Exciting Historical Exhibition: Collection of Traditional Shona Sculptures

By Edone Anne Logan

‘The Yawn Dog’, ‘The Mighty Eagle’ and ‘Hongwe’s Ponder’ are a few of the fascinating titles given to Jonathan Matimba’s traditional Shona sculptures that are enriching the display at the Rhodes Nyanga Historical Museum. The late Jonathan Matimba is one of the three most famous and influential stone and wood carvers of the 1950s and ‘60s.

‘Seed Pod’, ‘Morning Love’ and ‘Flying Dream’ describe some of the modern pieces of work, crafted by our Nyanga and Claremont sculptors, giving an interesting contrast to the onlooker. Most of the modern artists are sons or grandsons of famous sculptors of the last century: Joram Mariga, Manyandure, Takawira, Sande and Chaudiringa, many of whom were brought up in the Nyatate area of Nyanga North, and sold their work locally and overseas.

At the Official Opening of the Exhibition on 13th August 2018, Mr Naboth Muchopa enthusiastically introduced Dr Jonathan Zilberg.

Dr. Zilberg is Associate Research Scholar at The Centre of African Studies, University of Illinois, gave an exhilarating talk on the history of Nyanga sculpture, mentioning the importance of women such as Miriam Mbwaburi, who sold woven reed mats at the local hotels in the ‘50s. Miriam was encouraged by the Rural Council to establish the Nyanga Craft Village and to invite potters and sculptors to join her.

Dr. Zilberg explained to the audience, which consisted of local folk, sculptors and their families, some important points which make sculptures appealing to buyers.  During the weekend he spoke with many of the artists, encouraging them and giving helpful advice.

 Dr.Zilberg

A record number of visitors took advantage of the Open Day by touring the Museum, and enjoyed the refreshments. This special exhibition has been extended from the intended closure on the 14th August 2018. The Matimba family is happy to leave the work at the Museum for a few months.

The idea and inspiration for the exhibition came about thanks to Dr. Zilberg, who visited Zimbabwe last year and made us more aware of the wealth of talent  – historical and modern – which we have in our area.  On a trip into the Nyatate area, north of Nyanga, we were grateful to have be introduced to one of Jonathan Matimba’s sons, Munetsi who took us to the Matimba homestead where Mrs Matimba is still alive. You can just imagine our surprise when we arrived there and saw the extraordinary wooden sculptures. Then, even more amazingly, Munetsi dug his hands down into his granary and started pulling out his fathers’ stone sculptures. He told us that his father, Joram Mariga and Bernard Manyandure had gone to school up the road at Mt Mellory Mission School and that they had all learnt to carve there.

The family agreed to let us display some of Jonathan’s works for as long as we wish, in order that they can be seen and appreciated by the public.  The transport of the works of art from the Matimba’s homestead was kindly made possible by a donation from Mr Rob Burrett.

The discovery of this unique collection and this being the first exhibition of the artist’s works is of great significance and of national historical interest. We are very proud and privileged to display these rare early pieces of art for public enjoyment.

Unique exhibition of Shona Sculpture: Invitation to the official opening and address by Dr Jonathan Zilberg, PhD.

Rhodes  Nyanga  Historical  Exhibition

(Rhodes Museum, Nyanga)

is proud to present an

EXHIBITION   OF   SHONA   SCULPTURE

View the unique exhibition of stone and wooden

carvings and sculptures by Nyanga’s

Jonathan Matimba

(1940-2013)

and modern-day sculptures by artists from the Nyanga Craft Centre, Claremont and

World’s View Sculptor groups.

The Exhibition will be open from

Friday 10th to Tuesday 14th August (8 am -5 pm)

Entry to Museum and Exhibition – Adults $2, Children $1

OFFICIAL OPENING AND ADDRESS

by Dr Jonathan Zilberg, PhD.

Associate Research Scholar at Centre

for African Studies, University of Illinois.

10 am, Monday, 13th August, 2018.

ALL ARE WELCOME !

Free Entry on Monday 13th August. This includes a tour of the Museum.     Teas available.

