe clanship The following provides an interesting parallel with my acquaintance with Teacher Manwa. When I was director at Great Zimbabwe I also developed a personal ac-­‐
quaintance with Mr Samuel Rufuharuzivishe25 and Mbuya26 VaZari. Samuel is the grandchild of Haruzivishe Mugabe, who supposedly “sold” a Zimbabwe Bird to Willi Posselt, and as we saw, was later to become Chief Mugabe in 1894. VaZ-­‐
ari is the territorial spirit medium of the vaDuma (“svikiro raVaDuma”). During six years, Sekuru27 Samuel and Mbuya VaZari received permits to enter the site to perform clan rituals as their ancestors used to do. The Mugabe clan was also affected by the official sanction against the holding of traditional ceremonies at the site. With the passage of time, Sekuru Samuel and I had built mutual trust. Thus, one day he came into my office and I asked him to describe the rites he per-­‐
formed on the Zimbabwe Hill. We went out of the offices located about a kilo-­‐
metre on the north side of the Zimbabwe Hill Complex. Putting his hands be-­‐
hind his back, he faced the boulders crowning the Zimbabwe Hill on the ex-­‐
treme north side and said that there under the boulders are the chiefly burials of the Mugabe clanship28. He named three individuals: Chipfunhu, Manunure and Haruzivishe29. Chipfunhu was the incumbent chief Mugabe at the time of the arrival of European settlers in 1890. Manunure was his brother, who died without leaving offspring. When Chipfunhu died in 1894, he was succeeded by his brother Haruzivishe who was chief until his death in 1928. The above provides proof of religious activity at Great Zimbabwe. Although at the present time, state policy on the holding of ceremonies at Great Zim-­‐
babwe can at best be described as ambivalent, the local communities hold the site as sacred. As we have seen, seven Birds come from one of the sacred places. However, the location in the Valley has no known specific association with ceremonies, which precludes a clear theory of the association of the Birds with sacred places.
SECTION III: THE DYNAMICS OF TRADITIONAL RELIGIOUS PRACTICES AT GREAT ZIMBABWE, C. 1250 AD TO THE PRESENT: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF CHANGE
The aim of this section is to provide a synopsis of how Great Zimbabwe as a site for traditional religious practices seems to have continuously changed from as far back as it has been known. The agencies of change have been the local communities themselves, the successive modern state systems and the ap-­‐
pointed administrative institutions. The aim of this synopsis is to show how Great Zimbabwe has constantly changed as a provenance for religious prac-­‐
tices. This brings in the issue of the soapstone Birds, which are the most treas-­‐
ured objects from the site. It seems that everything else except the physical location and the physical materiality of Birds is in a state of flux. One might want to say that the meaning of Great Zimbabwe has not been static, but chan-­‐
107
ging with time, mainly as result of social agents. It is necessary to provide a synopsis of change brought about by social actions and reactions. This takes the debate into the realm of archaeology of materiality. The past matters, in so far as it is projected from the present. This broad perspective of religion at Great Zimbabwe foreshadows my detailed discussion of the changing meanings of the Birds. As I have already stated, the temporal perspective of religious practices at Great Zimbabwe from the end of the 19th century shows Great Zimbabwe as a changing rather than static “provenance”. As a natural law, the physicality of the site does not change. Thus, there is no problem for the record to pinpoint localities that were sacred at the site (in the past), as pointed out in documents and by contemporary custodians, or as identified by local communities today. Rather hesitantly, Fontein contends that Great Zimbabwe has been des-­‐
ecrated (Fontein 2006: 89). I believe that this is not necessarily true, and I would not put it that way. In my opinion, “desacralized” or “secularized” come close to describing the dynamics of usage of site over the past century. For in-­‐
stance, when Aiden Nemanwa refers with nostalgia to mysterious human voices and sounds of cattle, sheep and goats being heard coming from the Hill in the past (Fontein 2006: 89), this must rather be interpreted as a yearning for the past, and a subconscious acknowledgement that the place still remains sacred in the minds of the local communities. Turning to aspects of the changing dimension of religious practice in the contested spaces of Great Zimbabwe, I contend that the site has largely been secularised. Yet there have also been actions to reverse this –the restoration of the spiritual dignity of the site. The movement forward and backwards can best be described as ambivalent. To take us through this theme, my narrative moves in a reverse chronology, starting from the present time. This fits in with the heritage theory that I have eschewed, that it is about how the present shapes the way in which we look at the past, rather than the way the past shapes how we look at it and ourselves. Black curators, traditional custodians, tourists and the museumification of the Zimbabwe Birds
It is important to comment on my use of racial terminology in this and the fol-­‐
lowing section, which in other parts of the world might be considered offensive. In Southern Africa, the terminology “black” and “white”, which is based on an arbitrary colour scheme, continues to be used, and in South Africa it is in the statutes. The terms are used here without the stereotypes that may be attached to them, simply to denote people of indigenous African and European descent respectively, for lack of alternative terminology. For instance, it would be inap-­‐
propriate to call the “white” Africans Europeans, because they are not Euro-­‐
peans (L’Ange 2005). As I write in 2011, seven of the eight Zimbabwe Birds are housed in a site museum at Great Zimbabwe (Fig. 31), and this has been so since 1981. 30 years ago, five Birds were returned from South Africa, and one specimen was also brought back from the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, where for many 108
Fig. 31. Great Zimbabwe Site Museum, where the
Zimbabwe Birds are displayed
end of the Valley Ruins and the views connect well with the sacred points at the site: the Zimbabwe Hill Complex to the north and the Great Enclosure to the south. Nevertheless, the Birds are now perhaps in a slightly different context of a museum collection. The site museum, opened in 1961, was re-­‐customised to receive the Birds by the addition of a semi-­‐circular gallery at the southern end of the building. The entry of object into museums is what Singh (2009: 128) has called the “museum mode”, which is: the lifting of an object from its particular context – domestic use, ritual use, courtly use, which made the object accessible and useful to a small group -­‐ and the transformation of the object into ‘art’ – desacralized, secularized, ra-­‐
tionalized; turned into heritage, fitted into the intellectual structure in which it can become meaningful or interesting to a larger group; to the public. Even as we have to come to terms with museumification of the Birds as inevi-­‐
table, at the present time the exhibitions fall far short in their interpretive ca-­‐
pacity and in creating a fitting ambience for such nationally important objects. Opportunities must therefore be explored to upgrade the exhibitions in line with acceptable minimum standards of international best practices (Discus-­‐
sions with Anders Löfgren, March 2010)30. The “museumification” of the Birds adds the youngest new stratum to the Birds’ composite provenance, which I must continue to unfold. At this stage, it is important to mention that the Birds are curated by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), charged with the responsibility to manage all items of movable and immovable heritage. A resi-­‐
dent director and team of curators maintain the site and the museum. This is a statutory duty; mindful also of international policy guidelines on best practices, and daily routine prioritizes the conservation of the objects and the site. The curators are fully aware of the sacred value of the Birds, but do not perform any rites; they keep the Birds as museum artefacts. The mechanistic practices tend to reinforce the museumification of the Zimbabwe Birds, and demonstrate the modern challenges of keeping sacred objects. Against this background, the desire to carry out religious ceremonies is at the heart of the wishes of the local communities and their perceived rights to maintain traditions inherited from an ancestral past that is not too far in the past, and hence not forgotten. However, a longstanding historical rivalry be-­‐
tween the two main local clanships of Nemanwa and Mugabe has continued to be played out in the arena of religion. The historical polarization has meant that subsequent requests to hold such ceremonies have been turned down on tech-­‐
nical grounds, with NMMZ not actually saying no, but expressing concern that the holding of ceremonies would further widen the rift between local communi-­‐
ties. This modus vivendi (Matenga 2000: 15) has tended to perpetuate the secu-­‐
larization of the site that was begun by the Rhodesian government. This is con-­‐
firmed by recent studies on the power differentials between the state agency, NMMZ, and local communities. Your Monument Our Shrine (Ndoro 2001) and The Silence of Great Zimbabwe (Fontein 2006) are charged idioms of the latent difficulties of managing religious aspects of the site. 110
Before such sweeping prohibitions against local communities were insti-­‐
gated, the spectre of competition between NMMZ and local communities had been raised in the case of the spirit medium Sofia Tsvatayi Muchini. A charis-­‐
matic woman who had brushes with the Rhodesian authorities, she came to live at Great Zimbabwe a few days before Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. To the incumbent director of the site this was noxious news, with potentially harmful effects on the tourism flow to the site (Fontein 2006: 158). However, the matter had another twist. Chief Charumbira had disowned her, fearing that she was allied with the Duma chiefs, and thus the traditional polarization between the local communities revealed itself for the first time after Zimbabwe’s independ-­‐
ence. The case of Muchini was also the first acid test for government policy to-­‐
wards traditional ceremonies at Great Zimbabwe, coming soon after the coun-­‐
try attained independence in 1980. In the political mood of the time, it seemed the Government was obliged to pay back Muchini, who prior to independence had taken part in the liberation struggle recruiting cadres and providing spiri-­‐
tual guidance to guerrillas operating in the Great Zimbabwe area. In 1974 she had attempted to settle at Great Zimbabwe in defiance of the Rhodesian gov-­‐
ernment. She was prevented and twice in 1978 and 1979 sent to prison. Re-­‐
turning to Great Zimbabwe soon after being released and a week after the first elections in 1980, she started performed cleansing rituals. She was often seen in the company of ex-­‐ZANLA guerrillas, members of the newly integrated Zim-­‐
babwe National Army who needed cleansing from the trauma of war. Senior party officials and government ministers also visited her. It was further alleged that she was involved in plans by ZANU PF to hold a cleansing ceremony at Great Zimbabwe in which material from the Rhodesian massacre site at Chi-­‐
moio (Mozambique) would be brought to be buried at Great Zimbabwe. Muchini became entangled in further controversy after allegedly inciting for-­‐
mer guerrillas to kill a local white farmer. Consequently, the government sent a force to evict her (Garlake 1983: 16, Ndoro 2005: 34). This culminated in a bloody confrontation in which a number of her followers, former freedom fighters, were killed. Muchini was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Although she was later pardoned, the scheme to restore traditional functions had collapsed.
It is probably this incident that shaped the government attitude towards the holding of traditional ceremonies. One of the Nemanwa elders said that after independence, they had also approached the Vice Prime Minister, Simon Muzenda, with a proposal that a ceremony must be held at Great Zimbabwe to “receive the country, to welcome those that had returned from the struggle, and to heal the combatants of the trauma of the war” (Aiden Nemanwa pers. com). The Vice Prime Minister agreed, but the proposal fizzled out. In his biography, Edgar Tekere, one of the founders of ZANU and a cabinet minister in the first post-­‐colonial government, said that on a number of occasions, he had proposed that the government hold a post-­‐war cleansing ceremony at Great Zimbabwe. The chiefs and spirit mediums would have presided over the ceremony and would thus restore their traditional authority, which had been stripped away by the colonial administration. The proposal had, however, received little en-­‐
111
thusiasm from government and nothing had materialised. In Tekere’s opinion, without the ceremony the country was inevitably bound on the path of political and economic dysfunction that it took from the late 1990s (Tekere 2006: 89, Fontein 2006: 158). It is important to underline that strictly speaking, Zimbabwe is a secular state. My personal observation during ten years of curatorial work at Great Zimbabwe (1994-­‐2004) was that the government policy on Great Zimbabwe in the two decades after independence was one of laissez faire or “arms-­‐length”. This was a policy of non-­‐interference, even abstention from the affairs of Great Zimbabwe. This policy tended to match with the fact that statutory implemen-­‐
tation is the responsibility of NMMZ under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Gov-­‐
ernment appearances have more often been associated with state visitations by foreign leaders. By itself government has not pronounced a clear-­‐cut policy towards the performance of religious ceremonies at Great Zimbabwe, leaving NMMZ to provide advice on the issue. While we all know that the stake of the local communities on Great Zimbabwe is hinged on the performance of reli-­‐
gious ceremonies (Matenga 2000, Fontein 2006), during my directorship of Great Zimbabwe I understood that in principle, the Government was not against such ceremonies. Its position was rather that the claims and participa-­‐
tion of local communities should not compromise the stature of the site as a national shrine. National status is obviously a meaning that has been attained and is laid over strata of historical and sacred significance, predating the birth of that nation. This brings in the issue of the old and seemingly unending clan rivalry be-­‐
tween Nemanwa and Mugabe over what we may now describe as “traditional ownership” of the site. The first traditional ceremony – bira – at Great Zim-­‐
babwe after independence was held in 1984 and presented an opportunity after many decades for the clans to replay their rivalry. On this occasion, the difficult issue was who should get precedence over the other in the protocol. The bira was a near fiasco, as the elders traded blows and hot words. On the recommendations of NMMZ, and not the government, it was deemed practical not to hold ceremonies at Great Zimbabwe. There are no first-­‐hand accounts about the public mood in 1981, when the Zimbabwe Birds were received at Great Zimbabwe. The Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe, commissioned the exhibition. Certainly no traditional ceremony was held to receive the Zimbabwe Birds. However, after the return of the Bird from Germany we notice a dramatic shift from a passive to a more proactive policy in so far as the religious significance of Great Zimbabwe in concerned. However while the state and its parastatal agent, NMMZ, appear to have im-­‐
posed a moratorium on traditional religious ceremonies by local communities, twice in December 2001 and 2003, the state through the Ministry of Informa-­‐
tion organized musical galas to commemorate National Unity Day, December 22. This is a holiday held to commemorate the rapprochement in 1987 of ZANU PF and PF ZAPU and their unification under the banner of ZANU PF. This fol-­‐
lowed a period of civil war that affected south-­‐western parts of the country. Thus unity day is a celebration of the return of peace and the peaceful coexist-­‐
ence of different ethnic groups in the country. Since the 1st Chimurenga War in 112
the 1896-­‐1897 war, the making of war and peace has always been associated with the sanction of the ancestral spirits of the land. They are consulted in order to start a war and supplications are given when hostilities end. This ex-­‐
plains the connection between Great Zimbabwe and the Unity Day music galas. However, there was a public outcry particularly from the local communities that the Unity Day galas were just musical carnivals and went against the grain of traditional religious ceremonies. Various estimates were given of the quan-­‐
tity of used condoms, which instead suggest that the event was a desecration of the site, since sex at a shrine is an unthinkable taboo. The museum gala is just one example of the modern challenges of dealing with sacred places.
The listing of Great Zimbabwe as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and its proclamation as National Monument in 1937 has elevated the site’s interna-­‐
tional profile. On the negative side, the statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), which is the badge of world heritage status, singles out architec-­‐
tural merit, and does not seem to acknowledge the critical issue of religious function and meaning in the lives of communities. The criteria of OUV betray UNESCO’s worldview, in this particular instance it demeans living traditions and reinforces the prevailing Eurocentric standards based on monumentality and aesthetics. Great Zimbabwe receives both local and international visitors and has be-­‐
come a world-­‐class tourist destination. This has not always been the case; al-­‐
though there is nothing really bad about it. Tourism is a western leisure habit, and recognizing its immense potential benefits, both public and private infra-­‐
structures continue to grow in response to prospects of improved returns in the future. However, we should not forget that in its previous use, the site was a shrine, and it was taboo for strangers (tourists) and children to visit. Now it is deemed important for young learners to visit the site to get lessons of the past to inform the present and the future.
To summarize the dialectics of looking after a sacred site and sacred object, there is a whole process of change of provenance, which unfolds from previous eras. This includes the merging of spiritual functions with state functions at Great Zimbabwe. The adoption of stone Birds as national emblems adds the state dynamic into the ritual process. The State is indeed a key and interested stakeholder. The Birds are now located in a museum and this means that their provenance has been altered, if only slightly. Conservation and the generation of conservation knowledge is one of the key priorities of NMMZ policy, whereas in the past, this was not a priority. There were no direct human threats to the site, which was tabooed and out of reach to strangers. Today, most of the visi-­‐
tors to the site are tourists, rather than worshippers. The additional ambivalent policy with a partial accommodation of religious issues and local community roles seems to be strengthening this process of desacralization.
White custodians The desecration of Great Zimbabwe was begun by the Rhodesian government and continued into the post-­‐independence period. Four themes defined the 113
Rhodesian intervention programmes: the removal of artefacts including sacred objects, enhancement of the site as a curiosity for tourism, research to generate knowledge, and incorporation of the site and artefacts into a new nationalist history of the country. As we can see above, some of these themes run through into the post-­‐Rhodesian era. Issues relating to stone Birds will be dealt with in detail in the following chapters. Traditional religious ceremonies were not allowed during the entire Rho-­‐
desian period. The Birds had been removed from the site and were widely dis-­‐
persed. Five Birds were in Cape Town; one was only vaguely known to be in Germany and presumed lost after WWII. Of the two Birds that remained in Rhodesia, one was displayed in the National Museum in Bulawayo, while a half Bird was kept at the Queen Victoria Museum in Harare. That completed the museumification of the Zimbabwe Birds and their forced removal from the sacred sites of origin.
We have already seen that during its last years the Rhodesian government came into conflict with the radical svikiro (spirit medium) moved to the Great Zimbabwe area in 1974, recognizing its spiritual importance. Rhodesian se-­‐
curity forces were guarding the site in the wake of the escalation of the liber-­‐
ation war. The secularization theme was playing out, and was inherited by the newly inaugurated Zimbabwean government in 1980. In 1972, Great Zimbabwe was transferred from the National Parks to the jurisdiction of the newly established National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia, managed under the Ministry of Internal Affairs: The Ministry of In-­‐
ternal Affairs monitored the dissemination of possible subversive literature about the site. In the 1960s, it is said that African nationalist leaders, including the late Simon Muzenda31 and Joshua Nkomo conducted a secret ceremony at Great Zimbabwe in order to receive the secret artefacts – nhumbi – with which to start the armed struggle against white Rhodesia (Fontein 2006: 106, 150-­‐
152, Aiden Nemanwa pers. com). This action carried the general but pent-­‐up beliefs among the black population about the spiritual potency of the site (to make war or peace). However, at the same time, the white Rhodesian public view of Great Zim-­‐
babwe as a curiosity, a mystery and a tourist attraction was entrenched (and the legacy has been passed on). Great Zimbabwe and the Victoria Falls were among the first places to be declared National Monuments in 1936 and 1937. In line with this programme, in 1950 Great Zimbabwe had been designated a national park of 720 hectares, in which several species of African antelope had been introduced. This fitted the underlying tourism design concept. The Park was closed in 1974, when the site was handed over to the newly established National Museums and Monuments administration. In true European tradition, research was carried out under various theoreti-­‐
cal frames to generate knowledge. The historiography of research during Rho-­‐
desia fits into two chronological phases. The first phase attempted to address the topical issue of the origins of Great Zimbabwe, which generated consider-­‐
able controversy. Not prepared to face the ire of Rhodesian public opinion dur-­‐
ing the second phase, it was safe for scholars to say Great Zimbabwe was a mys-­‐
114
tery and to concentrate on pottery sequences (Summers and Whitty 1961, Summers 1961, 1963).
At the beginning of the century, the site had been cleared of excessive vege-­‐
tation and stone debris to open it for tourists (Hall 1905), although this was not the case before. The tourism thrust justified the enhancement programmes, which saw the ruined walls in the Valley being cleared and other walls on the Zimbabwe Hill reconstructed. The Rhodesian government used the Bird iconog-­‐
raphy as the emblem for the whole period of its existence from 1923, except during ten years of the short-­‐lived Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Ransford 1971: 94-­‐95, Hubbard 2009: 109, Matenga 1998: 51). It seemed the Rhodesian state had the right to appropriate and use the imagery of the stone Birds as they wished. Chief Mugabe Mugabe’s village was perched on the summit of the Zimbabwe Hill to guard the area was closed in the beginning of the 20th century. The site’s traditional curators and residents were relocated out of the area. With this development, the voices of communities and their rights to supplicate at the site were muted. According to Richard Hall, the last sacrifice in the Great Enclo-­‐
sure of black oxen took place in 1904. At the time, there was a long drought. Hall states that the local people were secretive about the ceremony until it was over and the rains had arrived (Hall 1905: 93). The discontinuance of ceremony was one of the first deliberate steps by the white government to secularize the site. On 4 December 1893, Major Allan Wilson and his troop of thirty-­‐four men mostly from Victoria (now Masvingo) near Great Zimbabwe were annihilated by an Ndebele force while pursuing the Ndebele King Lobengula. The intention was to catch him as a trophy, or so they said. The new government wanted to use him as a bargaining chip to negotiate a quick end to the war. The fallen troops received the unusual honour to be buried at Great Zimbabwe, where the Museum presently stands (Hall 1905: 19). The settlers were creating their own shrines and composite heritage places. There are some interesting parallels between the choices of burial grounds at Great Zimbabwe with the Shona prac-­‐
tice of burying high-­‐ranking people within Zimbabwe walls (Madzimbahwe). In the event, according to the wishes of Rhodes, the remains of the Shangani in Wilson’s troops were disinterred and reburied in a prominent shrine erected in the Matobho Hills in the same precinct as Cecil Rhodes’s grave. In 1896, Rhodes had toured the Matobho Hills and had declared his wish to be buried there. Was it mere coincidence that this was the same locality in which the first Ndebele King, Mzilikazi, had also been buried? Robert Blake (1978: 109-­‐110) discusses the event: the Shangani patrol has come to be a symbol of Rhodesian history, a symbol of courage, heroism and endeavour …. No one has been in Rhodesia even for a few days can doubt the impact of Allan Wilson’s last stand. It is by far the most prominent feature in the iconography of Rhodesian history. Paintings, galore, sculptures, friezes, tapestries depict. Thee is scarcely a public building where one does not see in some medium or other the depiction of a scene which has now become semi-­‐stylized – the troopers firing from a rampart of 115
dead horses; Allan Wilson himself, taller than all the rest, shooting a Ndebele warrior with his revolver; the enemy in the background with assegai and gun.
To summarize, between 1889 and 1903, European settlers found and removed at least eight Birds, seven of which ended up in far places in museums and a private collection outside the country. It did not seem to matter at all, at least to the Rhodesian settlers, because the Birds were not sacred to them. This is the starting point of a new way of looking at and using the site. The site will prob-­‐
ably never be what it was before. The creation of new contexts and meaning involved removal and dispersal of sacred artifacts, the adoption of one of the stone Birds as state emblems, the museumification of the stone Birds, the gen-­‐
eration of knowledge, development of the site for tourism, and the desecration of the site by denying local community the right of access to hold traditional ceremonies. Pre-­colonial custodians In the 1870s, Chief Mugabe’s second village was perched on the summit of the Zimbabwe Hill Complex watching over the site (Hall 1905: 55) (Figs 32, 33). His regular residence was at Wuwuri, 10km south of the site. The history of the settlement by the Mugabe at the western boundary of the Duma area and its expansion from the Save River to the east is well-­‐documented (Mtetwa 1976, Hall 1905: 84)). Mugabe was a branch of the supra-­‐clan that recognised Mazun-­‐
gunye’s supremacy. Around the end of the 1820s, Mugabe took over control of Great Zimbabwe site driving out Nemanwa. Nemanwa used to curate the site from a village on Mutuze Hill, south of the Great Enclosure. Mugabe built a homestead on the Zimbabwe Hill to watch over the ruins. At the time of Rho-­‐
desian occupation in 1890, Bingura village, about 8km to the south, marked the border between the two clans (Hall 1905: 53). It is apparent from records that Mugabe also took with him cultural objects from the site as spoils of war. We presume that among the items taken were the stone Birds that Posselt found in the possession of Haruzivishe in 1889. In 1901, when Posselt’s brother, Harry collected the magical pot, Pfuko yaNevanji, he heard NeManwa recount who had lived at Great Zimbabwe before and that his enemy, Mugabe, had taken all the relics in his possession by employing tor-­‐
ture – cutting off women’s breasts, and putting nose reins in men’s noses. Hall says that the wooden platter with an excised crocodile image and the magical pot came from the same locality at Mowishawasha (Mupfurawasha) or Tchib-­‐
Fuko (Chipfuko) Hills. It is likely that the wooden platter and magical pot were originally stored at the Great Zimbabwe and were taken away by VaManwa during the flight from Great Zimbabwe. It was said about Nemanwa that he was “in the habit of offering up sacrifices of black oxen [in the Great Enclosure] and on each occasion used to collect and display relics taken from the ruins”. These included a “yellow metal with sharp points brought down from the top ruin, also a yellow stick about 3 ft 6 in. long with a knob on it, also a bowl and dish, by information most probably silver. The stick is now stated to be in the pos-­‐
session of the chief [Mugabe]” (Hall and Neal 1904: 157, Hall 1905: 87-­‐88). 116
Fig. 32. Chief Mugabe’s homestead
on the Zimbabwe Hill in the 1890s
(Photo NAZ)
Fig. 33. The site of Chief Mugabe’s
homestead on the Zimbabwe Hill
(2011)
Haruzivishe promised to show Posselt more objects, but afterwards professed ignorance about there being other things. It is therefore not surprising that in 2000, Fontein heard that the magical pot was associated with Great Zimbabwe and the sacred things that used to take place there (Fontein 2006: 100-­‐101, See Chapter 2 Section II).
After the fallout, the two clans were engaged in protracted rivalry and intermittent wars chiefly over the control of Great Zimbabwe. Both sides sought to forge alliances with neighbouring chiefs and European visitors alike to bol-­‐
ster their positions. As Fontein puts it, the historical rivalry between Nemanwa and Mugabe has created living history-­‐scapes (Fontein 2006), dramatized in many ways, including their praise names (zvidawo). NeManwa’s praise multiple praise titles of Shumba/Garabwe/Vamneri vakange varipo/Muguriri are full of historical metaphors32. Muguriri was a later laudatory name to glorify their military achievement against Mugabe’s people, whose limbs they had cut off. Charumbira, who has been allied with Nemanwa, is Shumba/Risipambi33, Mugabe’s totem is Moyo/Chirandu/Gono/Matake34. Matake glorifies military exploits against Nemanwa in which they had cut the testicles of their victims (Rufuharuzivishe pers. com, Fontein 2006: 20). Visiting Europeans and early Rhodesian administrators were invited to or saw an opportunity to take advan-­‐
tage of the conflicts. Mauch’s sojourn in one of Charumbira’s villages had in-­‐
itially placed him out of favour with Mugabe. Render, who lived on Charum-­‐
bira’s land, was ill-­‐disposed towards Mugabe as evinced in the conversation between him and Ndebele troops in 1872. Mauch wrote in his diary (Burke 1969: 183) that the conversation that dealt with: minor quarrels between their local chiefs [reference to Charumbira and Mugabe], in the alleviation of which Render had only to help if paid for it and to keep inhabitants of Duma (beyond Masegase [Mushagashe] a tributary of Mo-­‐
telekwe [Mutirikwe]) away from here and that he then would be free to hunt wherever he liked and would not have the tusks taken away from him, and would remain a good friend of Bengulu’s [Lobengula]. Thus, the picture of Great Zimbabwe that emerges is of a shrine whose vicissi-­‐
tudes is shaped by the ever-­‐shifting balance of power between Shona groups. It has been said that the recent history of Shona groups living around Great Zim-­‐
babwe in the 19th century provides a context for defining the ritual functions of the Zimbabwe Birds and other relics. The above shows that they were ritually important. However, it is also concrete proof that social and political actions affected the objects and the shrine even before the coming of Europeans. The theory of a static pre-­‐colonial Great Zimbabwe with mysterious voices becomes invalid once we realise that conflicts among local communities had potentially harmful effects on the integrity of the shrine. Change becomes a constant factor; what seems to vary is the scale of change. How this dynamic extend back into the past is anybody’s guess. To conclude, we will take a glimpse into the ar-­‐
chaeological past. 118
The archaeological Great Zimbabwe 1250-­1450 AD The emergence of Great Zimbabwe in the 13th century marks the earliest evi-­‐
dence of urbanism in southern Africa (Pikirayi 2001, Sinclair 2010, Manyanga et al. 2010). A circumstantial connection has been observed between the de-­‐
mise of Mapungubwe in the Limpopo valley and the emergence of Great Zim-­‐
babwe on the Zimbabwe Plateau, and even a movement of the latter’s founding population from the south has been postulated (Huffman 1996, 2007). How-­‐
ever, this remains a conjectural proposition. Whatever it origins, its rise reflects the emergence of political and social el-­‐
ites. Firstly, before such elites gained access to exotic cultural goods, they con-­‐
trolled local modes of production. In a pre-­‐industrial context, cattle and grain wealth were likely to be the primary basis of building the personal power and charisma necessary for the making of kings. Secondly, a ruler communicated with ancestral spirits to find legitimacy and mystical power to control his subjects. Both Portuguese records and Shona ethnography attest to the connection of rulers to ancestors. It is not surprising to see ritual sites within the stone walls in proximity to the king’s residence on the Zimbabwe Hill Complex. This is the location of most of the stone Birds, and in accordance with tradition. The role of rain-­‐making practices in “enhancing the ideological power and prestige of the rulers of hilltop settlements has rami-­‐
fications for understanding state formation and urban development …” (Sinclair 2010: 608). We presume that the Birds had been part of the shrine used for among other things rainmaking, and providing sacred legitimacy for the power of the rulers over their subjects. A third source of power was control of trade of goods within the state, in the sub-­‐region and with overseas nations across the Indian Ocean. The authority to exact duty on incoming and outgoing goods gave the king considerable political advantage, partly from being a source of wealth for the state. Controlled access to exotic goods such as items of personal adornment (beads), household ware (China ware) was a means of accentuating the social differentiation between ordinary subjects and the ruling elites. In other words, exotic goods were sym-­‐
bols of power and privilege. The state would have employed master artisans including stone masons, sculptors, and metal workers, handicraftsman who were responsible for the construction and furnishing of the settlement with both secular and sacred objects such as the Birds. From a gender perspective, the role of women in the development of crafts has been overlooked. In my view, it is valid to use Shona ethnography to reconstruct life at Great Zimbabwe, and to visualize women artisans responsible for the internal embellishment of houses, pottery and bas-­‐
ketry (Ellert 1984), and fully participating in religious and secular functions at the settlement. As Great Zimbabwe started to decline in the 15th century, one function ap-­‐
pears not to have been affected: the religious ceremonies. As to why the settle-­‐
ment was eventually abandoned altogether, there are many explanations. It is now agreed that there were many stress factors at play. The simplest theory is that civilizations have a predictable lifecycle; they are born and flourish, and 119
ultimately losing their momentum and fading out. As for Great Zimbabwe, it is believed that the centre of gravity shifted to the Zambezi escarpment (Abraham 1959) and to the southwestern parts of the Zimbabwe Plateau, i.e. present day Midlands and Matabeleland (Garlake 1973, Sinclair 2010, Pikirayi 1993, 2001). Environmental issues have been cited as the critical push factors. Overgrazing and over-­‐exploitation of natural resources caused environmental blight. Recur-­‐
rent cycles of drought natural to this tropical savannah region exacerbated the situation. To this, add social and political cofactors. If the community was fam-­‐
ished and pestilences set in, this was likely to cause other social instability in communities that believed in witchcraft and other omens (Matenga 1998). Recently, there has been speculation that the fall of Great Zimbabwe probably took place at the same time as the great bubonic plague descended on Europe, implying that it might have affected other parts of the world (Ishbell Hall pers. com). The Shona system of collateral adelphic succession is a recipe for bitter struggles between rival claimants in every succession event. Following this system, a young brother instead of the elder son succeeded a dead king, and when he died, the second eldest brother took over and so on. In a polygamous society, this mode of succession was complicated by the appearance in the ar-­‐
ena of half-­‐brothers. In theory, this delayed a comeback by the house of the eldest brother by several generations. With the passage of generations, the permutations became so complicated that succession blocks or “houses” em-­‐
erged. However, sometimes this worsened the situation, as there were rival claimants within the competing blocks. Thus, every succession event seemed to present an opportunity for war and secession. In 1552, Joao de Barros provided an account of wars over the control of mines. Wars of secession, insubordination and conquest form a theme that runs through Shona history from the time it begins to be covered by Portuguese documents (Mudenge 1988). In the event, Great Zimbabwe had been abandoned by 1500 AD. Exact de-­‐
tails of how the Birds were handed down through four centuries to the 19th century are unclear, as much the transition of the site from a conventional set-­‐
tlement and shrine to a shrine only at an abandoned and ruined place. The pos-­‐
sible scenarios are that as the rulers and most of the residents left, a remnant population remained to curate the shrine without regular maintenance of the site, allowing vegetation to recolonize, and the ruination of walls and the earthen structures to set in. With the passage of time, new custodians arrived in the area. The contest for stewardship of the site as witnessed in the 19th cen-­‐
tury is a dynamic that appears to be as old as the site itself. This chapter has brought out the critical issues, i.e. that the Birds have been handed down to present generations. In the last one and twenty years, the site has undergone significant changes in the way is being been used. These shifts coupled with the movement of the Zimbabwe Birds brings into focus how over time, different owners have enjoyed the privilege to choose what they want to do with the Birds and the site. The archaeology of change presented above is a successful test of the ma-­‐
teriality and it reveals the subtleties of “fixing” the meaning and significance to 120
cultural material. In Chapter 4, I will apply the same theoretical framework to explain the apparent shifting meanings of the Zimbabwe Birds and the different contexts in which meanings and significance are created, recreated and some-­‐
times altered. 121
122
4. THE MEANINGS OF SYMBOLS At intervals of between 2 or 3 or 4 years, fixed from Zimbabye [Great Zimbabwe], or from God (Mali [Mwari], or Mambo) the Balosse [Va-­‐
Rozvi] ... foregather with great numbers of cattle after harvest (that is during the month of May) at the foot of the mountain [the Zimbabwe Hill Complex] to celebrate a great feast – to sacrifice to Mali [Mwari]. – The Diaries of Carl Mauch 1872, Burke 1969: 215
When we came within site of the [Great Zimbabwe] ruins on 14 August 1889, my carriers sat down and solemnly saluted them [the ruins] by clapping hands. I may say that according to the natives, years before the Barozwi [VaRozvi] had occupied the ruins and periodically offered sacrificed there, and the place was still regarded as hallowed to the s of the great.
– Posselt 1924: 74
This chapter is divided into three sections, dealing with the creation, re-­‐
creation and shifts in the meanings of the Zimbabwe Birds. It explores the dy-­‐
namics of meaning and usage of the Zimbabwe from the perspective of compet-­‐
ing white and black political ideologies. Because they are a truly fascinating heritage, the white government and its successor black government adopted and adapted the Zimbabwe Birds in state iconography, despite each attaching mutually competing and conflicting meanings to them. As a starting point, I attempt to discern the true meaning. I used the word “true” with caution to imply function and meaning of the stone Birds at a par-­‐
ticular time, i.e. to their Shona keepers in the 19th century. The “truth” is a con-­‐
struct only valid relative to the social context in which it is situated. In the pre-­‐
vious chapter I have already shown how Great Zimbabwe as a context and provenance for social actions has changed at least since it was “discovered” at the end of the 19th century. As we confront its changing “history-­‐scapes”, we come to terms with its changing meanings, or truths. Using materiality theory in Section III of the previous chapter, I have attempted to make sense of the composite and complex meanings that emerge from continued use and reuse of the site. In this chapter, I apply the same theoretical frame to show that the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds has not been static, at least since they also were “discovered” at the end of the 19th century. I retrace the changing usage and interpretations of the Birds within a changing political environment. To-­‐
gether with the shifts that we have already seen in the meaning and usage of the Great Zimbabwe site itself, we begin to realize that we are dealing with a 123
complex matrix of ever-­‐shifting ways of and attitudes to managing heritage objects and places. In the first section of this chapter, I attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds as attested by the context in which they were found in the 19th century. It is unfortunate that the early collectors of the Birds wasted a valuable chance to ask Haruzivishe Mugabe why he was watching over the Birds. The resulting information gap has been difficult to close. In the second section I will demonstrate that oral history and ethnography have become criti-­‐
cal tools in a multi-­‐disciplinary attempt to reconstruct social behaviour at Great Zimbabwe. Section II deals with the Rhodesian adoption of the Zimbabwe Birds as one of the cultural elements incorporated in state imagery and for the legitimisation of its existence. Rhodesia created a new history-­‐scape, by which, as Bender would put it, “[settlers] attached new meaning to places, entwining them with memories, histories and stories, creating a sense of belonging”. A migrant popu-­‐
lation can also vest “new meaning, … reuse [places] literally or figuratively. Or they neglect or forget them. What is left out of the story is often as interesting as what is left in” (Bender 2002: 136). The rise of nationalism in the modern world has its historical roots in medieval Europe, which I will attempt to sum-­‐
marise below.
