The battle over Mbuya Nehanda’s (Charwe) likeness

When it comes to the narration and ownership of African stories and African narratives. There is a very silent cold war happening. For instance, Disney has a Wakandian Queen called Nehanda. One who (at some point and time) led her African people. (Now go Google Mbuya Nehanda).

That Disney backstory and name sound just like the real-life Nehanda from Zimbabwe. Imagine having a South African Superhero called George Washington! The real Nehanda got hanged for unsubstantiated crimes during colonisation. If a child of Zimbabwe was to make an animated film about a lady called Nehanda will Disney lawyers not sue? – I don’t know. But they do have a registered “Superhero” called Nehanda whom I expect them to protect. At all costs, like any other Disney-owned “property.”

The statue of Mbuya Nehanda(Charwe)

In the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe. The “likeness” of Mbuya Nehanda has been a hot topic. Rage and memes flooded social media after images of her first statue got published. We’ve talked about African statues before. People raged that her figure was more “bootilicious” than it needed to be. Which is where the problem lies in our story.

Who should dictate the likeness or look of a woman that died in 1898? Especially a woman whom we only have one photograph to reference from. A photograph which was taken after she had been arrested. Which (I think) kinda affects the way we view and remember this powerful, historical figure. If you would like to have a say in how such a woman should be represented in today’s visual world. Join this POVOAfrika project advertised below. Writers, poets, and visual artists are being called upon. To come together and re-imagine this historical figure. Good luck!

Written by Visually African

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