 

La Rochelle Organics Project Update


We are very pleased to report that the herb farm training centre at our La Rochelle property has seen the establishment of 10 hectares of ‘field test’ of organic herbs. The trials are well on their way and fast expanding. The project presents an exciting opportunity for ensuring the economic viability of La Rochelle, training and supporting small scale farmers, caring for the environment and raising the profile of the NTZ regionally.

Please find below links to two articles that have been published recently about the project:

  • The Herald: ‘Herb, spice export boost for province’

www.herald.co.zw/herb-spice-export-boost-for-province and

–              INTO Farms:‘La Rochelle Country House’

https://intofarms.org/la-rochelle-country-house

Happy reading!

Exciting New Exhibition: Collection of Traditional Shona Sculptures

The Rhodes Nyanga Historical  Exhibition is excited to announce that the museum display has been enlarged and enriched by the addition of a wonderful collection of traditional Shona Sculptures by Jonathan Matimba, one of the three most famous and influential stone and wood carvers of the 1950s and ‘60s.  This has come about thanks to Dr Jonathan Zilberg, who visited Zimbabwe last year and made us more aware of the wealth of talent  – historical and modern – which we have in our area.

On a trip into the Nyatate area, north of Nyanga, we were grateful to has as our guide, one of Jonathan Matimba’s sons, Munetsi, who has kept in touch with us.  The family offered some months ago, to let us display some of Jonathan’s works for as long as we wish, in order that they can be seen and appreciated by the public.  If interest is shown in purchasing any of the pieces, the prices will be available.

The transport of the works of art from the Matimba’s homestead was kindly made possible by a donation from Mr Rob Burrett.

The sculptures are now on display in the Wagon Shed.  We are awaiting a full history of the life of the artist and the titles and explanations of the meanings and inspiration behind each work of art.

Members of three of the main  modern-day  Nyanga stone sculptor groups have been invited to bring one piece of work each to display along with Matimba’s work for the duration of the long weekend: 10th-15th August 2018. Please do join us: we would love to share our new collection with you.

Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition Opens A New Exhibit

The museum is proud to announce its latest project: the opening of a new exhibit entitled “Zimbabwe Time Line”which depicts salient historical events related to Zimbabwe during the period from BC to 1980.

All Council Members participated, each researching a 30-year period, and we now have on display five periods from BC until 1980.

Josephine Machopa organising the 1920-1950 exhibit 

June Weeks, Dalray Bailey and Merle Moore                     

Naboth Machopa organising the 1950-1980 exhibit

The last period:  1980 to the present day, has been researched and written up for us by the teachers and pupils of the History Department of St. Monica’s High School.

Great interest is being shown already by the many school children who visit the museum.

Offering New Perspectives On Our World and It’s Cultures

        

The 16th May 2018 marked a momentous occasion for the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) when an event to greet three Old Italian Master paintings, that had been on loan from the Permanent Collection, were returned back from the UK namely:  “Patriarch” and Astronomer” by Paolo Veronese and “The King of Poland being welcomed by the Doge of Venice” by Andrea Piazza. The works are dated from the Late Renaissance to the Baroque. The three artworks are of the zenithal degree and have been an integral part of the NGZ’s Permanent Collection’s lineament of Global Art History.

For the past 21 years the paintings were housed at Eltham Palace, a royal residence from the 14th to the 16th century and the childhood home of King Henry VIII of Tudor. The Palace is located in Greenwich near London and administered by a charity called English Heritage who manage and conserve over 400 historic buildings and sites in the UK. The Tudorian mansion was re-designed to the Modernist tastes of Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld when they took up residence in the 1930’s, then twenty years later, in the 1950’s they retired in Zimbabwe.

During the restoration of the Eltham Palace, the Director of Museums and Collections of the English Heritage requested to borrow the three master paintings for display. After years of correspondence, the works finally arrived in London on the 6th of July 1999 from Zimbabwe. They were hung in the Italian Drawing Room where they were originally when Sir Stephen and his wife lived there. The paintings thematically cohering to the eloquence of the space, evoking Renaissance zeal to the mise en scène in which they were housed.