Section III focuses on interpretations and significance emerging in the post-­‐
colonial situation in Zimbabwe. They rest on a reclaiming of the Birds as de-­‐
served pre-­‐colonial inheritance. Sections II and III are mirror images of each other, articulating one theme, nationalism and the modern state apparatus’ subsistence on cultural capital. SECTION I: THE MEANING OF THE BIRDS TO THEIR SHONA KEEPERS Archaeology, oral traditions and ethnography While it is accepted that Great Zimbabwe is largely an archaeological site, it is unfortunate that this has been used by scholars to reject oral traditions con-­‐
nected with it. The main criticism against oral traditions is that they tend to have a shallow time depth. Oral memory is thought to be relatively short and rarely able to capture events beyond three generations, one of the weaknesses cited being “telescoping”, i.e. projecting events too far into the past (Beach 1994: 248). It is also argued that oral traditions are malleable; i.e. it is easier to alter an orally transmitted text than it is to tamper with a written document. It is my view that documents may also be altered, recycled and fed back into ex-­‐
isting texts in the same way as oral traditions (Beach 1994: xvii, 247-­‐248). Commenting on this denialism, the late historian, professor David Beach la-­‐
mented that during the early days of occupation, a countrywide oral tradition exercise did not cover the Victoria Province (now Masvingo Province), where Great Zimbabwe is located (Matenga 1998: 13). In my view, this was one of the great tragedies that will forever haunt Zimbabwean historiography, since it 124
explains why the “mystery” myth about who built Great Zimbabwe persists (see Section II in this chapter). Similarly, the use of ethnographic analogy to solve archaeological puzzles has been received with scepticism. The premise of such analogy is an assump-­‐
tion that social practices of present communities can inform us about the way of life of past communities, if it can be established that there is an unbroken historical continuum. Some scholars have argued that such historical recon-­‐
structions are flawed, because it is difficult to measure the rate of social change and to detect possible intrusive elements in order to accurately calculate the trajectories from an unknown past. It is my view that in the absence of firm oral traditions for reasons that have already been discussed above, ethnographic analogy is the closest that we can come to reconstructing the story of Great Zimbabwe.
Because of the changing nature of the archaeological discipline from being focused only on the past, it is to a certain extent including a contemporary point of departure. The following reconstruction of the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds relies heavily on oral and ethnographic data, given that the aspect of meaning was scarcely given attention by those who removed the Birds in the first place, when an excellent opportunity was lost. We cannot afford to waste another opportunity. Theoretical assumptions on function and meaning of the stone Birds It is a reasonable assumption that the function and meaning of the stone Birds lie in the realm of religious ceremony at Great Zimbabwe. If this is to narrow the field of speculation, how else can we explain objects without any apparent utilitarian purpose? In Western ideology, the motive of art is often postulated as art for its own sake or for the aesthetic pleasure of the artist. This view was originally proposed in respect of the San rock art of southern Africa (Vinni-­‐
combe 1972). However, theoretical understanding of African cultural objects (which might not be works of art in the Western sense of the word) has since shifted to explore social and cosmological meanings. If the functional hypoth-­‐
esis proposed above is accepted for now, I will proceed to give a background to the structure of traditional religion in Zimbabwe. Religious practices at Great Zimbabwe There are at least three types of supernatural beings that are hierarchically ordered, starting with Mwari, also called Musikavanhu (Creator of human be-­‐
ings), and descending to Mhondoro (territorial) spirits, and finally, to the an-­‐
cestral or family spirits (vadzimu). The following description of Mwari is given in one of the earliest sociological works on the Shona (Bullock 1927: 123-­‐124): [H]e is the high God of the Cosmos, ordering in its course, which is one be-­‐
nevolent to man, until some man or woman commits and act such as incest (as they know it) contrary to natural law, when, in his anger, Mwari may af-­‐
flict men with pestilence, or cause the crops to be scorched by the sun and withhold his life giving rain. 125
It is then that the Mashona [Shona people] remember their god; …. The rain comes from on high. Without it they cannot live, and, when it fails, they turn to their god, bringing their black cattle for sacrifice, and the Chiefs, daughters for consecration to his service, and their supplications for a revelation as to the cause of his wrath, and for direction as to the expiation or appeasement demanded. There are references to the reverence of Mwari and ancestral spirits in Portu-­‐
guese documents from the 16th century. Subsequently, European travellers who were interested in the subject matter have left insightful accounts on the nature of African religion (Mauch 1871, Selous 1893, Hall 1905a). The adoption of Mwari in Rhodesian and later Zimbabwean nomenclature that also refers to the biblical Christian God need not confuse us here (Bullock 1927: 124). Mhondoro are regarded as the territorial spirits of deceased royal ancestors and have territorial jurisdiction. Below them are ancestral spirits (singular: “Mudzimu”, plural: “Midzimu”), i.e. spirits of immediate ancestors. These may further be ranked into higher-­‐order clan spirits and lower-­‐order family guard-­‐
ian spirits. It is important to qualify that in some cases, as Bullock noted, there is no distinction between the Mhondoro spirit and the clan spirit (Bullock 1927: 127-­‐129). Bullock also noted that Mhondoro spirit mediums operated from a “Zimbahwe” (variant pronunciation of Zimbabwe). It is important here to explain the literal meaning of the word Zimbabwe and the metaphors associated with it. In the literal sense, the word denotes a residential building of stone walls. We know from oral history and early Portu-­‐
guese documents that such places were built for and reserved for kings and chiefs. Because these people were buried in stone walls, royal burials came to be referred as a “Zimbabwe” to denote their status. By extension, the metaphor also referred to high-­‐ranking burials, even where there were no stone walls. Mwari and Mondoro spoke through the mouths of their mediums at “Zim-­‐
babwe”. This brings us to subject of religious ceremonies at Great Zimbabwe.
There is sufficient historical proof of a high-­‐level activity of the Mwari insti-­‐
tution at Great Zimbabwe (Mauch (1871) in Burke 1969: 215-­‐216, Hall 1905a). Possibly, also, according to oral traditions, the Mhondoro spirit of Chaminuka was at one time based at Great Zimbabwe (Beach 1973: 11). Most scholars and oral authorities agree that by the end of 19th century, the main Mwari centres were located in the Matobho Hills in southwestern Zimbabwe (where they still operate today) and in Vendaland (Blake-­‐Thompson and Summers 1956: 56). To understand what was happening at Great Zimbabwe, it is necessary to follow the early accounts of European visitors. The German explorer Carl Ma-­‐
uch heard from Bebereke, the priest of the Nemanwa clan, that the Rozvi used to come to offer sacrifices to Mwari in a ceremony that lasted three to four days. According to this account (Burke 1969: 215-­‐215)35,
At intervals of between 2 or 3 or 4 years, fixed from Zimbabye [Great Zim-­‐
babwe], or from God (Mali [Mwari] or Mambo), the Balosse (VaRozvi) ... fore-­‐
gather with great numbers of cattle after harvest (that is during the month of May) at the foot of the mountain [the Zimbabwe Hill Complex] to celebrate a 126
great feast – to sacrifice to Mali [Mwari]. Such a feast generally last 3 days and is connected with sacrifices. At the appropriate time the high-­‐priest ap-­‐
pears with his helpers, 2 virgins, 2 young women and 1 man. Silently, greeted by all with clapping of hands, he walks through the crowd ... and proceeds to the mountain top. 2 Oxen and a heifer all black and without blemish, are driven behind him. On arrival on the top, the heifer is laid on a pile of fire-­‐
wood, tied down and burnt alive. One ox is slaughtered and consumed. The other, however is taken away and driven down the mountain slope and killed a distance away from the mountain. After the pieces have been scattered in all directions, its meat is left to the vultures and thieves (magororo) and scoundrels. ... The officiating priest enters the cave where the pot is and pours beer over it and prays (pila).
In 1889, Willi Posselt (1924:74) also observed the ritual respect accorded to the site by his helpers:
When we came within site of the ruins on 14 August 1889, my carriers sat down and solemnly saluted them [the ruins] by clapping hands. I may say that according to the natives, years before the Barozwi had occupied the ruins and periodically offered sacrificed there, and the place was still re-­‐
garded as hallowed to the spirits of the great.
Richard Hall, who spent two years exploring the site, was intrigued by the fear of his native assistant to enter the Great Enclosure at night (1905a: 19):
My native boy is disinclined to follow me to the temple [Great Enclosure], but after bargaining with him for an Isi-­‐hle (present) he at last grudging con-­‐
sents. He mutters something about the place being bewitched, that there are many horrid things there, and alludes to the M’uali, [Mwari] the chief spirit of Makalanga [Shona] awe and dread; but as within the two years’ residence at Zimbabwe I have only discovered two natives, and these elderly men, who would willingly go into any ruins, especially the temple, after darkness had settled down, I am not at all surprised at his reluctance to follow me there.
Early European observers ignorant of local religious taboos referred to areas with such sanctions or prohibitions as “bewitched”. This ignorance about Afri-­‐
can religious beliefs seems to permeate even earlier accounts. In one of the most detailed Portuguese reference to Great Zimbabwe in 1552, Joao de Barros stated that the local people were ignorant as to who had built it and believed it was the work of the devil. The account reads as follows (Cited in Garlake 1973: 52-­‐54, italics mine): There are other mines in the district called Toroa, which by another name is known as the kingdom of Butua, which is ruled by a prince called Burrom, a vassal of Benomotapa [Munhumutapa], which land adjoins the aforesaid con-­‐
sisting of vast plains, and these mines are the most ancient known in the country, and they are all in the plain, in the midst of which there is a square fortress, masonry within and without, built of stones of marvellous size, and there appears to be no mortar joining them. The wall is more than 25 spans in width, and the height is not so great considering the width. Above the door of this edifice is an inscription, which some Moorish [Arab] merchants, 127
learned men, who went thither, could not read, neither could they tell what the character might be. This edifice is almost surrounded by hills, upon which are others resembling it in the fashioning of the stone and the absence of mortar, and one of them is a tower more than twelve fathoms high.
The natives of the country call these edifices Symbaoe [Zimbabwe], which in their language signifies court, for every place where the Benomotapa may be is so called; and they say that being royal property all the king’s other dwell-­‐
ings have this name. It is guarded by a nobleman, who has charge of it the manner of an alcaide, and they call this officer, Simbacayo, as we should say keeper of the Symbaoe; and there are always some of the Benomotapa’s wives therein, to whom this Symbacayo takes care. When and by who these edifices are raised, as the people of the land are ignorant of the art of writing, there is no record, but they say they are the work of the devil, for in comparison with their power and knowledge, it does not seem possible to them that they should be the work of man.
To think that it was the work of the devil should not surprise us, coming as it did from Arab observers and the European chroniclers, men of the Islamic and Christian faith respectively, as any such strange phenomenon was likely to be attributed to evil spirits. Furthermore, the account reveals that by that time, although the site had been abandoned, a nobleman or keeper guarded it. In my view, the keeper in question was possibly referring to the priest of Mwari, which would render this account the earliest possible reference to religious activity at Great Zimbabwe. Now let us carefully examine the story of the stone Birds in the 19th century.
Chief Mugabe’s brother, Haruzivishe kept the Birds within the walls and did not want to part with them (Posselt 1924, Hall 1905a). Furthermore, we learn that Nemanwa said that Chief Mugabe had employed torture to get Nemanwa’s peo-­‐
ple to hand over some of the objects that he used to display during functions at Great Zimbabwe. This provides an interesting angle and reveals the context in which the stone Birds were used. We also learn that Mugabe maintained two villages, his regular residence 10 km away and another village perched on the summit of the Zimbabwe Hill to watch over the site. We also note that the control of Great Zimbabwe was fero-­‐
ciously contested with both Mugabe and Nemanwa seeking to forge alliances with neighbouring chiefs and European visitors alike to bolster their positions. Mauch’s informant, Bebereke, a high priest of Nemanwa, stated that his father had been stabbed by Mugabe and died before he could disclose the secret lo-­‐
cation of hidden objects removed from Great Zimbabwe before their flight from Great Zimbabwe (Burke 1969: 185, 216). Bebereke said that “his heart was burning to regain his country once more, with Zimbabye [Great Zimbabwe] the heritage and sanctuary of his fathers as the centre” (Burke 1969: 186). What was so special about Great Zimbabwe, a place that had been abandoned, ruined and overgrown with vegetation, to warrant these wars and alliances? The re-­‐
nowned historian R. G. Mutetwa thought the standoff was over land (Mtetwa 1976: 187), a view that was also shared by the Rhodesian Administrator Sir John Willoughby in 1892 (Willoughby 1893: 6). In my view, the dispute was not about land per se; the real cause of conflict was control of Great Zimbabwe, 128
which further attests to the importance of the site as a shrine and the objects found there. Now that we have seen that the place was a shrine and the objects were an important part of that context, I can move on to discuss sacred places at Great Zimbabwe in relationship to the position of the stone Birds.
Towards an interpretation of the Zimbabwe Birds Public and ritual space at Great Zimbabwe
It has been demonstrated that space is a metaphoric idiom that expresses social structure and ritual order, and models of expressive space have been tested at Great Zimbabwe. The spatial organisation of the Shona rural homestead today may be a microcosmic mirror of the spatial dynamics that used to permeate life at Great Zimbabwe, in terms of social dynamics of hierarchy , e.g. separation between ruler and ruled, male and female, sacred and secular (Huffman 1981, Jacobson-­‐Widding 1999, Mahachi 1991, Matenga 1998). Spatial symbolism uses both vertical and horizontal space. One way of representing social structure is spatial demarcation or distinction, and it is inherently human to conceive and use space in this way. Space has no substance until it has been divided. As re-­‐
sult, space lends itself to models of social structure, especially when that struc-­‐
ture has opposing components (Jacobson-­‐Widding 2000: 71). The spatial arrangements at Great Zimbabwe seem to have been largely de-­‐
termined by the desire of the rulers to meet a wide range of social and political needs. Separate domains were allocated to different groups in the hierarchy. Spatial distinctions made use of both vertical and horizontal dimensions. Sepa-­‐
rate areas were allocated to the king, his wives and children, the nobility (ma-­
chinda). Equally important a location had to be set aside for the guardian spirits of the land. As I have said, this hypothetical structure has been the subject of many literary works, of which Huffman 1981, 1984, 1996 and Mahachi (1990)’s theses may be cited in this particular case. These studies have drawn on ar-­‐
chaeological evidence, Shona oral traditions and ethnographic analogy. Today, on a micro-­‐scale, a typical Shona homestead has been seen as continuing to exemplify the domestic organisation of space.
A traditional Shona dwelling is a round building with a conical grass-­‐
thatched roof and serves as both the kitchen and living room (Matenga 1993, Huffman 1981, 1984, 1996: 134). The Shona house is divided into a public area and a sacred area, in which the front/back dichotomy is used respectively for spatial distinction. The male members of the household turn right to sit on a raised bench, while the space for female members is reserved to the left on the floor. The two areas together constitute the secular domain of the house. The rear section of the house, furthermost from the entrance, also has a bench plat-­‐
form, sometimes with dimple depression, where the large pots are put. The bench is called chikuva, which literally translate into diminutive for grave, i.e. small grave. This area is sacred, the abode of the ancestral spirits, and the guardians who protect the family. The back/front is an important aspect of Shona spatial ideology. When a member of the family dies, the body lies in state on the chikuva, the small grave, awaiting burial on the following day. In this ritual, the deceased is given to the ancestors and he crosses boundaries; he/she 129
is offered to the world of ancestor spirit, thereby also becoming a guardian spirit. The rite of passage is expressed by this back/front opposition, which we see on a large scale at Great Zimbabwe. That the king (mambo) lived on the Zimbabwe Hill Complex is beyond ques-­‐
tion. This is confirmed by Shona oral traditions, for which the Hill Complex is Nharirire yaMambo (literally the king’s observation point, but figuratively re-­‐
ferring to the king’s palace). The presence of the king in the Western Enclosure is also confirmed by the occurrence of objects of political ceremony, such as the serrated bronze spearheads and double iron gongs. The king’s residence in the Western Enclosure occupies the front in relation to the main ascents/exits to the Hill Complex that lie to the west and south. The miniature conical towers and the many decorated and undecorated monoliths that used to stand on the perimeter walls of this enclosure represent a genre of symbols that have been called “phallocentric” ) (Jacobson-­‐Widding 2000, Matenga 1993), and these are the qualities that signify royal potency. A Portuguese visitor to the Munhumutapa court in the immediate post-­‐
Zimbabwe era observed that the king’s residence was situated on the highest place. The symbolic relationship between a high place and royalty finds expres-­‐
sion in the Shona proverbial euphemism that “the mountain has fallen”, when referring to the death of the king. Consistent with this spatial model, the West-­‐
ern Enclosure was a public and secular space, where the king held audience with senior advisors and entertained important visitors. It stood in contrast with the rear position of the Eastern Enclosures, the abode of the guardian spirits of the state. The spiritual significance of the eastern section of the Hill Complex is further attested to by the presence of the towering granite boulders and a cave. The spectacular rock formations and walls form a complex maze of enclosures, passages and shelters, and together they would have enhanced the ambience of the place as sacred haunt of the guardian spirits. It is no wonder that six Zimbabwe Birds stood there in the largest of the Eastern Enclosures, the Sacred Enclosure. This made it the holiest spot on the entire settlement and it is still regarded by the local people as such, in conjunction with the acoustic cave, which is located behind it. On a local scale, the king’s residence in the Western Enclosure was also or-­‐
ganised in a back/sacred and front/secular order, as there was a semi-­‐artificial balcony, on which at least six monoliths and stone Birds were erected and small tower or turret built. The placement of the seventh Bird found on the Zim-­‐
babwe Hill within the limits of the king’s palace points to the need for a small altar, “chikuva”, in close proximity to the king’s regular residence. Now that we have established that the Birds were located in sacred places, we must go further to establish what they represented. The Birds have pre-­‐
sented a fertile field for academic speculation. In Section II, I discuss in detail the colonial frame of interpretation and the political factors behind some of the spurious claims. As one researcher has observed, the stone Birds have pro-­‐
voked the most intense scholarly interest after the stonewalled themselves (Hubbard 2009: 111). Professor Tom Huffman, who has undertaken ethnological research on the site, is of the view that the Birds probably marked royal enthronements. The 130
seven Birds located on the Zimbabwe Hill would therefore have represented a succession of regimes, symbolising the mediatory roles they played between the people and the spirits of land. Huffman thinks that the seven Birds from the Hill are likely in keeping with numbers of royal successions over a period of between 150 and 200 years (Huffman 1987). In this hypothesis, we have to find an explanation for the stone Bird that is located in the Valley. Perhaps it marked the decentralisation of power or ritual ceremonies, or the king himself possibly relocating to the Valley area (Matenga 1998: 70). This view is supported by the finding in the Philips Ruin (Site of Bird 1) of the only known blue-­‐on-­‐white Chinese porcelain dating to the 16th century, the youngest date so far for Great Zimbabwe (Collett et al. 1992: 157). Peter Garlake, another authority on the site, discusses the Birds under the heading of symbols and says that they “were not intended to be more than ‘ideograms’, conventional statements of a generalised avian theme” (Garlake 1973: 121). Writing again nine years later, Garlake was somewhat noncommit-­‐
tal, arguing that “it is not certain whether the sculptures are, in fact, are birds at all or supernatural composite creatures of mythology” (Garlake 1982: 57).
Birds and Shona cosmology There has been much scholarly speculation about what type of bird is repre-­‐
sented in the soapstone images. The following have been proposed: Common name Shona laguage Scientific name Reference Vulture Gora Gyps africanus Bent 1896 Hawk Rukodzi Hieraaetus Bent 1896 spilogaster Parrot -­‐ Psittacines Rhodes (Hall 1905b) Crowned horn-­‐
Mbudzi kukuma Tockus albotermi-­
Summers 1963 bill natus Fish eagle Hungwe Heliaeetus vocifer Summers 1963 Bateleur eagle Chapungu Terathopius ecuada-­ Matenga 1998 tus Lightning bird Shiri yedenga Mythical bird Arnold 1981 We must now screen these candidates and by elimination, we may possibly unlock the mystery of the Zimbabwe Birds. The first three birds rise to promi-­‐
nence in the early Rhodesian literature and the objectives of the myth-­‐making are discussed in detail in the next chapter. In what appears to be a casual re-­‐
mark, Roger Summers recalled the appearance of the crowned hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus) while he was excavating at Great Zimbabwe in 1958 and heard its loud cry, and thought that this was the Zimbabwe Bird (Summers 1963: 71-­‐
72). The Shona call this bird “Mbudzi Kukuma”, which means “goat bleating”, an apt description of its cry. The bird has no known significance in Shona cosmol-­‐
ogy.
131
It is interesting to compare the above list with the inventory of birds that appear in Shona cosmology: Common name Shona name Scientific name Context Crowned plover Hurekure Vanellus coronatus Witchcraft Owl Zizi Tyto alba or Tyto cap-­ Witchcraft ensis Fish eagle Hungwe Heliaeetus vocifer Totem bird Helmeted guinea Hanga Numida mileagris Totem bird fowl Bateleur eagle Chapungu Terathopius ecuadatus Divine messeger Lightning bird Shiri yedenga Mythical bird Lightning bird The art historian Marion Arnold once proposed that the Zimbabwe Birds could have been mounted at Great Zimbabwe to repel lightning (Arnold 1981: 26-­‐40). This notion is based on the widespread belief among the Bantu people of southern Africa, including the Shona, that lightning takes the physical form of a bird. This belief is more elaborate among the Venda living on the boundary of Shona territory in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Venda mounted images of birds on top of their houses to mislead the lightning bird. During its speedy descent, the bird would be deceived into confusion when seeing its own image, and thinking that he was already there, he would not visit that house, but would continue in his flight.
The Shona variant of the lightning myth is that it is a vicious bird, one of the deadly birds in the armoury of a witch. When it strikes a homestead, it deposits eggs that will direct a future repeat strike. Therefore, if a homestead is hit by lightning, a traditional doctor is hired to remove the eggs. The Shona also be-­‐
lieve that lightning can take the form of a sheep. Legend has it that those who have the power to harness this potent energy would sometimes challenge their opponents to a showdown at the onset of the rain season, implying that they would send down a thunderbolt. The Shona take different precautions against lightning: people should not wear red clothes or indulge in laughter or other actions that cause excitement during a thunderstorm. There is thus little evi-­‐
dence in Shona ethnography to connect the Zimbabwe Birds with a scheme to create protection against lightning. I am thus content to observe that the above suggestion is a possibility that still lies in the broad realm of speculation that has characterised the debate on the Zimbabwe Birds.
It is an interesting paradox that while Richard Hall (1905a) had much to say about the vulture or hawk and the zodiac of Denderah, the bird that perched crown of ancient Egypt, he was also made aware of the universal respect ac-­‐
corded the Bateleur eagle (Chapungu) as he describes it as (1905a: 91): The principal bird of local reverence is the Harahurusei (Bird of God), which is the chapungo [chapungu], a large and beautiful bird, quite black except its tail, which is red. The peculiarity of the bird is that it soars overheard exactly as does a bird of prey. The natives assert that the nest, eggs, or feathers of this bird have never been found by anyone, nor do they know on what food it 132
lives. A native will not proceed on a journey in front of him, but will at once return home. Natives hail the bird and ask for favours.
The bateleur eagle, now a rare and endangered raptor species, is a divine mes-­‐
senger interceding between Mwari and ancestral guardian spirits, and the living (Fig. 34). It is a remarkable bird distinguished by a red face, beak and legs, black wings that are white underneath, spanning about 1.75m. Mates pair for life, using a single nest for several years. The bateleur preys on snakes, birds, mice, small antelopes and carrion. It occurs throughout sub-­‐Saharan Africa. Huffman mentions the religious imagery of the bateleur eagle – Chapungu -­ and its role as a messenger of God and ancestral spirits (Huffman 1987: 18, 1996: 134-­‐135). He also speculates that the six Birds found in the Eastern En-­‐
closure may be “commemorative stones” representing a succession of royal enthronements, or six important ancestors who lived before Great Zimbabwe was established (Huffman 1987: 18). Throughout Shona and Venda territories, the latter extending across the Limpopo River into South Africa, the bateleur is a patron of the sacred day, Chisi, observed every week, on which day people are obligated to rest. Franklin states, "should a bateleur perch on a tree and utter its cries to a person near, it betokens danger" (Franklin 1933: 122-­‐124). The appearance of this portentous bird was a premonition for Matabele raids, and attacks by lions, leopards and snakes. Writing in 1927, Bullock had gathered that bateleur eagles were royal messengers. In ancient times, a claimant of the Zvimba chieftainship in northwest Mashonaland went to the Rozvi capital to present his case, and was flown back to his people in the beak of a bateleur (Franklin 1933: 122-­‐124).
The ominous appearances and postures of the bateleur as a divine warning or premonition for danger or disasters is a conventional belief among the Shona (Hall 1905a, Matenga 1998: 73), as well as its role as a royal messenger (Bul-­‐
lock 1927). These beliefs are extant; during the liberation struggle, the appear-­‐
ance of a bateleur was held in awe as foretelling Rhodesian air attacks. The bateleur’s divine persona is said to manifest itself in its behaviour in nature, its characteristic gliding for long distances, very rarely sweeping its wings; it is also very rarely seen perching. During the Zimbabwe liberation war in 1970s, ZANLA guerrilla units oper-­‐
ated in close consultation with spirit mediums, masvikiro. It is an unthinkable taboo to shoot at the chapungu in rural areas of Zimbabwe, since it is a pro-­‐
tected species. Now we must examine the stone carvings and make sense of other associated features. Bird 1 has a crocodile carved creeping below the pillar on which it perches. This brings in another interesting aspect of Shona religious ceremonies. The crocodile is a recurrent theme. In nature, it shelters in deep perennial pools, regarded by the Shona as the sacred havens of guardian spirits and mermaids (njuzu). In Shona and Venda cosmology, the crocodile is associated with chiefly or royal personages and male potency. In Shona traditions, it features in the Shona fertility complex surrounding the institution of kingship and paramount chief-­‐
taincy. In the Munhumutapa traditions of the 16th-­‐17th centuries recorded by the Portuguese, during royal succession the heir-­‐apparent slept 133
Fig. 34. Bateleur Eagle
do impossible things. Indeed, in the imaginations of their subjects the supposed courage of the king to come to terms with such bizarre sexual acts demon-­‐
strated strength of will and would enhance their political charisma, which was a hallmark of sacred kingship. Chief Mutasa, whose land is north of Mutare, allocates districts, matunhu, to his sisters. The female incumbents who become sub-­‐chiefs are not allowed to marry, and should they bear children, these become the symbolic children of Chief Mutasa. In this example, the "royal incest" is symbolic rather than real (Jacobson-­‐Widding 2000). There is a variant of incest that may be called "magical incest", divisi (Jacob-­‐
son-­‐Widding and Van Beek 1990: 54-­‐56). In this furtive practice, a man under the instruction of a traditional doctor commits incest with his daughter in order to bring forth an abundant harvest. This was and still is a punishable offence under Shona customary law. To return to the crocodile imagery, we can reasonably infer from the above that the crocodile is a symbol of royal potency. This is further attested by Shona traditions claiming that on the installation of a new Rozvi chief, he was required to eat food cooked with the stones taken from the stomach of a male crocodile. The aspiring candidate was charged with catching the crocodile himself, indeed an assignment fraught with danger. The combination of the Bird and crocodile imagery on the Bird with chevron pattern underlines the relationship of the rulers and the guardian spirits. The rulers sought legitimation from the guardian spirits and the spirits influence the affairs of the state.
A crocodile motif is also carved in relief on one of the four divining dice called hakata. This piece is called chirume, which means male. The earliest re-­‐
cord of the use of hakata is in respect of the martyrdom of the Portuguese Ro-­‐
man Catholic priest Father Gonçalo da Silveira at the court of Munhumutapa in 1561. Silveira was a Jesuit zealot who converted a number of people, including the son of Munhumutapa, to the Christian faith. Because Silveira was becoming increasingly popular at the court, the Arab traders were jealous and stirred up ill feeling, leading Munhumutapa to investigate him. A Portuguese account (Ellert 1984: 21, Beach 1980. 93, 123) of what happened reads as follows:
the n'angas, the greatest sorcerers in the land, who forecast the future by means of four sticks -­‐ told him (the Monomotapa) that the priest (Silveira) had been sent by the governor of India ... to spy out the land.
It was on the strength of the hakata throwing that Father Silveira was convicted of treason and killed, and his body thrown into the crocodile-­‐infested Musengezi River. This set of divining objects is still used by traditional healers and diviners today. The objects are usually made of wood, but bone and ivory are also used. The names of the four are chirume (male), kwami (female), nhokwara (good luck), and chitokwadzima (bad luck). Chirume is represented by a crocodile, and is an expression of sexual potency. The close relationship between sexual po-­‐
tency and royalty remains a key aspect of Shona ideology of power. 135
The chevron patterns incised below Bird 1 is a ubiquitous motif executed in stone masonry at several zimbabwe sites, including Great Zimbabwe, which boasts the longest frieze (72m long). It is a ritual decoration also occurring on a wide range of household items, such as beadwork on women’s aprons, pottery and woodwork and on gourds (Ndoro 1991, Jacobson-­‐Widding 2000: 72, Bent 1896). While travelling through the country in 1891, Bent came across many household items, mostly wooden ones bearing the chevron pattern that he il-­‐
lustrates in his book. They include divining dice, long handled gourds, a mortar, a bowl and a pot (Bent 1896: 38-­‐42, 47). Even today, it decorates the interior and exterior of pole and dhaka houses in the rural areas of Zimbabwe.
