Njabulo Chipangura

Njabulo Chipangura
University of the Witwatersrand | wits · School of Architecture and Planning

Ph.D

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36
Publications
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Introduction
Njabulo Chipangura is employed by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) as curator in the archaeology department and is based at Mutare Museum in Eastern Zimbabwe. His duties in the archaeology department among many things includes; archaeological excavations and the conservation of monuments in Eastern Zimbabwe. His research interests include looking at the configuration and reconfiguration of museum collection and exhibition practices within colonial and post-colonial settings. He has interests in looking at how ethnographic exhibitions in museums depict the cultures of the 'other'. His latest research was published in the Museum International Journal No 257 – 260, 2015. The issue was dedicated to Museum Collections Making Connections and was published by ICOM

Publications

Publications (36)
Article
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Ancient pottery from the Nyanga agricultural complex (CE 1300–1900) in north-eastern Zimbabwe enjoys more than a century of archaeological research. Though several studies dedicated to the pottery have expanded the frontiers of knowledge about the peopling of Bantu-speaking agropastoral societies in this part of southern Africa, we know little abou...
Article
The Mutare Museum in Eastern Zimbabwe reorganized an ethnographic collection in one of its galleries in 2016. This article will look at the processes by which traditional drums as part of this collection were reconfigured and ascribed new meanings derived from their everyday ritual uses amongst the eastern Shona community. As one of the curators in...
Article
In recent years, there has been an increase in the exhumation and reburial of remains of liberation-war fighters in Zimbabwe. Since 2011, the Fallen Heroes Trust of Zimbabwe (FHTZ), an organisation established by war veterans aligned to the ruling party, ZANU(PF), has taken a lead in these exhumation projects. Drawing on my experience of working wi...
Article
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Within the last 50 years, present day Zimbabwe, (Figure 1), formerly Rhodesia, a Southern African country, has gone through various pogroms resulting in the death of over 50,000 people in total both within and outside the country. The massacres consist of the Liberation War (1966–1979); political violence characterized by every election since 1980;...
Article
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Illustrating inequality to a more general public – beyond those concerned purely with public policy and research – presents various challenges. Museums have often served a function of memorialising both the impressive steps forward and major barriers to social progress, as a form of remembrance and understanding, although the twentieth century form...
Article
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In this paper, we present the Marange Community Museum as an empirical example of how decoloniality can be approached within the museum practice. We argue that the Marange community made use of indigenous ontologies and epistemologies in establishing their museum where rituals and cultural objects are connected in use and in an ongoing dialogue. Ri...
Article
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This paper is based on the dataset that I collected during my doctoral research in Eastern Zimbabwe between 2015 and 2018. The dataset represents an investigation of pre-colonial and contemporary gold mining practices in this area and covers the period from AD 1300–2018 from an anthropological and archaeological perspective. The fieldwork conducted...
Article
In Eastern Zimbabwe, artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) has become a way of life that provides a source of livelihood to thousands of unemployed people. Moving away from the popularised discourse that views artisanal miners as ‘illegal’ villains who recklessly pollute the environment, this paper takes an inside look into their social organisati...
Article
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Living site, Living values: the Matendera festival as practice in community conservation and presentation
Article
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The Matendera festival is a ceremony conducted annually to celebrate the intangible heritage of the Shona people of Buhera in eastern Zimbabwe, popularly known as the Vahera, through their native dances, traditional music and cuisine, and a marathon. The ceremony is hosted annually at Matendera, a spectacular dry-stone-walled Iron Age site whose bu...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper I seek to redefine how we might go about doing archaeology in a way that effectively decolonizes it by collaborating with local communities in research projects. My emphasis is on mining archaeology in precolonial and contemporary settings with a view to contributing to documenting and understanding indigenous African gold mining prac...
Article
In this article, I will examine the history of collecting ethnographic objects at Mutare museum moving between the colonial and post-colonial periods in order to show how these time scales structured the ways in which exhibitions are presented. I argue that by removing ethnographic objects from their cultural setting and inserting them into the vis...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter will examine the concept of heritage conservation in light of contemporary community cultural practices at Ziwa and Matendera National Monuments in Eastern Zimbabwe. I am of the opinion that at these two sites the Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD) has worked to marginalise the intangible concerns of communities by prioritising the sc...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) of gold in Zimbabwe is undertaken either through the exploitation of reefs or alluvial placer deposits. Millions of makorokozas (illegal gold miners in local parlance) in Zimbabwe continue to exploit ancient and abandoned primitive gold mines. Despite this huge footprint of ASM, no spatial and social understan...
Article
Full-text available
This paper will look at recent move by the government of Zimbabwe to decriminalise artisanal gold mining. Focus will be on ASM activities in Penhalonga, Eastern Zimbabwe where I carried out ethnographic fieldwork through interviewing makorokozas (small scale miners). Results of this research will show the complex nature of formalising ASM largely b...
Article
Full-text available
In an effort to meet changing visitor needs, the Mutare Museum modernised its Beit Gallery, which presents the traditional, agricultural, healing, musical and religious practices of the Eastern Shona people through digital technology. This new display in the gallery was inaugurated to counter the decreasing numbers of visitors over the years (2000‐...
Book
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In this chapter, we will examine Mutare Museum’s long history of collecting ethnographic objects rooted within colonial classifications and argue for the inclusion of communities in museum activities in a post-colonial milieu. We will begin by carefully examining how the placing and displaying of traditional drums (ngoma) in one of the museum’s gal...
Article
Full-text available
Ziwa is an archaeological site that is located in Eastern Zimbabwe. The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) carry the legal mandate to manage this vast site, which lies in the heart of a sprawling heritage community. The mandate is derived from the NMMZ Act Chapter (25:11 of 2001), which gives the institution the power to protect, pre...
Article
Full-text available
This article present some of the main debates circling around the conservation of colonial heritage in Zimbabwe and the contestations that undergird its protection because of a shift in understandings of the heritage archive, the former British colony’s national monuments register, which is constituted by a list of declared and protected heritage s...
Article
Full-text available
Njabulo Chipangura is a curator in the archaeology department at Mutare Museum, Zimbabwe. He has worked for Mutare Museum, a unit of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, since 2009. His research interests include a critical examination of the formation of museums in African contexts, with a focus on various ways to reconfigure collection...

