Renowned culture, heritage luminary Prof Munjeri mourned

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Renowned culture, heritage luminary Prof Munjeri mourned Prof Dawson Munjeri’s children at a service at St Martins’ Anglican Church parish on Friday.

Sifelani Tsiko Innovations Editor

Scores of people thronged the St Martins’ Anglican Church parish in Hatfield, Harare, on Friday for the funeral of one of Zimbabwe’s heritage scholars, Professor Dawson Munjeri.

Prof Munjeri died on April 29 aged 75.

The eminent scholar who was Zimbabwe’s cultural ambassador to Unesco and an expert in heritage conservation and monitoring in many countries was accorded a state–assisted funeral and was laid to rest at Glenforest cemetery on Friday.

Prof Munjeri, who was hailed for his humility, integrity, love and commitment to the country, was known for his unflinching commitment to safeguarding culture and heritage in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.

Family members, relatives, archaeologists, museologists, academics, students and other notable people attended the ceremony.

Former Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Dr Washington Mbizvo

thanked the Government for according his friend, Prof Munjeri, a State-assisted funeral.

“He was a deeply religious man and loved God. He loved his country in a very special way, promoting its cultural heritage profile,” he said.

“He did a lot to put Zimbabwe’s heritage sites on the World Heritage List. Prof Munjeri raised the country’s flag high in terms of promoting its culture and heritage.”

He hailed Prof Munjeri for the love he showed his children and other people he worked with.

“My father was a true patriot. He loved his country and wherever he went, he spoke highly about his country,” said Farai, son to the renowned heritage expert.

“Growing up, we just felt his love. He showed us love in many special ways.

“My father taught me how to swim when l was four years old. He taught me a lot of things.”

Theresa, his daughter said: “My father was exceptional. He did a lot for us. He wanted the best for all of us.”

Prof Munyaradzi Manyanga — Bantu Mosaics Research Associate and Executive Dean of the School of Heritage and Education, Great Zimbabwe University said the death of Prof Munjeri is a huge blow to the heritage community in Zimbabwe and beyond.

“His death is a huge blow not only to Zimbabwe but the whole world. Prof Munjeri had his footprints on most heritage matters here at home, in Africa and all over the world.”

He said the late heritage luminary was a great repository of heritage knowledge.

“Prof Munjeri defined the decolonization heritage practice we now have as a country. Zimbabwe is a role model for the world in that regard.

“He came at a very critical stage in 1983 when we needed to rewrite our history as a country. He championed efforts to rewrite our history with African values and perspectives.”

UNESCO chair on African Heritage and Great Zimbabwe University archaeologist, Dr Thomas Thondhlana said the death of Prof Munjeri has left a huge void which will be difficult to fill.

“Most of the developments that have been happening in the heritage sector were due to his ideas and influence,” he said.

“We have lost a mentor who had a huge impact in the heritage sector. We all benefited from his selflessness.”

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ ) acting executive director, Mr Paul Mpira hailed Prof Munjeri for playing an instrumental role in the listing of Zimbabwe’s heritage sites.

“He loved the Great Zimbabwe Monument so much that he played a major role in having it listed on the World Heritage List,” he said.

“He was knowledgeable person on heritage issues. He was responsible for the listing of the country’s numerous sites on the World Heritage List. Many of the milestones on culture and heritage in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world have his imprints.

“He was an astute academic, strategist, visionary and father figure who saw potential in every human being.”

His interdisciplinary approach and open personality throughout his life inspired numerous heritage practitioners and professionals in the world.

Prof Munjeri’s 53 books and numerous other articles explored oral traditions and oral history, museology, legal frameworks on heritage and sustainable development.

He was born on 11 July, 1949.

Prof Munjeri did his secondary education at Fletcher High School in Gweru and later enrolled for a BA Honours History degree at the University of Rhodesia in 1973.

In 1981, he did a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Systems and Librarianship at the University of Wales, UK.

In 2010 he completed his PhD studies in International Relations and Diplomacy.

Prof Munjeri started his work as an oral historian at the National Archives of Zimbabwe in 1978 before working as regional director at National Museums and Monuments in 1983.

He worked in that position until 1987. From 1987 to 1993, he served as deputy executive director of the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.

He also worked as executive director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe from 1993 to 2002.

From 2002 to 2017, Prof Munjeri served as the Deputy Permanent Delegate of Zimbabwe to UNESCO in Paris, France.

He served as president of the 17th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention from 2009 to 2010.

Prof Munjeri alsi sat on the executive board of UNESCO, Editorial Board of the International Journal of Cultural Property and numerous other councils and boards.

He participated in various World Heritage Centre list evaluation missions to South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and many other countries.

He was also a member of several expert groups, notably the one tasked with reviewing the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention from 2000 to 2004 and another one to draft the text of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Prof Munjeri is survived by four children — Theresa, Eugene, Kudzai, Farai and 10 grandchildren.

His wife, Margaret, passed away three years ago.