The wooden platter discovered in a cave near Great Zimbabwe in the 1890s, which we now believe to originally have been kept at Great Zimbabwe, has a crocodile excised on its base (Hall and Neal 1902: 141, 148).). The possible identification of the Zimbabwe Birds with chapungu gives credence to my cent-­‐
ral theory of their use in connection with religious ceremonies. Moreover, what comes into mind are the sacrifices to Mwari in connection with rainmaking in October before the onset of the rains and postharvest thanksgiving – maguta – in May. While the chapungu theory has taken central position, it is important to keep the field of interpretation open to other competing views, especially the counter proposition that the Zimbabwe Birds represent the African fish eagle (Shona: Hungwe), which is a totem bird -­‐ “mutupo”. Its first general mention was by Summers (1963: 72), while its first appearance in connection with Great Zimbabwe is not in connection with totems, but as Shiri yaMwari (God’s Bird). According to an oral tradition collected by Professor D. P. Abrahams, the Rozvi worshipped Mwari and the Mhondoro spirit of Chaminuka at Great Zimbabwe until the Nguni invasions in the 1830s. The medium of Chaminuka operated in the Eastern Enclosure, interpreting “the squawkings of the Hungwe, Shirichena [white bird, which refers to its collar], Shiri yaMwari – The celestial bird Fish Eagle, the Bird of Bright Plumage. The Bird of Mwari, on its annual visit to the shrine, as pronouncement of the deity” (Abraham 1966: 35). It is important to describe in detail the anatomy and social function of Shona totemism. Major works on the Shona have recognized the value of totems in giving individuals a sense of belonging to a group (Bullock 1928, Fortune and Hodza 1979, Beach 1980: 65-­‐66, 328-­‐329, Beach 1994: 6, 279-­‐281, Matenga 1993, 1998). Socio-­‐ethnic classification by totems seems to be a unique trait of the Shona, and is not found among other African groups in southern Africa, except the Venda (Bullock 1927). Adherence to and reverence of totem animals is an aspect of Shona cosmology that permeate social organisation and govern rules of marriages. In one of the earliest anthropological work on the Shona, Bullock listed definitive attributes of Shona totems as follows (1927: 78-­‐79): (1) It is a cognomen used in the Roman sense36, and ... and (2) serves as such as a ceremonial, and a s laudatory form of address, (3) That it acts (with modification as a bar of consanguinity to ensure ex-­‐
ogamy in the sense of agnatic relationship; the mutupo, in these tribes, de-­‐
scending from father to son. (4) That it is a social bond between members of the same clan 136
(5) That a taboo, or partial taboo, is attached to the animal, part of carcass, plant or even “element”, whose is used or implied. (6) That there are magical sanctions enforcing such taboo, e.g. the loss of teeth by the eater or an animal tabooed. A totem animal is sacred and treated with reverence by adherents of the totem. For example if a fish eagle made an appearance, an adherent may perform a ceremonial gesture by addressing the bird while clapping hands: “Makadii Hungwe?” (How are you Fish Eagle?). One of the key elements of Shona totemism is the assumption, although not necessarily true, that persons sharing the same totem and praise poetry share the same patrilineal descent, even where this connection may not be histori-­‐
cally traceable. Thus, today in spite of the erosion of clan affinities owing to the rural to urban migration, the ideology of mutupo continues to inspire social cohesion among those living in aggregated cosmopolitan areas, if neighbours happen to find that they share the same totem. It is not uncommon for strang-­‐
ers living in the same neighbourhood to address each other by the totem praise names such as Hungwe (Fish Eagle) or Mhofu (Eland). Totemism reinforces a patrilineal ideology (Bullock 1927). However, a per-­‐
son may also address anyone by his/her totemic praise name including mem-­‐
bers of his mother’s clan, who must be respected. Connected with the totem is a praise title “chidawo”. Furthermore, the totem is connected with clan poetry – “nhetembo dzama-­
dzinza”, which is one of the key defining features of Shona totemism. The praise poems are generally fixed oral extension of the totems (Hodza and Fortune 1979, Matenga 1993, 1998). The poems laud the clan members and the totem object that is a personification of the clan. Another attribute of clan poems is that they often carry sexual connotations and metaphors. The poetry is one of several genres of Shona praise poetry that has survived to this day. As Fortune and Hodza noted, in the past, clan praise poetry was mainly the privilege of royal and chiefly persons. There were court attendants called “marombe”, who were employed to do oral performances. These would have served like Imbongi in the Nguni royal courts, or jesters in European tradition (Hodza and Fortune 1979: 3-­‐5, 27-­‐28). Today, there are no social restrictions on the recitation of clan praise poetry, except those between husband and wife, which are proscribed outside the bed-­‐
room (Hodza and Fortune 1979). A mother praises his son for good behaviour by reciting his clan poem, if in flattering tones. An oath made by swearing by the totem is assumed truthful (Matenga, 1998: 76-­‐77). The first comprehensive list was published by Bullock (1927: 96-­‐115). The following inventory of Shona totems is by no means complete, but an attempt is made to inventory them, recognizing that it is a subject that has generated intense public interest (Matenga 1998). 137
Totem English Praise name Locality Bonga Wild cat Chirombowe Murewa, Makoni, Nyanga Dziva Pool Save Buhera, Gutu Dziva Pool Musayigwa Mberengwa Dziva Pool Muyambo Dziva Pool Mbedzi/Murena Chipinge Gwanda, Mberengwa, Venda Hanga Guinea fowl Tsvara Mutare Bere Hyena Magondo Nyanga Chiranda Servant? Uribadonde Mt Darwin Chiremba Doctor Maongera Makonde Gumbo Leg Madyirapazhe Gutu, Zaka, Mberengwa Gurwe Cricket Jeta Gutu Hanga Tsvara Guinea fowl Humba Wild pig Mapanda Mutare Mutoko, Nyanga, Chimanimani Hungwe Fish eagle Chasura Hwai Sheep Nyachuma Gutu, Buhera, Mberengwa Nyanga, Mberengwa, Chipinge Hwesa Mouse Chiwambo Nyanga Imbwa Dog Chihwa/VaGarwe Chimanimani Ingwe Tiger Simboti/Newa Nyanga Ishwa Termites Beta, Dhliwayo Chimanimani Mbano Mbeva/Nzou (VaLemba) Eel Matemavi Goromonzi Mouse Madzingira Gutu, Buhera, Masvingo Mbizi/Tembo Zebra Samaita Mutare (Mutasa), Buhera Mbizi/Shumba Zebra/Lion Mhazi Chirumhanzi Mbizi Zebra Mhlanga Mbizi Zebra Mazvimbakupa Chipinge, Bikita Marondera, Seke (Chihota) Mbizi Zebra Mubayiwa Mbizi Zebra Mazvimbakupa Mhara Impala Chikonamombe Moyo (VaRozvi) Heart Moyondizvo Chivhu Bikita, Wedza, Buhera, Matobho, Silobela etc Moyo (VaRozvi) Heart Dhehwa/Dhlembeu Mberengwa Moyo Heart Nematombo Mazowe Moyo Heart Ribatika Chegutu Moyo (VaNjanja) Heart Sinyoro Chivhu, Wedza, Buhera 138
Lake Kariba Seke, Marondera (Chihota) Moyo Heart Wakapiwa Marondera Moyo Heart Muzukuru Marondera, Murehwa Moyo (Duma)37 Heart Chirandu/Gono Moyo Heart Chirandu Masvingo, Bikita, Zaka Buhera, Chimanimani, Chipinga Moyo Heart Ngorima/Chirandu Chimanimani Moyo Heart Masukume Moyo Heart Sithole Mberengwa Bikita, Chipinge, Chimanimani Moyo Heart Wadyegora Mt Darwin, Goromonzi Moyo Heart Zuruvi Chegutu Mumi Wild dog Sigauke Chimanimani, Chipinge Mvuwu/Ngwindi Hippo -­‐ Mutare, Nyanga Ndoro Conus shell Muchengudzirwa Buhera Ngara Porcupine Zimuto, Wamambo Ngonya Vagina Gushungo Mutare, Masvingo Makonde, Gutu, Chirumhanzi Nondo Hartebeest Mwendamberi Makonde Nyati Buffalo Shonga/Chirombowe Makoni Nyoka Snake Svova Mutoko Nzvidzi/Mbiti Otter -­‐ Nzou Elephant Samanyanga Mutare, Nyanga Mt Darwin, Gutu, Nemakonde Nzou38 Elephant Mhizha Mberengwa, Mwenezi Shato Python Mheta Shava (VaHera) Eland Museyamwa Mutare, Nyanga Buhera, Chikomba (Chivhu) , Masvingo Shava Eland Nhuka Mutare (Marange) Shava Eland Mutenhesanwa Mazowe (Chiweshe) Shava Eland Mufakose Harare, Mazowe Shava Eland Mwendamberi Mhondoro, Chegutu Shava Eland Wanonoka Gutu Shava Eland Nhuka Marange Shava Eland Nematombo/Chizinga Mt Darwin Shava Eland Mhizha Wedza Shava Eland Ziruvi Seke, Chitungwiza Shumba (Nhinhi) Lion Sipambi Masvingo Shumba Lion Chibwa/Murambwi Chibi Shumba Lion Nyamuzihwa Mutoko 139
Shumba Lion Nechinanga Mazowe Shumba Lion Garabwe/Muguriri Masvingo Shumba Lion Musaigwa Chivi Shumba Lion Masinire Shurugwi, Gweru, Chegutu Shumba Lion Mhazi Chirumhanzi Soko Monkey Wakatakwa Mazowe Soko Monkey Mukanya/Murewa Harare (Chinhamora) Soko Monkey Vhudzijena Marondera, Wedza Soko Monkey Mbereka Mberengwa Soko Monkey Makwiramiti/Mukanya Mutare (Jindwi) Soko Monkey Mudyanevana Muatare Soko Monkey Wafawanaka Mt Darwin, Nemakonde Soko Monkey Wachenuka Mt Darwin Tshauke Fire Dhladzana Chiredzi, Mwenezi Tsingo Knife Mutshila wambuzi Gwanda, Mberengwa Unendoro Conus shell Nhari Makonde Zenda -­‐ -­‐ Mutare, Makoni To return to the second theory that has been proffered in respect of the Zim-­‐
babwe Birds, the fish eagle -­‐ Heliaeetus vocifer – has been a contender (Figs 35, 36, 37). It is one of two species of birds held by the Shona as a totem bird. The other one is the helmeted guinea fowl (numida mileagris) (Bullock 1927: 111). The fish eagle is a bird of prey with a distinctive white head, breast and tip. The rest of the body is brown and the wings black. Male wings span an average of 2 m, while females may go up to 2.4 m. The beak is yellow with a black hooked tip. The fish eagle is found throughout sub-­‐Saharan Africa. It lurches around bodies of fresh water – rivers, lakes, coastal lagoons and river mouths, where it catches its prey, mostly fish, as well as water birds. Mates are believed to pair for life. They build nests high on trees that are used repeatedly over many years. It is the national bird of Zimbabwe and Zambia and is classified as a threatened species39.
The praise poetry of the Hungwe clans praising the totem bird that is a personi-­‐
fication of the clan is given below. Some readers may think that the poem is primitive science when confronted with explicitly vulgar words. The text has several words that in day-­‐to-­‐day social interactions are proscribed, and those of the totem reciting must understand their audience to determine which sections of the poem to reserve, if necessary. The full poem goes thus (Hodza and For-­‐
tune 1979: 263-­‐265): 140
Fig. 35. Fish Eagle
(Photo SANParks)
Fig. 36. Fish Eagle
– side view (Photo
NMMZ)
Fig. 37. Fish Eagle
– front view (Photo
NMMZ)
Mazviita, Shiri;
Hungwe;
Matapatira40;
Zienda nomudenga;
Pasi yaketye ndove;
Mudyanavana,
Kunyima vana zvinoshura;
Vakadzi kuvarume vavo;
Chati bwege!
Chasura nebanga kunyo kunovava;
Mupisika nebheura;
Machende eshumba;
Muranda wemheche.
Zvaitwa, Hungwe yangu yiyi;
Shiri isina shura nemunhu.
Haiwa, maita Shiri;
Mwana waChasura.
Maita zvenyu, vachifambanemudenga.
Zvaitwa, vairashiri;
VokwaChinobhururuka;
Muirashir wangu yuyu,
Shiri iri hungwe.
English Translation
You are done a service, Bird;
Fish eagle,
The ones who spreads his wings;
Great one passing through the sky;
It shunned the marshes down below;
One who eats with his children,
It bodes ill to stint children their food;
Wives must go early to their husbands;
He who farted!
He who farted at the sight of a knife has an itch at the anus;
He who cleans his anus using a machete;
Testicles of a lion;
A slave of the vagina.
A service has been rendered my dear fish eagle;
Birds that bodes no ill to man.
Indeed, you have done a service, Bird;
Son of Chasura41.
You have done a kindness, You who travel through the sky.
A service has been rendered, Those who revere the Bird;
Those who belong to one that flies;
My dear one who reveres the Bird,
The Bird is the fish eagle.
142
The hungwe theory has been running in competition with the Chapungu (bateleur eagle) theory for quite some time and is popular among adherents of that totem mostly living in the southern parts of Zimbabwe in the Gutu, Mas-­‐
vingo, Chivi, Mberengwa and Buhera districts. The connection between Great Zimbabwe with the fish eagle, if it is tenuous, is largely based on the sociologi-­‐
cal meaning discussed above and there is no other scientific evidence to cor-­‐
roborate it. In my view, in so far as Shona ethnography can shed light on this subject, the balance of probability seems to weigh much in favour of the chapungu hypoth-­‐
esis. On a more general note, I conclude that the Birds are non-­‐utilitarian ob-­‐
jects, and it is difficult to imagine a meaning outside these possibilities. In this way, I close the chapter on meaning with a case only partially resolved. How-­‐
ever, as the Birds have continued to be used in socio-­‐political contexts, in Sec-­‐
tions II and III I will highlight the challenges of trying to be faithful to the “true” meaning in changing socio-­‐political contexts, that is, if we have found the “true” meaning here of the stone Birds. The true meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds Some aspects of the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds were brought to light dur-­‐
ing a recent interview with the historian Dr Mudenge. Using my discretion, I have found it fitting to present his views in a conclusion to the above ethno-­‐
historical interpretation frame. Dr Mudenge said that thus far, much intellectual energy has been devoted to discovering what species of eagle is/are repre-­‐
sented, which, in his opinion, is a futile exercise. Dr Mudenge contended that the Zimbabwe Birds exhibit a meek, inflected posture. By that he was referring to their closed wings and shut beaks which, in his opinion, expressed a humble disposition; the Zimbabwe Birds were unexcited and at peace with themselves (Fig. 38). Dr Mudenge went on to make an important observation that this iconogra-­‐
phy was in contradistinction with the stock representation of raptor-­‐derived symbols that have been produced and are in use in many countries in the world, e.g. in the coat of arms of old nations such as Germany, Austria, Egypt, Russia and the United States. Even relatively young nations such as Nigeria, Zambia and South Africa have adopted the martial imagery of raptors with wings stretched out. Dr Mudenge argued that the inflected posture of the Zimbabwe Birds was loaded with symbolism that is yet to be unlocked. He proposed a theory that the Birds embodied a Shona philosophy of stoicism, exemplified by the calmness and dignity with which they coped and managed adverse situations in historical times. Our discussions then moved into aspects of Shona history in the last five centuries: The Munhumutapa rulers appeared to have resigned to the pestering of the Portuguese, and accepted to be a colony of Portugal. However, they pro-­‐
tractedly fought back and managed to hold the Portuguese at bay for more than three centuries. Rhodesian settlers believed that the Shona had been com-­‐
pletely subjugated by the Ndebele, and that the Ndebele state extended over the whole of Mashonaland. In fact, although the Shona state system had collapsed, a 143
Fig. 38. Bird 1 (Close up)
small part of Mashonaland had been incorporated into the Ndebele state. The rest managed to withstand its seasonal raiding forays until 1890, when the British occupied the country. In the years following the occupation, the Rho-­‐
desia settlers were also deceived by the seemingly passive attitude with which the Shona had received Pioneer Column in their territory (Frederikse 1990: 17). They got a bad surprise in the Shona uprisings in 1896 and were to pay a heavy price for that (Blake 1978). Even today, the “myth” that the Shona are a “naturally” peaceful society shrouds its entrenched stoic worldview. The Rho-­‐
desian government of Ian Smith used it for propaganda in portraying the na-­‐
tives of Rhodesia as “the happiest black faces in the world” in the new dispensa-­‐
tion of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) (Frederikse 1990: 291). No one, except Zimbabweans, could have valiantly withstood currency inflation exceeding 200, 000,000 per cent per annum (Hawking and Mlodinow 2010: 129) (In their book The Grand Design, p. 129, the renowned physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow use the example of Zimbabwe’s expo-­‐
nential inflation to illustrate the theory of the expanding universe). This is con-­‐
sidering by contrast that only very slight currents in the financial markets in the same period, 2008-­‐2009, claimed governments in Britain, Iceland and Ire-­‐
land. According to Dr Mudenge, the Zimbabwe Birds embody a Shona stoic philosophy that has been shaped by their history and the physiographic envi-­‐
ronment in which they live. In Dr Mudenge’s words, “…it is a worldview we have used to mould the present nation, Zimbabwe; the world can learn from us; this is a unique ethos, our contribution to world civilization” (Mudenge, inter-­‐
view 23 April 2011). SECTION II: ZIMBABWE BIRDS REINVENTED: RHODESIAN NATIONALISM AND APPROPRIATION OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS I believe that from every point of view the mystery of [Great] Zimbabwe is of great value to this country and to the tourist industry and whilst one hopes that the scientists and investigators will advance with their research on Zimbabwe, they will not solve the mystery too soon other-­‐
wise the attraction might disappear. I do not wish them any harm but still like the mystery.
– Smith, L. 1970
The rise of nation states: A theoretical perspective
Rhodesian nationalist ideology arose from a colonial situation, which in turn had its roots in European nationalism. The birth of the modern nation state can be traced back to Europe after the decline of feudalism, occasioned by the ero-­‐
sion of power from dynastic rulers and the church from the 16th and 17th centu-­‐
ries. Sovereignty gradually passed to the people and in this way nationalised societies developed. 145
As Julian Thomas argues, a nation state sees itself as personifying a united people with a homeland and shared culture, including a historical or mythical tradition accounting for its origins. While such myths and identities could be of dubious authenticity, they are reified by the formation and continued existence of the nation-­‐state (Thomas 2004: 98-­‐99). It is important to understand the link between these developments and European imperialism. While this political redefinition was taking place, Eu-­‐
rope embarked on an unprecedented acquisition of overseas colonies, partly to respond to increasing demand for raw materials stimulated by the industrial revolution and to create living space for a growing population. The creation of colonies with clearly defined boundaries was a mirror image of the emerging nation states in Europe itself, and in this way, Europe has imposed the political and economic boundaries of the world as we know it today (Harrison and Hughes 2010: 234-­‐235).
There were different forms of colonialism, each with different historical ori-­‐
gins and different impacts on indigenous populations. In the examples of North America, Australia and New Zealand, the development of settler colonies led to wholesale absorption, displacement and sometimes extermination of the pre-­‐
existing indigenous populations. In the case of Rhodesia, Kenya and South Africa, settler colonies of minority migrants imposed themselves upon more numerous pre-­‐existing populations (Harrison and Hughes 2010: 235-­‐236). The birth of Rhodesian nationalism Under these circumstances, Rhodesian settlers constructed a myth of existence that looked like a primordial given. The construct was given the appearances of a reality, in many ways. The occupation of Rhodesia had been conceived and orchestrated by one man, Cecil John Rhodes, who has given his name to the country. The “heroic” occupation of Mashonaland by Rhodes’s Pioneer Column, the delineation of national borders in 1891, and the war in 1893 against the Ndebele endowed the nationalist myth with persuasive power. The Rhodesian myth also endowed citizenship for pioneer settlers who were part of the nation building process. Settlers introduced the notions of culture and heritage to colonial situations as a basis for fostering a sense of nationality. Culture and heritage became a “state led initiative”, as Harrison and Hughes put it. In the context of Rhodesia, an introductory chapter in his first book, co-­‐authored by the mining prospector, W. G. Neal, Richard Hall reveals the urge to build intimacy with the new land. Hall poetically describes the romance of Rhodesia and how the new settlers connected with a prior occupation by the Sabaeans and Phoenician, their Cau-­‐
casian kin and builders of the stonewalled sites found here. His analytical ar-­‐
guments gave a scientific base for the rhetoric of reviving an ancient civilisa-­‐
tion. This proved to be effective from a propaganda point of view and fulfilled Rhodes' aims to advertise Southern Rhodesia overseas. A new context and meaning for Great Zimbabwe and the stone Birds were brought about with the founding of Rhodesia. 146
Cultural appropriation: Heritage in the service of a nationalist ideology
The question of the authorship of the Zimbabwe Birds has been inextricably bound with that of the Great Zimbabwe site itself, and no other objects from the site have been more puzzling than the Zimbabwe Birds. The debate, which has been dubbed “the Zimbabwe controversy”, has been dealt with by many schol-­‐
ars (Summers 1963, Chainawa 1973, Garlake 1973, 1982, Kuklick 1991) and I need only concentrate on the aspects of the controversy that illustrate how the Birds were embroiled in the debate. The Rhodesian settlers were not responsible for creating the view that Great Zimbabwe had not been built and occupied by the African natives of the area. This conspiracy was started by the Portuguese who traded with the Munhumu-­‐
tapa Kingdom, and who left exaggerated accounts about the existence of gold. Joao de Barros (1552) renders one of the most detailed hearsay accounts of Great Zimbabwe. He claimed that the native people had no clue who had built them and thought it was the work of the Devil (Bent 1896: 239). The mission-­‐
ary Joao dos Santos had served at the Munhumutapa court from 1586 to 1595, and writing in 1609 he speculated that Munhumutapa’s domains had once been an extension of the land of Queen of Sheba and King Solomon from which they had extracted gold (Garlake 1973: 53). The natives of these lands, especially some aged Moors, assert that they have a tradition from their ancestors that these houses [zimbabwe enclosures] were anciently a factory of the queen of Sheba, and that from this place a quantity of gold was brought to her, it being conveyed down from the rivers of Cuama [Zambezi] to the Indian Ocean … Other say that these are the ruins of the factory of Solomon, where he had his factors who procured a great quantity of gold from these lands … not deciding this question, I state that the of Fura of Ufura [now Mt Darwin] may be the region of Ophir, whence gold was brought to Jerusalem, by which the same might be given to the statement these houses were the factory of Solomon.
For more than two centuries, accounts of Great Zimbabwe’s existence sounded like a fairy tale (Bent 1896: 238), until Mauch’s visit to Great Zimbabwe con-­‐
firmed their existence in Europe and South Africa. This kindled interest and gave added fresh impetus to the Ophir theory. On their part, the Rhodesian settlers cast this view in a solid mould and pushed for its acceptance as an a priori knowledge. The Rhodesian settlers brought the stories back into circulation and pro-­‐
duced a self-­‐serving political myth, saying that Rhodesia was the revival of the ancient Caucasian civilisation that had existed here. The Rhodesian ideology of a civilising mission was pursued with self-­‐righteousness and underpinned the means by which the mission was achieved. The unexpected presence of the ruined edifices of Great Zimbabwe in the “dark” heart of the southern Africa seemed to lend credence to the theory of a previous Caucasian occupation of this land. Comparisons were drawn between Great Zimbabwe and the ancient civilization of Sabaea including biblical legends, and Rhodesia could thus be vindicated as a renaissance of an ancient "white" civilization. 147
The personal involvement of Rhodes as the new nation’s founder is reveal-­‐
ing. The starting point was his obsession with the stone Bird bought from Willi Posselt in 1890 (see Chapter 7). Rhodes accorded the Bird sacred honour by keeping it in his study and making several replicas to decorate the interior and exterior of his Groote Schuur residence, making castings that he gave to his friends (Kuklick 1991: 135). As we will see, this Bird was left out of the deal that saw five Birds returning from South Africa in 1981. The current view is that the Bird has left a void at the shrine, which the plaster cast mounted in its place cannot fill (Chapter 7). Rhodes played a significant part in bankrolling the Rhodesian myth of Rho-­‐
desia and its exotic relics, as the only person known to have taken possession of one the Zimbabwe Birds into his personal treasure collection. They added value to Rhodesian romance, in which Rhodes took an active personal interest in propagating. Rhodes personally looked for similar birds when he once passed through Egypt. He also came up with his own theory that (Garlake 1973: 65): Zimbabwe is an old Phoenician residence and everything points to Sofula [So-­‐
fala on the Mozambican coast] being the place from which Hiram fetched his gold the word “peacocks” in the bible may be read as parrots and amongst the stone ornaments from Zimbabye are green parrots, the common kind for that district. On his first visit to Great Zimbabwe in October 1891, he was introduced to local chiefs as “the Great Master who had come see the ancient temple which once upon a time belonged to white man” (Garlake 1973: 65). Rhodes financed research projects at Great Zimbabwe from his vast per-­‐
sonal wealth to unravel of Great Zimbabwe’s mystery. He commissioned the translation of the ancient sources of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Portuguese Records in South-­eastern Africa (The Theal vol-­‐
umes). The first archaeological exploration of the Ruins was orchestrated and financed by him. In order to dignify the process, the Royal Geographical Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science were roped in as co-­‐
sponsors of Bent’s work. He appointed Alexander Wilmot, an author/writer of history textbooks in South Africa, to undertake archival research that resulted in the publication Monomotapa (Rhodesia) (1896). The conqueror appropriates everything, the land, its people and its cultural symbols. The indigenous people were ruled out as the builders of Great Zim-­‐
babwe and makers of the objects found in them. Great Zimbabwe and its objects were thus appropriated and given new meanings consistent with a vision to create a nation to which they served as new icons and ideograms. For those of a liberal inclination there was dilemma that crediting the indigenous people with any creative genius such as manifested in the workmanship of the ruins would hit at the heart of a supremacist ideology. The Birds find new owners and meaning
The Birds were expediently exploited to advance the state’s ideology of a sup-­‐
posed Sabean reoccupation. Thus, early Rhodesian devoted considerable space 148
to speculation about the Birds’ connection with the nature worship of Middle Eastern civilisations. A world-­‐travelled antiquarian and an acclaimed expert on Phoenician and the Middle Eastern, James Bent was the ideal candidate to break the archaeological ground, given the Semitic theories that already circu-­‐
lated. However, much to the disappointment of the Rhodesian public, Bent was dismissive of tales of Queen Sheba and the biblical Ophir, and was noncommit-­‐
tal about who among the Semitic peoples were the ancient builders. He disap-­‐
pointed Rhodesian expectations with his ambivalent narrative and commen-­‐
taries (Bent 1896: 228):
As to the vexed question of Ophir, I do not feel that it is necessary to go into the arguments for or against here. Mashonaland may have been the land of Ophir or it may not; Ophir and Punt might be identical, and both situated here, or they may be both elsewhere. There is not enough evidence, as far as I can see, to build up any theory on these points which will satisfy the more critical investigation to which subjects of this kind are submitted in the pres-­‐
ent day. All that we can satisfactorily establish is that from this country the ancient Arabians got a great deal of gold. Notwithstanding his doubts, Bent was largely responsible for shaping Rho-­‐
desian public opinion about the authorship and occupation of the zimbabwe type stone walls in general and the Birds in particular. In a preface to the sec-­‐
ond edition of his book The Ruined Cities of Mashonaland, Bent quoted an Austrian professor, D. H. Muller, as having remarked that the Birds of Zim-­‐
babwe represented hawks as the guardian of the copper and turquoise mines in Egypt, where it was sculpted on the rocks. The hawk was the symbol of the goddess Hathor, to whom the mines were sacred (Bent 1896: xix). Bent found similarities between the Great Enclosure and the Almaqah tem-­‐
ple at Marib in southern Arabia, which was dedicated to the star Venus (the morning star) and connected with worship of Hathor, the queen of heaven and earth (Hall 1905a: 108, Bent 1896: viii-­‐ix). He asserted that the Birds repre-­‐
sented hawks or vultures and that their depiction characterised nature wor-­‐
ship. Regarding the vulture, Bent speculated on connections with ancient Egypt. “The vulture was emblematic of Urania42, a year, a mother.” Bent further drew analogies between the birds with the Egyptian zodiac of Denderah43, which is a bird perched on a pillar with the crown of Upper Egypt on its head (Bent 1896: 186). Bent also asserted that (1896: 184-­‐185):
the [birds] are closely akin to the Assyrian Astarte or Venus, and represent the female element in creation. Similar birds were sacred to Astarte amongst the Phoenicians and often represented as perched on her shrines44 Bent proffers various possible meanings of the stone Birds, and in the end he is undecided, only implying that their origin lay somewhere in Egypt, Assyria or Phoenicia (Bent 1896: 186).
The appointment of Richard Hall in 1902 at Cecil Rhodes’ behest to run a se-­‐
ries of excavations and to develop the site for tourism marked the beginning of 149
a strong propaganda campaign to promote Semitic theories about the origin of Great Zimbabwe. For the rest of the Rhodesian period, nothing new was to come from the proponents of the Rhodesian myth (Hall 1905a, Bruwer 1965, Mullan 1969, Gayre of Gayre 1973). Using his skills as a journalist, Hall published three books and numerous papers in academic journals and gave lectures in England. His monographs on the ruins and a guidebook were produced in a space of only seven years: The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia (co-­‐authored by W. G. Neal 1902), Great Zimbabwe (1905a) and Prehistoric Rhodesia (1909). With respect to the Birds, Hall merely repeated Bent to emphasize the Birds’ connection with Venus, the morning star, which was sacred to the Assyrian god Astarte, whom the Phoenicians worshipped (Hall and Neal 1904: 23, 38-­‐39). Hall proposed a Sabaeo-­‐Himyaritic occupation from Yemen (southern Arabia), whom he credited with the construction of the Zimbabwe type settlements. Great Zimbabwe’s antiquity was pushed back many centuries to 2000-­‐1100 BC (Hall and Neal 1902 xxiii-­‐xxiv). As the Sabaean power waned, the Phoenicians took over (Ibid: 21, 36). Throughout the Rhodesian period, it was an unwritten code to run with the herd, and anyone who appeared to hold dissenting thoughts was branded a traitor. Only outsiders were safe to call to question the Rhodesian views about Great Zimbabwe (Randall-­‐MacIver 1906, Caton-­‐Thompson 1931). Each time this happened, it incited public outrage (or indignation). David Randall-­‐
MacIver, an Egyptologist who had been tutored by the renowned archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, was also appointed on the strength of knowledge about North African and Middle Eastern civilizations. He briefly excavated at Great Zimbabwe, Khami, Naletale and Nyanga, and concluded that the stone ruins were of native African origin. His findings overturned the Rhodesian theory, inviting an angry response. Richard Hall, who had left his job at the ruins two years before, took the matter upon himself to solicit subscriptions from distin-­‐
guished persons in Rhodesia and South Africa to compile an emotionally charged rejoinder to Randall-­‐MacIver's findings. His book, Prehistoric Rhodesia (1909), was prefaced as "the first instalment of a reply to the conclusions of Dr. Randall-­‐MacIver concerning the Rhodesian Rock mines and Buildings" (Hall 1909: vii). Twenty-­‐four years later, in 1929, Caton-­‐Thompson’s findings caused similar outrage in South Africa and Rhodesia. In her book published two years later, she boldly asserted that (Caton-­‐Thompson 1931: 7): If by indigenous we mean an origin born of the country on which they stand, then the ruins are, in my opinion, indigenous, in a full sense of the term.
On her return trip from Rhodesia, she met with a hostile audience in Johannes-­‐
burg amid extensive media coverage of her work. It was deliberately timed that she would deliver her lecture after Leo Frobenius, the German anthropologist whose inclinations to the Semitic theory were well known. Many people turned out for both Frobenius’ and Caton-­‐Thompson’s lectures, but, curiously, the South African authorities prevented people from attending the latter lecture, forcing a rescheduling. There was a mood of scepticism during Caton-­‐
150
Thompson’s presentation and hostile questioning from the much-­‐respected Raymond Dart (Kuklick 1991: 151-­‐152). Both Randall-­‐MacIver and Caton-­‐Thompson were commendable for their scholarship to confront the prevailing prejudices in the context of settler power politics. However, even they operated within an anthropological frame with a well-­‐known place for the conquered peoples. Randall-­‐MacIver wrote (1906: 68): The truth is that the building [Great Enclosure], fine as it is, has been exe-­‐
cuted in exactly the same spirit as all the other "ancient monuments" in Rho-­‐
desia. Laborious care has been expended upon the most conspicuous and ef-­‐
fective parts, but elsewhere the workmanship is slipshod. Probably several gangs were engaged on different parts of the wall at the same time, and, like clumsy engineers bring a tunnel from different ends, they failed to meet at the agreed point of junction.
Caton-­‐Thompson wrote (1931: 103):
The architecture of Zimbabwe, imitative apparently of a daub prototype, strikes me as essentially the product of an infantile mind, pre-­‐logical mind, a mind which having discovered the way of making or doing things goes on childishly repeating the performance regardless of incongruity.
The British Association for the Advancement of Science also echoed the prevail-­‐
ing opinion as illustrated in the foreword to Caton-­‐Thompson's publication on Great Zimbabwe by its General Secretary, Sir John Myres (1931: xxiii) When the British Association for the Advancement of Science was about to meet in South Africa 1905, liberal help from the Rhodes Trustees enabled its Council to commission Dr. D. Randall MacIver to examine and report on some of the ruins.... However probable it now seemed that the ruins themselves, like their earliest contents, were medieval, this was not quite securely dem-­‐
onstrated [by Randall-­‐MacIver], and subsequent controversy and even trenches were directed to this, though without assistance from any person with archaeological training or experience of excavation elsewhere. Results were negative, and assertions as positive as heretofore. In the hope of contri-­‐
buting further to the solution of a problem so important in the history and antiquity of the whole region, the British association again used the occasion of a South African meeting to invite a trained an experienced excavator, Miss Gertrude Caton-­‐Thompson ... to conduct excavations [again].
The Birds in Rhodesian iconography
The inception of the Responsible Government was one of the key turning points in Rhodesian history. At the same time, we see the first inscription of the Zim-­‐
babwe Birds in state iconography. From 1914, Rhodesian politics was in a state of flux as the administration of the British South Africa Company (BSA Co) was increasingly unpopular with the settlers. The British government had renewed the BSA Co’s charter to govern Rhodesia on condition that white settlers would be granted self-­‐government in ten years (Kuklick 1991: 136-­‐137). The settlers 151
were politically divided between those who favoured self-­‐government as a colony under the British Crown, leading to eventual independence, and those who preferred a merger with the recently established Union of South Africa. The chief advocates of this plan were the pioneer settlers who allied under the Rhodesia Government Association. The Afrikaners in South Africa on their part would not have forgotten about the infamous Jameson Raid (1896) which had been staged from Rhodesia.
Their opponents, the Unionists, largely comprised the European Rhodesians who favoured a union with South Africa. General Jan Smuts, then Prime Minis-­‐
ter of the Union of South Africa, had offered Rhodesia incentives to join the Union (ten seats in the South African Parliament and £5 million during ten years, if Rhodesia joined the union). In the event, a referendum was held and the Unionists were defeated by 8744 to 5989 votes. The Rhodesian pride in their origin as Cecil John Rhodes' project prevailed (Ransford 1971: 94-­‐95). The Responsible Government was formed in 1923 and a new coat of arms with a Zimbabwe Bird emblem on its crown was adopted (Fig. 39). Seen from this political perspective, the establishment of Responsible Government repre-­‐
sented a rebellion against the BSA Co, a rejection of South African patronage and an assertion of Rhodesian independence. It also happened to be the time when the Zimbabwe Bird entered state iconography for first time, crowning the coat-­‐of-­‐arms with the Rhodesian motto, sit nomine digna (may it be worthy of the name) inscribed at the bottom. The charismatic presence of the Zimbabwe Birds permeates Rhodesian his-­‐
tory from time of its founder Rhodes through the Responsible Government to the political crisis of the mid-­‐1960s, caused by the unilateral declaration of independence from Britain. Subsequently after the passing of the Coinage Act by the Southern Rhodesia government in 1932, the Zimbabwe Bird was struck on the reverse side of a silver one-­‐shilling denomination. The Bird emblem now symbolised Rhodesia and came to be everywhere from buildings to corporate trademarks. For a decade during the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963, Southern Rhodesian coinage was phased out along with the Zimbabwe Bird emblem. A conspiracy of silence While the Rhodesian government was busy appropriating the Birds as public emblems, there was an eerie public silence on the subject of Great Zimbabwe. For twenty-­‐nine years, there was little research on the Zimbabwe Ruins. Rho-­‐
desian archaeologists tended to avoid the subject, preferring uncontroversial themes such as the Iron Age sequences, Rock Art and the Stone Age. Keith Robinson, a farmer turned archaeologist, and Roger Summers, appointed Cura-­‐
tor in 1947, conducted research on the Nyanga forts and terrace settlements between 1949 and 1952. The major excavations at Great Zimbabwe by Summers and Robinson in 1958, assisted by students from the University of Rhodesia, deliberately avoided focusing on reconstruction of cultural sequences. Roger Summers respected 152
Fig. 39. The coat of arms
of the Southern Rhodesia
Government, 1923
Rhodesian sensitivities on the subject of Great Zimbabwe and avoided contro-­‐
versy, maintaining that the discipline of archaeology was more than a science; it was an "esoteric mystery, something that can only be understood by profound study and by the most careful investigation" (Garlake 1983: 2, Summers 1963; 3). The Zimbabwe debate reopened
The Zimbabwe Birds returned into public space again from 1964 following the accession of the Rhodesia Front led by Ian Douglas Smith to power. The Rho-­‐
desia Front’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965 was an ironic demonstration of the maturity or immaturity of Rhodesian politics. The Rhodesians believed that they had matured enough as a national community to deserve to break away from Britain. UDI, therefore, seemed to mirror the establishment of the Responsible Government of Southern Rhodesia four decades earlier, and it was modelled on the American Revolution in 1776. The American colonies rebelled against control by a remote British Parliament in which they were not represented (Palmer 1959: 173-­‐210). UDI became to Rhodesia what the Declaration of Independence became to the Americans. However, there are many differences between the American and Rhodesian experiences. The Americans won their independence after a painful fight with Britain. The British Government rather sympathetically let UDI to pass a minor storm. The American Revolution was a popular movement with grassroots with support from all sections of American society, whereas in Rhodesia, a minority settler community had decided to secede from Britain in order to pre-­‐empt a majority rule in which power would have passed to the indigenous population. Perhaps herein lies the political immaturity of those who orchestrated UDI. Rhodesia only managed to last another fifteen years, half the time of which the country was in the throes of one of the bloodiest liberation wars in the south-­‐
ern African region. As I said earlier, the Zimbabwe Birds reappeared in the political landscape of the new independent Rhodesia. The Bird emblem was reinstated in the Rho-­‐
desian coat-­‐of-­‐arms which appeared on the national flag; it was also minted on the reverse side of the 20-­‐shilling coin (florin) and in 1964 and on the 20 cents coin from 197445. (Figs 40, 41) Again the Rhodesian had reinvented and re-­‐
defined themselves after the collapse of the Federation. The myth of a settler nation provides the structure through which they understood their brief past. A myth was portrayed of a nation, which was about to be betrayed by its mother state. As the American historian, John Oliver Robertson put it, “Historical time may be telescoped in myth and vents that actually took place years apart are often juxtaposed and given an association in the mythic logic, which then oper-­‐
ates to distort rational perception of [history].” (Robertson1980: 56). In Rho-­‐
desian myth making as exemplified by its iconography, it was the supposed occupation of the country by a pre-­‐Bantu Caucasian population that was inter-­‐
nalised and provided historical justification for maintaining a minority gov-­‐
ernment. 154
As it turned out, the Rhodesians persevered in protecting the “founding myth”. In the same year that Rhodesia declared independence from Britain, one of Ian Smith’s admirers, A. J. Bruwer had published a book, Zimbabwe: Rho-­
desia's Ancient Greatness, which he dedicated to the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, Ian Douglas Smith. In this book, Bruwer revived and popularized the myth of a non-­‐African origin for Great Zimbabwe. Bruwer did not tender anything fundamentally different on the Zimbabwe Birds, but revived the Semitic theo-­‐
ries of Bent and Hall that the Birds probably represented hawks, a bird that was sacred to Egyptians and Phoenicians and it was "clear that they were executed in honour of Arstarte, the fertility goddess" (Bruwer 1965: 63). He postulated a pre-­‐Christian antiquity for Great Zimbabwe, asserting that it was built by the Phoenicians sometime between the heroic conquests of Alexander the Great, c. 332 BC and 64 BC. Bruwer isolated four epochs, beginning with the coloniza-­‐
tion by Alexander the Great and ending with the Bantu (Shona) occupation, which he thought spanned the period 1150 to 1890. The latter he describes (evidently with dry humour) under a sectional title "Back to the Bush" (Bruwer 1965: 82, 96). The book celebrated the takeover of the country by Rhodesia hard-­‐liners, who were dismissive of the scientific evidence that favoured Afri-­‐
cans and any such conclusions were met with heavy censorship. The degree of intolerance with divergent views is clearly illustrated in a let-­‐
ter by Edmund Layland, who was to co-­‐author the much discredited Origins of the Zimbabwe Civilisation (1973) addressed to the Rhodesian Minister of Inter-­‐
nal Affairs in connection with a brochure on Great Zimbabwe that had been published (NAZ Historical Manuscripts HA17/1/2 p.1. cited in Fontein 2006: 122).