 Eltham Palace

The loan of the artworks made them accessible to new audiences who were able to be inspired, learn and enjoy. Galleries are committed to making their collection widely available to museums and galleries around the world and supporting important exhibitions. Collections are a valuable public resource, reflecting the generosity of past and current donors and public investment in their continued care and development. Borrowing and lending are the lifeblood of gallery outreach programmes, offering new perspectives on our world and its cultures, and the sharing of collections, contributes to their interpretation and increases the benefit they can provide for the public.

The return of these artworks back into the NGZ’s Permanent Collection has a basis of association between a triumvirate of institutions with a common Patron. The benefactor being Sir Stephen Courtauld who was born in the UK in 1883 was a soldier, philanthropist and heir of the English wealthy Courtauld family of textile industrialists. Sir Stephen directed his interests to the advancement of the Arts, not only in the United Kingdom, but all over the world. When Sir Stephen and Lady Virgina retired to Zimbabwe they built a French style tower and house, with Welsh slate roof tiles in the beautiful Imbeza Valley, Penhalonga.

  La Rochelle Country Estate which is now a leading boutique hotel

Throughout the span of his life, as his family before him, he led a life that was inarguably non-conformist and an example of his pursuit for social justice can be seen at La Rochelle. A window at the house has inscribed within it, the names and signatures of scores of revolutionaries who sought abode there, en route to Mozambique during the Second Chimurenga. Arguably, being a military man himself, bequeathing wealth and artwork to what was then the National Gallery of Rhodesia; one marvel’s at the man’s nobility in his dichotomous support of needs of all within that body politic that was all embracing to cultural diversity.

Sir Stephen was a keystone in the establishment of the NGZ. Throughout the inception process, the opening and the development of the institution, Sir Stephen applied great fervour to the functionality of the organization to such a degree he was appointed the Chairman Emeritus until the time of his passing. The couple, who died in 1967 and 1972 respectively, became the first patrons of the gallery and donated La Rochelle to the National Trust of Zimbabwe. In his Will all beneficiary institutions were to freely distribute artworks between themselves for the enjoyment and enrichment of the cultural lives of the Public wherever he donated artworks. His legacy and foresight led to the loan of the paintings to Eltham Palace.

At the ‘welcome home’ reception for the paintings an excited audience gathered, appropriately, in the Courtauld Gallery at the NGZ for the celebrations. The backdrop for the official event was the exquisite painting entitled: “The King of Poland being received by the Doge of Venice” by Andrea Piazza.

“The King of Poland being received by the Doge of Venice” by Andrea Piazza.

The painting captures the King’s festive entry that took place on July 18 1574. The waterscape of the middle ground is festooned with gondolas navigating the Grand Canal as they shift towards the eye to dock before reception by the court and High Society of Venice. The linear perspective of the composition shifts the eye towards the vanishing point, where atop, the Saints watch the events unwrapping below with approval, the veneer in this section establishing the painter’s exquisite application of chiaroscuro wherein the darker tones of the foreground express the aggregation’s earthiness and mortality.

The proceedings began with Mr Raphael Chikukwa, Deputy Director, Chief Curator on behalf of the NGZ welcomed the return of the three Italian masters paintings and acknowledged the presence of the Director of the British Council Mrs S Harvey and all other distinguished guests. He said that this was a unique event in so many ways that started when the Executive Director and himself visited the UK and had the opportunity to meet with the Courthauld Institute then follow through with various discussions until it was agreed that these important artworks be returned to Zimbabwe.

The artworks were originally left to the NGZ by Sir Stephen who also donated a lot of funds to establish and support many institutions in Zimbabwe that included the construction of the NGZ, which we are all enjoying today as Zimbabwean’s. Sir Stephen also donated his entire old masters collection to the NGZ. So I would say he was our biggest philanthropist in this country and for us as the NGZ we were one of the biggest beneficiaries of his donations.  Mr Chikukwa asked for an acknowledgement for the late Sir Stephen and for the legacy that he left behind.