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Project (1)
Project
The project, for which I have funding for the next two years, concerns the origins, sources, knowledge, practices, uses and culture of mining and metallurgy over time and over the region. Metallurgy in southern Africa emerges rather suddenly, and relatively late, at around 500 CE or perhaps earlier. Iron, gold, and copper were all apparently mined and made at around the same time, so there is no "Iron Age" following a "Bronze Age", and so on. At about the same time, glass beads are also found in the archaeological record. However, this period is known as the southern Africa "Iron Age", on the basis of Eurocentric analogies with European, Near East and Mediterranean archaeology. The book that will (eventually) emerge from this is tentatively titled "Metals, Magic, and Medicine" since it appears that metals were originally mined, made, traded and used in connection with ritual, especially 'healing' applications. ('Healing' in this context means more or less anything that helps people to feel better, and is conducted by indigenous specialists that combine material objects (mineral, metal, animal, herbal, fibre) as amulets and 'medicine'. Metals, therefore, are are part of what is often considered to be indigenous 'medicine'. The ideas for the project began while I was working on topics in medical anthropology, in particular, indigenous healing--called 'traditional healing', or bungoma practised by herbalists, sangomas, and 'prophets'--and HIV/AIDS. I wished to explore the question of the history of indigenous African healing cults and practice, but since there is no documentation of this in the archival records, and because there is no historical consciousness (in the academic sense) among its practitioners, I realised that I must pursue this question using archaeological methods where the rich material culture of bungoma exists in the archaeology. Fortunately, it is richly represented. This is true of metals. Since there is a contemporary artisanal (that is 'by hand' and handwork using simple tools rather than machines and blasting) mining 'industry', it is possible to use the ethnographic knowledge of contemporary artisanal mining to help us to understand the mining and metallurgical traditions of the past, and vice versa. Thus, my current research involves examination of mining, partly for its own sake, but also in order to shed light on the history of healing practices and related material culture in the region. Sounds strange, I know ...