The name Zimbabwe has become synonymous to the outside world with the political ambitions of African Nationalists to establish a ‘black’ government. The militant Rhodesian Africans in exile at U.N.O. Headquarters in New York have even gone as far as to describe themselves as ‘the dispossessed people of Zimbabwe’ a name which is intended to take the place of Rhodesia in the same way Northern Rhodesia became ‘Zambia’. In line with British long term planning of a similar ‘hand-­‐over’ in Rhodesia, the Zimbabwe ‘Bantu Theory’ has been supported by British authorities and used by them to enhance the claim of Africans to govern this country. This propaganda continues through the medium of books, articles broadcast and telecast both in and outside Rhodesia; it is therefore imperative that a Government Ministry should not give support to this subversive movement by publicising their claim in a Gov-­‐
ernment brochure designed to be distributed throughout the world. The ori-­‐
gin of Zimbabwe as described in the new brochure is misleading as it gives the impression that the mystery has been solved, and that the other theories and opinions of some of the world’s leading authorities on the subject are no longer of any importance. The part played by Sabeans, Phoenicians, Arabs and Indians in establishing the earlier civilisation is dismissed in one sen-­‐
tence, and the views of three persons little known outside Rhodesia are de-­‐
scribed as representing modern scientific opinion when in fact scientists of world status such as Professor Dart, Professor Gayre, and the late Abbe Breul and many other eminent authorities do not subscribe to those opinions.
155
Fig. 41. The logo of the Rhodesia Broadcast Corporation after 1965
The Bantu ‘Roswi’ [Rozvi] people are described as the builders of Zim-­‐
babwe from 1450-­‐1833 when they were finally driven out by invading Nguni from the south: an unreal and historically inaccurate theory based on unreli-­‐
able native legend.
Great Zimbabwe was occasionally tabled in Parliamentary debate in 1970, in which Colonel Hartley, MP for Fort Victoria (now Masvingo) remarked (Colonel Hartley 1970, Hansard pp. 531-­‐532):
I got in some small amount of hot water, I think, this time last year, by ques-­‐
tioning the authenticity of official publications which were being sponsored through Government agencies and Government departments, in which I be-­‐
lieve the private theories of single individuals were being promoted in re-­‐
spect of origins of Zimbabwe ruins. Government ministries and Government publications, as I say, were being used for the propagation of theories of one particular school of thought, to the total exclusion of other schools of thought which exist in this regard
To this remark, the Rhodesian Minister of Internal Affairs, Lance Smith an-­‐
swered (Smith 1970): I believe that from every point of view the mystery of [Great] Zimbabwe is of great value to this country and to the tourist industry and whilst one hopes that the scientists and investigators will advance with their research on Zim-­‐
babwe, they will not solve the mystery too soon otherwise the attraction might disappear. I do not wish them any harm but still like the mystery.
The thesis that Great Zimbabwe should perhaps be presented as a mystery is a contentious issue even today. A mystery paradigm may be good for boosting tourism as the Rhodesian minister suggested. However, I am of the view that this is one of those manipulations of history and heritage that deny local popu-­‐
lations a sense of attachment and ownership of Great Zimbabwe as their in-­‐
digenous heritage. No amount of tourism development based on a “mystery” theory will ever be equal to the inviolable right of every citizen to claim his/her part in the Zimbabwe heritage. To my knowledge, the mystery paradigm per-­‐
sists as the price the heritage pays to promote “cultural tourism”. The Zimbabwe controversy claimed its victims, namely Peter Garlake, Roger Summers and Paul Sinclair in 1970 and 1976. Ironically, these were members of the white community who refused compromises and were faithful to their profession. Garlake was appointed Monuments Inspector by the Historical Monuments Commission of Rhodesia in 1964. He was caught up in the political controversy by insisting on a scientific analysis of the evidence at a time that the Rhodesians thought was a critical moment. Rather than compromise his principles or keep quiet, Garlake resigned and left the country in 1970. He lived in exile for a decade and returned only after independence in 1980. Summers also resigned in the same year and moved to South Africa.
Paul Sinclair, an archaeologist, had joined the staff of Great Zimbabwe in 1975. By that time, the issue of a “subversive” guidebook on Great Zimbabwe 157
had spilled into Parliament. Realising that the scientifically based guidebook had been muted, Sinclair resigned and left the country for Mozambique and continued archaeological work at the University of Eduardo Mondlane.
The mythical foundations of Rhodesia can be seen as both an odyssey and a tragedy. Pro-­‐Rhodesian books, including those that hold discredited theories that I have discussed in this chapter, continue to be in circulation. In 2009, I saw a Rhodesian flag on sale in a shop owned by a former Rhodesian in Johan-­‐
nesburg (which is illustrated below), and there are several websites that relive the memories of romantic Rhodesia. It is the story of an immigrant minority that fell in love with the country and its heritage and who created romance around it. On the reverse side, a tragedy unfolded as the indigenous people called into question the selfish appropriation of the past. This theme will be discussed in section III.
SECTION III: CELEBRATING THE RETURN OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS: THE BIRTH OF CULTURAL NATIONALISM
In Shona custom, if a sacred object has been stolen restitution must be done. Otherwise the thief is haunted by its aggrieved spirit -­‐ngozi. In the same way the Europeans had learnt the lesson that the stolen sacred bird must be returned to its owners as country after country failed to keep the bird because its aggrieved spirit was restless.
– Address by the Hon. Chief Alois Mangwende, President of the Chiefs’ Council on the occasion of the official handover of the half portion of a Zimbabwe Bird from Germany
Patriotic history and cultural nationalism Since 1980, at the time when Zimbabwe attained independence and black ma-­‐
jority rule, the dominant political narrative seeks legitimacy in a historical past as well as in the particularity of the nation’s cultural origins, and how these have shaped a sense of nationhood. This narrative forms a critical part of the ideology of the foundations of the nation state. The principal themes are the liberation war in the 1970s, not portrayed in isolation of the first armed resist-­‐
ance to colonialism, the Chimurenga War of 1896-­‐1897. Thus, the last liber-­‐
ation war has been dubbed the 2nd Chimurenga. The second theme is the notion that the liberation struggle was also a cultural renaissance, in which the coun-­‐
try reclaimed a stolen cultural heritage. By this, I refer to the denialism prevail-­‐
ing in Rhodesia about the indigenous origins of Great Zimbabwe and objects found there, and their appropriation at the time to serve the ideology of the government. A new nationalist ideology has defined the relationship between the state and Great Zimbabwe in the post-­‐colonial period. Great Zimbabwe plays the role of soul and spirit upon which the state has constructed an ideol-­‐
158
ogy about itself. The post-­‐colonial state has adopted the Zimbabwe Bird 1 as its sovereign emblem. I contend that post-­‐colonial literature has not invented a patriotic history to support the post-­‐colonial state. I believe it is the professional duty of historians and archaeologists to capture these events, rather than to create and sustain state ideology. Any viable ideology must primarily have its own internal dri-­‐
vers. Thus, in recognising how the Zimbabwe Bird has become a ubiquitous icon permeating the public sphere, it was observed that the Zimbabwe Birds have become “Symbols of a Nation” (Matenga 1998). It is important to separate an organic national narrative from historical re-­‐
visionism. The renowned historian Terence Ranger once lamented the emer-­‐
gence in Zimbabwe of what he called “Patriotic History”. Although the article did not exactly define what patriotic history is, one can guess that he referred to a “nationalist historiography” – history in the service of nationalism (Ranger 2003: 1). The connotation is obviously negative, implying that such a histori-­‐
ography has been expediently distorted to support a nationalist status quo. To illustrate his point, Ranger argued that the ceremony on 14 May 2003 to mark the return and reunification of the two halves of the Zimbabwe Bird 8, a lower part of which had been exported to Germany, had been used by the state to further the cause of a “patriotic history”. The return was preceded by advocacy from many quarters to “recover the specimen in Berlin and allow it to return home to roost” (Matenga 1998: 62). Advocates included the book The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe: Symbols of Nation, which the historian and politician Dr Mudenge had prefaced, extolling it as a contribution to “authentic national history” (Matenga 1998: vii). In an obvious reference to the book, Ranger had deplored the interpretation of Great Zimbabwe by “elite nationalists and aca-­‐
demic archaeologists who jointly ignore the sacredness of Great Zimbabwe to the locals” (Ranger 2003: 20). Professor Ranger might have failed to notice that the same book on the Birds was in fact the first in many years to have asserted that Great Zimbabwe was primarily a shrine and by extension to acknowledge a place for the local communities by maintaining it (Matenga 1998:57). In fact, in the post-­‐independence era, it was the first piece of work to rediscover Great Zimbabwe’s sacred values. What Professor Ranger may also have omitted to mention was that previous governments had used heritage for better or worse to further a political ideol-­‐
ogy of their own. The “parasitic” relationship of politics over heritage was as true with regard to the modern Zimbabwe state as it was with the preceding Rhodesian state. Professor Ranger’s article fails to make this important com-­‐
parative analysis. It is my view that it is probably an intrinsic character of heri-­‐
tage that it is used in this way, rather than to see it merely as a shifting political construct. As monuments and relics are abstracted from the past and used in the present, and are preserved for the future, they are capable of developing new meanings even without the old meanings being overtaken or discarded. The constant regeneration and sometimes mutation of values is a character of heritage that carries a special historical significance to a community, society or nation. Heritage is such a strong term that it seems to have become popularly interchangeable with history itself. However, it suggests some obligation on the 159
part of the present to the past and on behalf of the future, and that in some way the past should provide a lesson for the present and future. Like tradition, heri-­‐
tage is a way of managing the past, managing history and (re)presenting it in the present. In a sense, heritage is not only a “reading” of the past but a “writ-­‐
ing” of it -­‐ a way of establishing “history” itself. The responsibility to present and interpret heritage in the public sphere lies equally with academics as the public itself and with politicians who feel that they own it, or are part of it. In the framework of post-­‐colonial discourse, I have the view that the indigenous academic historian and archaeologist have been vilified as agents, actors or spin doctors who are not capable of being external observers. It is with this in mind that I give an account of the state ceremony to receive the Bird fragment from Germany, which I had the privilege to attend. The Zimbabwe Birds in post-­independence iconography Since the attainment of independence in April 1980, the reproduction of Bird 1 with varying degrees of stylization has proliferated in both the private and public sector. It is on the logo of many public and private organisations and corporate bodies (Appendix IV). The Birds crowns the coat-­‐of arms; it is the centrepiece of a white triangular wedge at the left hand end of the polychrome national flag. It was struck on the reverse side of several coin denominations and appeared in a watermark on all notes of the national currency. It also appeared as a watermark on temporary bank notes introduced for use alongside the official money from 2000 owing to hyperinflation, until the currency was decommissioned in 2009. In August 1981, the government unveiled the National Heroes’ Acre just outside the Harare Central Business District, a grandiose burial place and after-­‐life celebra-­‐
tion of those recognized as having made an outstanding contribution to the struggle for Zimbabwe (Ministry of Information and Publicity 2009: 1). The frontispiece is an open ritual area with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, flanked by two high walls in a mirror image of each other carrying a mural ac-­‐
count of the phases in the political and armed struggle, beginning at the northeastern wall and continuing on the southwestern wall. Both walls are crowned by enlarged emblems of Bird 1 (Ibid: 3) (Figs 42, 43, 44, 45). The handover ceremony for the Bird fragment from Germany, May 2003
The handover took place at an eventful ceremony at the State House and re-­‐
ceived a live televised broadcast (Fig. 46). Many things indicated that this was a prime state occasion. The list of invited guests comprised the who’s who of the country’s political landscape at the time: the State President’s two deputies, the senior cabinet ministers and the senior ruling party (ZANU PF) officials at-­‐
tended. This included members of the ZANU PF Women’s League, the Zim-­‐
babwe War Veterans Association and Members of the Chiefs Council. Members of the Diplomatic Corps were invited, which included the South African Ambas-­‐
sador to Zimbabwe. The fanfare and pomp of the state occasion was broadcast 160
live on national television, and the following day the main daily paper carried a headline of the event (The Herald 15/05/2003: 1). The State President, Robert Mugabe delivered a keynote speech. The Presi-­‐
dent of the Chiefs Councils also addressed the audience in the main indigenous language, Shona. Part of the State President’s speech read thus (Mugabe 2003: 1): On behalf of the Government and the people of Zimbabwe, I feel privileged and honoured to receive the lower half of one of the soapstone Birds from the Great Zimbabwe era which we heartily welcome back home after years of ex-­‐
ile which began with illegal movement from our country between 1889 and 1903. The Great Zimbabwe Birds are our nation’s prized cultural treasures, a symbol of our nation whose meaning defies time and place. The return of the pedestal of this national symbol is, therefore, cause for celebration because it fits into our on-­‐going programme of national identity and restoration. Like our Land Reform Programme, today’s ceremony allows us to assert owner-­‐
ship over our national resources and treasures.
Referring to the appropriation of the meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds, the President said (Ibid: 3-­‐5): Indeed as some scholars have written, the aim of the colonizer was to foist an image of inferiority into the colonized and, to a large extent this was achieved by teaching our people a history that was not theirs and consequently alien-­‐
ating them from their own… To justify these acquisitions, the colonial collec-­‐
tors employed all sorts of hypotheses to clothe the cultural material in ques-­‐
tion in borrowed Semitic, Egyptian or Western robes. The most classic exam-­‐
ple of these attempts to deny Africans their heritage is the Great Zimbabwe monument whose origins were attributed variously to Semites, Egyptians and Arabs… Once the colonizers convinced themselves that the civilizations they were “discovering” in Africa were foreign to the indigenous Africans, they freely collected even those objects that were sacred to communities. The President concluded his speech by urging NMMZ to keep Great Zimbabwe and its finds on behalf of the nation (Ibid: 9): To National Museums and Monuments, I say please take great care of our country’s heritage, always conscious that without a past we will have neither a present nor a future.
President Mugabe’s speech was echoed by the president of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Alois Mangwende, speaking in Shona: It was pleasing to note that this [the return of the bird fragment) was taking place at a time land was now back in the hands of its rightful owners. The bird was, therefore, landing on freed land.
Chief Mangwende went on to say that the Bird had probably returned because the Bird’s aggrieved spirit (Ngozi yeShiri) was haunting its captors. He delved into Shona beliefs on restorative justice (The Herald 15/05/2003): 161
Fig. 42. The coat wall displayed at the
National Heroes Acre, Harare
Fig. 43. Zimbabwean coins introduced in 1980 (Photo B. Dewey)
Fig. 45. The mural wall at the National Heroes’ Acre, crowned
by a Zimbabwe Bird
They did not know that they were dealing with an aggrieved spirit. These are painful signs of the effect of Ngozi. In Shona custom, if a sacred object has been stolen restitution must be done. In the same way the Europeans had learnt a lesson that the stolen sacred Bird must be returned to its owners as country after country failed to keep the bird because its restless spirit.
Something often only assumes profound symbolic significance and elevation in its heritage value when it is in danger of being lost, or it has been lost. The Zim-­‐
babwe Birds are cases in point. Thus, in terms of the materiality theory, the captors of the Zimbabwe Birds may be credited for having raised their value tag. In this theory, they also become important stakeholders in the emerging heritage product. Proponents of the materiality theory will argue that the value of heritage today might not be its value in the future. The adaptation of the Zimbabwe Birds as symbols of the nation and the state is a thread that runs through Zimbabwean history since their discovery more than a century ago. The post-­‐independence return of the Zimbabwe Birds marks the climax of this celebration and adaptation. The powerful impression that heritage can have on state politics and how state politics in turn influence the interpretation and use of that heritage was exemplified in the ceremony to receive the Bird fragment from Germany in 2003. As we can see, the keynote addresses by the State President and the President of the Chiefs’ Council underlined the perceived spiritual connection between the return of the bird fragment and Zimbabwe’s land reform policy, in which 11 million hectares of land had been reclaimed from white commercial farmers and reallocated to black farmers. In this narra-­‐
tive, it was not fortuitous that the Bird was coming back home to roost on liber-­‐
ated land. This is an example of the state’s conflation of three political themes, i.e. the sacred symbolism of the Zimbabwe Birds, the rehabilitation of Great Zimbabwe and the government’s seizure of white owned farms, which was seen as syn-­‐
onymous with the reclamation of the Zimbabwe Bird, which in turn was part of the on-­‐going war of liberation-­‐ the 3rd Chimurenga46. It can also be seen that the state was beginning to take a more direct interest in spiritual matters and that the duties of the state have a sacred dimension. In addition, government’s land reclamation programme in order to right a historical wrong was consistent with Shona belief system that land is sacred, that it belongs to us and we own it on behalf of the ancestors. President Mugabe’s mastery of political oratory is well known, and on this occasion, he delivered a loaded speech, hitting hard at neo-­‐colonialism. Mugabe’s speech exemplified the popular anti-­‐ and post-­‐colonial doctrine of resistance upon which his political career has thrived. The choice of the state house as venue for the handover, albeit only a passing event, has led some commentators to say that it was a fitting counter to the tradition that the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, Cecil Rhodes had set just over a century back to keep one of the stone Birds at his official residence47.
There were those who held a contrary view (in particular the independent media) that it was not necessary to expend so much in state resources in hon-­‐
our of a stone carving when the country was in the throes of worst economic 164
crisis since its founding (Fontein 2006: 221, citing an editorial in The Standard 6 June 2003). The criticism spilled over into the South African press (Fontein 2006: 221). In this way, it is interesting that heritage was being created and recreated through assertions and contestations. The Birds had entered the national heritage discourse. During the ceremony, a war mood was created heightened by song and dance by the popular musical ensemble, Mbira dzeNharira, to which members of the ZANU PF Women’s League and the National War Veterans Association spontaneously rose to dance, among them the war veteran, Mr Joseph Chino-­‐
timba. The centrepiece song, Magamba (Heroes), accompanied by music from the African piano – mbira -­‐ was released in 1998. The lyrics run as follows:
Nyika yedu yakauya neChimurenga;
Chokwadi mwana wevhu waknga azvipira;
Kukudubura utongi hwekudzvinyrirwa;
Kwatanga yemapfumo kuzouya yemagidi.
Ona torangarira magamba;
Ambuya Nehanda, Chaminuka, Sekuru Kagubi;
Mondor huru dzenyika ino;
Dazaktitsigira kuti tikude muChimurenga.
Ona torangira vaPrirenyatwa;
Rekai Tangwena tinomuremekedza;
Ona torangarira VaChitepo;
VaChitepo vakasunungura nyik.a
On Torangarira Tongogara;
Moyo J.Z. ... [inaudible];
Ona torangarira vakafira mumasango iwe;
Kufira masngo vachingura nyika.
Ona torangarira vanamujibha;
Vanmujiba vaifamba nema [inaudible];
Ona torangarira vanchimbwido;
Vanchimbwido chipata pata kubika.
On tinotenda magaba iwe;
Rudo rwavo ngaurumekedzwe.
English translation
Our country was won back through Chimurenga48;
Surely the children of the soil had dedicated their lives to the fight;
To overthrow oppressive rule
It started with the war with spears and then came the war with guns;
165
See, we remember the fallen heroes;
Our great grandmother Nehanda, Chaminuka and great grandfather Kagubi49;
The great territorial spirits of this country;
tha backed us so that we won the liberation struggle;
See we remember Parirenyatwa50;
Rekai Tangwena51 we honour him;
Se we remember Mr. Chitepo52;
Mr. Chitepo liberated the country.
See, we remember Tongogara53;
Moyo J. Z.54 .... [inaudible].
See, we remember those who died in the bush war;
Dying in the bush war in order to liberate the country;
See we remember the mujibha’s55
The mujibhas moved with [inaudible]
See we remember the chimbwido’s56;
The chimbwido’s it was hectic preparing food. See, we remember the fallen heroes;
Their selfless love must be honoured.
The song, to which members of the War Veterans Associations and Women’s League danced, predictably produced theatrical excitement and a climactic moment. The song falls into the genre of Zimbabwe’s war songs and can be traced back to both the 1st and 2nd Chimurenga wars. The power of song in the life of southern African liberation movements is well-­‐documented (Pongweni 1982, Gunner 2010). Singing was a medium to convey political and historical narratives and to boost morale in the ranks of the forces. “Music functions as a trenchant political site in Africa primarily because it is most widely appreciated art form on the continent” (Gunner 2010: 2). The song’s text puts the 1st and 2nd Chimurenga wars in a single historical continuum. The juxtaposition of the themes of liberation war, land reclamation and traditional religion underlined the relevance of the song on this occasion. The second ceremony to hand over the Bird to the Chiefs of Masvingo Prov-­‐
ince, which I will recount below, was also presided over by the state, which demonstrates that the state had reconnected with spiritual matters connected with Great Zimbabwe. Traditional chiefs receive the unified Bird at Great Zimbabwe, 7 May 2004
Following the advice of the Chiefs’ Council, a second ceremony was held to re-­‐
ceive the Bird at Great Zimbabwe on 7 May 2004. The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with the National Assembly of Chiefs and was part of its agenda, presided over by the State President. Again, while working at Great Zimbabwe, I had the privilege of witnessing the second handover ceremony (Fig. 47). A tent was erected in the open area 166
Fig. 46. President Mugabe receives the lower part
of Bird 8 from the German Ambassador on 14
May 2003 (Photo Associated Press)
Fig. 47. The ceremonial return of
the lower part of Bird 8 to the Hill
Complex, presided over by the
Chiefs on 8 May 2004
between the Valley Ruins and the Zimbabwe Hill. The chiefs from Masvingo Province held a meeting on 6 May, which I attended as site director. After dis-­‐
cussions, it was agreed that Chief Fortune Charumbira would receive the Zim-­‐
babwe Bird on behalf of Masvingo Province. At the time, Chief Charumbira was chairman of the chiefs from Masvingo Province, the Secretary General of the Chiefs’ Council as well as Deputy Cabinet Minister of the local government, under whose mandate the chiefs fell. Thus, he received the Bird and handed it over to the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Kembo Mohadi, who in turn handed it over to NMMZ. The ceremony was historic; the first of its kind to be held at Great Zimbabwe with such a mixed composition and agenda: chiefs, the state apparatus, politics and matters of the spirit. Again, I see that the state was redefining itself in rela-­‐
tionship to Great Zimbabwe and traditional authority. The ceremony added the theme of the role of the traditional chiefs. The traditional chiefs had been less visible in the immediate post-­‐colonial period, during which time the new post-­‐
colonial government consolidated its sovereign authority. Yet the chiefs had always been regarded as custodians of the land, shrines and customary law. The ambivalent relationship between the chiefs and the post-­‐colonial gov-­‐
ernment seems to have arisen from the fact the Rhodesian Government of Ian Smith had sought to forge an informal alliance with the chiefs in a bid to acquire some traditional legitimacy. The government changed its policy when it realised that the traditional chiefs can play a critical role in its public outreach programmes. The return of the Bird presented an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the government and the traditional authorities. I would like also to contest the hypothesis that the adoption of Great Zim-­‐
babwe in the imagery of anti-­‐ and post-­‐colonial nationalism was “mimicry” or “derivative discourse” as Fontein would like to suggest (Fontein 2006 119-­‐
139). Fontein argues that “the use of the Zimbabwe Birds on colonial Rhodesian flags, currency and coat of arms was mimicked by the determined effort of na-­‐
tionalists to re-­‐appropriated these symbols for themselves” (Fontein 2006: 134). In Rangers words, Great Zimbabwe “assumed disproportionate signifi-­‐
cance to black nationalists” because of attempts by white settlers to claim it as part of the heritage of their own race. Therefore, “it became inevitable that the independent state which has now succeeded Southern Rhodesia should be called Zimbabwe” (Ranger 1987: 159). According to the Collins English Dictionary, the word “mimic” means: i)
to imitate a person, or a way of acting or speaking; ii)
to copy closely or in a servile manner, e.g. social climbers in the colonies began to mimic their conquerors. While it has already been observed that African nationalism is both a product of and a reaction to European imperialism, it is interesting to see whether any theory, e.g. materiality, can be invoked to go as far as to credit the colonizers for “discovering” Great Zimbabwe for the indigenous people. Thus, herein also lies one of the contradictions in Fontein’s thesis, that on one plane he argues that local communities used and must be allowed to use Great Zimbabwe as a 168
shrine, and thus he disproves the myth that it was an abandoned and relict site. He failed to bring out in his thesis that in fact it was the Rhodesian settlers who thought that the site and its objects were relict. It is also interesting to note that the Rhodesians missed the opportunity to name the country Zimbabwe in the first place, if they had really wanted to make good their cultural appropriation. In addition, to suggest “mimicry” when the African nationalists decided to use the site and its iconic objects to counter their opponent’s cultural propaganda seems to me to be unduly patronizing. Fontein is making a theoretical proposi-­‐
tion and contradicting it. Conclusions The recent history of Zimbabwe has not only been one of movement and change of location, it has been one of changing meanings. In my view, the first section dealing with meaning of the Birds to their pre-­‐colonial custodians will stand as an important frame of reference, given that new meanings are likely to continue to emerge in the future. Without making ethical judgements, I argue that anyone in the situation of the Rhodesians would have appropriated the site and used it in the way they did. In the same vein, it was also natural that African nationalists and the post-­‐
colonial state saw fit to appropriate Great Zimbabwe and its objects. It is a sad irony that in this scenario, the role for local communities, which draws from the 19th century significance of the Birds seems now to have only been partially granted, and partially lost somewhere in the dynamics of changing significance. On the other hand, it is my view that the state must not be seen as bankrolling an agenda of its own, for the actors and agents that constitute the state also belong to the communities. In other words, the supposed dichotomy between the state and the local communities is to a certain extent a political construct, now enshrined in international conventions. Unfortunately, this might be con-­‐
strued to be subversion of the state, yet in any given situation it is important that the state and communities cooperate for the common good of what may only be different sides of the same agenda. 169
170
5. INTERNATIONAL APPROACHES AND ATTITUDES TO THE RETURN OF CULTURAL PROPERTY Convinced that it is henceforth essential to pay a particular attention to the right to development and that civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, social and cultural rights in their conception as well as universality and that the satisfaction of economic, social and cultural rights is a guarantee for the enjoyment of civil and political rights;57 The African States members of the Organisation of African Unity58... have agreed as follows: Article 22: 1. All people shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind. 2. State parties shall have the duty, individually or collectively to ensure the exercise of the right to [economic, social and cul-­‐
tural]59 development. – African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981 In this chapter I will discuss international principles and practices in so far as they define the status of cultural property removed from shrines, monuments, sites and any such similar contexts through the application of force, deceit or other questionable means, which might have given undue advantage to the collector. I will discuss the growing calls for redress as a result of an awareness of their national significance in the countries in which they originated. I wish to draw thematic and temporal boundaries to distinguish acquisitions in historical times from the on-­‐going illicit traffic of cultural property, the latter of which lies outside the scope of this thesis. Thus from a chronological perspective, and in the context of sub-­‐Saharan Africa, the reference here is to objects ill gotten in colonial contexts. A rough time boundary would be fixed at the end of WWII, at which time it is generally accepted that the process of decolonisation started. Here the volume of literature of various kinds is overwhelming – interna-­‐
tional and regional legal texts (conventions and charters, declarations and trea-­‐
ties), national legislations and civic lobbies, scholarly and journalistic critiques. This makes it a literary minefield and I do not pretend that I have made justice to this difficult and controversial subject. The following is only a synopsis for a subject that intersects the interests of states, art oligarchs and academics. I would like to refer the reader to recent attempts to describe the global political landscape on the subject in Greenfield (2007) and Prott (2009). 171
Over the years, a customized terminology has been developed and this dis-­‐
tinguishes three ways in which redress can be achieved, namely Restitution, Repatriation and Return – the 3R’s. Restitution is “the principle of reverting wartime plunder, or the unconditional return of looted cultural property” (Kowalski 2005: 86). Repatriation is used in reference to cultural property whose status changed with changes in the statehood of territories with the breakdown of multina-­‐
tional states. For centuries, such states had tended to collect in their imperial capitals the most valuable works of art and literature. Previously, such proper-­‐
ties had been “kept in local sanctuaries and in local capitals, [and] had served an important function as a force unifying and identifying a local community. Once moved to big central museums, their role changed: they stood for the cultural diversity of mighty empires, but just as often were a symbol of domina-­‐
tion over subordinated peoples and countries. No wonder that, with regained independence, those countries wasted no time in reclaiming their lost cultural heritage with steadfast determination” (Kowalski 2005: 86). The process to return such property to the now independent states is known as repatriation of national cultural heritage. It is important to note that repatriation in this sense may be a domestic issue, in which a region within a nation state may demand restoration from a museum to a local community. In practice, repatriation is a fully autonomous concept in relationship to return or restitution, referring to the return of property in the event of breakdowns of multi-­‐ethnic or multi-­‐
national states, recognizing the territory or locality from which they came (Kowalski 2005:95, 97). Return is now usually used in respect of removal of goods in the colonial era as well as to cover on-­‐going illicit traffic of cultural property. In seeking redress or restoration, the term “return of cultural property to the country of origin” is used (Kowalski 2005: 86). In the Guidelines for the Use of the Standard Form Concerning Request for Return or Restitution, the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation defines return as follows (Kowalski 2005: 96): The term “return” applies in cases where objects left their countries of origin prior to the crystallization of national and international law on protection of cultural property. Such transfers of property were often made from a colonized territory of the colonial power or from a territory under foreign occupation. In many cases, they were a result of an exchange, gift or sale and did not therefore infringe any laws existing at the time. In some cases, how-­‐
ever, the legitimacy of the transfer can be questioned. Among the many vari-­‐
ants of such a process is the removal of an object from a colonial territory by people who were not nationals of the colonial power. There may also have been cases of political and economic dependence which made it possible to effect transfers of ownership from one territory to another which would not be envisaged today. 172
Thus for UNESCO, return refers to situations where property was lost [by whatever means] during colonial rule or illegal exports, while restitution is restricted to situations of plunder and theft and as a legal requirement (Kowal-­‐
ski 2005: 95-­‐96, 98). I also prefer to use to term “return” for the same reason that it liberates the subjects from narrow frames implied by both restitution and repatriation. Broadly speaking, return can be used to mean both repatriation and restitution, but not vice versa. The evolution of international law on restitution of cultural property International legal experts do not agree as to when the requirement for restitu-­‐
tion/return of cultural property made its first appearance in international law. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Hague Conventions of 1889 and 1907 on the Laws and Custom of War on Land only went so far as to impose a ban on de-­‐
struction and theft of cultural property and not return as such (Pomian 2005: 71-­‐72, Kowalski 2005: 88). Kowalski, however, argues that the first meaningful application of uncondi-­‐
tional restitution of cultural property looted in war was done within the framework of international peace treaties in Europe from at least the Middle Age. For instance, in the Peace of Westphalia (1648) with respect to the resto-­‐
ration of private property, and in the Treaty of Oilwa between Sweden and Poland in 1660, to which the minor Swedish King Charles XI of Sweden dele-­‐
gated his uncle and chancellor, Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. Sweden returned looted archives and the royal library to Poland (Kowalski 2005: 87). Otherwise, a historic landmark on post-­‐war restitution was achieved in the Treaty of Vi-­‐
enna in 1815, which ended the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic wars. Restitution was considered in the terms of peace between the European states and France, and since then, it has been accepted in all post-­‐war interna-­‐
tional settlements as the standard norm. The Treaty of Vienna provided for an unconditional return of looted cultural property without the limitation of lapse of time since the moment of plunder. The territorial principle was also applied, in which cultural property was to be returned to the original location from where it was removed (Kowalski 2005: 88). Notably, we subsequently see the appearance of the principle of restitution in national law in the Lieber Code (Instructions for the Government of the Arm-­‐
ies of the United States), decreed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as a code of conduct for the US. This was put in place in order to secure cultural property from attack and if necessary, remove it to a safe repository, with a view to return it after hostilities had ceased as part of the peace treaty (Kowal-­‐
ski 2005: 88). The principle of restitution was also accepted by the victorious powers who drafted the Treaty of Versailles (Article 238) at the end of WWI, and other sepa-­‐
rate bilateral treaties that Germany signed with neighbouring countries. How-­‐
ever, because the damage of war was often irreversible, a mix of options, in-­‐
173
cluding economic compensation, compensation in kind and restitution by equi-­‐
valent value were proposed and applied in some but not in all cases. Thus, the principle of restitution and return were included in the treaties that were signed at the end of WWII. Allied forces also committed themselves to identify and return of cultural property in the occupied German territories and to the injured countries. Pressure was also applied to neutral countries such as Sweden and Switzerland, where some of the plunder had been taken. However, the challenges have proved to be daunting owing to lack of proper documenta-­‐
tion regarding the displaced property, especially from Eastern Europe, as well as cultural plunder that was taken to Russia (Kowalski 2005: 94). Conse-­‐
quently, many European cases of demand for restitution are yet to be resolved. The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954), commonly called the Hague Convention (1954), marks the climax of the development of international laws on restitution. It was prompted by the horrors of the destruction caused by WWII. This was the first time that international law had been prepared in times of peace to protect cultural prop-­‐
erty, in the event that a war would occur in the future. The convention de-­‐
scribed respect for cultural property of both a contracting state and its adver-­‐
sary (even when the adversary was not a contracting state -­‐ Article 18(3)), respect by refraining from actions that are likely to expose the property to damage, barring circumstances of imperative military necessity. The Conven-­‐
tion also sought to prevent and prohibit theft or pillage, or vandalism against cultural property (Toman 2005: 13-­‐15). The Hague Protocol Protection of Cul-­
tural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) was also prepared to work in conjunction with the Convention to “prevent export of cultural property and to impound property which is imported into a country from an occupied terri-­‐
tory”. They also agreed to return such property (Toman 2005: 15). The Second Hague Protocol, which came into effect in 2004, was meant to provide loop-­‐
holes that had been identified in the 1954 Convention, chiefly regarding lack of preparation by member states in times of peace, the principle of imperative military necessity and the need for imposing sanctions against states that acted in contravention of the Convention (Toman 2005: 24-­‐25). As it has turned out during the last five and half decades, there have been many wars, and the de-­‐
struction and looting of cultural property does not appear to be going into a respite. Examples abound: Yugoslavia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghani-­‐
stan and Iraq. To continue with the historical development of international law on the pro-­‐
tection of cultural property, we turn to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970). However, before we examine this law, which makes specific reference to the return of cultural property and how it was cre-­‐
ated within the frame of the Western Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD), we will pause for a moment to look at the right to heritage as a human right. It is also necessary at this stage to know who create these international laws. 174
The right to heritage: An issue of human rights The preamble to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Article 22 of the same, cited above, illustrate a growing recognition in African political circles of the connection between cultural heritage and the social and economic wellbeing of nations. During the Carter Lecture Series Conference in 1993, it was recognised that the right to a cultural heritage was an essential philosophical underpinning to strategies to stop the illicit removal and export of African antiquities and to encourage restitution. The Conference was also an opportunity to review the UNESCO Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right to a cultural heritage or cultural identity is implicitly inherent in Articles 22 and 27 of the Declara-­‐
tion, as they refer to cultural rights and the right to participate in the cultural life of a community. In Gainesville, Florida, in 1990 and in Harare in 1995 at the Congress of the Pan African Association of Prehistory and Related Studies, SAFA, the Society of African Archaeologists expressed disquietude at the continuing and unrelenting removal and illicit export of African antiquities. During the Carter Conference, participants launched an advocacy to stop the illicit removal of objects representing Africa’s past and heritage. One of the important tenets to emerge from the lectures was the affirmation that the right of people to their past and the material evidence that manifested it was a fundamental human right in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Hu-­‐
man Rights. It was stated that, “the protection of civil and political human rights against the abusive asymmetrical power relationships ... is not inherently more important for human well-­‐being than the right to a cultural identity” (Schmidt and McIntosh 1996: 3). The resolutions of the Carter Conference nevertheless demonstrate that despite lack of progress on the ground, international conscience exists in “rec-­‐
ognizing the human right to a cultural identity and heritage”. The participants also lobbied for “governments to become signatories to international conven-­‐
tions designed to arrest the illicit removal of cultural resources, such as the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the UNIDROIT [Convention], and adopt effective implementation legislation” (Schmidt and McIntosh 1996:15). Schmidt advocates a programme to revitalize and preserve the link between human rights and the right to a cultural heritage. He poignantly poses the ques-­‐
tion (1996: 18): Given the serious need to build more effective mechanisms for the protection of civil and political rights in Africa, is it then frivolous or irrelevant to sug-­‐
gest that the right to a cultural past is as important for one’s well-­‐being as a right to a fair trial, to freedom of assembly, or to unfettered religious expres-­‐
sion? From its inception, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (1948) had a troubled history. Problems started when trying to draft a Covenant for the Implementation of the Declaration. For what was apparently expedient reasons, the drafters of the declaration had decided to break it down into two: a 175
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a “first generation human rights”, and another, the Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, a “second generation human rights” (Logan et al. 2010: 4-­‐5). The former was backed up by a protocol on the machinery to deal with complaints from individuals. Meanwhile, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) did not have a similar protocol. Nevertheless, it affirms “the right of everyone … to take part in cultural life” (Article 15) (Logan et al. 2010: 5). Again, in 1966, UNESCO adopted a Declaration on the Principles of Interna-­
tional Cultural Cooperation, which asserted, “Each culture has a dignity and a value which must be respected and preserved”. Schmidt points out that while the issues of restitution and return have been on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly, very little headway has been made in restitution, which is complicated by statutes of limitation and the issue of retroactivity. Schmidt is of the view that the idea is lost in that the con-­‐
ventions passed or ratified by UNESCO fail to link restitution to human rights issues (Schmidt 1995). Logan laments that the world bodies actually only pay lip service to human rights issues. Heritage experts have not yet developed a firm theoretical framework to locate “human rights issues … in the interdisciplinary field of cultural heritage studies” (Logan 2010: 17). Paul Sinclair, professor of Archae-­‐
ology in Uppsala, argues that heritage has been abused by postcolonial despotic regimes in Africa and in other parts of the world. State corruption has provided a fertile ground for illicit movement of cultural objects. In my view, the problem of cultural rights as human rights holds both the Western and non-­‐Western world to account. Should the right of return of cul-­‐
tural property be universally accepted as a human rights issue, it would pose a dilemma for the Western nations, who are the holders of these objects. They cannot claim to be bastions of human rights and flaunt them at the same time. On the other hand, developing nations, especially in Africa, have been going through a difficult passage with respect to human rights in the postcolonial era. Human rights, which are generally construed to mean civil and political rights, have unfortunately been associated with subversion of the state authority. State responses have been characterised by violent backlashes, and in the current political discourse, it might not serve the cause of heritage well to mix cultural rights with human rights. Alternatively, it can be argued that developing count-­‐
ries in Africa, for instance, do not have the moral grounds to affirm cultural rights as human rights before they have accepted the basic principles of human rights. Secondly, it is important to note that wherever human rights are re-­‐
spected, they are embedded in a democratic value system, which, at the pres-­‐
ent, has not taken root in Africa. Thirdly, economic and developmental rights deserve the same treatment as universal human rights. The economic benefits of international trade in cultural objects have accrued to Western capital with a huge price differential at source and destination, which can only make sense in the Western business ethic of “free trade”. 176
Who creates the international laws on the return or restitution of cultural property? Some interesting observations can be made on the above questions, and not the answer, and this hinges on the postcolonial theoretical perspective in which this thesis has been developed. The United Nations and its various organs and affiliated bodies, particularly UNESCO, have proven to be very important for-­‐
ums of promoting world peace and understanding between nations. Conven-­‐
tions and Charters launched under the various bodies by the United Nations spell out the internationally acceptable code of civil conduct with respect to issues of concern to all mankind, such as culture. It is indeed remarkable that several Conventions have been passed under the auspices of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. However, as with any law, whether it is national or international, a body of experts is hired to construct and pen the laws. It is a truism that most of these international experts have been drawn from Western countries. This should not be surprising, as the rest of the world offered a vacuum in expertise in the relevant fields. Thus, there is no reason to begrudge the West for the expertise that they hold. Nevertheless, we must also concede that this has influenced the ways in which international laws address the oppositions that often arise in West/non-­‐West dialogues. As Featherstone sees it, these circumstances “have granted the west the moral duty to guide and educate the others … the West understand itself as the guard-­‐
ian of universal values on behalf of the world formed in its own image,” (Featherstone 1995: 89). The above commentary will help the reader to under-­‐
stand the anatomy of international Conventions and Charters pertaining to the return of cultural property. Nation states in the developing world who have tried to use the laws to build their cases for the return of cultural property should therefore not be disappointed if they find these laws not to be addressing issues of natural jus-­‐
tice, as they were not involved in the construction of the laws in the first place. Some of the laws, it will be seen, have imposed limitations of time, which make it impossible to make a case for cultural property that they deem important in defining their own self-­‐image, but which have become naturalised parts of col-­‐
