mbuya nehanda tree.jpgShe was captured in late 1897, tried and sentenced to death by hanging in March 1898 but her actual place of execution remains a mixture of fact, legend and myth.

The trial of Mbuya Nehanda’s medium, Charwe was presided over by Mr Justin Watermeyer in the High Court of Matabeleland in the then Salisbury.

She was sentenced to death by hanging on the 2nd of March 1898 and was subsequently executed on the 27th of April the same year.

The French South African Development Building, which later became Jameson House was the place where the trial took place, an extract from the Rhodesian Herald of the 4th of May 1898 chronicled the execution details and a doctor confirmed her death.

What remains largely unclear is whether she met her death on a tree or whether it was in the gallows.

An academic, Dr Ibbo Mandaza refutes suggestions that the tree recently felled (pictured), whose location was along Josiah Tongogara Avenue near the intersection with Sam Nujoma street, is the place where Mbuya Nehanda was hanged.

Professor George Kahari shares the same view with Dr Mandaza and adds that Mbuya Nehanda was executed in the gallows at the then Salisbury Central Police Station.

But Dr Vimbai Chivaura says the suggestion that the tree in question is in actual fact a tree upon which Cecil John Rhodes used to rest his horse after his travels is folly and meant to mislead the nation.

A traditionalist, Sekuru Chipango insists Nehanda was hanged on the tree in question and narrated some of the omens that he heard occurred at the tree.

While experts will give different versions, evidence of people being hanged on trees during the settler era is abound.

There is also evidence of people being hanged in gallows.

However, the bone of contention has been how the settler regime would protect a tree which is symbolic of Mbuya Nehanda, knowing well her status among the people.

However, as Dr Chivaura contends, there is nothing wrong with Zimbabweans choosing a tree and naming it after Mbuya Nehanda even now.