 From left to right: Mr D Scott, Mr R Chikukwa and Mr Roberto Franceschinis

He added that there are a number of philanthropists in the world but Sir Stephen was a rare one whose work can be seen through these paintings. He thanked the NGZ committee for being able to put up such up historic exhibition which also called upon local Zimbabwean artists who took up the call to collaborate and participate by creating works especially to welcome the three paintings home.

He explained how Mrs Lillian Chaonwa, the Conservation Manager went to the UK to personally oversee the packaging and transportation of the paintings from the UK to the Netherlands, then from the Netherlands to Zimbabwe. He said that there is no other person better placed than Mrs Chaonwa to do so and for which she is highly valued at the gallery where she has worked for more than twenty years.   Mrs Chaonwa has also fostered relationships with many galleries around the world such as the Tate Modern and galleries in Uganda. He asked everyone present to give her a big pom pom.

Mr Chikukwa handed over to Mr David Scott, Chairman of the NTZ who took the chance to illustrate the existence and importance of protecting our national heritage. He explained the background, purpose, aims and objectives of the NTZ who protect the seven properties for the future benefit of the people of Zimbabwe and for overseas visitors, with La Rochelle being the flagship property.

 Mr Scott (2nd on the right) addressing the audience

Mr Scott explained that the NTZ conducts tangible and intangible activities and conducts heritage education and other cultural projects. The La Rochelle site has direct links to the artworks being re-housed and exhibited today through the Courtauld family who bequeathed that property to NTZ and who also donated these and many other paintings to the NGZ.  He pointed out that Sir Stephen was knighted in 1958 for his services to Zimbabwe and for his cultural and philanthropic work in Zimbabwe. Sir Stephen gave away an estimated £1m in gifts and money towards helping art, music, education and race relations in Zimbabwe.

Donations included:

Mutare – Queens Hall and Courtauld Theatre, The Bulawayo Theatre; College of Music, Ranche House College, St Michaels Church Harare, Nyatsime College Library, University of Zimbabwe, the establishment of  Kukwanisa Agricultural Training Centre; Rhodes Club Mutare (the first multiracial club in the country, enabling the building of the NGZ through generous financial support and numerous artwork donations, National Museum and bequests to the NTZ and the Zimbabwe Academy of Music.

He said that it is rumoured that discussions about the original ZANU constitution were held at La Rochelle and this theory is supported by the existence of signatures of political figures such as Ndabanigi Sithole and Herbert Chitepo and other nationalists on two special windows at La Rochelle containing hundreds of signatures of people who visited La Rochelle at the time the Courtaulds resided there. Mr Scott then gave a short history of Eltham Palace which is one of the few important medieval royal palaces in England to survive with substantial remains intact. Initially a moated manor house with vast parkland, it was acquired by the future Edward II in 1305. Mr Scott thanked the NGZ for the opportunity to participate in this important exhibition and added he was happy to have been able to provide the historical background of the Exhibition.

The final address was made by Mr Roberto Franceschinis, the Acting Ambassador of Italy, who greeted everyone and started by thanking the NGZ for inviting him to be the Guest of Honour on such an extraordinary occasion, by virtue of the fact that the paintings of which today we celebrate the homecoming, were created by Italian Masters some 400 years ago. They integrate a remarkable collection of old Italian Masters which places the NGZ at the forefront of cultural destinations in the Region, and which we have the privilege to admire here today.

Mr Franceschinis then gave a brief introduction about the three artists:

Paolo Caliari, in art “Il Veronese” (1528-1588) was a late Renaissance painter who soon developed his own taste for a more vivid palette of colors.  According to Gauthier, a French critic of the nineteenth century, Veronese is the greatest colorist that ever lived, greater than Tiziano, Rubens or Rembrandt in his ability to harmonize natural tones to render light without violent contrasts, as opposed to the academic chiaroscuro technique of the time.

