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Social Anthropology: Research


Njabulo Chipangura

Njabulo Chipangura Njabulo Chipangura is a holder of a Master of Arts Degree in Museums and Heritage Studies which he obtained from the University of the Western Cape in 2013. He is currently employed by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe as an archaeologist and is based in Eastern Zimbabwe at Mutare Museum. His research interests include looking at the configuration and reconfiguration of museum collection and exhibition practices within colonial and post-colonial settings. He has also researched on the different classifications of heritage in Zimbabwe with a particular focus on the category of historic buildings, looking at how it has lost relevancy in the present conservation discourse. This research saw him critically analysing the emergence of the category of liberation war heritage in the country and how it has seemingly supplanted all the other forms of heritage in terms of conservation priority. His present research takes an inside look at liberation war heritage as he analyses the narratives that emerged from an exhumation exercise of liberation war fighters he recently participated in. He argues that the process of monumentalisation in Zimbabwe is increasingly becoming synonymous with the rituals of exhuming human remains thought to be scattered across the country. Njabulo has also published some papers in the International Research Journal of Arts and Social Sciences and in the International Council of Museums (ICOM) periodic committee’s publications.

Resurrecting skeletal remains: An account of the history of the liberation war in Eastern Zimbabwe
‘Butcher’ Site is located 4.2km and 132.61 degrees south east of Rusape Town Centre. The site is believed to have been used as a Rhodesian Forces secretive interrogation, torture and execution base during the later phase of the Second Chimurenga. Hence the site had a resident court marshal, a shooting range and execution area for court marshalled freedom fighters, war collaborators and civilians suspected of aiding guerrillas. It is alleged that those who had been condemned to death were executed by a firing squad and were used as live, still and mobile targets. In addition, some isolated pieces of oral evidence seemingly points out that some of the victims of these atrocities were assassinated within outlying areas and brought to the site for burial The Fallen Heroes Trust and the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe initiated an exhumation and investigation exercises to understand the extent and nature of the atrocities committed by the Rhodesian Forces as well as the significance of the site in the liberation war history of the country. During the project mass graves were excavated and the human remains found were documented and were  to be interred individual graves at the same location. In all, one hundred and fifteen skeletal remains were exhumed from the site, while one individual skull was picked from a nearby Kopje and another was picked at a nearby farm. It is against this background that this paper intends to interrogate the whole process that lead to the massacring and burying of people at ‘Butcher’ site. It will attempt  to piece together the different meta narratives that have been used to tell the story of the Butcher site. Through an analysis of skeletal and material remains exhumed and oral testimonies that were recorded during the exercise, the paper will address the critical relationship between memory and heritage.


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