Back to the old school? Revival of traditional management systems in Zimbabwe

Maradze, Juliet (2003) Back to the old school? Revival of traditional management systems in Zimbabwe. In: 14th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Place, memory, meaning: preserving intangible values in monuments and sites’, 27 – 31 oct 2003, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

Formal heritage systems came as part of a colonial package throughout the African continent, with the aim of preserving monuments and sites that bore witness to human civilisation and development. Before colonialism, different systems were in place to ensure respect and survival of cultural sites. These included taboos, myths and restrictions. The impressive structures we see today have survived for hundreds of years, meaning they owe their existence to some form of management, which is certainly traditional practices. However, the new system of heritage management sought to protect only tangible heritage, and considered modern, scientific techniques important in conservation. This scenario prevailed throughout the colonial period, and was even inherited by heritage institutions after independence. In Zimbabwe, National Museums inherited the colonial system, and did not incorporate traditional ways of heritage protection, despite the fact that in some areas local leadership was willing to participate and revive old ways of managing heritage. In communal areas, several factors led to the erosion of traditional management systems. Legislative pieces pertaining to land ownership saw people moving to reserves, creating way for commercial farms. Proclamation of sites as a way of ensuring their protection meant they automatically became state land. Thus, people became divorced from their heritage, as accessing it would have meant trespassing into private or state land. This meant that traditional leaders, also the guardians of heritage, could not enforce traditional systems of heritage protection. Missionaries also widened the gap between local people and traditional management systems as they condemned respect for ancestors, who were considered the owners of heritage. Many people became Christianised and questioned traditional ceremonies and belief systems. Recently, the government embarked on land redistribution, which had been spontaneous and uncontrolled, and it is not clear whether the new settlers will be able to respect the heritage they find in different areas. In light of these factors this paper seeks to assess how possible and practical it is to call for, and try to revive, traditional systems in managing Zimbabwean cultural heritage.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Maradze, Juliet
Languages: English
Keywords: heritage management; legislation; legal protection
K.LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES > 03. National/Regional legislations
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 11. Legal protection and Administration
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2003, 14th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2010 09:57
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2011 19:16
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