The historical development of Zimbabwe's museums and monuments
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The history of Zimbabwe's museums and monuments begins with the coming of British settlers to the colony of Rhodesia in 1890. By 1902 Rhodesia had one fully functional museum called the Rhodesia Museum. This museum concentrated on geology and natural history, two areas that the new colonists were anxious to explore and exploit in order to build up the country's young economy. In 1936 the Rhodesia Museum was nationalised and in the next twenty years two more museums were added to the National Museums of Southern Rhodesia organisation. Although the museums emphasised their objectivity as research and educational centres they also followed government policies that promoted white colonial culture over that of the indigenous black population. This suppression of the African heritage was more marked in the settlers' attitudes towards the country's monuments. At Great Zimbabwe and Matopos, both traditionally significant for local blacks, the white colonists supported interpretations that justified their rale over the African and rejected any involvement of the black tribes in the history of these two monuments. During the 1950s the museums and monuments conformed to the white administration's agenda and took an increasingly biased stand against the Africans, who had started to demand a greater say in the government of Rhodesia. By the time civil war broke out between black and white Rhodesians in 1966, these cultural organisations had become political tools for the colonial cause. This made their situation difficult when after fourteen years the black nationalists won the right to rule Zimbabwe. However, because of their unique ability to mirror the political, social and economic circumstances of the country the museums and monuments remain important contributors to Zimbabwe's cultural history and heritage.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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