African Heritage Isn't ‘Dead': Glitches in Organizing Knowledge and Memories With a Focus on the BaTonga in Zimbabwe

African Heritage Isn't ‘Dead': Glitches in Organizing Knowledge and Memories With a Focus on the BaTonga in Zimbabwe

Umali Saidi (Midlands State University, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7429-3.ch017
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Memory institutions collect, arrange, describe and preserve collections for the benefit of the community. While the drive is hinged on the desire to promote accessibility and use of heritage assets, memory institutions' approach to heritage management may condition institutions to be responsible for the erasure of some aspects of the heritage. Studies have demonstrated that memory institutions, preserve as well as give access and usage of the collected heritage to the world. It is argued that without strategies of having the heritage consumed, memory institutions risk being redundant. Using some lessons from the BaTonga of Zimbabwe, this chapter outlines the lived and performed heritage in the context of discourses of advocacy, outreach and public programming strategies. It is argued that promotion and funding of memory institutions should be very conscious of the lived heritage which plays a very significant role in defining and promoting the heritage as well as institutions themselves.
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Understanding Heritage

In discussing heritage and heritage related issues the starting point may be difficult to establish. This is perhaps best captured by Corsane (2005, p. 1) who posits that:

Discourses on heritage, museums and galleries have become a massive, complex and organic network of often loosely articulated understandings, ideas, issues and ways of perceiving things; a network that is fluid, dynamic and constantly reconfiguring itself as individuals critically reflect on and engage with it. In addition, the way in which individuals reflect on the issues will depend on their starting points. Practitioners, academics, government officials, along with users and non-users of cultural and heritage institutions, will each have different approaches.

Heritage, therefore, exists within a very fluid terrain. Löfgren and Klekot, (2012, p. 391) say heritage is ‘understood as an attitude to the past’ and allows ‘the past to construct modern communities.’ They further note that:

Unavoidably everyday more and more things are getting heritagized. On the one hand, it results from the fact that the meaning of heritage has been broadened and the constraints of Authorized Heritage Discourse broken, allowing other understandings of heritage itself, as is the case with intangible heritage.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Memory Institutions: State, private organizations or spaces whose purpose is to maintain repository of public knowledge. It is generically used to refer to museums, libraries, archives, sites, monuments, gardens and so on.

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