The sacred rainmaking cultural Njelele shrine located at the UNESCO recognized Matobos Hills, in the heart of Matabeleland, has been bombed by unknown assailants.
Media reports and information gathered from the community is that the shrine, which is of spiritual and cultural significance to the people of Matabeleland, was bombed on Friday night using mining explosives.
This is not the first time the shrine has been desecrated as during the Gukurahundi Genocide in the mid-1980s, the Fifth Brigade soldiers fired shots at the shrine and thus the region experienced a series of droughts after that, which locals attribute to the actions of the genocide soldiers.
Between the years 2011 and 2012 a group of ZANLA war veterans from Mashonaland part of Zimbabwe went to the shrine and forced themselves to be cleansed there in direct contrast to the norms and rituals related to the shrine.
Some villagers and activists from Matabeleland have viewed the continued desecration of Njelele Shrine as a continuation of the gross human rights violations of the people of Matabeleland and the continuation of the Gukurahundi legacy.
As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights we call on the government of Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Museums and Monuments Department and the Tourism Authority of Zimbabwe to speedily ensure that justice prevails and the Njelele Shrine is protected. This should be done in line with provisions of Article 1 of the 1992 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities clearly states that “States shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
We further call on the Shrine to be listed as a Monument and be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Njelele is not only a shrine of cultural value to the people of Matabeleland, but it is a source of unity to the various ethnic, tribal and linguistic groups that identify with it and it is a tourism attraction.