A Spirit that lifts The People

It’s funny how a telephone chat about a long dead leader of a group of people suddenly happens on Halloween. I stumbled into that conversation between Epi and her sister, while I was preparing to cook dinner tonight. This may be a night of ghosties, ghoulies and long-legged beasties but some spirits do not die and the spirit of Mbuya Nehenda is definitely one of those.

I learned about this Lady when I visited Zimbabwe with Epi for the first time just after we were married. Mbuya Nehenda is a hero of the fight for independence from the British, especially within the Shona Tribe. I heard some the stories of her creeping through the bush to ambush unwary British soldiers, carrying out the killings she felt were necessary to end colonial rule. We Europeans might wish to denigrate her actions but, considering the underhand way that the British acted towards Chief Lobengula of the Northern Shona People, I now understand the anger that finally fomented into the war known as the First Chimurenga.

A thing we need to understand is that Nehenda is a spiritual medium and, as such, commands more than the respect that a normal former leader might garner. For her people, especially in the Mazoe area, she is there with them – always.

Now, Zimbabwe wants her skull back from the British – apparently it was taken away when she and Sekuru Kaguvi were executed for their actions as ‘revolutionaries’. And thereby hangs a problem – The British seem to have lost track of where it is 😦 Although some suspicion falls on the British Museum, it seems likely to me that the Natural History Museum may actually hold her remains and, given some of their cataloguing issues that have been highlighted over the years, we may need a lucky find by a Palaeontologist to discover in which vault that skull now rests.

I fervently hope it is found very promptly so that she may be returned to her people. This is Halloween and maybe she is calling once more to be taken home…


  1. This is an amazing story, Martin. I’ve never heard of this important woman and the role she played in Zimbabwe’s history. I hope if the skull is found, as it surely should be, you’ll update this post!

    1. I was amazed that it should become a topic of conversation on All Hallows Eve – it does raise some questions! I take it from your comment that you went away and looked her up? 😎 If we hear that the remains have been returned and, I’m sure that would appear somewhere in the press, I will try to cover it here👍

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