lections of the holding Western institutions. Nevertheless, international laws have one important merit; the fact of their existence presumes the existence of a problem. They are an important symbolic statement of the recognition of a problem, and that the community of nations has unveiled a platform for debate of the issue of return of cultural property. The UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) The UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, otherwise called the 1970 Convention, as Prott observed, was the first international legal instruments to address the issue of preventing the illegal and secretive move-­‐
ment of objects (Prott 1996: 33). However, it has had very little force during its existence over the last four decades, while it is important to note that many 177
international returns have been completed within the framework of bilateral agreements. The convention has therefore proved to be inadequate. Its princi-­‐
pal aim was to prevent the illicit traffic of cultural property in the future, rather than to be applied in retrospect. Schmidt observed that the UNESCO 1970 Convention does not have the practical means to stop the illicit trade in antiquities, which its tenets intended to prevent. Similar to any of the international entreaties that have been passed within the ambit of the United Nations, a country may choose to respect it or not, whether the country has ratified the Convention or not. Nevertheless, it is significant that the major Western powers, France, United Kingdom and the United States have signed the Convention. In themselves, international conven-­‐
tions do not carry the same weight as national laws. They only provide a framework for international cooperation. To date, 72 of the 103 nation states have ratified the Convention. The fact that several other Western countries that constitute the principal consumers of cultural objects, such the Netherlands, Germany and Russian, are not signatories to the Convention is a vote of no con-­‐
fidence in the initiative and a serious setback in what is otherwise a good inten-­‐
tion. Building on the 1970 Convention and following the launch of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), the United Nations General assembly passed Resolution 3187 (XXXVIII) 1973 on The Restitution of Works of Art to Countries Victims of Expropriation. The Resolution acknowledged the cultural despoliation of subject peoples by colo-­‐
nial powers, apparently, regardless of when it happened (Preamble). The reso-­‐
lution also encourages holding nations to the return of objects of art without mentioning a limitation of time (Prott 2009: 27-­‐28). Western institutions, the major international venues of the art trade, see the Convention as significantly interfering with their private property laws, which govern their collecting practices. The view of Western institutions is that cul-­‐
tural property is hostage to the whims of modern nation states, and more often than not is used as political capital. It is also clear that Western institutions do not accept or respect the right of governmental claims to ownership of cultural property. They have criticised the 1970 Convention for giving “blank cheque” powers to the source nations to decide what is under sovereign jurisdiction, in that anything can be designated as cultural property in articles 1 and 4. Some critics say that in the name of cultural property internationalism, they stoke cultural property nationalism (Cuno 2008: 15), leading to over-­‐retention or hording of cultural property. One of the major setbacks is that the Convention does not apply retro-­‐
actively, which means it cannot be used to redeem improper acquisitions made especially during the colonial period. The irony is that these objects are the most valuable ones, compared to recent acquisitions (Prott 1996: 31). In cer-­‐
tain cases, they are the symbols defining a link with the pre-­‐colonial in the post-­‐
colonial period. Despite the lack of retroactivity, the major Western countries have not signed the 1970 Convention, probably fearing unforeseen or unex-­‐
pected consequences. On their part, several reasons have been cited for the lack of cooperation, including that the Conventions inhibit the free circulation of 178
goods, which is a long-­‐standing tradition of free trade. Underlying this argu-­‐
ment is obviously the stark realisation that there is a lucrative market for art objects and antiquities in Western countries. London, for example, is the world hub of trade in art and antiquities, and the sector brings in millions of pounds annually. Introducing a vetting process would be tedious and time-­‐consuming. It has been argued that enforcing the Convention would infringe on private property rights, especially where these are backed by constitutional provisions. This argument is not entirely convincing, since the right to private property should not absolve one from accounting for items that can be proved to have been stolen at their source. A number of African countries have signed the 1970 Convention; notable among them are Nigeria, Mali and DRC, countries that have suffered consider-­‐
able depredation. Equally, a large number of African countries have not signed the Convention, among them Ghana. Zimbabwe accepted the Convention in 1976 but has not yet ratified (signed) it. One of the reasons cited for why some African countries have not ratified the 1970 Convention is lack of legal expertise to harmonise the international convention with national legislation. In the Western world, anticipating a grow-­‐
ing number of claims, international law on cultural property has become a field of specialisation. Fortunately, in terms of Article 15, the Convention does not preclude the conclusion of bilateral arrangement outside of the Conventions and the pursuit of issues that may have been started before the Convention came into force. As will be seen in this chapter, bilateral negotiations have a proven record of effi-­‐
cacy when compared to the Convention itself. Realising the limitations of the 1970 Convention in dealing with exporta-­‐
tions which occurred during the colonial period, in 1978, UNESCO in consulta-­‐
tion with The International Council Of Museums (ICOM) established the Inter-­
governmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation. The Intergov-­‐
ernmental Committee offered an alternative platform seeking to promote bilat-­‐
eral negotiations for the restitution or return of cultural property to their countries of origin (those that are member states of UNESCO) (Article 4). In the same year, the Director General of UNESCO had made a noble appeal for count-­‐
ries to return “at least the art treasures which best represent their culture, which they feel are the most vital and whose absence causes them the greatest anguish” (Prott 2009: 2, 14-­‐15). Since 1972, UNESCO has passed at least 23 resolutions on the protection and return of cultural property as part of the Preservation and Further Devel-­‐
opment of Cultural Values. Of these resolutions, 17 were passed after 1978. The Committee also prepared a claim form: Guidelines for the Use of the Standard Form Concerning Request for Return or Restitution. However, while to date the Committee has received a number of claims, none has been received from Afri-­‐
can states. The lack of response from African states has been explained vari-­‐
ously and the lack of legal and technical resources to institute claims is often cited. 179
As I have already indicated, the real test of the efficacy of these UN initia-­‐
tives is how they have been received by art-­‐importing nations. So far, the United States is the only country to have ratified the 1970 Convention (in 1972) and implementation is done largely through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA). The Cultural Patrimony Implementation Act (CPIA) was passed by the Congress in 1983 in order to enable the 1970 Convention under federal laws. The CPIA imposes restrictions on the importation of cultural property into the United States in cases where State Parties have entered into bilateral and multi-­‐
lateral agreements regarding specified types of archaeological and ethnological materials. When a State Party requests such an agreement, the US President must determine that: i)
The cultural patrimony of the requesting nation is threatened by pillage of the archaeological or ethnological material; ii)
The requesting nation has taken adequate measures to secure its cultural patrimony; iii)
The import restrictions are necessary to deal with the problem; iv)
The import restriction are the general interest of the community of nations. In addition to this, the United States may impose emergency import restrictions at the request of a requesting State Party if important pieces of cultural prop-­‐
erty are seen to be in danger of being pillaged. Once a bilateral agreement is in place, US law enforcement agents can seize and forfeit to the state to pave the way for return to the source country (Spiegler 2005: 107). Nevertheless, there is an on-­‐going debate regarding the interpretation of section 308 in the CPIA and its equivalent, Article 7(b) of UNESCO 1970 con-­‐
vention, in so far as the obligations of state parties in cases of stolen property only extend to property “stolen from a museum or a religious or secular monument or similar institution”. This should be set against the broad cultural patrimonial laws enacted by foreign states vesting sovereign ownership. The other technical issue is that initially art dealers had welcomed the CPIA, since it is not a criminal law but rather a regulatory civil law. However, as it turned out with some court cases heard after 1983, it does not pre-­‐empt criminal prosecu-­‐
tion under the pre-­‐existing National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) (Spiegler 2005: 105). In this case, a submission that an object had been illegally exported in terms of the law of a source nation had merit for the prosecution of an importer in the United States (Olivier 1996: 650). It has been observed that in practice, the United States is not keen to pursue cases of losses incurred in the past, as the CPIA does not apply in retrospect (Olivier 1996: 648). Rather, it emphasizes the prevention of losses of items that remain in situ in their countries of origin (Papageorge Kouroupas 1996: 89). The UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, 1995 The UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects was adopted in 1995 to harmonise the 1970 Convention with Western private law with respect to cultural heritage. Realizing that private law was outside its pur-­‐
180
view, UNESCO had tasked the International Institute for the Unification of Pri-­‐
vate Law (UNIDROIT) to draft the law. The difficult part was that most Western sovereign laws protected “bona fide purchasers” and placed the onus on the owner of stolen property to prove that the purchase was not legitimate. Since this clause provided cover and escape route for many illegal acquisitions, there was consensus that the Convention needed to be reviewed. The UNIDROIT Convention is a powerful legal instrument for purposes of international restoration of cultural property as it embraces the key issues of restitution (Articles 3 and 4) and return (Articles 5, 6, and 7) and the preven-­‐
tion of theft of cultural property. The UNIDROIT law tried to be inclusive of works of art of all kinds from all periods from ancient times to the present. It also allocates power to an appellant Contracting State to define within the framework of its public law the time limitations with respect to the lapse be-­‐
tween the time of the theft and the time when a claim is made. Article 3(1) un-­‐
equivocally prescribes the restitution of stolen cultural objects. Article 3(3) prescribes a time limit of three years within which a claim must be made from the time when the owner knew about the location of the stolen object, or in any case “within a period of fifty years from the time of the theft”. However, under Section 3(4), the time limitation of fifty years falls away for a claim of restitu-­‐
tion if it is established that “a cultural object forming an integral part of an iden-­‐
tified monument or archaeological site, or belonging to a public collection.” Nevertheless, the time limitation to submit a claim of three years from the time when the location of the object was known applies. Article 3(5) is critically important in that in effect, it sets aside the time limit from the time of theft by providing that “any Contracting State may declare that a claim is subject to a time limitation of 75 years or such longer period as is provided in its law”. This declaration must be specified at the time when at the time when the state signs on to the Convention (Article 3(6)). The above provi-­‐
sion also applies when a claim is heard in another Contracting State for a cul-­‐
tural object displaced from a monument, archaeological site or public collection in a Contracting State making the time declaration. Concerning the return of cultural property, Article 5(3)(d) is pertinent: The court or other competent authority of the State addressed shall order the return of an illegally exported cultural object if the requesting State estab-­‐
lishes that the removal of the object from its territory significantly impairs one or more of the following interests: (d) the traditional or ritual use of the object by a tribal or indigenous com-­‐
munity, or establishes that the object is of significant cultural importance for the requesting State. The time limitation of 3 years in which to submit a claim from the time when requesting state knew about the location of an object invariably applies, or 50 years from the date of the export. Neither the 1970 Convention and UNIDROIT apply retroactively, i.e. a state party can only bring a case before another state party after it has signed on to the Convention, and as such the time limit of three years between the know-­‐
181
ledge of the location of an object and a request is submitted. This invariably imposes a severe limitation to state parties that might want to consider claims for objects lost during the era of colonial conquests. The number of countries in the north/south divide that has signed the UN-­‐
IDROIT Convention is a general indicator of the international commitment to restitution. So far, the United States is the only Western country that has signed the UNIDROIT Convention. The response from African countries has been frustratingly weak. Despite a significant attendance during the drafting and diplomatic conference that adopted the Convention, as of 2007, four countries had signed the Convention (Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Zambia) (Prott 1996: 36). Zimbabwe attended the proceedings but has not yet signed the Con-­‐
vention. James Cuno plots a disconcerting trajectory from protection (as in the Hague Convention in 1954) through prevention (the 1970 Convention) to re-­‐
turn, which bodes ill for Western institutions (Cuno 2008: 50). The UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) This Convention was the outcome of a slow debate between Western heritage experts and their counterparts in the developing world, particularly from Sub-­‐
Saharan Africa. The Convention recognises “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills as well as instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural places associated therewith that communities, groups, and in some cases individuals, recognize as part of their heritage” (Article 2). An important departure from international norm was the power given to communities, rather than states, to preserve those intangible aspects recognised as endowing a sense of identity and continuity. In Article 11, governments are also urged to collaborate with communities, groups and individuals to identify and define the intangible heritage. Cuno observed that the response from the Western world in terms of ratification has been pathetic (Cuno 2008: 48). This is not surpris-­‐
ing. Cuno, who is a Western expert on this subject, seems to miss the point that the intangible aspects of heritage are critical in the definition of cultural value in the African context and forms the premise of Africa’s call for the return of cultural appropriations of the colonial period. Western experts would of course be very much aware of the dilemma of endorsing an international convention that is likely to stoke claims for the return of cultural property held in their institutions. Paul Sinclair, professor of African Archaeology, argues that objects that have been moved have the potential with time to create new intangible heritage in their new contexts, and that this must be duly respected. In other words, you might return the object but not necessarily its new intangibility, which is em-­‐
bedded in its new locality. This is a valid point within the frame of the materi-­‐
ality theory. However, in a contest between the two intangible value systems, there are two possible scenarios to find a resolution. In natural justice, what came first has precedence over what comes later. Alternatively, as is often been the case, the new context of the object has been accepted as a fait accompli. Nevertheless, fait accompli makes sense especially in the Western hegemonic ideology, but this may not be the case in states whose heritage may be lost. 182
African doctrines on cultural property In the run-­‐up to independence in the 1960s and 1970s, there was much refer-­‐
ence in the anti-­‐colonial discourse about a link with a pre-­‐colonial past and roots to an African culture/heritage. With hindsight, a campaign for the return of cultural property should have been mounted and concessions sought in tan-­‐
dem with the demand for self-­‐rule. Even if the colonial powers were not likely to give up their bounty, they would have carried the moral burden of unfulfilled reparations from start. In the event, no cultural demands were made. This brings us to the on-­‐going insidious trafficking of African art treasures, whose historical origins can be traced back to the cultural spoils of conquest. Failure to address historical injustice set the fateful precedent for the on-­‐going illicit trade, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the collective international effort is failing to contain the problem. The Charter on Human and People’s Rights 1981 The African Charter was adopted by the Organization of African Union (OAU) in 1981. Article 22 affirms the relationship between culture and development and is potentially a basis for member states to assert restitution. One of the most celebrated achievements of the AOU (now African Union) was to facilitate the process of decolonisation in accordance with Article 20 of the Charter. Beyond that, member states have paid lip service to the Charter. Maybe the continent has more pressing problems now, such as governance, incessant civil wars, economic instability, poverty and health. Cultural rights as they pertain to resti-­‐
tution of cultural property are therefore considered too trivial to deserve an urgent collective stand. Nevertheless, it is satisfying that the principle exists and, if remotely, there is prospect for future application. The Charter for African Cultural Renaissance (2006) The African Union (AU) Charter on African Cultural Renaissance was assented to in Sudan in January 2006. It replaced the OAU Cultural Charter for Africa launched in Mauritius in July 1976. Article 26 of the Cultural Renaissance Charter urges African states to stop the pillage of cultural property and to en-­‐
sure that such property is returned to the countries of origin. The Article seems to refer to recently trafficked objects and to exclude historical cases of pillage. It lacks specificity on whether the limitation of time applies. This might have been an inadvertent lack of detail, but one might speculate that this reflects disillu-­‐
sionment in the AU on the futility of historical claims. The defence of holding nations Cultural property and the post-­colonial state: Deconstructing national iden-­
tity James Cuno is argues that that the boundaries of the modern nation state might not necessarily coincide with those of an ancient state as represented by the cultural remains found on their soils and to which they claim sovereign rights. He gave the example of Turkey, the centre of a succession of civilisations from 183
the Greek, through the Roman to the Ottoman Empire. The modern nation state has no historical right to claim the antiquities of such civilisations and to na-­‐
tionalise them. In the words of Appiah expounding a cosmopolitan ethic, the makers of the Nok Culture sculptures “did not make them for Nigerians” (Ap-­‐
piah 2009a: 101, Appiah 2009b: 74). They must be treated as heritage for all mankind, and Cuno argues that the fact that archaeologists have accepted national boundaries shows that archaeology and heritage are social, historical and political enterprises (Cuno 2008: 83). In accordance with the logic of this line of thought, considering that Great Zimbabwe may have been the centre of a pre-­‐Munhumutapa state, probably encompassing the territory between the edge of the Kalahari in the west and the Indian Ocean, the modern Zimbabwe State has no more sovereign rights over its remains as for example, Mozam-­‐
bique or Botswana. Cuno’s arguments represent mainstream views held by Western institutions to stave off the growing calls for the return of cultural property. The arguments lie at the heart of the Western heritage discourse, as well as post-­‐colonial theory. It is an attempt to deconstruct nationalism and national identity and its claims to sovereign rights on cultural property. However, it is necessary to look further back at the history of nationalism. Its historical roots, as we saw in chapter 1, date back to 18th century Europe, and as the engine that drove the industrial revolution and imperialism, it is hailed as a great success story. Nevertheless, like an experiment that went wrong, or a child turning against its own mother, it gave birth to anti-­‐Western nationalism in the developing world, which was largely responsible for the demise of the European empires. We can say that perhaps the trouble started here. The post-­‐colonial discourse seems to be intent on subverting the modern nation state, as a stumbling block to the new post-­‐colonial relationships that the West yearn for – globalisation, reten-­‐
tion of cultural property wrongfully gotten in colonial times, and the on-­‐going attempts to redefine former imperial museums as encyclopaedic under the rubric of a Declaration of the Importance and Value of Universal Museums (2002). Abungu points out that the principle of universal museums is predicated on “unnecessary fear … that materials held in [western museums] of which the ownership is contested will face claims of repatriation. It is a way of refusing to engage in the dialogue around the issue of repatriation” (Abungu 2009: 121). Singh, on the other hand, sees both flaws and merits in the concept of Uni-­‐
versal Museums. He argues that the Declaration is ideological posturing with an obvious historical and political background – conquest and colonialism. Using a materiality frame thought, in the same critique Singh (2009:126-­‐127) argues that: Universal Museums must be preserved. … [T]hey will mean many things to many people, … to some …they will affirm the essential unity of humankind. To others they will be places to consume culture … Yet to others, they will be a reminder of colonialism in the past and of continuing inequalities in the world of the present. The range of meanings itself is part of the richness and value of universal museums. 184
This conciliatory tone echoes the views of the late Edward Said, as quoted by Cuno. Said was an acclaimed disciple of the postcolonial critique, arguing for a humanist approach to cultural property, which seeks to conflate the geographi-­‐
cal and chronological divisions of culture and sees cultures as overlapping into each other in one homogenous continuum (Cuno 2008: 143) Cuno also anticipates demographic globalization taking place in many of the large cities of the world, creating global metropolises through international migration, whereby the location of cultural property will cease to be important (Cuno 2008: 142). However, world trends seem to be pointing to the reverse happening with the resurgence of right-­‐wing anti-­‐migrationism in Europe and America and xenophobia in Africa. One of the arguments that has been proffered is that the objects especially from Africa that are now in private or institutional collections are safer there than at their sources. The renowned archaeologist Thurstan Shaw analyses many facets of the defence of holding nations. He observes thus (1986: 47): … many museum curators feel that they would be abrogating their responsi-­‐
bility for the objects under their care if they released them from good condi-­‐
tions of security to unstable situations where their safety could not be as-­‐
sured. Shaw also counters this argument, if hypothetically, thus (Ibid): How should we [in Britain] feel if foreigners had taken all the Crown Jewels and the Sutton Hoo treasure at a time when we were powerless to prevent it, or removed Stonehenge and set it up elsewhere? It is entirely reasonable and natural that emergent nations should feel passionately about these things, and need them to establish their own identity, their own roots and write their own history. Encyclopaedic Museums are museums whose collections has representative examples of the world’s artistic legacy (Cuno 2008: xix). Such museums that purport to embody universal knowledge are threatened by nationalist cultural politics and their legal instruments – nationalist retentionist cultural property laws. They claim cultural, spiritual and racial descent from the ancient people who made those antiquities (Cuno 2008: xxxii). Yet the same nation states and their cultural property have failed stop the looting of archaeological sites (Cuno 2008: xxxiii). According to Cuno (2008: 9-­‐12), cultural property is a political construct. Cultural property has assumed special meanings to the powers that claim it and to the people governed by those powers. It is said to derive from them and to be part of them. It defines identity and it provokes emotions. Yet antiquities are from cultures no longer extant or of a kind not the same as the nation claiming them (Cuno 2008: 9). To say that antiquities are cultural property is to politi-­‐
cise them (Cuno 2008: 11). National cultural identity claims are made by those in power and reflect the interest of the powerful over those of the powerless. National cultures are con-­‐
tested within and outside a country. They define the power of elites within a 185
nation. It is a politically constructed role and not natural (Cuno 2008: 12) or primordial. The triad of regulatory imperatives are: i)
Preservation (even when the object has been abstracted from its provenance) ii)
Quest for knowledge (knowledge as a universal commodity) iii)
Access It must be noted that the triad can be implemented anywhere in the world; it does not necessary have to be a museum in the country in which the objects originated. (Cuno 2008: 13). Dispersal of object would spread the risk of wars, especially in third world situations where museums have been looted during wars. This takes the emphasis/focus away from ownership (Cuno 2008: 20): Antiquity cannot be owned. It is our common heritage as represented by and in antiquities and ancient texts and architecture. We should be working to-­‐
gether to preserve and hare it broadly as what is surely our common heri-­‐
tage. That discrete antiquities have been found in the borders of a particular modern nation-­‐state is a matter of chance. There is no natural and indelible connection between antiquities and modern nation-­‐states. The battle over our ancient heritage today is over false claims of ownership. It is matter sim-­‐
ply of politics. An overview of the Western anti-­return discourse The Western anti-­‐return lobby is based on a conviction that the high demand in the West for cultural objects from other parts of the world, which they call art-­‐
work, is legitimate; “art must flow where it is appreciated [sic!] so it can be preserved and used for … research” (Olivier 1996: 641). Unfortunately, as the West sees it, art source nations have put in place regimes of cultural property laws and policies that restrict the free flow of cultural objects. In other words, a theft or illegal export at the source does not always translate to the same at a Western destination. The anti-­‐return sentiments of Western museum professionals are strength-­‐
ened and justified by the many examples of thefts from museums and other institutions in, for instance, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon. In some instances, objects that have been repatriated have resur-­‐
faced again on the illegal market. However, this reasoning is also problematic, because it lays blame on African institutions alone, and fails to acknowledge that there are two complementary forces in action: the lure of rewards offered by Western collectors, and the propensity of the African museum curators and other traditional custodians to succumb to these incentives because of poor remuneration and the resultant professional disorientation. The burden of conscience is placed on the African curator and not on the Western collector as well. Interestingly, the same subjective judgement is applied with respect to the insidious international trafficking of intoxicating drugs. The thrust of Western drug-­‐busting operations and the rhetoric target producers and traffickers (of-­‐
186
ten from the developing world) seen as the villains and spare the consumers as if they were only passive victims. This question of bad conservation and security conditions in the requesting country can be addressed in two ways. Firstly, where a return has been con-­‐
cluded, would it be unreasonable to demand that the country making restitu-­‐
tion must as compensation share the responsibility to build capacity and put in place optimal conditions storage and security? Secondly, rather than hide on a point of generalisation, each case of request must be assessed on its merits. The value of the object to the asking nation would be weighed together with its ability to provide guarantees of security. Further to that, if no proper arrangements are found to exist, then conditions are imposed for such a return to be considered. Shaw observed that the central issue is that no museum would easily relin-­‐
quish what it holds which has become the pride and symbol of that museum (Shaw 1986: 46). To this we must add the fact in the case of the British Mu-­‐
seum, for instance, that foreign objects constitute the bulk of the collections and underpin its integrity and continued existence. Without these collections, there would be no British Museum. The British Museum is reinventing itself thereby and in a subtle way rewrit-­‐
ing its history. It would like to call itself an encyclopaedic museum dedicated to the Enlightenment principle of universality, by which principle it was founded in 1753. Then as now so its keepers put it, “the Museum acted as though it were an encyclopaedia, or a dictionary based on historical principles …. It truly is the memory of mankind.” (Cuno 2008: 140-­‐141). “The encyclopaedic museum em-­‐
braces the world of differences and similarities, it rejoices on the “mongrelisa-­‐
tion” of cultures and fears absolutism and the pure. … Cultural purity is an oxymoron” (Cuno 2008: 142, 2009: 29 citing Anthony Appiah) (by which I as-­‐
sume he means that pure culture is impure!). The defence of the British Mu-­‐
seum seems to be cast in stone, or on what Nigel Barley, Curator of African Art, referred to in 2001 as a hymn sheet, from which they sing (Obayiuwana 2010: 12): The British Museum with the support of government continues to withstand demands for the return of parts of collections and seeks to promote under-­‐
standing of its functions as a universal museum which plays a unique role in international culture. The museum collections are vested in its trustees in ac-­‐
cordance with legislation enacted by Parliament, which since 1753 has pro-­‐
hibited from permanently disposing of any object (other than duplicates) and has required them to ensure that the collections are preserved for the benefit of international scholarship and the enjoyment of the public. In fulfilment of this responsibility, the Museum is open seven days a week, free of charge, throughout the year. The trustees would regard it as betrayal of their trust to establish a precedent for the piecemeal dismemberment of the collections which recognise no arbitrary boundaries of time or place. The British Museum maintains that its position is governed by an act of Parlia-­‐
ment, and therein lies the answer to cultural demands, and their answer is “No”. 187
“What we have we hold” (Kowalski 2005: 96). The matter is obviously a politi-­‐
cal one. The British Museum has also been blunt and patronizing about the issue. It is self-­‐righteous to argue that the British Museum holds the objects as trustees for “all mankind”. As Thurstan Shaw observed, there is no “mankind” who set up the British Museum trust (Shaw 1986: 46). The list of arguments goes on. Housing material from all over the world helps to eliminate Western bias and to make the museum a global institution. Africans should instead be grateful to the British Museum for profiling African artefacts and making them known to the wider world. It is also argued that these objects express some aspects of Western history such as imperial conquest or other forms of interaction with foreign cultures. They are thus now part of the inalienable history of these countries. This secondary significance is deemed as important as the primary one connected with the place of origin (Shaw 1986: 47). There are other minor excuses, for example, the reasoning that foreign ob-­‐
jects are required for educational purposes to understand the culture of other peoples in order to break cultural barriers. Yet this can be achieved through the exhibition of casts, and only bona fide scholars would need to access the origi-­‐
nal material at their place of origin where indigenous scholar must have pri-­‐
mary right to access them. Another excuse is that Western museums are more accessible to a wider internal and external visitorship. Nevertheless, these ob-­‐
jects would more benefit the poor countries of origin, which often depend on tourism more than anything else to earn foreign currency (Shaw 1986: 48). In line with global trends, of late the British Museum has been trying to re-­‐
define its image mindful of the fact that it is answerable to a worldwide pool of disillusioned stakeholder holders. Mounting high-­‐profile thematic exhibitions of Chinese, Iranian and African materials is a new approach to proactively en-­‐
gage with its global stakeholders (Obayiuwana 2010: 13). In 2010, in collabor-­‐
ation with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, the British Museum mounted a joint exhibition on cultural objects from Ile Ife, to which the Nigerian counterpart contributed material on a temporary loan. The exhibition coincided with Nigeria’s celebration of 50 years of post-­‐colonial self-­‐rule. The initiative has been received well by Africans and extended com-­‐
munities in the Diaspora in providing a rare opportunity to reaffirm their con-­‐
tribution to world civilisation. The irony is that no African Museum has been found suitable to host the exhibition (Oyortey 2010: 18). On the contrary, the exhibition had earlier been exhibited in Spain and from Britain it travelled to the US with stopovers lined up for several museums – the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond), the Indianapolis Mu-­‐
seum of Art, and the Museum of African Art (New York) (Highet 2010: 14). This attitude betrays the underlying mistrust and hypocrisy on the part of Western institutions with regard to proposed new partnerships. It has been asserted that the purpose is more important than the place. The British Museum serves all mankind, and the place is only important as far as it advances the purposes. The British Museum is in London, where it can be reached by many people from all over the world, and encyclopaedic museums 188
encourage global understanding (Cuno 2008: xxxv). In this new philosophy, MacGregor (2009: 39) makes a veiled proposition that new knowledge-­based contexts must take precedence over the old original contexts, for now we can study things gathered together from all over the world, [and] the truth emerges. And not one perpetual truth, but the truth as living, changing thing, constantly remade as hierarchies are subverted, new information comes, and new understandings of societies emerge. Such emerging truth, it was believed, would result in greater tolerance of others and difference itself. Bilateral agreements It has been demonstrated that bilateral agreements are more effective than international agreements in achieving returns. If that is the case, the future of international conventions will be determined by the manner in which the re-­‐
sponse to the need to create a climate conducive for such bilateral or multi-­‐
lateral dialogues to take place. The obvious advantage of bilateral agreements is that they allow each case to be considered according to its own merits and the historical circumstances. It also helps the holding nations to avoid being bound by precedent cases. It is necessary here to cite two examples of successful bilat-­‐
eral settlements. Mali and the United States of America Mali has suffered severe depredation, dating back to the time of the French occupation in the 19th century. There were all kinds of operatives involved in the illicit digging out of and export of Inland Delta terracotta art. It is suspected that corrupt government officials were also involved in the export network. In 1993, following the inception of a new government in Mali in 1991 and the appointment of President of Alpha Konare, an archaeologist by profession and the former president of ICOM, the government entered into painstaking nego-­‐
tiations with the US government for a bilateral understanding to cooperate in stopping the illicit traffic of objects from Mali (Sidibe 1995). The agreement imposes an import restriction into the United States of in situ material, handicrafts and ancient material from the famous Dogon country. However, predictably, the bilateral accord was not retroactive, meaning that the agreement precluded any possibility of recovering objects that had been illicitly obtained before the signing of the accord (Schmidt and McIntosh 1996: 13). Ethiopia and Italy: The return of the Aksum stele (2005) The return of the Aksum stele to Ethiopia from Italy is one of the landmark achievements of the 21st century. At the time the stele was removed in 1937, Italy was party to the Second Convention on the Laws and Customs of War on Land (the Hague Convention 1899), which prohibits the pillage or seizure of works of art. Ethiopia had signed the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 that had succeeded the Convention of1899. Naturally, this meant that both Italy and Ethiopia were parties to the same laws. After the WWII, Italy did not comply with the terms of a peace treaty signed in 1947, which obliged it to return the 189
stele along with other items of art that had been looted. Fifty years were to pass before the two countries signed a bilateral agreement for the return of the stele. Subsequently in 2004, a Memorandum of understanding was signed by the two governments who reiterated their commitment to the return of the stele within the frame of the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) (Scovazzi 2005: 55). The fact that no re-­‐
ference was made to the 1970 Convention is quite revealing of the prevailing disquietude of the West to squarely address the issue of return. In 2005, a tri-­‐
partite working arrangement was set up between UNESCO and the gov-­‐
ernments of Ethiopia and Italy to take the practical steps for the return and re-­‐
erection of the stele. This project is an example of the power of goodwill. A tale of unfulfilled demands and failing historical justice The inefficacy of international conventions to bring about a common under-­‐
standing between those who hold on to objects that are being requested and those requesting them demonstrates that return, restitution and repatriations of cultural property remain very contentious issues. Nigeria has been at the forefront of demands for the return of its cultural treasures. Understandably, in some cases there have been reservations, especially as returned objects some-­‐
times re-­‐appear on Western art markets as stolen object. The reluctance to return the object even for a temporary loan for a specified period shows just how much little trust there is between holding nations and the nations from which the object originated. In 1977, the Nigeria government of Olusegun Obasanjo requested a temporary loan of the brass head of Queen Idia (a Benin artefact) from the British Museum to use it as the centrepiece of the Festival for Black Arts and Culture (FESTAC). The request was denied, even when Nigeria agreed to pay a 2 million pound insurance bond. The British government turned down the request on technical grounds. The head was not fit to travel at the time, owing to its fragile condition. Yet the British Museum has had the temerity to display the same object in its exhibitions on African Art as in 2001 and 2010 (Obayiuwana 2010: 10-­‐11). One wonders whether such a request from Nigeria would receive a different answer today, with the advances in preservation and packaging techniques. However, in order to end on an optimistic note, both those who hold re-­‐
questing art object and those holding them know that the case remains open, and future generations will hopefully find a magical solution that will be to the absolute satisfaction of parties on both sides of the debate. Overall, the importance for international law is to deal with recent and on-­‐
going illicit movement of cultural objects, and to tacitly accept that historical acquisitions are irreversible, regardless of how they were transacted. In this respect, there is international will although the odds are still great. Africanist scholars have supported the lobby for the return of cultural property. For in-­‐
stance, Monica Udvardy, professor of African Anthropology formerly with Upp-­‐
sala University led a lobby that led to the return of the sacred figurines, the vigango to the Mijikenda people of Kenya in 200760. 190
6. THE RETURN OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRDS The German people are fully aware of the symbolic and emotional value the Zimbabwe Birds constitute for the people of Zimbabwe and how important it is for them to bring home all those birds which have been taken away from Great Zimbabwe in former times. It is … through the understanding and generosity of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Founda-­‐
tion, who are the legal owners of the fragment, that we today can heal, as it were, the wounds of the past inflicted on the Zimbabwe Bird and can make its broken parts once again. – Speech of the German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr. Peter Schmidt on the occasion of the handover of lower part of a Zimbabwe Bird returned by the Museum for Ethnology Museum in Berlin, 14/05/2003 (emphasis mine) In this chapter, I narrate two episodes of the return of six Zimbabwe Birds to Great Zimbabwe after spending at least 90 years in exile. It is necessary to set a background to these events, and in so doing I begin to posit a causal link be-­‐
tween this development and Zimbabwe’s struggle for liberation. It is difficult to imagine the return of the Zimbabwe Birds happening before the process of decolonization started. The birth of African nationalism and the role of cultural patrimony The catalyst for the destruction of European empires in Africa was nationalism. We have already encountered two diametrically opposed expressions of na-­‐
tionalism in Chapter 4 and seen how they have dictated shifts in the use and meaning of the Zimbabwe Birds. Viewed within the ambit of postcolonial theory, African nationalism has not always been there, neither did the boundar-­‐
ies of the modern states, which did not exist before the European partition of Africa and the establishment of colonies. African nationalism emerged as a backlash to colonialism, which the native peoples resented as foreign domina-­‐
tion as well as economic exploitation. It is a paradox that the condition of colo-­‐
nialism itself at some point became fertile ground for breeding this political phenomenon that was to become its nemesis. African nationalism also took on many attributes of European nationalism, such as for example the recruitment of disparate ethnic groups into one “nation”; the selection and creation of national symbols and the suppression of symbols or memories that are likely to negate the national agenda. To this extent, it has been argued in post-­‐colonial literature that nationalism and culture are part of the same continuum. The 191
strong link between culture and nationalism grew out of a desire by nation-­‐
alists to legitimate the struggle and claim to power as a cultural renaissance. In order to forge an organic link with culture, African nationalists had to move back in time and imagine that the colonial occupation had interrupted a link with a cultural past that must be redeemed. Most scholars have agreed that the marriage of culture and nationalism entails some degree of myth-­‐making (Row-­‐
lands 2006, Lowenthal 1998). The new awakening meant that Africa rediscov-­‐
ered its past, and that imagination entailed “reconstructing” that past. Several African examples can be cited regarding the definition and envision-­‐
ing of a postcolonial state with an imagined cultural intimacy with a pre-­‐
colonial past. Kwame Nkrumah, who is the acclaimed father of African nation-­‐
alism and who led the first African nation (then called the Gold Coast) to inde-­‐
pendence in 1957, saw fit to rename the state Ghana after the Ghana Empire of the 9th-­‐13th centuries, which was in fact centred to the north of today’s Ghana in present-­‐day Burkina Faso. Mali, Congo (Kongo Kingdom), Ethiopia and Zim-­‐
babwe are post-­‐colonial country names that resonate with this theme of cul-­‐
tural nostalgia. The rise of African nationalism in Rhodesia and the return of the Zim-­
babwe Birds Evidence points to African nationalism in Rhodesia developing gradually as an organic process. It took some time for African activists to master the scheme to conflate the demands for self-­‐rule with a cultural renaissance. Intertwining Great Zimbabwe with the political theme of independence was probably influ-­‐
enced subconsciously by the example of Ghana, for it definitely happened after 1957. The first request for the return of the Birds occurred during the short-­‐
lived Zimbabwe-­‐Rhodesia government of Abel Muzorewa in 1979 through to the attainment of full independence in 1980. The rehabilitation of Great Zim-­‐
babwe was a conscious step, bearing in mind the depredations that had taken place at the site. People such as Charles Mzingeli and Benjamin Burombo from the 1940s were the first generation of anti-­‐colonial politicians moulded in trade union activism. They only went so far as to call for decent wages, save for occasional bold actions such as the protest in 1948 against the Land Husbandry Bill61, which was orchestrated by Benjamin Burombo. Bulawayo was an epicentre of such “trade union nationalism”. At this stage, even Joshua Nkomo, who gained prominence afterwards, was in this political grade of proto-­‐nationalists, as I would like to call them. The first remarkable sign of anti-­‐colonial political organisation was the for-­‐
mation of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress (SRANC) launched on 12 September 1957 to which Joshua Nkomo was elected President. What is in a name? The political name reverbs of the influence from South Africa, where an African National Congress had been in existence for more than four decades. However, to launch a party on the same day that Rhodes’s Pioneer Column had hoisted the Union Jack in Salisbury in 1890, a day that was sacred at the time, suggested defiance to dampen the spirit of Rhodesia. Zimbabwe is perhaps the 192
only modern nation to be named after an archaeological site (Sullivan 1999: 18). Exactly how and when the word Zimbabwe appeared in African nationalist vocabulary is not known for certain (Matenga 1998, Fontein 2006). However, it appears that this critical transition occurred between 1957 and 1961, i.e. from the launch of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress, its banning, the formation of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1960 and the emergence of the Zimbabwe National Party in 1961. Unlike other colonial situations, Rhodesia was the only country in which an important cultural property was at the centre of a dispute for ownership be-­‐
tween the occupiers and the indigenous people, the dialectics of which have been described in Chapter 4. Fontein maintains that Great Zimbabwe was not important to the indigenous people until the Rhodesian claim of ownership of it (Fontein 2006: 119). In my view, this is not necessarily the case. I would con-­‐
tend that Fontein contradicts the main theoretical base of his book, i.e. the “si-­‐
lence” that has been forced upon Great Zimbabwe. If Great Zimbabwe was not important, it becomes difficult to explain the annual pilgrimages to the site and the incessant wars over ownership and control before Rhodesia was founded. How else do we explain the on-­‐going calls by local communities to win back rights to use the site for religious ceremonies? I need to point out, however, that Fontein is partially right to observe that it should have been predictable that the more the Rhodesians became nervous about the competing assertions on Great Zimbabwe, the more African nationalists responded by increasing their stakes on the site. In the event, the turning point was the banning of the National Democratic Party in 1961 and the emergence in the same year of the Zimbabwe National Party (Rasmussen 1979: 361). However, the origin of the idea to adopt the word “Zimbabwe” and by implication the suggestion that a post-­‐Rhodesian state would be called Zimbabwe is still something of a mystery. The person who is credited with originally putting forward the name for the new state is Mi-­‐
chael Mawema. A native of Gutu about 100km to the north of Great Zimbabwe, Mawema trained to become a schoolteacher at Morgenster Mission, situated only 6km south of Great Zimbabwe. Mawema’s political career started in Bula-­‐
wayo in 1951, where he was a trade unionist under the tutelage of Benjamin Burombo. He moved his membership through several nationalist parties (ex-­‐
cept ZAPU) in the 1960s, including the short-­‐lived Zimbabwe National Party, of which he was co-­‐founder and is credited to have named. He was also impris-­‐
oned between 1964 and 1968 for his activities, and was later an active member of ZANU. However, Fontein citing Ranger, who in turn had cited the Bantu Mirror of August 1960, it appears that the word was already in circulation at least by August 1960, since members of the Matabele Home Society, a political lobby based in Bulawayo, criticized the National Democratic Party for choosing the name Zimbabwe for the future independent nation. If that was the case, the name was adopted before the appearance of the Zimbabwe National Party, and instead possibly emerged out of the collective discourse of the NDP.
