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Research Article

Restoration and Restitution of Cultural Heritage, the Case of the Ndebele Monarch: The Post-colonial Dilemma in Zimbabwe

Authors:

Thomas P. Thondhlana ,

Centre for Culture and Heritage Studies Department of History, Archaeology and Development Studies Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, ZW
About Thomas

Thomas P. Thondhlana holds an MSc in Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials (2007)and a  PhD in Archaeology (2012) both from the University College London (UCL), United Kingdom.
He also holds a BA General Degree (2004) and BA Special Honours Degree in Archaeology (2005) from the University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe. He is currently the Director of the Centre for Culture
and Heritage Studies at the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), Zimbabwe. Prior to joining GZU in 2013 he was a lecturer in Archaeology at Midlands State University (MSU), Zimbabwe. Currently he is also serving as a member of the National World Heritage Committee and Standing Committee of Culture in Zimbabwe. His research interests cuts across several areas which include pre-colonial mining and metallurgy, archaeological science, cultural entrepreneurship, ethnic minority rights and
museology.

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Lesley H. Machiridza

Centre for Culture and Heritage Studies Department of History, Archaeology and Development Studies Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, ZW
About Lesley

Lesley H. Machiridza is currently a lecturer in the Department of History, Archaeology and Development Studies at Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), which he joined in 2013. He started his
career as an Assistant Curator with the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe in 2005 before joining the Midlands State University between 2008 and 2013. He holds a BA General Degree (2004) and BA Special Honours Degree in Archaeology (2005) from the University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe. He also holds a Masters (2012) and PhD in Archaeology (2018) from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. His main area of interest is the historical archaeology of the Rozvi; however, he also touches on heritage studies, particularly liberation heritage and museum studies.

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Abstract

This article looks at the public debate, mostly in newspaper articles, which followed recent attempts to coronate a king of the Ndebele people in Zimbabwe. The High Court of Zimbabwe declared that it was unconstitutional for the Ndebele royal family to install a king. What ensued was a polarised public debate between those who strongly supported the resuscitation of the pre-colonial monarchy and those who had strong reservations against the move. Pro-monarchists alleged that the cultural rights of the Ndebele people as enshrined in various international human rights protocols as well as the constitution of Zimbabwe were being violated. Whilst those against the revival of the traditional institution claimed that national security was at stake. This case was a litmus test for the post-colonial African nation-state’s commitment to upholding cultural rights of its citizens. In this article we look at the issues associated with the restoration of the Ndebele monarch. We also attempt to establish how the various actors in this issue have deployed cultural heritage in the quest for legitimacy as well as to foster counter narratives. We argue that cultural heritage and cultural revivalism should be harnessed for the common good of society and not incite civil or ethnic strife. Emerging issues from this article are of interest to heritage management theory and its general practice on the African continent.
How to Cite: Thondhlana, T.P. and Machiridza, L.H., 2020. Restoration and Restitution of Cultural Heritage, the Case of the Ndebele Monarch: The Post-colonial Dilemma in Zimbabwe. Journal of African Cultural Heritage Studies, 2(1), pp.52–84. DOI: http://doi.org/10.22599/jachs.71
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Published on 24 May 2020.
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