After the successful completion of the frescos at Villa Barbaro, a new palace in the outskirts of Venice designed by the renowned architect Palladio, a mature Veronese is commissioned with decorating the Hall of the Grand Council in the Palazzo Ducale. An immense oval named “The triumph of Venice” establishes Veronese as the true beacon of the intellectual progressiveness and civic liberalism that made Venetian society the most culturally advanced at the time, as opposed to the regressive, neo-feudal, moralistic involution that was taking hold across Europe and which would soon disembark at Venice itself to influence his latest years.

Andrea Piazza (1587-1670) was born in Castelfranco, a small town near Venice, was initiated to the art of painting in the city of Venice under the guidance of his uncle Paolo, at the time an accomplished artist himself, who had taken religious orders becoming a Capuchin friar. This was now well into the period of Catholic resurgence, a return to a more conservative religious discipline in response to the Protestant Reformation, a troubled time indeed in Europe ending only at the close of the “Thirty Years War” in 1648. Upon request from his superiors, Friar Cosmo and his nephew Andrea reached the court of the Roman Catholic Emperor Rudolph the II of Augsburg in Germany, where they spent years to glorify with frescos and paintings the eternal beatitude that the Faithful attain in paradise, as opposed to the misery and unyielding suffering of the heretics, among which they included Luther and many others. It is said that the representations were so lively and convincing, not only to achieve the desired effect quite successfully but also to echo all the way to Rome, where the two were finally drawn on the request of the Pope himself. A now mature Andrea became soon known as an excellent painter, and in later years moved first to the court of the Duke of Lorraine in France, where he was knighted in appreciation of his masterly skills, and finally back to the Republic of Venice, where he remained at the service of the Doges, and where, among many others, he realized this extraordinary piece of art.

During his closing he commended Mrs. Doreen Sibanda, Executive Director of the NGZ, together with the Curator Mr. Raphael Chikukwa and staff for their unrelenting commitment to bring such extraordinary pieces of art back where they belong, to mark not the closing of a chapter, but the onset of a new one, dedicated to treasuring these masterpieces as part of this Country’s own history to the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations of Zimbabweans.

He then quoted Brian Bradshaw, a former Executive Director:

“It’s not to be expected that the work of the Gallery will ever be simple, perhaps also it is not to be hoped that it should be so, because art, which blends the Past with the Future into a continually expanding Present, is not of a nature to equip itself with anything less than the least simple of efforts.”

Mrs Lilian Chaonwa gave a vote of thanks the English Heritage Team at Eltham Palace who took such good care of the three paintings and returned them to the National Gallery in a pristine condition.  She also thanked Mrs Samantha Harvey Director of the British Council Zimbabwe who funded the Executive Director and Deputy Director’s trip to the UK which was the beginning of the talks to return the paintings. She also gave special thanks to the NTZ and the Italian Embassy.

  “Astronomer” by Paolo Veronese and Mrs Lilian Chaonwa, Conservation Manager

The Astronomer, wherein a draped man reclines with astrolabe in hand, the countenance on his face bears intrinsic thought and contemplation as a man of that station was classically entailed. The dark and light tones of the composition are rich and the warm colour is radiant, with the texture of the natural distinctly standing apart from the drapery, sharply creased and filling the eye pleasingly with its voluminous appearance.

Of special note are the local artists that responded to the Zimbabwe Meets Italy exhibition in a very short period of time and with such breath-taking results. Down in the Courtauld Gallery were two mixed media pieces from Greg Shaw, along with appropriate artworks from the Permanent Collection including an oil on canvas of “David And The Head Of Goliath” by Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, works by Rashid Jogee and a metal sculpture of David slaying Goliath acquired by the Friends of the Gallery. Upstairs in the South Gallery and along the passage to the PC Gallery were some very creative works by the following artists: Lilian Magodi, Tawana Reza, Clive Mukucha, Progress Nyandoro, Munyaradzi Mazaririe, Munyaradzi Mangate, Anthony Bumhira and Percy Manyonga.

