Broken Hillman: A lost Zambian Ancestry

Many are times when children have demanded to know where their ancestors came from.

In such times, history has provided good answers to such demands. Sometimes graves are shown to demanding children so that they have a feeling of belonging, and peace of mind. It is not the case with the Broken Hillman story reports our Tourism Editor Chimuka Moono Hanyama. The story of his remains is one without clarity.

Broken Hill man skull

Broken Hill man skull

Discovered in 1921 by Tom Zwiglaar, the Swiss miner in Kabwe, broken Hillman (also called Rhodesian or Kabwe man) is believed to be between 125,000 and 300,000 years old! His remains, a skull, Tibia and Femur bones, were a major breakthrough to understanding the historical development of humanity.

It brought a lot of insight on the development of man, from the Stone Age period to Iron Age, up to date. His discovery filled in a missing link, which the world needed so much. As a result, Zambia was associated with that breakthrough in history. The skull of broken Hillman put Zambia on a historical map!

However, the happiness of this discovery did not live long because Zambia’s colonizers, the British, went away with Kabweman’s skull thereby denying the Zambians chance to appreciate their ancestry, and heritage. In the name of taking the skull for carbon dating, the British government never returned it but instead kept it in their museum in Central London! For what reasons, remains unanswered up to mow. And one wonders why this is still even tolerated by the Zambian government!

There are consequences in allowing the remains of Kabweman to be in London. And the consequences are that heritage is being lost, and we are loosing our cultural touch. Not only that the country is loosing on revenue generated from tourists viewing the same remains. Like I already said in the beginning, it is important to keep our heritage so that we pass it on to the next generations. This binds us together to become stronger as a people. Surely, how are the Britons helping us by keeping our ancestry and heritage? Is it to their benefit, in any way? Of course we know that Kabweman was considered a world historical discovery, but that does not mean his remains should be taken away from his home place, Zambia.

Much as we would want to bring a lot of Tourists, there is need for us to wake up to reality. We don’t need those replica skulls in our museums. We need our Kabweman home. Let his skull be returned in our museum. After all even the place where his skull was discovered has never received any recognition!

Kabwe town

Kabwe town

Why cant the Zambian or indeed the British government build a museum in Kabwe on the site where he was discovered? I know that that place is a mine, but surely something can be done.

Let the department of National Heritage take this issue seriously. Much as we appreciate the role the Britons played in our civilization, we need also to remind them that our identity cannot be traded. We need out ancestry and heritage. We need the remains of Broken Hillman home.