Nevertheless, so far as is known, the Zimbabwe National Party was the first nationalist party to be named after Great Zimbabwe. It was short-­‐lived, enter-­‐
193
ing into a power struggle with and losing ground to the Zimbabwe African National People’s Union (ZAPU) formed the following year under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo. It was renamed the Pan-­‐African Socialist Union (PASU) and thereafter faded. However, the name Zimbabwe stuck on the nametag of na-­‐
tionalist movements. The upshot of this was that a future independent country would be renamed Zimbabwe, and the rest is history. After the appearance of ZAPU came the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which was launched in 1963. As Fontein observed, Great Zimbabwe did not need further introduc-­‐
tion or “mythologizing”; it spoke for itself (Fontein 2006: 125). The return of the Birds from South Africa (the first return) One of the puzzling things is why the negotiations with the South African gov-­‐
ernment that led to the release of the five Birds started in 1979, before the country attained its independence. Thus even as the guerrilla war waged by ZANU and ZAPU reached a tipping point, and the hard-­‐line Rhodesian Prime Minster, Ian Smith, was forced to negotiate an internal settlement with a seg-­‐
ment of the black nationalists, the name Zimbabwe was irresistible. This was despite its use by the guerrilla armies of ZAPU and ZANU, Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) respectively. These forces were considered communist forces, whose mention was unsettling to the Rhodesian public. The country was renamed Zimbabwe-­‐Rhodesia in the new political dispensation. There is no precise information as to why the issue of the return of stone Birds came into the minds of the politicians at this time. However, there is some interesting new evidence. I recently visited the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo and for the first time saw the Zimbabwean flag. Apart from the colour bands, the other component of the flag is a Zimbabwe Bird 1 (Fig. 48). We could assume that there was a consciousness of the importance of these objects, and that they were seen as worthy of restoration at that critical juncture of political transition. I believe that by taking up such a noble rehabilitation programme for Great Zimbabwe, the new government hoped to win public confidence for a government that was struggling with a tenuous political legitimacy. Otherwise, it can be explained simply as a virtuous thing to do at the time, for there must have been a feeling that Zimbabwe-­‐Rhodesia was not going to last for a long time. The Zimbabwe-­‐Rhodesia Parliament passed a motion to open negotiations for the return of the Birds from South Africa. The National Museums and Monuments, the statutory body responsible for heritage, was given the man-­‐
date to negotiate on behalf of the government (Levy 1981: 14). Thus began a series of long and protracted negotiations, which were concluded within a year of the country attaining its independence in April 1980. After April 1980, the new government, which had adopted the name Zimbabwe for the country, stepped up negotiations with South Africa amidst the euphoria of newfound nationhood. There was a determination to reclaim the Birds to rehabilitate Great Zimbabwe as a cultural symbol for the African renaissance. 194
195
Rhodesian Museum (now the Natural History Museum) in Bulawayo in the same year and undertook a great deal of research in Hymenoptera. Hymenop-­‐
tera is an order of including bees, wasps and some ants having two pairs of membrous (transparent) wings and an ovipositor specialized for stinging. For that work, Arnold was ultimately regarded as the leading authority on these insect species of southern Africa, having collected a staggering 30, 000 speci-­‐
mens (Obituary for Arnold, 1962). A National Museums and Monuments publi-­‐
cation series, Arnoldia, is tribute to this great scientist. In the event, the matter was considered by the highest authority of each country, and finally the exchange deal was sealed. While the NMMZ was com-­‐
pletely satisfied with the return of the sacred soapstone Birds, the South Afri-­‐
cans could boast the largest collection of Hymenoptera in the world. Zimbabwe urged a minimum publicity regarding the deal (Hooper 2006). At the time, South Africa was a pariah state and many African governments had no diplomatic or cultural ties with it in protest against the policy of apartheid. The reason for why the South African government adopted a soft posture is a puz-­‐
zle. Nevertheless, it is possible that the South Africa was extending an incentive for good neighbourliness in line with P. W. Botha’s “Total Strategy” policy, which was a cocktail of tactics -­‐ military, psychological, economic, political, sociological, technological, diplomatic, ideological, cultural etc., designed to maintain South African hegemony in the sub-­‐region. On the other hand, the new Zimbabwe government had just joined the front-­‐
line states as part of the Organisation of African Unity scheme of engagement with armed struggles in Southern Africa in pursuit of the process of decoloniza-­‐
tion. Similar to all countries neighbouring South Africa, Zimbabwe was also a transit point for those leaving South Africa to join the externally based liber-­‐
ation movements and the country offered safe houses for non-­‐combatant South African refugees. Although there was a South African Trade Mission in Harare, there were no diplomatic ties between the two countries. So understandably, by signing the deal for the release of the Birds, Zimbabwe did not want this to be construed as a gesture of political understanding with the South African government. It seems likely that the Government of Zimbabwe was also avoid-­‐
ing the prospect of embarrassment at home and abroad. There was potential for a public outcry for the sacrifice of the Hymenopteran collection to get what rightfully belonged to Zimbabwe. On the evening of 29 January 1981, two Dakota planes of No 3 Squadron of the Air Force of Zimbabwe landed at the Manyame air base in Harare under heavy security to deliver the four and one half stone Birds from South Africa. The precious cargo was taken to Great Zimbabwe where the Birds were exhib-­‐
ited at the on-­‐site museum. Mr Robert Mugabe, then State Prime Minister op-­‐
ened the exhibition in the same year. The exchange deal caused a considerable amount of controversy. To begin with, it did not go down well with the former Rhodesian curators of the Hymen-­
opteran collection, who thought this was a farcical deal. They deplored the ex-­‐
change as a terrible loss for the museum, but they had misjudged the signifi-­‐
cance accorded to the Bird emblems. Patience was lost as tempers ran high, and the curators were given the option to resign, which they did. 196
Even for those who supported it, the exchange was a painful trade-­‐off. An argument on the diplomatic level was made that neither collection would be lost to science in the spirit of UNESCO. Both collections would be available to the public and to bona fide researchers. However, there was not explicit men-­‐
tion of the applicability of the UNESCO 1970 Convention to which both count-­‐
ries were not signatories at the time. Re-­‐examining the deal in retrospect, there is an interesting irony that under the definition of “cultural property” in terms of Article 1 (d), the 1970 Convention the Zimbabwe Birds represented “ele-­
ments of artistic of historical monuments or archaeological sites which had been dismembered;” The Hymenopteran collection represented “(a) rare collections and speci-­
mens of fauna, flora, minerals and anatomy, and objects of palaeontological in-­
terest.” None of these specific issues appears to be pertinent, except that under the principle of UNESCO cooperation, the collections would be available for all mankind. As a consolation, it was agreed that once the South Africans had inte-­‐
grated the material into their collection, a reference sample would be returned to the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, which the Zimbabweans the Zim-­‐
babwe would use to re-­‐build the Hymenopteran collection. Maybe this was not necessary, given the nature of the transaction to say that this represented the spirit of UNESCO. Over the years, however, perceptions about cultural heritage management have been changing considerably, and retrospectively, the NMMZ now concedes that the transaction was flawed and fraudulent. In 1995, Dawson Munjeri, then Executive Director of National Museums and Monuments, regretted the deal and wrote (Munjeri 19996: 6): This controversial exchange of Zimbabwe cultural heritage has never been considered as ethical in professional circles. While at the South African Mu-­‐
seum, I raised the issue [of the exchange deal]. In discussions with the re-­‐
sponsible Curator of entomology (Dr. Hamish Robertson), the inappropriate-­‐
ness of the 1979 transaction was accepted by both parties. The main concern of the South African Museum was that the Hymenoptera was now an inte-­‐
grated as part of their collection. Notwithstanding, it was underscored and agreed that the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo needs a reference col-­‐
lection. There were already a number of duplicates in the South African Hy-­‐
menoptera collection that could initially be repatriated to Zimbabwe.
The return of a portion of Bird in 2000 (the second return)
As we saw in Chapter 2, a half Bird representing a lower portion and fitting an upper portion that remained in the country was in Europe from the beginning of the 20th century and was moved from place to place through four countries. The Bird’s last destination was to be its first port of arrival, the Museum für Volkerkunde (now the Ethnological Museum of Berlin). The Bird’s sojourn in Europe was quite eventful. It became the spoils of conquest again during WWII, when it was taken by invading Russian forces. Despite attempts by the Museum für Volkerkunde to relocate its collections to a secret storage facility in the city 197
in the face of an imminent Russian invasion, the secret havens were discovered and looted. The consignment was sent to Scrabsdorf in Silesia (Poland) and it became inaccessible after the war. From the 1950s, rumours were afloat that some of the objects lost by the Berlin Museum had been seen in the Museum of Ethnography and Anthropology in Leningrad (now Petersburg). Indeed, Rus-­‐
sian soldiers had taken with them many museum objects (including the Zim-­‐
babwe Bird) to the Leningrad Museum, established by the famous Russian Czar, Peter the Great, in the 18th century. In a gesture of goodwill to its ally, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), in 1978 the Russians secretly repatriated the Berlin objects to the museum of Leipzig, where they were kept largely unpacked in 1500 crates. Later, seeking publicity for what they considered a good deed, the Russians alerted the West Berlin Museum about the transfer. However, inquiring letters sent by the West Berlin Museum to their counterparts in Leipzig during the Cold War years were not answered. However, after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the Leipzig Museum did not have any reason to continue to keep their collection secret. Thus, from August 1990 the shipment of 46 675 objects to the Museum für Volkerkunde began, a process that took several years (Feest 1991: 31-­‐32, Letter from Peter Junge 17/03/2003). Credit for the initiative to return the Bird to Zimbabwe goes to the anthro-­‐
pologist Bill Dewey, who confirmed rumours that a half Bird was in Berlin, while carrying out a feasibility study for the exhibition ‘Legacies of Stone: Zim-­
babwe Past and Present’ for the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium (6 November 1997 to 30 April 1998). The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz) was obliging in releasing the bird for the exhibition in Belgium and the first reunion with its upper part after nearly a century living apart. The Tervuren exhibition opened the opportunity for the series of develop-­‐
ments that led to the eventual release of the lower portion of the Bird to Zim-­‐
babwe from Germany (Tytgat 2009: 22). There were a number of parallel but related developments, which together might have produced the critical mass that produced results in two years. On the diplomatic front, President Mugabe was invited to Belgium to see the exhibition in January 1998, to witness the reunification of the two pieces of the Birds. On this trip, he was accompanied by the Executive Director of NMMZ, Mr Dawson Munjeri. In an unrelated development, The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe: Sym-­
bols of a Nation, a book published in June 1998, provided the first comprehen-­‐
sive description of the Zimbabwe Birds and their troubled history from the time of their discovery and their migrations (Matenga 1998). During the launch of the book in June 1998, an appeal was made to the South African and German Ambassadors, who attended the launch, by Mr Dumiso Dabengwa, the Minister of Home Affairs, to initiate a dialogue towards the return to Zimbabwe of the Bird and portion of a Bird held in their respective countries.
Subsequently, in the same year, the veteran Zimbabwean novelist and film producer Tsitsi Dangarembwa produced a special documentary that was shown 198
in Germany. It featured the Zimbabwe Birds and appealed to the Museum für Volkerkunde to return the lower portion of the Bird to Zimbabwe.
In the same year, Dr S. Mudenge, the Minister Foreign Affairs, travelled to Germany on an official state visit, invited by his counterpart, Mr Joseph “Joschkar” Fischer. He said he saw the lower part of the Bird, then returned from the exhibition in Tervuren and displayed in one of the chambers of the Berlin Museum. Subsequently Mudenge and Fischer had informal discussions in which the latter spontaneously pledged to facilitate the return of the Bird to Zimbabwe. In Dr Mudenge’s words, Fischer said that Germany was prepared “to loan the Bird in perpetuity”. However, Fischer warned that that was likely to set a “dangerous precedent” (Mudenge pers com). Mudenge said that in responding to the offer, he stated, “I don’t care how the Bird comes back, for as long as it comes back home in perpetuity!”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe subsequently drafted an “Aide Memoire” (Memo-­‐
randum) to the Germany Government requesting the Bird, part of which read (Government of Zimbabwe, Aide Memoire, Undated):
It has come to the attention of the Government of Zimbabwe that the bottom half of a Soapstone Bird which was removed from Great Zimbabwe Ruins is presently in Germany. The Government of Zimbabwe request the assistance of the Government of Germany in recovering the bottom half of the Bird at the Museum für Volkerkunde, for relocation to Zimbabwe. It is, therefore, hope that consultations on the best way forward can be held.
Finally in February 2000, the specimen housed in Germany was secretly handed over to the NMMZ by the German Ambassador under a memorandum of understanding, in which the Bird was being returned to Zimbabwe on a “per-­‐
manent loan”, while the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation would remain technically the “legal owner” of the fragment (Munjeri 2009: 18). The loan document thus technically avoided the subject of restitution or return. The other interesting dimension was that this was a bilateral understanding be-­‐
tween Germany and Zimbabwe, suggesting that in fact Germany was not bound by any international law to hand over the Bird fragment. On the occasion of the handover ceremony of the half Bird, part of the speech of Dr Peter Schmidt, the German Ambassador, read: It is through your [the State President] personal interest and insistence and through the understanding and generosity of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, who are the legal owners of the fragment, that we today can heal, as it were, the wounds of the past inflicted on this Zimbabwe Bird and can make its broken parts one again62. It is necessary to examine the loan agreement in some detail. Part of the pre-­‐
amble to the agreement read:
Having regard to the fact that the birds sculptures are of special importance to Zimbabwe’s identity and are closely linked to the country’s struggle for liberty and independence, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation would 199
like to support Zimbabwe’s effort to display all the remaining “Zimbabwe Birds” in their country of origin, and shall transfer to Zimbabwe the fragment currently in Berlin as a permanent loan on the basis of the following agree-­‐
ment.
Section 1
The loaner shall transfer to the recipient the fragment of a Zimbabwe Bird (stone) from the inventory of the Museum of Ethnology, Berlin State Mu-­‐
seums – Prussian Cultural Heritage in Berlin as a loan for permanent exhibi-­‐
tion.
Section 2
The recipient shall be obliged to preserve and protect the object on loan. He shall be liable for all damage incurred during the loan period or due to the loan, wherever the object may be, which results from the object on loan being destroyed, damaged, altered or lost. He shall be liable in particular for the cost of nay restoration necessary because of such damage or alteration. Lia-­‐
bility is also incurred if the damage only becomes apparent after the return of the item. Further-­‐reaching general statutory claims are not affected.
Section 3
The Recipient shall be obliged to inform the Loaner without delay of any al-­‐
terations or damage to the object on loan or to report its loss. Decisions con-­‐
cerning restoration measures during the loan shall be taken by the Loaner.
Section 4
The loaner shall place the fragment of the Zimbabwe bird at the disposal of the Recipient.
Section 5
The contract shall be for unlimited duration. He Loaner may terminate the loan without notice if he has good cause thereto, in particular if the Recipient cannot guarantee the safety of the work of art and damage to the object is to be feared.
Should the Loaner need the work temporarily during the loan period for ex-­‐
hibitions of his own, the Recipient shall make it available at the cost of the Loaner. The contract of loan shall be suspended for such time.
Section 6
No insurance shall be concluded. The Recipient shall be liable on the basis of Section above.
200
Section 7
The contract of permanent loan shall be subject solely to German law.
Modifications and collateral agreement to this contract must be made in writ-­‐
ing and require consent of both contracting parties.
Firstly, it is important to state the positive aspects of this bilateral settlement. On this level, I contend that it is a powerful gesture of magnanimity. Although the word “magnanimity” might be loaded with irony, my choice of the word is calculated to encourage similar return settlements in the future. I believe that the German-­‐Zimbabwe settlement reinforces an emerging trend in which bilat-­‐
eral negotiations have proved to be more efficacious in bringing about returns than the international framework of charters, conventions and declarations. The deal proves the point that there is a general apprehension against taking such matters to international courts. Bilateral agreements are like out-­‐of-­‐court settlements; they pre-­‐empt the creation of an undesired precedence. This echoes Dr Mudenge’s views that it really does not matter what technical lan-­‐
guage is used, as long as an object is returned for good.
Having lauded Germany for its generosity, it is now necessary to critically examine aspects of the deal that betray the underpinning Western hegemonic discourse and that must be critically examined within the framework of post-­‐
colonial theory. Firstly, Germany composed the “lyrics” and Zimbabwe had to “sing them”, if they wanted to get the Bird back. The loan agreement was drafted by the Germans on German terms. The loan agreement is written in a legalistic fashion to limit the liability of the “donor” to releasing the object as a “permanent loan” (but one that technically, the donor can revoke). The agree-­‐
ment is “fool proof” as an act of magnanimity, even if a future dispute would be taken to an international court. . The preamble mentions the Bird’s significance to the country’s body politic as a “work of art”, but there is no mention of its sacred value. The reference to works of art is a typical imposition of a Eurocentric knowledge system; a sacred object is not necessarily a work of art. Secondly, Germany deliberately avoided calling it a “return”, which is standard Western practice to avoid setting a “dan-­‐
gerous precedent”. Instead, the “return” is referred to as “a permanent loan”. This has become a stock legal phrase in such transactions. Thirdly, the agree-­‐
ment underlines the need for conservation. Conservation is one of the triad imperatives stated by James Cuno, which is also invoked as an excuse for turn-­‐
ing down many requests, in that those in the developing world who claim the objects lack the capacity to take care of them. As Byrne has observed, the “con-­‐
servation ethic” has been universalized and does not refer to “indigenous social systems and values” (Byrne 2008: 232). In the present case, this matter does not need mentioning, since once it is known that an object is sacred, its conser-­‐
vation or preservation comes as corollary and is given. The concept of conser-­‐
vation is embedded in the sacredness of the object. In my view, the loan docu-­‐
mentation should have placed emphasis on restoration and rehabilitation of the objects in accordance with indigenous religious belief systems and practices. Fourthly, to state that the loaner may terminate the agreement for the same reasons is patronizing and highlights the primacy of the conservation ethic in 201
the Western heritage management ethos. Fifthly, it is stated that the loaner may request the temporary return of the object for purposes of exhibition. This is a bit delicate. What would happen if the loaner decides not to return the Bird after a temporary return? Sixthly, the contract is bound by German Law and not by the laws of the recipient. In other words, if a dispute were to arise, it would be heard in German courts. This confirms that the transaction was not con-­‐
summated in the spirit of international conventions and charters, and this im-­‐
plies that international courts had no jurisdiction over the matter. Finally, as a matter of emphasis, it is important to underline that there is no reference to the applicability of any of the international laws or code of ethics. This proves the point that bilateral understanding seems to work much better than raising any such issues in the frame of international conventions and char-­‐
ters. For more than two years, the Bird fragment, together with the upper half, which was brought over from Great Zimbabwe, lay low in the security cabinets of the NMMZ in Harare awaiting an official handover ceremony. As we saw, the ceremony was held on 14 May 2003 at the state president’s official residence in Harare (see Chapter 4 Section III). The return of a walking stick of the legendary spirit medium and one of the masterminds behind the 1896-­‐97 Shona uprising against British occupation might have come and passed with not as much publicity as the Zimbabwe Bird from Germany. It was in the private collection of Lord Baden Powell in London. Born in Zambia, Mkwati had been abducted by Ndebele troops, conscripted and served in the Ndebele army (Ibutho). Mkwati became a priest of Umlimo, God, nestled in Matobho Hills in southwestern Zimbabwe. On the outbreak of war in 1896, he administered magical powers and convinced fellow fighters that this would proof them against bullets of enemy firepower. Lord Baden Powell, an officer in the British army during the war who later founded the Boy Scout Movement, heard about Mkwati’s charismatic power and was determined to get his walking stick. When the Ndebele resistance faltered, Mkwati left the Ma-­‐
tobho and headed to northern Zimbabwe where he was instrumental in fo-­‐
menting a similar resistance among the Shona. Ironically, he was killed by those he had wished to help, when they saw his mystical promises unhelpful. Anyway, Lord Baden Powell still managed to recover the walking stick, which he is re-­‐
ported to have used as pointer during his lectures. The lobby for the return of the stick was spearheaded by neither the Zim-­‐
babwean Government nor its appointed statutory body, the NMMZ. Instead, the initiative came from Mr H. H. Mandunya representing a nongovernmental orga-­‐
nization, the Restoration of Revered African Sites. Credit also goes to Betty Claire, the daughter of Lord Baden Powell, who retrieved the stick from her father’s collection at the Boy Scout Movement headquarters in London. The mystical stick, 81.8 cm long with three detachable head plugs was brought back to Zimbabwe in 1998 by John Landau, formerly a Rhodesian parliamentarian and President of the Zimbabwe Chapter of Boy Scout Movement at the time. After a ceremony, the walking stick was deposited at the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences in Harare for safekeeping. In the words of Curator K. Chipunza, “the return of Mkwati’s stick “highlighted a new awareness among Zimbabwe’s 202
public ... concerning the looting and illicit trade in cultural finds... It touches on questions of politics and ethics of collecting, history and self-­‐image and opens a whole new chapter on a critical contemplation of the past” (Chipunza 1998: 11-­‐
12). Conclusion As can be seen from the above, recovering six out of the seven Zimbabwe Birds, in a situation where only one and half Birds remained in the country, is a re-­‐
markable success, considering the sacred value of the Birds and their prime place in national iconography (Chapter 4). It is indeed a miracle that Zimbabwe has managed to go this far, given that a Western-­‐dominated authorised heritage discourse is not amenable to the principle of return or restitution (Chapter 5), particularly as Zimbabwe has no legislation or policy providing for the country to request returns. Yet there is no doubt that with each success, the government gained considerable political capital and public expectation was heightened about the possibility of recovering the one Bird known to be still in exile, Bird 8 in South Africa. This is the subject of the final Chapter, Chapter 7. This is a mat-­‐
ter between two neighbouring African countries. As we will see, while the mat-­‐
ter is a legacy of the two countries’ colonial past, the arguments do not necessa-­‐
rily follow the beaten path that has shaped international discourse on return of cultural property.
203
204
7. THE FUTURE FATE OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRD IN SOUTH AFRICA The term “return” should apply to cases where objects left their count-­‐
ries of origin prior to the crystallization of national and international law on the protection of cultural property. Such transfers of ownership were often made from a colonized territory to the territory of the colo-­‐
nial power or from a territory under foreign occupation. In many cases, they were the result of an exchange, gift or sale and did not therefore infringe any laws existing at the time. In some cases, however, the le-­‐
gitimacy of the transfer can be questioned. Among the many variants of such a process is the removal of objects from a colonial territory by people who were not nationals of the colonial power. There may also have been cases of political or economic dependence which made it possible to effect transfers of ownership from one territory to another which would not be envisaged today”.
– Point A.9. of UNESCO Guidelines for the Use of the Standard Form Concerning Request for Return or Restitution CC-­‐86/WS/3
In this chapter, I attempt to present a case for the return to Zimbabwe of the Zimbabwe Bird in the Groote Schuur Collection in Cape Town, South Africa. In order to understand the political context in which this Bird did not join the other five on their historic return journey to Zimbabwe thirty years ago, it is necessary to critically examine its present ownership status and its past con-­‐
nection with the mining magnate and imperialist, Cecil John Rhodes. I have deliberately decided to defer a personal profile of Rhodes when he appeared earlier in the narrative, Chapter 2, as the principal agent of events leading to the occupation of Rhodesia and collection of the Zimbabwe Birds. I thought that perhaps we could better understand him and his legacy from the perspective of this epilogue. This discusses the uncertain fate that hangs on the Bird in South Africa, the first to be removed and which now happens to be the last known Bird in exile. With this chapter, I conclude the dissertation, and I hope to make an informed opinion of whether the Zimbabwe Bird at Groote Schuur is a case deferred or one of fading national hopes.
A brief history of Cecil John Rhodes Rhodes is probably the most prominent figure in the history of British imperi-­‐
alism in Southern Africa in the 19th century (Fig. 49). Although much has been written about this man, certain aspects of his life remain steeped in mystery 205
(Rotberg 1988), particularly when we only see the imposing stock portrait of a businessman and imperialist. This chapter brings out some aspects of his per-­‐
sonality, including a passion for classical books and works of art, which have remained hidden until now. In the opening chapter to a biography of Rhodes, The Founder, Rotberg aptly describes him as the “The Man and the Mystery” (Rotberg 1988: 3).
Born in England in 1853, Rhodes immigrated to South Africa at the tender age of 17 to join his brother, Herbert, on a cotton farm in Natal. A change of climate, it was believed, would cure a lung infection. In 1871, Rhodes moved to the diamond mines of Kimberley to manage Herbert’s claims. There he specu-­‐
lated on claims and combined resources with friends to build a business, and ended up amassing a huge personal fortune. He used this fortune to further the cause of British imperialism in the southern African subcontinent (L’Ange 2005: 115).