 The Patriot” by Veronese Paolo: Oil on canvas 135 x 104 cm with (left to right) Mr D Scott: Chair NTZ, Mrs S Waterworth: Vice Chair NTZ and Mr Chikukwa: Chief Curator

After the speeches the audience who included members of Government, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, The Directorate of the National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe, representatives of the National Archives of Zimbabwe, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, The National Trust of Zimbabwe and The British Council of Zimbabwe, artists, cultural practitioners, art lovers and art students began to disburse and enjoy seeing the rare art works on display after being served refreshments.

The NTZ would like to thank the NGZ for providing their technical input into this article.

International Museum Day

The worldwide community of museums will celebrate International Museum Day (MD) on 18 May 2018 coordinated by the International Council of Museums. The event highlights a specific theme that changes every year and that is at the heart of the international museum community’s preoccupations.

The theme chosen for 2018 is “Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics”.

Organised on and around 18 May each year, the events and activities planned to celebrate IMD can last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

Participation in IMD is growing among museums all over the world. In 2017, more than 36,000 museums participated in the event in some 157 countries. This year we are proud to announce that the Trust will be participating in its first IMD. The Rhodes Nyanga Historical Exhibition has produced a poster inviting people to visit Nyanga’s own museum. The poster raises awareness about IMD: that they are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum!

 

Rehousing of Old Master Paintings: Invitation

A year and onescore past, three grandiloquent paintings left the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Permanent Collection on loan, to be housed in the halls of the prodigious Tudorian Eltham Palace in Greenwich, London. Surrounded by a remodeled Art Deco gallery’s, the Palace gave home to these three iconic paintings for a lengthy amount of time and a connection to this exchange exists in the guise of Sir and Lady Courtauld; fierce patrons of the arts and proprietors in the conception, development and establishment of many an art institution, in this particular case, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe!

The three paintings are by two Baroque artists; the first, Paolo Veronese whose two portraits, namely An Astronomer and A Patriarch are dated at the earlier point of this magnificent movement. His works demonstrate a natural subtlety in handling contrasts and a freer play of chiaroscuro is evident, invigorating his figures and creating dimension to their surroundings climatically.

Andrea Piazza is tabulated to the Late Renaissance, his painting The King of Poland received by the Doge of Venice comporting the movement’s daring diarist detailing of prosperousness with rich powerful colour occupying strewn steles that strike balance between the figurative and the formalistic elements of the work.

These paintings have completed a homecoming that has transpired both space and time and it is with great pleasure that the National Gallery of Zimbabwe uncrates and shares the paintings with the Public.

A event shall be officiated to commemorate the return of these artworks home, to the Permanent Collection in which they belong.  An invitation to this event is duly extended:

Wednesday the 16th of May 2018 at 10:00hrs

There shall be a Curatorial Walkabout of this event on that date and conversation around the significance of these works will be conducted.

The Helen Hyslop Kopje

World Heritage Day (WHD) is an annual event celebrated on 18 April of each year. It aims to preserve the human heritage and recognize the efforts of all relevant organizations in the field including the National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ). World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands the collective efforts of the international community. This day offers an opportunity to raise the public’s awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.

The NTZ celebrated WHD at Worlds View with the unveiling of a plaque for Helen Hyslop who is a very special person.

The celebratory event took place on a kopje (hill) at an altitude of over 2,000 metres, one of the highest points in Zimbabwe, where the escarpment drops 600 metres to the plain below.  Helen’s plaque sits proudly above the clouds and birds flying.

                 

                                                                                The Helen Hyslop Kopje

As you can see the view from the summit is one of peace and of extreme beauty and it seems endless.

David Scott, Chairman, mentioned in his speech of the huge contribution that Helen has made to the success of the NTZ over the 25 years that she has been involved and she still continues to be an active council member.

