Zimbabwean experts have been invited to the UK after Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, claimed the remains of 19th century war heroes from his country were among human remains held at London’s Natural History Museum.
The museum has about 20,000 human remains in its collection, but it is unclear if any are related to those referred to by Mr Mugabe.
Speaking at a National Heroes Day event in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, Mr Mugabe told crowds that the skulls of fighters killed in an uprising against colonial powers in the 1890s were at the museum.
In his speech Mr Mugabe said that the event was a sad reminder of fallen heroes and heroines, and commented: “The remains of our heroes, which were taken out of the country during the colonial period, have now been identified in the British History Museum.Technical experts have now been invited to meet museum staff to discuss the remains and their potential repatriation to Zimbabwe.
The British embassy in Harare said in a statement: “The UK has since invited Zimbabwe to appoint technical experts to meet their museum counterparts in London, in order to discuss some remains of Zimbabwean origin.
“It is not yet clear whether these remains are related to the events, places or people referred to in the president’s speech this week.”
According to the embassy, the potential repatriation of the remains was first discussed between British and Zimbabwean authorities in December last.