In 1873, Rhodes briefly returned to England to further his education at Ox-­‐
ford and graduated with a BA. While at Oxford, he was inspired by reading the inaugural lecture of the imperialist theoretician, John Ruskin, in which he ex-­‐
horted youths to “make [England] again a royal throne of kings; a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of light ...This is what England must either do or per-­‐
ish: she must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able … seizing every piece of fruitful waste ground she can set her foot on, and there teaching these her colonists that … their first aim is to advance the power of England by land and sea” (Rotberg 1988: 94). This lecture, which had been delivered back in 1870, is said to have had a profound impact on Rhodes’ imperial ambitions in southern Africa. Far from being a moralist, Rhodes obviously saw that the cause of Empire propped up his business fortunes. In 1880, Rhodes and his friend and business compatriot, Charles Rudd, launched the De Beers Mining Company, an amalgamation of several individual diamond claims and became one of the wealthiest businessmen in the world. De Beers is Rhodes’ eternal legacy, together with its maxim “A Diamond is For-­‐
ever”, which has come to symbolize its control of the diamond business in the world today. Although it was fashioned long after Rhodes’s death, it resonates with his uncanny vision of business and empire. Rhodes entered politics in earnest in 1887, becoming a Member of Parlia-­‐
ment in the Cape Colony Government. Three years later, he was elected Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and with this position of power and influence, he won friends and neutralized those who were opposed to his schemes. Casting his eyes north, things started to unfold in the sidelines of Cape politics. In 1887 and 1888, Rhodes negotiated two agreements with the Ndebele king, Loben-­‐
gula, the first (the Moffat Treaty) in which Lobengula understood that he was to enjoy protectorate status under Queen Victoria of England, and the second, the Rudd Concession, in which Lobengula allegedly ceded all mineral rights to Rhodes. Subsequently Rhodes and his compatriots launched the British South Africa Company as a vehicle for annexing the country and exploiting its natural resources. This company was awarded a royal charter to occupy and administer Mashonaland and the lands beyond. This task was completed between 1890 and 1891 and the new territories (now Zambia and Zimbabwe) were named 206
Fig. 49. Cecil John Rhodes
Rhodesia in honour of Rhodes. In the same period, Rhodes sent a force to oc-­‐
cupy Mashonaland and to hoist the Union Jack in defiance of the Ndebele King, Lobengula, who regarded the area as his domains. Southern Rhodesia was Rhodes’ first and most prized territorial possession. A romantic aura developed around it, and it is likely that it was partly orchestrated by Rhodes and his co-­‐
horts in order to promote European settlement into the new land (Hubbard 2009: 115). Rhodes and a passion for collecting
Rotberg (1988), who attempts to write a biography of Cecil Rhodes eight de-­‐
cades after his death, argues that no single work has been able to capture the full scale of Rhodes’ idiosyncrasies. One of this was a penchant to collect treas-­‐
ure. In 1890, as plans reached an advanced stage to occupy Mashonaland, Rhodes purchased a stone Bird for 80 pounds sterling from Willi Posselt; a Bird that had been removed from Great Zimbabwe in a shady transaction (Munjeri 1998). Was it mere coincidence that just when Rhodes was instigating a ma-­‐
noeuvre to seize territory north of the Limpopo River, Posselt approached him with an offer to sell the Bird emblem from Mashonaland? Furthermore, this was after a failed offer to Paul Kruger, President of the South African Republic, one of Rhodes’ arch-­‐rivals and the main obstacle to his territorial ambitions (Chap-­‐
ter 2). As mentioned earlier, Rhodes’ interest in antiquities (Rotberg 1988: 5) rarely features in colonial literature as often as his love for classical literature, particularly Roman history (Kuklick 1991: 139). In 1891, Rhodes purchased Groote Schuur (then called the Grange), an old-­‐
fashioned mansion on the eastern foot of Table Mountain, finding the need to have a private residence in Cape Town. The property had been owned by the Dutch East India Company in the 18th century, serving as a storeroom to keep provisions for passing ships. Rhodes purchased the house and its ample grounds for £60 000. The house underwent fundamental renovation to com-­‐
bine architectural themes of the Dutch Cape and an English countryside home under the direction of the architect Herbert Baker (Rotberg 1988: 380).
Baker created a spacious, formidable hall, framed by massive solid teak where Rhodes displayed artifacts from the African interior, including many formidable shooting trophies, African shields, spears and guns (a collection from the conquest of the Ndebele in 1893). Groote Schuur became home to a rich library and a repository for his antique collections. Rotberg writes (1988: 384, 387):
Within one of the recesses of his reconstructed house Rhodes created one of the more unusual libraries in the Western world displaying a miscellany of literary works. There Rhodes did most of his work; it was in the room that the details of many of his schemes have been thought out and decided upon… Over all brooded an abstract soapstone figure of a bird that had been liber-­‐
ated from the ruins of Great Zimbabwe.
Baker incorporated the Bird motifs into the facades of Groote Schuur, including five wooden copies decorating the Burmese teak banister on the staircase to 208
the bedrooms on the upper floor. The Bird image also embellished doorplates, a display cabinet in the study and a copper fire screen in the bedroom. The ob-­‐
session with the bird imagery continued after Rhodes’ death, as Herbert Baker incorporated it into the design of Rhodes’ house in Oxford, which was com-­‐
pleted in 1928. Outside, some Bird-­‐shaped gargoyle downspouts were incorpo-­‐
rated in the architecture of Groote Schuur (Figs 50-­‐55). There are three statues of the Bird at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
The Zimbabwe Bird became the symbol of Rhodesia and its representation in the interior and exterior decoration of Groote Schuur became a public state-­‐
ment, an exhibition of Rhodesia, which Rhodes cherished as his most important personal project. The Zimbabwe Bird and the house together became an exten-­‐
sion of his political ego.
As we have seen, Rhodes supported the propaganda regarding the Bird’s connection with Middle Eastern worship and made a personal effort to search for comparisons in Egyptian museums. From the following accounts and other descriptions it appears that Rhodes believed that the Bird had some sacred potency. During the Matabeleland uprising in 1896, on one of his encounters with the finder of the Bird, Willi Posselt, Rhodes sentimentally remarked: Often in Cape Town when I speak to people about the Hinterland [Rhodesia], some of them take no notice; others have no faith in the wild country. But then I take the stone birds you [Posselt] found in the Zimbabwe Ruins; I place it on the table, and tell them that where this stone bird came from there must be something else. Much later, Mrs Tinie Vortser, the wife of John Vorster, who was the South Afri-­‐
can Prime Minister from 1966-­‐1978, developed a special interest in the collec-­‐
tion in the house in which she lived as First Lady. She collaborated in the writ-­‐
ing of a brochure on Groote Schuur published in 1970, which poetically echoed the potency of the Bird:
The original soapstone figure was housed in the library, except when Rhodes was telling worried and disputing politicians to turn from their “trouble of ants” to the “mountain of calm”. Then in the same spirit he place the Phoenic-­‐
ian hawk [sic!], found at Zimbabwe, in the Cabinet Council-­‐room, that the emblem of time might preside over the deliberations. The bird is the constant companion of those who progress through the house. In 1892, the Bird had travelled to an exhibition in London as part of the collec-­‐
tion from Great Zimbabwe that included the Birds removed by Theodore Bent. In 1995, the Zimbabwe Bird travelled overseas again. This time, the South Afri-­‐
cans loaned it to the Royal Academy of Arts of Great Britain for a mobile exhibi-­‐
tion entitled "Africa: Art of a Continent", was exhibited in Europe and in the United Sates (Munjeri 2009: 12). For the same exhibition, the British Royal Academy of Arts had written to the Zimbabwe government, formally requesting the loan of the “Bird of Zimbabwe” (Bird 1 with the chevron patter). The Zim-­‐
babwe government turned down the request stating that “we are not in a posi-­‐
tion to part with the Bird of Great Zimbabwe (Bird on pillar with crocodile). It 209
Fig. 50. Bird
on a doorplate
Fig. 52. Bird-shaped gargoyle downspouts
incorporated in the
architecture of Groote Schuur
Fig. 53. The Zimbabwe Bird at Groote Schuur,
September 2009
Fig. 54. Zimbabwe Bird replicas on rails of
the staircase to Rhodes’ bedroom
into the design of Rhodes’ House in
will not escape your attention that this Bird is synonymous with the heritage of Zimbabwe. A policy decision was made at the highest level long ago that under no circumstances would the Bird be allowed to leave the country” (NMMZ Files 1995). The Zimbabwe collection at Groote Schuur
I visited Groote Schuur by appointment on 18 September 2009 to briefly exam-­‐
ine the Zimbabwe collection. I was courteously guided around by Ms Alta Kriel, who was then Curator of the collections. The Zimbabwe Bird perched in a dis-­‐
play cabinet in one of the upper rooms facing Table Mountain. In Rhodes’ time, the Zimbabwe Bird was displayed in a cabinet in his study. During John Vor-­‐
ster’s presidency from 1966, the cabinet was moved to his bedroom at the be-­‐
hest of Mrs Vorster, whom, as we have seen, had taken a keen personal interest in Rhodes’ collection. The following are some of the notable objects in the Groote Schuur collection. • A wooden platter with a crocodile motif on its base. This is also one of the most sacred artefacts associated with Great Zimbabwe. According to Hall, the wooden bowl and the magical pot – Pfuko yaNavanji – came from the same locality Mowishawasha (Mupfurawasha) and Tchib-­‐
Fuko (Chipfuko) hills in the Charumbira communal lands (Hall 1905: 10) (Figs 56, 57). • A large collection of stone phalli. “What these phalli meant to or for Rhodes can only remain a matter of speculation” (Rotberg 1988: 387). • Two bronze cannons of Portuguese origin belonging to the Rozvi, from the zimbabwe type site Danamombe (Dhlodhlo). (Fig. 58) • King Lobengula’s drinking brass vessel in the royal symbol of an ele-­‐
phant, made by the Tati Company. • Several items of gold (gold foil, coils, nails etc.) from Great Zimbabwe. • A crucible with traces of gold. • 9 soapstone figurines from Great Zimbabwe, one of which is in a rough shape of a bird. • A splinter of a soapstone pillar. • 6 fragments of soapstone bowls from Great Zimbabwe. • 2 fragments of soapstone gaming boards. • An item covered with gold leaf, possibly the finial of a sceptre. • A brass ring. In moving on to the issue of return or non-­‐return of the Zimbabwe Bird, it is important to understand why only the Zimbabwe Bird is interesting and why no other item deserves to be treated with the same importance. Although ow-­‐
ing to the principle of non-­‐retroactivity, the 1970 Convention does not apply, it nevertheless sets the parameters of defining importance of an object that de-­‐
serves to be returned. The Zimbabwe Bird answers to definition in Article 5 (3) of an object which, if removed 213
Fig. 56. Wooden bowl in the Groote Schuur collection, found near Great Zimbabwe
Fig. 57. Underside of bowl
Fig. 58. Cannons at Groote Schuur, collected from Danamombe
215
215
In June 1998, the South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Jeremiah Kingsley Mamabolo, attended the launch of the book The Soapstone Birds of Great Zimbabwe: Symbols of a Nation (Matenga 1998) as one of the invited guests. He was presented with an autographed copy of the book, but this was not an occasion for him to make a public statement on the issue. Instead, the Zimbabwean public made a symbolic statement for his attention. The late Alta Kriel, Curator of the Groote Schuur Collection apparently rep-­‐
resented a mainstream academic position in South Africa. She contended that the Groote Schuur Estate, which include the buildings and movable assets, are the epitome of Rhodes’ vision of the unified states in southern Africa, which would have included the territories that were to form the Union of South Africa, and the two Rhodesias, i.e. present day Zimbabwe and Zambia. This was a dream for which Rhodes had expended much energy, but only partially man-­‐
aged to achieve. On par with this view is the symbolism attached to the Groote Schuur collection and the argument that dismantling the collection is tanta-­‐
mount to a desecration of Rhodes’ legacy, or a rewriting of history. To remove one artefact from that collection is to undermine the integrity of the collection and the history, which it symbolizes63. This argument resonates with the ma-­‐
teriality theory that requires us to trace the movement of objects through con-­‐
texts and the concomitant shifts in meaning and that in that continuum, no meaning can be said to be more important or less important than the other. Kriel emphasized that when the South Africa Government agreed to release the five Zimbabwe Birds in South African Museum in 1980, the Bird at Groote Schuur was excluded from the deal in accordance with Rhodes’ Will and with subsequent legislation enabling and protecting the Will. Alta Kriel went on to say that the treasures from Zimbabwe are an integral part of the Groote Schuur collection. “The Will is important; if you lose one item you risk the chance of losing everything”. In her view, whatever political sentiments and decision can be reached between the two governments, they should not affect Rhodes’ Will64. Ms Kriel underlined the unity of the collection and the building itself. She waxed eloquent in her narrative: More than two centuries before Rhodes ac-­‐
quired the property, Groote Schuur had been established as a granary for sup-­‐
plies to Dutch merchants. Its gabled façades typified Cape Dutch architecture, and while the tradition for most Englishmen who acquired such properties was to replace these features with Victorian motifs, Rhodes instructed his architect Herbert Baker to retain the historical frame of the building. Furthermore, he changed the name of the building from the Grange to “De Groote Schuur” in honour of its Dutch heritage. On the eastern façade of the building, a mural depicts the Dutch East India Company arriving at the Cape of Good Hope and meeting the local inhabitants. The building and its contents together embody a narrative that is the historical essence of the building itself and Rhodes. Kriel contended that such historical sincerity demonstrated that as a politi-­‐
cian, Rhodes had risen above the polarization of the English and Dutch commu-­‐
nities at the Cape, much to the displeasure of his British kinsmen. As further confirmation of this statesmanship, Rhodes’ will gave the property and the collection therein to a “future” federal government. Alta Kriel passionately ar-­‐
216
gued that the integrity of the collection resonates with Rhodes’ benevolent and unifying statesmanship: “The integrity of the collection is important as it sym-­‐
bolizes Rhodes’ vision of a united southern Africa”. Another important dimension of Rhodes’ collecting behaviour, which was il-­‐
luminated by the interview with Alta Kriel, was that Rhodes was not collecting for himself. In other words, he was not building a private collection; he was interested in collections as far as they projected histories of peoples connected to the British Empire. To demonstrate that this was not a private collection as such, Rhodes bequeathed everything to institutions, to a future federal “Gov-­‐
ernment if a corporate body capable of accepting same or if not then in some suitable corporate body so capable named by such a Government ....”65. Although Rhodes rarely stayed in the house, spending only four months in total (on and off) between 1898 and 1902, the house was significant as a sym-­‐
bol of the aspired unity of the territories in southern Africa. Kriel went on to say that Rhodes did not think that the collection was lost to Zimbabwe, since he cherished the vision that Rhodesia would join a future Union of South Africa (the Rhodesian settlers rejected a union by a referendum, see Chapter 4). It is interesting to note that Kriel coloured some of the historical facts with her own personal opinion. Such sympathetic historical reconstruction demonstrates that this is an emotive subject on the part of those who are interested in or keep Rhodes’ legacy. Heritage is constantly created and recreated to feed conflicting and competing narratives. It is ironical that the keepers of Groote Schuur argue for the preservation of the integrity of a collection that was created at the ex-­‐
pense of the integrity of a shrine in another sovereign state in the face of calls from that state for the restoration of the shrine. The return of cultural objects from the perspective of South African legis-­
lation on heritage Statutory Framework Having noted the competing narratives, I now investigate possible answers in the statutory and institutional environment for the management of heritage in South Africa. It is necessary to consider Rhodes’ last Will of 1st July 1893. In particular, the wording of Clause 13 was quite strong in terms of prescribing guarantees for the inalienability of his property: I give my property following that is to say, my residence known as De Groote Schuur, situate near Mowbray in the Cape Division of the said Colony to-­‐
gether with all furniture, plate, and other articles contained therein at the time of my death, ... to my Trustees hereinbefore named upon and subject to the conditions following that is to say: 1) The said property (excepting any furniture or like articles which have become useless) shall not nor shall any portion thereof at any time be sold, let or otherwise alienated66. 217
In Clause 15, Rhodes directed his Trustees to hand over the Groote Schuur es-­‐
tates and collections to a future Federal Government of South Africa, a refer-­‐
ence to the Union of South Africa, which was constituted in 1910. ... the said Government shall from the time it shall be constituted have the management administration and control of the said devise and legacy and that my Trustees shall as soon as may be vest and pay the devise and legacy given by the last preceding clauses hereof in and to such a Government if a corporate body capable of accepting and holding the same or if not then in some suitable corporate body so capable and named by such Government .... The Will was the basis on which The Rhodes’ Will (The Groote Schuur Devolution Act) Act No. 9 of 1910 was passed as a law to enable and provide guarantees to the Will. Thus, in accordance with the Will, Section 1 of the Act directed that: From the commencement of this Act the Groote Schuur Estates ... together with all furniture, plate, and other articles belonging to the said Estate shall be transferred to the Union Government and shall vest in the Governor Gen-­‐
eral, subject to the conditions and directions contained in Clauses 13 and 15 of the Will of the testator, hereinbefore recited….67 In his will, Rhodes had encouraged legislation and a secession of private prop-­‐
erty to the state. Thus, the Groote Schuur Devolution Act No. 9 (1910) legalized a personal will. Today, this Act is the legal instrument for retaining the stone Bird at Groote Schuur. The law is probably without a precedent or any succeed-­‐
ing occurrences in the history of South African legislation. Since 1994 at the inception of the first democratic government, at least three legislations can be singled out to have a bearing on the subject of return of cultural objects. These are the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa No. 108 (1996), the National Heritage Resources Act No. 25 (1999) (NHRA) and the National Heritage Council Act No. 11 (1999). The South African Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and it pre-­‐
scribes the rules for private property. Section 25 (1) stipulates that “No one may be deprived of property except in terms of the law of general application and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property.” Notwithstanding, in terms of the law of general application (Section 25(2)): Property68 may be expropriated in terms of the law of general application (a) for public purpose or in public interest; and (b) subject to compensation, the amount of which, and the time and man-­‐ ner of payment of which have been agreed to by those affected or de-­‐ cided or approved by a court. Nevertheless, in her argument Alta Kriel underlined the sanctity or inviolability of Rhodes’ Will with respect to the collection, which implies that the collection was and is still regarded as the estate of Cecil Rhodes. In contrast, I think that although the Groote Schuur Devolution Act should be applied to concur with the Will, the legislation in Section 25 states that the collection had been trans-­‐
ferred from Rhodes’ trustees to the state. If the Will is ascribed the same weight 218
as the Devolution Act that manages it, we create an unnecessary chicken and egg puzzle about which takes precedent over the other. As I understand it, the Devolution Act superseded the Will and as from 1910, the Groote Schuur collec-­‐
tion ceased to be private property. Its ownership was vested in the state, thereby becoming state or public property. Consequently, the law on private property as contained in the Constitution does not apply here. Today, South African law is not specific about the treatment of requests by another country for the return of objects held on South African soil. The princi-­‐
pal statutory provision for the management of heritage in South Africa is the National Heritage Act No. 25 (1999), administered by the South African Heri-­‐
tage Resources Authority (SAHRA). The Act regulates the export of nationally significant objects declared “heritage objects” from the country. The Act clearly refers to export of objects and does not include repatriation. Under the terms of Sections 19 & 20, SAHRA vets applications for export of objects, which are scru-­‐
tinized by appointed independent experts. Export may be approved subject to the issue of an export permit. In any case, the South African Government re-­‐
leased the five Birds without any reference to national law or international law. The settlement was a result of mutual understanding between the two count-­‐
ries. The Act also outlines the mandate of SAHRA as to i.a. investigate and advise the Council (of SAHRA) on the repatriation of heritage resources which have been removed from South Africa and which SAHRA considers to be a significant part of the National Estate (Section 13(2) (a) (iv) of NHRA 1999). Similarly, the National Heritage Council is mandated to inves-­‐
tigate ways and means of effecting the repatriation of South African heritage objects presently being held by foreign governments, public and private insti-­‐
tutions and individuals69. Naturally, any legislation would be expected to operate in national self-­‐interest and to encourage the return of South African objects held in other countries if they were deemed of national importance, and not vice versa. The only country to have enacted legislation that might protect cultural property rights of an-­‐
other state is the United States (Chapter 5). However, we are tempted to apply a hypothetical law of reciprocity that if South Africa finds it necessary to claim its objects from another nation, and expects that other countries will comply, then in principle it accepts that another country can successfully put a claim for re-­‐
turn of objects held in South Africa. According to Greenfield, return must not be seen as a “question of law, but of judgement on cultural, historical and social terms” (Greenfield 2007: 65). The accessibility of the Groote Schuur collection to the public Groote Schuur is a house museum. Before that and until 1994, it was the official residence of the South African State president. At the end of the apartheid era, Mr Nelson Mandela broke with tradition and declined to stay in the house, which was let out to the Mr Thabo Mbeki, then Vice President. Since the ap-­‐
pointment of Mr Mbeki to State President in 1999, the property has been con-­‐
219
verted into a special house collection. It is not a conventional, mainstream mu-­‐
seum, and public access is reserved, only possible by appointment and subject to security screening. Supposing that the view that the Groote Schuur Collection must be kept in-­‐
tact is the policy of government, it begs the question what the South African Government can do to ensure that the Bird is accessible to all people who might want to see it. After all, Rhodes bequeathed it to all the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa, to borrow from the late Ms Alta Kriel. Regrettably, however, Groote Schuur is not an accessible museum. Primarily, it is the State Residence, access is controlled and the rigours of protecting Very Important Persons are applied, whereas during the time of Rhodes, the rules may have been slightly different. At the time of my study visit in September 2009, the building was under renovation for an anticipated active re-­‐occupation by the state Vice President. It is therefore not envisaged that the current regulations on public access will be relaxed in the near future. Public access to such a vital collection would be improved by moving the collection from a state residence to a suitable location, such as a mainstream museum. For the Zimbabwe Bird, the most suitable location would be the site where it originated and where its restoration is necessary to repair the spiritual integrity of the site – Great Zimbabwe. Commenting on the issue of accessibility, Dr. Godfrey Mahachi, Executive Di-­‐
rector of NMMZ, said that the Zimbabwe Bird was so near, yet so far away. Twice it had travelled abroad to grace international exhibitions; yet its holders had never found it necessary to consider a return to Zimbabwe, even for a tem-­‐
porary exhibition (Mahachi pers. com). In a letter of 11 March 2003, inviting the State President to receive the Bird fragment from Germany, the Secretary of Home Affairs hinted the possibility of asking the South African Government to release the Bird at Groote Schuur: Given the national symbolic significance of the Zimbabwe Birds, the Ministry of Home Affairs kindly requests that His Excellency, the President, receives the Zimbabwe Bird when the German Government, through its Embassy, offi-­‐
cially hands over the priceless relic to Zimbabwe. The occasion would also provide an opportunity for the President to appeal to the South African Gov-­‐
ernment for the release of the one Bird that continues to live in exile, at Groote Schuur in Cape Town. A return in the regional political context of the Southern African Devel-­
opment Community One of the academic arguments is that the movement of objects within a region, regardless of how it was transacted, does not actually constitute a loss to the country in which it originated. In other words, South Africa can retain the Bird and the Bird would not be a loss to Zimbabwe. The two countries are geo-­‐
graphical neighbours sharing a common border; both are members of SADC, the Southern African Development Community. SADC member states are evolv-­‐
ing a political union and a number of protocols have been passed, defining areas and modalities of corporation. The Protocol on Culture, Information and 220
Sport is one such agreement concluded in Malawi in August 2000. The Protocol recognizes culture, information and sport as agents of political and economic integration. In the terms of Article 11 of the Protocol, member states must co-­‐
operate in the formulation and harmonization of cultural policies, as well as create a socio-­‐cultural environment within which the regional integration ideals of SADC can be realized. Article 13 seeks to establish common policy guidelines for the preservation and promotion of heritage with the aim to achieve regional integration. In 1983, responding to the persistent request of the return of the Elgin Mar-­‐
bles from the United Kingdom, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declared that “claims for the return of cultural property from within the European area must be considered differently from claims of the return of property outside this area”. It was recognized that European cultural heritage belonged to all Europeans, provided that such cultural heritage is easily acces-­‐
sible (Greenfield 2007: 64). A regional agreement such as the Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport is not expected to include specific issues, such as the return of cultural property or exchange deals between member states. Nevertheless, in theory, a cultural cooperation agreement provides the political context in which a claim for the return of the Zimbabwe Bird from South Africa may be considered. Although the Bird is still within the region, a move back to Zimbabwe could be seen as necessary, since the site to which it belongs defines Zimbabwe’s sovereign his-­‐
tory. I am not convinced that the ideal of regional integration should override the need to define nationhood within that community of nations. The level of regional political and social cohesion depends on which param-­‐
eters are used to measure it. The free movement of people and goods would be one of the key indicators of political and social integration within SADC. Zim-­‐
babwe is South Africa’s largest trading partner in the SADC region. However, disparities in economic performance will continue to pose a wall between the two neighbours. A large migrant labour population live in South Africa. Accord-­‐
ing to a news article of 16 September 2010 in The Mail and Guardian a spokes-­‐
man of the Department of Home Affairs said that there were “350 000 legal Zimbabwean nationals who have entered South Africa legally through its land, sea and airports.” It is not clear whether the figures stand for legal temporary and permanent residents, or whether they included itinerant visitors and cross-­‐
border traders. In September 2010, South Africa offered a special dispensation for Zimbabweans living illegally in South Africa to regularise their residence and/or work permits. 275 000 are reported to have responded to the amnesty. That would bring the total to 625 000. In a related development in May 2009, South Africa had waived stringent visa requirements for Zimbabweans entering South Africa. That the countries have progressed so far together is an interest-­‐
ing point to consider. However, there is still a strong sense of nationalism among the SADC countries and to reach the level of integration of the Western countries in the European Union remains a vision for the future. 221
The return and bilateral political relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe South Africa and Zimbabwe have cordial relations at the level of the gov-­‐
ernments. As we will see below, the last known official request by the Zim-­‐
babwe Government for the Bird to be returned was made in 1997. The immedi-­‐
ate past and present Presidents of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki and Mr Jacob Zuma respectively, have brokered an understanding between the two principal parties in the Zimbabwean Government, the MDC and ZANU PF70. Thus, there is a high level of intergovernmental activity between the two countries. Could this be the perfect timing to raise the subject of the return of the Zimbabwe Bird? If the apartheid government was obliging in those volatile years and returned five Birds, are we not justified in expecting more generosity to come from a new government founded on democratic principles and championing an African Renaissance? Zimbabwe’s position on the return of the Zimbabwe Bird at Groote Schuur The position of the Zimbabwe government on the issue of return of the Zim-­‐
babwe currently appears to be in limbo. However, is important to underline that there is no evidence to indicate that the matter has been resigned; it might have been rested for now, but I doubt whether it has been closed. I will attempt here to show that the matter has been making fleeting appearances on the Gov-­‐
ernment agenda. In an internal report published in 1995 regarding the 1981 transaction, through which five Birds were returned, the Executive Director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, Mr Dawson Munjeri, dismissed the transaction as “fraudulent” for two reasons. Firstly, the trading of Zimbabwe’s collection of Hymenoptera was an unfair demand by South Africa and an unnecessary compromise by Zimbabwe. Sec-­‐
ondly, the Bird at Groote Schuur had been left out of the deal. The South Afri-­‐
cans argued that this specimen was outside the jurisdiction of the South African Museum, since it was part of the personal estate of Cecil Rhodes. In 2006, Lind-­‐
say Hooper, Curator at the South African (Iziko) Museum told me that the Board of Trustees of the South Africa Museum had ruled that the Zimbabwe Bird at Groote Schuur fell outside the Museum’s terms of reference. A letter in the South African Museum written by Rhodes to the Curator of the South Afri-­‐
can Museum, Rolan Trimen, expresses the wish to keep this one bird "as the South African Museum already has four of its own" (Munjeri 1996: 7). South Africa has retained the Bird owing to this technical argument. The former executive director of the NMMZ, Munjeri remarked that "the matter was more complex .... This was in a political arena" (Munjeri 1966: 8). During a visit Groote Schuur as part of a museum visitation from Zimbabwe in 1996, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Home Affairs, Dumiso Dabengwa, had indi-­‐
cated Zimbabwe’s interest in the return of the Bird. Subsequently in 1997, a formal request was made through the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 222
and according to the late Alta Kriel, this was the last official request for the return of the Bird (Kriel pers. com). Correspondence dated 22 January 1998 addressed to the Ministry of Home Affairs following the Zimbabwean President’s visit on 7 January to the exhibi-­‐
tion at the Royal Museum of Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium in which the two Bird fragments in Zimbabwe and Germany had been reunified, the President had requested background information on the two Birds. The President wanted to “pursue, with his German and South African counterparts the possible recov-­‐
ery of a piece of one of the Zimbabwe Birds and the eighth Bird respectively” (NMMZ files). Such information had been provided by NMMZ by correspond-­‐
ence dated 18 February 1998. The Executive Director of NMMZ, Dr. Godfrey Mahachi, said that the fact that the South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe had been invited to the state ceremony held to receive the Bird fragment from Germany in 2003 (see Chapter 6) was a symbolic expression of interest in recovering the Bird held at Groote Schuur (Mahachi 2010, pers com). The Mail and Guardian (South Africa) issue of 15 May 2003 reported that Zimbabwean officials had said that negotiations with their South African counterparts were underway for the return of the Zimbabwe Bird held at Groote Schuur. On 21 May 2005, President Mugabe was reported on one news website as having said that he would approach President Thabo Mbeki to nego-­‐
tiate the return of the Zimbabwe Bird in Cape Town71. The statements would have been made soon after the state ceremony to receive the Bird returned from Berlin that was held on 14 May 2003. This appears to be the last official communication on the matter from the Zimbabwean side. Even if the Zimbabwe government has decided to let the matter rest for now, I have no doubt that it would be pleased to receive the Bird if an oppor-­‐
tunity would present itself. I interviewed Dr S. Mudenge, who, as we have seen, is a respected historian. Giving a personal rather than official opinion, he advised “diplomatic caution”, obviously informed by his long experience in diplomatic service. He is not only a politician but also a career diplomat, having served in the Zimbabwe gov-­‐
ernment, first as Permanent Secretary and later as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He said that is not possible to find a Zimbabwean who wishes the Bird to re-­‐
main in exile. A cautious approach is to avoid actions that are likely to wreck the project. Zimbabwe respects the sensitivities of South Africa as a friendly country and neighbour. It was considered improper to put diplomatic pressure, owing to the good inter-­‐governmental relations between the two countries. “They, the South Africans, in their own time, and in their own way, and when it is appropriate, we are confident they will release the Bird”72 (Mudenge pers. com). Heritage legislation in Zimbabwe In a status review of heritage legislation in sub-­‐Saharan Africa, the ICCROM Africa 2009 training and technical assistance programme lamented that the heritage legislations in most of the countries in this region had become obsolete 223
owing to the long periods, sometimes decades, that lapse before such legisla-­‐
tions are reviewed in line with changing socio-­‐economic and political circum-­‐
stances. In Zimbabwe, the principal law on heritage was in fact passed in 1972, as the National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia Act (Chapter 313), and this has been used without amendment in the post-­‐colonial period as the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe Act (Chapter 25: 11). The process of review has not been completed, despite many attempts. The problem has partly been attributed to lack of local expertise in that field. When we compare the 1972 legislation and the preceding heritage law en-­‐
acted in Rhodesia, first the Ancient Monuments Protection Ordinance No 9 (1902) and the Historical Monuments Act (1936) there are no fundamental dif-­‐
ferences in technical content, except expatiation in the latter Act. The 1902 Ordinance was a belated order to prevent further destruction of heritage sites, especially of the zimbabwe type, arising from treasure-­‐seeking activities of the early settlers. The NMMR act is cast in this frame, and within the imperial ma-­‐
trix it is unthinkable that the two legislation contain clauses to counter export of relics from a colony to another colony or overseas. The National Gallery of Zimbabwe Act (Chap 25:09) (1980) on the “manage-­‐
ment and control of galleries and museums of art” focuses on administrative functions and is silent on the critical issues of principles and ethics of collec-­‐
tions management. This state of affairs leaves Zimbabwe without a legal justification for the re-­‐
turn of cultural objects, but with a moral and emotional case. However, there is a technical window in which the Act vests powers in the Board of Trustees of the NMMZ to compulsorily acquire a monument or relic both movable and im-­‐
movable, “where the Board is unable to do by agreement upon reasonable terms with the owner of the monument, relic ... by applying to the President to acquire the monument or relic” (Section 24 (1)). The old Act may be applied against Rhodes’ estate, in view of the fact that in his last will he declared that he was a resident of Rhodesia, which had become Zimbabwe, notwithstanding that the location of that estate was outside Zimbabwe (Rhodes’ Will, 01/07/1893): THE RIGHT HONOURABLE CECIL JOHN RHODES of Cape Town in the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope hereby revoke all testamentary dispositions hereto-­‐
fore made by me and declare this to be my last Will which I make this 1st day of July 1900. 1. I am a natural born British subject and I now declare that I have adopted and acquired and hereby adopt and acquire and intend to retain Rhodesia as my domicile Two years after the publication of the Will, Rhodes died and he was buried in his new home, Rhodesia. However, the technical hitch is that the Groote Schuur Devolution Act superseded the Will, and by that legislation, ownership of the estate passed from the Rhodes Trustees to the South African State. As we have already seen, technically the estate may be disposable under certain circum-­‐
stances in terms of the South African Constitution. 224
However, in James Cuno’s thinking, modern nation states have no right of jurisdiction over cultural property that belonged to ancient pre-­‐colonial states. The same natural law that accords ownership of ancient cultural property to all mankind can also be invoked to nullify Rhodes’ claim to privately own an object belonging to a shrine. If the rightful owners are the descendants of Chief Mugabe who kept the Bird, which responsibility had been delegated by the Rozvi (speech by Rufuha-­‐
ruzivishe, 01/07/2000), the Bird should be returned to the incumbent Chief Mugabe. However, to recognize its national significance the Zimbabwe state will invoke the NMMZ Act under which Great Zimbabwe, including all the mov-­‐
able relics originating from there, is proclaimed a National Monument. By the same proclamation, the state undertakes to keep the site and its object on be-­‐
half of its citizens, including the descendants of Chief Mugabe. In other words, a change of government does change history or weaken a case for return. Shona customary law and cultural property It is now accepted that customary and traditional mechanisms have been ap-­‐
plied through the ages in the protection of heritage in Sub-­‐Saharan Africa (Ndoro and Keita 2007: 17). Although the rules were not written, the fact that they were handed down through generations is proof that they were important and necessary to keep. The colonial governments caused a break with the past, and the customary rules of tradition were not incorporated into the colonial laws, which were instead based on a Western legal practice. This also meant that the worldview and interests of the indigenous communities were not re-­‐
spected. Recently, customary law has begun to filter into modern legislation, for example in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia. Elsewhere in Nigeria, for instance, it has been found that the Benin earthwork were first “defiled” by the British attack in 1897, and by the proclamation of its status as a national monument under the modern antiquity protection laws, which have not man-­‐
aged to achieve sufficient protection. By contrast, the village earthworks out-­‐
side Benin have received better care by the continued prescription of custom-­‐
ary taboos (Eboreime 2005: 10-­‐11). The bulk of Shona customary law has remained outside the bounds of the modern legal system in Zimbabwe, which is based on Roman Dutch law. In practice, however, it is acknowledged as common or natural law. A notable exception is the customary marriage practices which have been integrated into and enacted into modern law (Customary Marriage Act, Chapter 5:07), and administered in parallel with the modern Marriage Act (Chapter 5:11). The Shona and Ndebele consider shrines, some caves, forests and all ruined places to be sacred and tabooed places. Charles Bullock provided us with a glimpse of such laws, for instance prohibitions against shaking fruit trees to collect fruit or plucking unripe fruit (Bullock 1927: 148). Ruined places and shrines were and are still tabooed in the same way, and thus Rhodes and Posselt were at fault. Posselt broke a taboo by removing the Bird from a shrine. The silence on the applicability of customary law is as surprising as the appar-­‐
ent lack of urgency to review the Rhodesian law, which has become obsolete. 225
The taboos that prohibit removal of things belonging to shrines and sacred forests are a sound legal basis to press for the return of dismembered items, such as the Zimbabwe Bird. Epilogue I believe that by now, it has become clear to the reader that notions of heritage seem to be inextricably located in the difficult arena of the internationally authorized heritage discourse. It has a strong influence on the ownership and conservation of heritage sites and objects. On an optimistic note, we must em-­‐
brace the albeit simplistic view that although post-­‐colonial states have achieved cultural victory as they have reclaimed the right to create meanings for objects that inherited from their past, the successful conclusion of returns of cultural property indicate a shifting balance of power between holding nations and requesting nations. Maybe post-­‐colonial theory lags behind in picking up these signals of changing international power relationships on the cultural arena. However, a second opposing view is that both objects that still remain interna-­‐
tionalized by wrongful international movement and those that have been re-­‐
turned will forever remain circumscribed by the Western-­‐dominated heritage discourse in all its facets. Returns are transacted on the terms of the collector. The collector allocates for him/herself high moral ground as the “donor”. The emphasis placed on the “conservation ethic” is a nuanced influence tool and amounts to moral blackmail: where objects have been returned, we are re-­‐
minded of the recipient nation’s incapacity to retain them. As we have seen regarding the issue of the return of the Zimbabwe Bird from South Africa, it evokes historical, legal, political, ethical and sentimental arguments. The matter is between two neighbouring countries that are bound by historical and cultural ties dating back to an ancient pre-­‐colonial past. Jean-­‐
ette Greenfield puts a strong argument for the return of the following category of objects: (a) Historic records or manuscripts of a nation including the narrative rep-­‐
resentation of its history in an art form, which has been dismembered. (b) Objects torn from immovable property in a sovereign territory of the state whence they were taken; and (c) Palaeontological materials. (Greenfield 2007: 8) As I write this conclusion I reflect on the Zimbabwe Birds’ vicissitudes and dramatic history in the last twelve decades, and I would like to echo the words of Chief Alois Mangwende on the occasion of receiving the Zimbabwe Bird from Germany on 14 May 2003. Perhaps ultimately, the resolution of this matter does not lie with our not so selfless legalistic verdicts, but in the “happiness of the spirit” of the Bird itself. As long as the Bird is not on peaceful terms with its captors and its present location, it is the “grieving spirit” of the Bird – “Ngozi yeShiri” – that will influence the ultimate resolution of the matter. 226
NOTES 1 2 This manuscript had been written with the collaboration of the late George Mvenge and Tafirenyika Masona. The Zimbabwe Bird emblem appears on birth certificates, national identity cards, passport, national flag, and coat-­‐of-­‐arms. Until the national currency was scrapped in 2008 it appeared in on all banknotes and coins. 3 Name is written in lower case. 4 Poseidon is Greek God of the sea, brother of Zeus, the king of gods. He is associated with horses and believed to manifest in the crashing of waves against the shore, and to cause earthquakes. 5 The Stele of Aksum was repatriated to Ethiopia in 2005. 6 Contraction of Sa-­‐Adam, meaning Mr. Adam, Adam corrupted in Adam. 7 The date, which is much older than the site, was explained to arise from the fact that the weatherproof tambooti heartwood is likely to have been used well after the tree had died. 8 The first, second and third were Adam Render, Carl Much and George Philips. 9 Haruzivishe was later installed as Chief Mugabe, in 1894 after the death of his elder brother, Chipfunhu, and held office until his death in 1928. 10 Correspondence from Lindsay Hooper, Curator South African Museum in 2006. 11 Correspondences with Dr. Peter Junge, Curator, Museum of Ethnology Berlin (March 2003 and August 2011). 12 Dr A. Merensky’s letter to the Transvaal Argus, October 12th, 1868. 13 Plaster of Paris or gypsum plaster is employed by mixing water with calcium sulfate hemihydrate (CaSO4·1/2H2O). The plaster, which hardens after mixing with water, is used for moulding. 14 Depending on which point Bent used as his original reference point, it appears now that the enclosure referred to here, the Eastern Enclosure, lies due east of the other enclosures on the Hills Complex, and not on the southwest end, as Bent says. 15 Moses Magabadera joined Great Zimbabwe in 1964 and retired in 2004. For the most part he was employed as a tour guide. 227
16 The cemented steps and dentelle pattern gradually disappeared in the 1970s and is now replaced by a plain wall retaining the platform (Matenga 1998: 70). 17 One of the long pillars decorated with diamond lozenge patterns is in the South Museum (Iziko) in Cape Town. 18 Neither of these features can be seen now. 19 Government Notice No 103 of 104. 20 The use of the metaphor is appropriate, because in Shona belief, the voice of Mwari can still be heard today in the shrines of the Matobho Hills in southwestern Zimbabwe. 21 The Rozwi were the last Shona rulers before the takeover of the country by Mzilikazi’s Ndebele in the 1840s (see Chapter 2). 22 Nharirire yamambo literally means the king’s observation point. 23 Mumbuhuru literally means the great of big house. It also figuratively refers to the house of family of the senior wife, thus presuming a polygamous male figure with more than one wife. Shona kings and chiefs customarily married many wives as a status symbol. 24 Manwa is shortened name for Nemanwa. Aiden of the Nemanwa clan was born in 1926. He was a primary school teacher for more than 30 years, and died in 2005. 25 Rufuruharuzivishe was the extended name of Haruzivishe, from whom Willi Posselt took the stone Bird. 26 Mbuya means “grandmother”, but is also honorific title for a spirit medium or an elderly person. Mbuya vaZari is the senior spirit medium of the Duma people, including those of Chief Mugabe, to which Samuel Rufuharuzivishe belongs. 27 “Sekuru” is Shona for Uncle, which is honorific title for an elderly man. 28 In Shona tradition, you cannot point a finger at burials or burial grounds; it is taboo. 29 Chipfunhu was the incumbent Mugabe at the time of the arrival of the European settlers in 1890. After his death in 1894, he was succeeded by Haruzivishe. Haruzivishe was chief until his death in 1928. 30 Anders Löfgren is Director of the Collections Divisions of the Swedish National Board of Antiquities. He participated in excavations in Zimbabwe in 1998-­‐99, and has first-­‐
hand knowledge of the Great Zimbabwe Site Museum. 31 Simon Muzenda served in the first Government of Zimbabwe as Deputy Prime Minis-­‐ ter and then Deputy President from 1980 until his death in 2003. Joshua Nkomo was the leader of ZAPU known as Father Zimbabwe. He served in the first Government of Zimbabwe as a Minister and later as a Deputy President until his death in 1999. 32 Shumba is the standard totemic designation (lion). The late Aiden Nemanwa said that Vameri vakanga varipo means those who had “germinated” at Great Zimbabwe. In other words they originated there in the beginning of time. The question as to 228
their historical origin was therefore null and void, for in his own words “How can you ask a person who “germinated” from a place to explain where he came from?”