Left to Right: Panganai, Michael Hoggard, David Scott, Gill Honeyman and Sharon Waterworth   

Helen joined the NTZ in 1993 and became a member of the Executive Council in 2003.  She was Chair of the Rhodesia Association of University Women (1970 -1980). One of her major local achievements, at that time, with other groups was the lobbying for separate assessment for tax of female spouses in 1977. Helen was a regular member of International Federation of University Women s Council in Geneva  promoting graduate women’s and feminist rights over that period. The University was established in 1919 and nearly 100 years later it continues to advocate for women’s rights, equality and empowerment through the access to quality secondary and tertiary education, and training up to the highest levels. The goal is for 100% of girls and women worldwide to achieve an education beyond primary school. Helen is an alumnus of University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

It was with great disappointment that Helen was unable to attend the event. She expressed her deepest thanks and appreciation for the honour and recognition.

A vote of appreciation was given to Gill Honeyman, Chair of World’s View, and to her hard working team for organising the event and for keeping Worlds View looking so stunning in a very challenging environment!

A big thank you to Shirley Scott, Lin Goncalves and Jean Goncalves for being the photographers!

Celebrating World Heritage Day: 18th April

World Heritage Day (18 April 2018)  

World Heritage Day is an annual event celebrated on 18 April of each year. It aims to preserve the human heritage and recognize the efforts of all relevant organizations in the field. In 1982, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) announced, 18 April as the “World Heritage Day”, approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983, with the aim of enhancing awareness of the importance of the cultural heritage of humankind, and redouble efforts to protect and conserve the human heritage.

World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands the collective efforts of the international community. This special day offers an opportunity to raise the public’s awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.

Diversity and inclusion at Rhodes Nyanga Historical Museum, Zimbabwe

The National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ) is proud to say that it is listening and responding to the changing needs of its visitors. Realising that diversity and intangible cultural heritage is being lost and the world is becoming poorer in culture and wiping away the traces of history and local distinctiveness the NTZ decided to start working to keep it alive, protect and promote it.

Over the past few years, at one of our sites in particular, the displays at the Rhodes Museum have expanded and become more inclusive to the rich cultural diversity in Zimbabwe.   There is a now permanent display of early Manyika culture along with pictures and stories associated with renowned Tribal Chiefs and various people who have played a significant part in the country’s history.  Traditional stone sculptures, pottery and woven mats are also a feature of the Museum.

In 2015 the Museum undertook an innovative, experimental pilot project for school children to re-discover their living traditions and identify their cultural roots.  The project was drawn up using guide lines from a project Uganda, adapting the details to the Zimbabwean context. The successful ‘Cultural Heritage Education Project’, championed by Mrs Edone Ann Logan Chairperson of the Museum, resulted in a proven blueprint for cultural heritage education management that can be replicated in other schools countrywide.  The project mentioned won a special award at the 17th Conference of INTO in Bali in September 2017.

The Museum has produced several heritage booklets including: Traditional Leadership and Shona Culture and in 2016 published a book entitled “Nyanga’s Rich Heritage’ (Khami Press, Bulawayo).  The book was co-edited by Mrs Edone Anne Logan and Mr Robert Burrett, Archeologist and Historian. The book contains information on the many and varied aspects of the rich natural and social heritage of the area, and through knowledge and interest encourage a sense of pride and a wish to preserve this heritage.   It is the authors hope that the book, which includes many historical black and white photographs, will serve as a historical reference for those interested in Nyanga – particularly the early pre-history period. Proceeds from sales of the booklet are generating funds for the Museum where it is on sale.

The Museum Committee, along with Marshall Nyanhanda, the Curator,  continually work hard to organize various exhibitions that have included traditional customs of indigenous people portrayed by displays of relevant foods, tools, implements, and musical instruments.  And, after making a very determined effort, last month committee members achieved the completion of the ‘Time Line Project’ which depicts salient historical events related to Zimbabwe during the period from BC to 1980.

The NTZ is actively encouraging schools to visit heritage sites in their area and experience hands-on traditional crafts, and most importantly, research their own family histories, collect stories from their grandparents, and find their own identities within their ethnic groups.

The NTZ will be celebrating World Heritage Day with the following two events (details of which will be posted after the event):

–              The presentation of the inaugural Annual NTZ Heritage Award in Harare and

–              The unveiling of a plaque at Worlds View for a long standing, very valuable and dedicated NTZ Council member

The NTZ believes that Nations prosper from their diverse heritage.