UN honours Nehanda, Kaguvi as they enter into the Memory of the World Register in 2015.

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The original Rhodesia police dockets and court judgments that saw First Chimurenga heroes Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi executed are now on the Memory of the World Register, recognising their roles in changing history.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation administers the Register, which protects humanity’s documentary heritage from “collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time, climatic conditions, and deliberate destruction”.

It features prominent historical documents like the Magna Carta (1215), the 1703 Census of Iceland, the Book for the Baptism of Slaves (1636-1670), the Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama to India (1497-1499) and the League of Nations Archives (1919-1946).

Since 1997, the original patent of Mercedes-Benz, Criminal Court Case No 253/1963 (State versus Nelson Mandela and Others) and the Final Document of the Congress of Vienna have been added.

Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi after their capture
Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi after their capture

A citation on Unesco’s website reads: “Documentary heritage submitted by Zimbabwe and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2015; Kaguvi and Nehanda dockets comprises the judgment record, Judge Watermeyer’s criminal record book (1898-1899), some manuscripts as well as all the court proceedings.

“Kaguvi and Nehanda were key spirit mediums who inspired Zimbabwean revolution against colonial rule. Under their guidance and leadership, individual chiefdoms were united to resist the colonial wave in what now is remembered as the First Chimurenga (War of Liberation) between 1895-6.”

The National Archives of Zimbabwe led the push for recognition of Mbuya Nehanda’s and Sekuru Kaguvi’s place in the annals of global history.

It succeeded last month, making Zimbabwe the 14th African country to win endorsement from Unesco’s 14-member International Advisory Committee.

The entry was one of two African papers accepted ahead of 3 998 others.

Only 47 submissions were accepted in 2015.

National Archives director Mr Ivan Murambiwa told The Sunday Mail, “The docket, court proceedings record and subsequent judgment are historically, politically and socially important to us, as Zimbabweans, as Nehanda and Kaguvi are our heroes.

“So, we nominated that document, submitted it to Unesco and it was accepted. This is actually a landmark achievement for Zimbabwe. Unesco’s objectives involve promoting the preservation of documents that are important to world heritage and history.”

He continued: “As the National Archives, we are proud to still have that document for access to the public, after over 100 years. Now that we are on this Unesco platform, they will help us preserve that record, marketing it to those across the world who might want to see it.

“There were 14 submissions from African countries during the last call, and Zimbabwe was one of the two whose submissions were accepted.”

On September 13, 1890, the Pioneer Column – a force assembled by British businessman Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company – hoisted the Union Jack flag on Fort Salisbury, now the Kopje in Harare, marking colonisation of the territory via a Royal Charter from Britain’s Queen Victoria.

In 1896/97, the indigenous people of Matabeleland and Mashonaland staged an uprising against the BSAC to take back their land and restore their rights.

British invasion forces, who boasted superior weaponry, publicly beheaded “troublesome” resistance movement leaders.

The decapitated bodies were then showcased as trophies, with the forces collecting hefty sums from colonial authorities who, in turn, displayed them in museums.

Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, also known as Gumboreshumba, were influential political and religious leaders spearheading the resistance and mobilising the masses.

Both were hanged by the BSAC in Salisbury in 1898 on charges of banditry and rebellion.

Mbuya Nehanda’s execution was authorised by British High Commissioner for South Africa Mr Alfred Milner and endorsed by the British Imperial Secretary on March 28, 1898.

The executions were done by the authority of Judge Watermayer, with Mr Herbert Hayton Castens as “the acting Public Prosecutor Sovereign within the British South Africa Company Territories, who prosecutes for and on behalf of Her Majesty”.

According to the death warrant, Mbuya Nehanda was to be executed within the wall of the goal of Salisbury, between the hours of six and 10.

A Roman Catholic priest, Fatherr Richertz, was signed up to convert Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi.
It is believed he failed to make headway with Mbuya Nehanda, only succeeding with Sekuru Kaguvi, whom he baptised Dismas – the “good thief”.