33 Shumba denoting lion and Risipambi meaning “one who did not annex land (but was given). This refers to the fact that Nemanwa had given him land and overlord ship in return for protection.
34 Moyo refers to heart of cow/Chirandu origin uncertain.
35 An extract from the diaries of Carl Mauch 1869 –1872 giving an account of the religious ceremonies taking place at Great Zimbabwe at the time when the Nemanwa Clan held the priesthood of the site. 36 By this analogy, I think Bullock was referring to the way in which the Romans adopt-­‐
ed praise titles such as Caesar as in Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar. 37 This is a large group that encompasses the Duma clanships. 38 These are a branch of the VaRemba or Lemba of totem Mbeva (mouse). 39 http:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Fish_Eagle.; www.sa-­‐venues.com/wildlife/birds_african_fish_eagle_htm. 40 Hodza and Fortune 1979 have “Matapira”. This is disputed by Dr Edwin Muguti, a member of the clan, who says that the correct word is “Matapatira” which refers to the spread wings. This is also confirmed by other adherents of the totem, e.g. Ivan Murambiwa of the National Archives of Zimbabwe. 41 Chasura is a praise name (chidawo) derived from the praise poem. It literally means “he who has farted”. Normally there are occasions in which it might be improper to say the praise name, for example in the presence of your mother-­‐in-­‐law or mother. 42 In Greek mythology, Urania was the muse (goddess or spirit) of astronomy and astrology. 43 Bas-­‐relief from the ceiling of the portico of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor Temple at Dendera, Egypt. Osiris was the Egyptian god of the afterlife. 44 Astarte was the name of a goddess of fertility, sexuality and war, known from the northwestern Semitic regions of the Middle East. Venus was the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility. 45 Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe 1983. The Currency Media of Southern Rhodesia (from the time of the Charter to 1953), the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (from 1954 to 1963), Rhodesia (from 1964 to 1979) and Zimbabwe (from 1980). 46 The 3rd Chimurenga refers to the struggle for economic empowerment of the indige-­‐
nous population centred on the re-­‐allocation of land. 47 Anna Karlström, January 2011. 229
48 Chimurenga originally referred to the Shona-­‐Ndebele uprisings against Rhodesian occupation in 1897. It also came to denote Zimbabwe’s liberation war in the 1960s and 1970. It also refers to guerrilla warfare. 49 Nehanda was a female spirit medium who lived in the Mazoe Valley north of Harare, using her spiritual authority to lead people in the 1896-­‐1897 Shona uprising. She was captured by the Rhodesians and executed in 1897. Her spirit is credited with having inspired the liberation war in the 1960s -­‐1970s. Chaminuka is a legendary territorial spirit in Zimbabwe. The last medium of Chaminuka, Pasipamire, who lived at Chitungwiza near Harare, was assassinated at the orders of Lobengula, king of the Ndebele, in 1883. Before his death, he is credited with the prophecy that the country was soon going to be occupied by Europeans. Kagubi was a male spirit medium who led people in the 1896-­‐1897 uprising around Harare. 50 Samuel Parirenyatwa is reputed to have been the first black medical doctor in Rhodesia. He was a political activist and died in a mysterious train-­‐car collision in 1962. 51 Chief Rekai Tangwena whose chieftaincy was in Nyanga on the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique protested against the appropriation of his land for white commercial farming. He is credited with helping State President Robert Mugabe to cross the border into Mozambique in 1975, where he was appointed to lead Zimbabwe’s liberation war. 52 Herbert Chitepo was a lawyer and Chairman of ZANU credited with opening ZANLA’s war front in the northeast of the country in 1972. He was killed in car bomb explosion in Lusaka, Zambia on 18 March 1975. 53 Josiah Tongogara was a ZANLA commander who first orchestrated attacks on Rhodesia from Zambia. Later he moved with ZANLA to Mozambique and continued the war. He was killed in a car accident in Mozambique on 26 December 1979, four months before Zimbabwe attained self-­‐rule. 54 Jason Moyo was a ZIPRA commander who was killed in a parcel bomb explosion in Lusaka, Zambia in January 1977. 55 Mujibha referred to young male collaborators during the Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle who were employed as carriers and to gather intelligence. The origin of the word is obscure. 56 Chimbwido referred to young female collaborators during the liberation struggle. The origin of the word is unknown.
57 This is part of the Preamble of the African Charter. 58 This is the opening sentence of the Preamble of the African Charter. 59 Emphasis in parenthesis inserted by the author is borrowed from Article 22 (1) of the African Charter. 60 http://www.savingantiquities.org/feature_page.php?featureID=14
230
61 The Land Husbandry Act, which was passed in 1951, enforced private ownership of land, destocking and conservation practices on black small holders. It met mass re-­‐
sistance and fueled nationalistic politics. The law was subsequently abolished in 1961. 62 Speech by the German Ambassador, Peter Schmidt during the hand-­‐over ceremony on 14 May 2003. 63 Interview with Alta Kriel, Curator of the Groote Schuur Collection, Cape Town, 18 September 2009. 64 Interview with Alta Kriel (Ibid) 65 Clause 15 of Rhodes’s Last Will dated 01 July 1893. 66 Clause 13 of Rhodes’s Last Will dated 01 July 1893. 67 Clause 1 of the Rhodes’ (Groote Schuur Devolution) Act No. 9 (1910). 68 In terms Section 25(4) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa no 108 (1996)) “Property is not limited to land”. 69 (Section 10 (1) (c) of the National Heritage Council Act No. 11 (1999). 70 MDC – Movement for Democratic Change; ZANU PF – Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front. 71 http://www.news24/South_Africa?News/0,,2-­‐7-­‐1442_1362447,00.html. 72 Dr Mudenge, speaking in the Shona language, appeared to place emphasis on this phrase “Ivo pachavo” which literally translate as: “They, the South African them-­‐
selves”. 231
232
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cussions and email). Ms Ishbell Hall, Producer/Director, Lost Kingdoms of Africa (BBC), IWC Media – UK, Great Zimbabwe, June 2009. Mrs Lindsay Hooper, Curator, Iziko Museums, Cape Town, February 2006. 246
Dr Anna Karlström, Department of Archaeology, University of Gotland, Sweden, February-­‐March 2011. Ms Marie Klingspor-­‐ Rotstein, Stone Conservator, Past-­‐President of ICOMOS Sweden, Stockholm, January-­‐March 2011. Ms Alta Kriel, Curator, Groote Collection, Groote Schuur, Cape Town, 18 September 2009. Prof Anders Lindahl, Head, Laboratory for Ceramics, Lund University, Sweden Johannesburg 2009, 2010, Lund, November 2010, January 2011. Mr Anders Löfgren, Director of Collections Division, Swedish National Board of Antiquities, Uppsala, January-­‐ March 2011. Mr Moses Magabadera, Tour Guide, Great Zimbabwe, 1996. Dr Godfrey Mahachi, Executive Director NMMZ, Harare. Harare, 20 December 2010. Ms Graciela Gonzalez-­‐Brigas, Programme Specialist, Africa World Heritage Fund, Midrand, South Africa. Mr Aiden Manwa, Community Elder, Great Zimbabwe, 2000-­‐2002. Mr Lavender Matambo, Community Elder, Great Zimbabwe, 1998-­‐2000. Ms Daphine Mlambo, formerly Tour Guide, Great Zimbabwe National Monument, (by email) March 2011. Dr Stanislaus Mudenge, Historian, Zimbabwe Minister of Higher Education, Bawa, Masvingo, 23 April 2011. Dr Edwin Muguti, Medical Doctor, Member of one of the Hungwe (Fish Eagle) Clans, Harare 2002-­‐2004. Dr Dawson Munjeri, formerly Director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), Zimbabwe Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Midrand, South Africa, 19 November 2010 . Dr Ing-­‐Marie Munktell, Director Museum Gustavianum, Uppsala University, March 2011. Professor Innocent Pikirayi, University of Pretoria, South Africa, 2009-­‐2010. Mr Zvinodaishe Mupambireyi, Member of one of the Hungwe (Fish Eagle) Clans, Cosmo City 2009-­‐2011. Dr Webber Ndoro, Executive Director Africa World Heritage Fund, Midrand, South Af-­‐
rica, 2010-­‐2011. Mr Samuel Rufuharuzivishe, Community Elder, Great Zimbabwe, 2000-­‐2004. Dr Peter Schmidt, Former German Ambassador to Zimbabwe (1999-­‐2003) (by email, 2006). 247
Prof Paul Sinclair, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Johannesburg, August 2010, and Uppsala University, January – March 2011. 248
16 SAM 7855
15 SAM 7853
14 SAM 7852
13 SAM 7851
12 SAM 7850
11 SAM 7849
10 SAM 7848
9 SAM 7847
8 SAM 7866
7 SAM 7858
6 SAM 7938
5 SAM 7937
4 SAM 7933
3 SAM 4833
2 SAM 4832
1 SAM 7927
Catalogue
No
Bowl fragments
Bowl fragment
Bowl fragment
Bowl fragment
Bowl fragment
Bowl fragment
Bowl fragments
Bowl fragments
Bowl fragment
Bowl fragment
Bored stone
Bored stone
Axehead
Axehead
Arrowheads
Arrowhead
Arrowhead
Adze
Item
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
3 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
10 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
6 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
Present
location
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
Finder
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
P Rose Frames
P Rose Frames
BSA Co
Importer
1893 Soapstone, complete
1893 Soapstone
1893 Soapstone
1893 Soapstone with chevron decoration
Large section, with excised animal figures,
1893 baboons, dog, man with spear, 2 zebra
1893 Soapstone
1893 Large section, plain
1893 Soapstone
1893 Soapstone with line decorations
1893 Soapstone with excised animal figures
1893 Soapstone with cord decoration
1893 Soapstone one with excised animal figure
1893 ?Soapstone
1893 Soapstone
1893
Soapstone with rosette decoration, Found by
1893 Posselt 1889
1893 Ceremonial iron axhead
1893 Ceremonial iron axhead
1893
1936
1936
APPENDIX I – CATALOGUE OF ARTEFACTS FROM GREAT ZIMBABWE IN THE IZIKO MUSEUM, CAPE TOWN 17 SAM 7855a
Bowl fragment
1 Great Zimbabwe
1893 Iron adze
Description
18 SAM 7857
Bowl fragment
1 Great Zimbabwe
Import
date
19 SAM 7859
Bowl fragment
Site of origin
20 SAM 7861
Bowl
Quantity
21 SAM 7864
Succ
No
22 SAM 7867
30 SAM 7888
29 SAM 7886
28 SAM 7854
27 SAM 7868
26 SAM 7916
25 SAM 7915
24 SAM 7913
Glass
Animal figure
Furnace fragments
Bird figures
Human figure
Zodiac bowl
Ingot mould
Ingot
Chisels
Crucible fragments
4 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
4 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
Groote
Schur
British
Museum
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
Cecil Rhodes
Cecil Rhodes
Cecil Rhodes
Cecil Rhodes
Cecil Rhodes
BSA Co
Richard Hall
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
?
1894
1894
1894
1894
1894 Bevelled gold rods
1894 Tacks, wite, foil
1894 Wire, foil, tacks
1893 Arab glass, decorated
1907 Arab glass, decorated
1893 Clay from gold furnace
1893 Clay
1893 Soapstone, small
1923 Soapstone
1893 Iron
31 SAM 7884
Glass
84 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Cecil Rhodes
?
BSA Co
32 SAM 670
Gold
8 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Cecil Rhodes
?
J Bent
33 SAM 7892
Gold tacks
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Rev G L Ashworth
?
SAM
34 SAM 7900
Gold rods
3 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Rev G L Ashworth
?
5 Great Zimbabwe
35 SAM 7901
Gold wire
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Rev G L Ashworth
?
23 SAM 7923
36 SAM 7902
Gold foil
17 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Rev G L Ashworth
?
1893 Clay
37 SAM 7903
Gold wire
13 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Rev G L Ashworth
BSA Co
38 SAM 7904
Gold beads
14 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
Rev G L Ashworth
J Bent
39 SAM 7905
Gold foil
42 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
20 Great Zimbabwe
40 SAM 79406
Gold rods
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
J Bent
BSA Co
Edward Muller
Wood, found near GZ
1893 Soapstone
Copper
41 SAM 7907
Gold tacks
5 Great Zimbabwe
?
42 SAM 7908
Gold wire
42 Great Zimbabwe
?
43 SAM 7909
Gold nugggets
J Bent
44 SAM 7910
Gold beads
SAM
Groote
Schur
45 SAM 7911
?
46 SAM 7912
61 SAM 7894
60 SAM 8630
59 SAM 8629
58 SAM 8628
57 SAM 7934
56 SAM 7936
55 SAM 7921
54 SAM 7920
53 SAM 7918
52 SAM 7918
51 SAM 7917
50 SAM 7885
49 SAM 7930
48 SAM 11567
47 SAM 7912
Glass beads
Glass beads
Glass beads
Bangle
Bangle
Bangle
Bangle
Hoe head
Hoe head
Hoe head
Hoe head
Hoe head
Hoe head
Pendant
Gold tacks
Double Iron
Gongs
Gold links
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
10 Great Zimbabwe
8 Great Zimbabwe
4 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
Great Zimbabwe
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
Dr. Vander Sleen
R Hall
BSA Co
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
?
?
?
1894
1907 Purchased from Hall, 6 celadon, 1 Tang ware
1893 Soapstone
1893
Long soapstone pillar decorated with variious
1893 incised patterns, longer portion in BM
1893
1893
1893
1893
1957 From Western Enclosure
1907 From the Great Enclosure
Copper, complete
Piece of copper bangle with a little tin
1893 iron or copper?
1893 Iron
1893 Iron
1893 Iron
1893 Iron
1893 Iron
1893 Iron
1983 Soosptone
1893 5th pair in pieces
5 pairs
?
62 SAM 671
Pillar
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
J Bent
R Hall
?
63 SAM 7365
Pillar
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
J Bent
Cecil Rhodes
Rev G L Ashworth
64 SAM 7874
Pillar
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
R Hall
Unknown
65 SAM 7875
Pillar
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
SAM
66 SAM 7876
Pillar
2 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
SAM
67 SAM 7877
Pillar
7 Great Zimbabwe
7 Great Zimbabwe
68 SAM 7878
Pipe bowls
1 Great Zimbabwe
28
69 SAM 7880
Porcelain
Piece of copper bangle with a little tin
70 SAM 7889
Porcelain
1893
71 SAM 669
R Hall
72 SAM 885
93 SAM 7914
92 SAM 7922
91 SAM 7865
90 SAM 8627
89 SAM 7899
88 SAM 7935
87 SAM 7932
86 SAM 7931
85 SAM 7926
84 SAM 7883
83 SAM 8613
82 SAM 7898
81 SAM 7897
80 SAM 7696
79 SAM 7895
78 SAM 7893
77 SAM 7891
76 SAM 7882
75 SAM 7881
74 SAM 7890
73 SAM 886
Tongs
Stones
Spindle whorl
Spindle whorls
Spearheards
Spearheard
Spearheard
Spatula
Phalli
Potsherds
Potsherds
Potsherds
Potsherds
Potsherd
Porcelain
Potsherd
Potsherds
Pots
Porcelain
Porcelain
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
4 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
6 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
35 Great Zimbabwe
22 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
36 Great Zimbabwe
7 Great Zimbabwe
23 Great Zimbabwe
3 Great Zimbabwe
11 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
12 Great Zimbabwe
2 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
1 Great Zimbabwe
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
SAM
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
J Bent
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
de Villiers
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
BSA Co
Cecil Rhodes
1893 Iron
1893 Iron
1893
1893 Iron ?
1893 6 pieces of stone?
1983 Soapstone
1893 Clay
1893 Iron
1893 Bronze, head corroded
1893 Bronze, serrated
1893 Iron
1893 Soapstone
1939 Clay, from Hill Complex
1893 Clay
1893 Clay
1893 Clay
1893 Clay 6 sherds joined, graphited
1893 Blue glazed
1893 Clay, decorated with triangular patterns
1893 Clay
1893 Clay
1893 Celadon
1894
94 SAM 7924
Tuyere fragments
Wire drawing
tool
Wire drawing
tool
95 SAM 7925
SAM 7911 SAM 7910 SAM 7909 SAM 7908 SAM 7907 SAM 79406 SAM 7905 SAM 7904 SAM 7903 SAM 7902 SAM 7901 Accession No Gold links Gold beads Gold nuggets Gold wire Gold tacks Gold rods Gold foil Gold beads Gold wire Gold foil Gold wire Gold rods Gold tacks Items 28 GZ 7 GZ 42 GZ 5 GZ 1 GZ 42 GZ 14 GZ 13 GZ 17 GZ 1 GZ 3 GZ 1 GZ 8 GZ 84 GZ Qnty Origin SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM Loc. Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Not stated Finder Unknown Rev G L Ashworth Rev G L Ashworth Rev G L Ashworth Rev G L Ashworth Rev G L Ashworth Rev G L Ashworth Rev G L Ashworth Cecil Rhodes Cecil Rhodes Cecil Rhodes Cecil Rhodes Cecil Rhodes Cecil Rhodes Donor ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 1894 1894 1894 1894 1894 Bevelled gold rods Notes SAM 7912 Gold tacks 1894 Tacks, wire, foil SAM 7912 Date SAM 11567 APPENDIX II – GOLD ARTEFACTS IN THE IZIKO MUSEUM, CAPE TOWN, DONATED BY RHODES AND ASHWORTH Bronze cup without handle & spout Brass cannon A gold chain A silver crucifix mounted on wood (or iron) Priest’s silver thumb ring A silver ewer with an inscription A sliver chalice inscribed in Latin 2000 ounces of gold Pieces of silver plate, embossed Section of silver plate embossed with vines Bell with handle 3 ft. of gold chain Portion of a bronze incense censer Egyptian bronze oil lamps Section of bronze bowl Priest’s signet ring Cannon with no marks Cannon with Portuguese Coat of Arms APPENDIX III – ARTEFACTS REMOVED FROM DANAMOMBE Item Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911 Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911 Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911 Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911 Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911 Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911 Thomas Quig Ryan (1907-­‐1911) Burnham (American) Neal and Johnson Neal and Johnson (1895) Neal and Johnson (1895) Neal and Johnson (1895) Neal and Johnson (1895) Neal and Johnson (1895) Captain Rixon (1902) Neal and Johnson (1895) Neal and Johnson (1895) Neal and Johnson (1895) Finder Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Possibly sold Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Groote Schuur Groote Schuur Groote Schuur Location Government, Medals of Exemplary Service, Merit, Liberation War, etc. Government, Insurance and Pensions Commission Government, Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee Government, Airforce of Zimbabwe Government of Zimbabwe Parliament Government of Zimbabwe National Flag Government of Zimbabwe Currency Government of Zimbabwe Coat of Arms Council of Land Surveyors Council of Land Surveyors City of Masvingo City of Harare City of Chitungwiza Chevron Hotel Central African Intertrade Bindura University of Science Education Banks and Allied Workers Union Automobile Association of Zimbabwe Agricultural Finance Corporation ORGANISATION IPEC COPAC AFZ AAZ AFC ACCRONYM logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo Government Government Government Government Government Government Government Government Government Voluntary association Voluntary association Local government Local government Local government Private corporate Private corporate Academic institution Voluntary association Voluntary association Parastatal body NOTES APPENDIX IV – ADOPTION OF THE ZIMBABWE BIRD EMBLEM ON ITEMS AND LOGOS IN THE PRIVATE PUBLIC SECTOR Government, National Vehicle Registration Number Plates Royal Eagle Surgical Solutions RM Insurance Research Council of Zimbabwe Redcliff Municipality Nitro Nobel Zimbabwe National University of Science and Technology National Social Security Authority National Oil Company of Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Midlands State University Medial Research Council of Zimbabwe Marketing Institute of Zimbabwe KM Auction, Harare Kingstons Pvt Ltd Karanga Lodge, Masvingo Great Zimbabwe-­‐Masvingo Publicity Association Great Zimbabwe University Government, Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council Government, Zimbabwe Republic Police Government, Zimbabwe Prison Service Government, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Government, Passport leader page and security watermark RCZ NUST NSSA NOCZIM MDC MMCZ MSU MRCZ MIZ GZU ZIMSEC ZRP ZPS ZDF Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Private corporate Voluntary association Parastatal body Local government Private corporate Academic institution Parastatal body Parastatal body Political party Parastatal body Academic institution Parastatal body Parastatal body Private corporate Private corporate Private corporate Voluntary association Academic institution Government Government Government Government Government Zimbabwe Institute of Engineers Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies Zimbabwe History: Journal of the History Association of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Football Association Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Zimbabwe Educational Books Zimbabwe Cricket Union Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Zimbabwe Chefs Association Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Zimbabwe Body Building and Weight-­‐lifting Association Zimbabwe Alloys Ltd Zimbabwe Agricultural Society Zambeziana, Series on Culture and Society in Central Africa Young Men's Christian Association Victoria Primary School, Masvingo University of Zimbabwe The Zimbabwean (Daily Newspaper) Tennis Association of Zimbabwe TEDCO Ltd Survey Institute of Zimbabwe Sports and Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe Rugby Union of Zimbabwe ZIDS ZIFA ZESA ZEB ZCTU ZBC ZNBBWA ZAS UZ SIZ Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Voluntary association Parastatal body Academic journal Parastatal body Parastatal body Private corporate Voluntary association Voluntary association Voluntary association Parastatal body Voluntary association Private corporate Voluntary association Private corporate Voluntary association Academic institution Academic Institution Private corporate Voluntary association Private corporate Voluntary association Parastatal body Voluntary association Zimbabwe Youth Council Zimbabwe United Passenger Company Zimbabwe Publishing House Zimbabwe Primary Health Care Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Zimbabwe Medical Association Zimbabwe International Book Fair Zimbabwe Institute of Religious Research & Ecological Conservation Zimbabwe Institute of Public Administration and Management ZUPCO ZPH ZimParks ZNCC ZMDC ZiMA ZIBF ZIRRCON ZIPAM Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Logo Voluntary association Parastatal body Private corporate NGO Parastatal body Voluntary association Parastatal body Voluntary association Voluntary association NGO Parastatal body PUBLICATIONS FROM AFRICAN AND COMPARATIVE ARCHAEOLOGY DEPARTMENT OF ARCHAEOLOGY AND ANCIENT HISTORY, UPPSALA UNIVERSITY Studies in African Archaeology Editor: Paul J. J. Sinclair 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Sinclair, P. J. J., N. Nydolf & G. Wickman-­‐Nydolf 1987. Excavations at the University Campus Site 2532 Dc 1, Southern Mozambique. Stockholm, and Maputo. 96 pp. Sinclair, P. J. J., M. Törnblom, C. Bohm, B. Sigvallius & B. Hultén 1988. Analyses of Slag, Iron, Ceramics and Animal Bones from Excavations in Mozambique. Stockholm, and Maputo. 54 pp. Morais, J. M. F. 1988. The Early Farming Communities of Southern Mozambique. Stockholm, and Maputo. 201 pp. Duarte, R. T. 1993. Northern Mozambique in the Swahili World: an archaeological approach. Stockholm, and Uppsala. 154 pp, 24 figs, 24 plates. Matenga, E. 1993. Archaeological figurines from Zimbabwe. Uppsala, and Harare. 63 pp, 12 maps, 40 figs, 2 plates. Pikirayi, I. 1993. The Archaeological Identity of the Mutapa State: towards an historical archaeology of northern Zimbabwe. Uppsala. 199 pp, 74 figs, 39 maps, 39 plates. Chami, F. 1994. The Tanzanian Coast in the First Millennium AD: an archaeology of the iron working, farming communities (with microscopic analyses by A. Lindahl). Uppsala. 120 pp, 27 figs, 19 maps, 3 plates. Chipunza, K. T. 1994. A Diachronic Analysis of the Architecture of the Hill Complex at Great Zimbabwe. Uppsala. 94 pp, 17 figs. (Out of print) Swan, L. 1994. Early Gold Mining on the Zimbabwean Plateau: changing patterns of gold production in the first and second millennium AD. Uppsala. 181 pp, 52 figs, 6 plates. (Out of print). Walker, N. J. 1995. Late Pleistocene and Holocene Hunter-­gatherers of the Matopos: an archaeological study of change and continuity in Zimbabwe. Uppsala. 284 pp, 135 figs, 123 tables, 24 plates. Lindahl, A. & E. Matenga 1995. Present and Past: ceramics and homesteads: an ethnoarchaeological project in the Buhera district, Zimbabwe. Uppsala. 116 pp, 79 figs. Jama, A. D. 1996. The Origins and Development of Mogadishu AD 1000 to 1850: a study of urban growth along the Benadir coast of southern Somalia. Uppsala. 135 pp, 15 figs, 5 plates. Pwiti, G. 1996. Continuity and Change: an archaeological study of farming communities in northern Zimbabwe AD 500–1700. Uppsala. 180 pp, 43 figs, 21 plates. Pwiti, G. (ed.) 1997. Cave, Monuments and Texts: Zimbabwean archaeology today. Uppsala. 159 pp, 16 figs, 3 plates. Radimilahy, C. 1998. Mahilaka: an archaeological investigation of an early town in northwestern Madagascar. Uppsala. 293 pp, 165 figs, 38 plates. Jonsson, J. 1998. Early Plant Economy in Zimbabwe. Uppsala. 141 pp, 30 figs, 11 plates. Kinahan, J. 2000. Cattle for Beads: the archaeology of historical contact and trade on the Namib coast. Uppsala, and Windhoek. 119 pp, 22 tables, 62 figs. Manyanga, M., 2001. Choices and constraints: animal resource exploitation in south-­eastern Zimbabwe c. AD 900–1500. Uppsala. 139 pp, 38 figs, 25 tables. 259
19 Ndoro, W., 2001. Your Monument our Shrine: the preservation of Great Zimbabwe. Uppsala. 130 pp, 3 figs, 15 plates, 9 tables. Studies in Global Archaeology Editor: Paul J. J. Sinclair 1 Isendahl, C. 2002. Common knowledge: lowland Maya urban farming at Xuch. Uppsala. 242 pp, 28 figs, 48 maps, 6 plates, 78 tables 10 appendices. ISSN 1651-­‐ 1255 ISBN 91-­‐631-­‐2306-­‐1 2 Blundell, G. 2004. Nqabayo’s Nomansland. San Rock Art and the Somatic Past. Uppsala, and Johannesburg. 204 pp, 75 figs, 3 appendices. Uppsala. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 91-­‐973212-­‐0-­‐6. 3 Juma, A. 2004. Unguja Ukuu on Zanzibar: an archaeological study of early urbanism. Uppsala. 198 pp, 211 figures, 20 plates, 2 appendices. ISSN 165-­‐1255 ISBN 91-­‐973212-­‐1-­‐4. 4 Macamo. S. 2005. Privileged Places in South Central Mozambique. The Archaeology of Manyikeni, Niamara Songo and Degue-­Mufa. Uppsala. 300 pp, 35 figs, 65 plates, 5 appendices. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 91-­‐973212-­‐2-­‐2 5 Ekblom. A. 2004 Changing Landscapes. An Environmental History of Chibuene, Southern Mozambique. Uppsala. 195 pp, 48 figs, 16 tables, 14 plates. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 91-­‐973212-­‐3-­‐0 6 Källén. A. 2004. And Through Flows the River: Archaeology and the pasts of Lao Pako. Uppsala. 336 pp, 106 figs, 4 appendices. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 91-­‐973212-­‐4-­‐9 7 Somadeva, R. 2006. Urban Origins in Southern Sri Lanka. Uppsala. 318 pp, 25 diagrams, 95 figs, 18 maps, 130 plates, 192 tables. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 91-­‐9732-­‐5-­‐7. 8 Madiquida, H. 2007. The Iron-­Using Communities of the Cape Delgado Coast from 1000AD. (Fil Lic. defended 2005). Uppsala, and Maputo. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐973212-­‐6-­‐6. 9 Lindholm, K.-­‐J. 2006. Wells of Experience. A pastoral land-­use history of Omaheke, Namibia. Uppsala. 185 pp, 2 tables, 48 figures, 20 plates and 5 appendices. ISSN 1651-­‐1255, ISBN 91-­‐973212-­‐7-­‐3. 10 Sáenz, V. 2008. Symbolic and Material Boundaries: an archaeological genealogy of the Urhus of Lake Poopó, Bolivia. Uppsala. ISSN 1651-­‐1255, ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐973212-­‐8-­‐0. 11 Manyanga, M. 2007. Resilient Landscapes: socio-­environmental dynamics in the Shashi-­Limpopo Basin, southern Zimbabwe c. AD 800 to the present. Uppsala. ISSN 1651-­‐1255, ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐976-­‐8650-­‐1. 12 Swan, L. 2008. Minerals and managers: production contexts as evidence for social organization in Zimbabwean prehistory. Uppsala. ISSN 1651-­‐1255, ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐976865-­‐1-­‐8. 13 Karlström, A. 2009 Preserving Impermanence. The creation of heritage in Vientiane, Laos. Uppsala. 239 pp. ISSN 1651-­‐1255, ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐506-­‐2077-­‐1. 14 Johansson de Chateau, L. 2009 Roman and Native: Colonialism and the archaeology of rural water management in the Mahgreb. Uppsala. ISSN 1651-­‐1255, ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐506-­‐2060-­‐3.
15 Sinclair, P.J.J., G. Nordquist, F. Herschend and C. Isendahl (eds) 2011 The Urban Mind. Cultural and Environmental Dynamics. Uppsala. ISSN 1651-­‐1255 ISBN 978-­‐91-­‐506-­‐2175-­‐4. 260
261
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