Watch, and make up your mind: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/23406793#23406793
Just a few quotes:
- I found the Ngoma (the Ark of the Covenant) in the Harare Museum, and they do not know what they have (curators in African museums are not ignorant cave dwellers. TC)
I could have bought it but that would not have been ethic (In other words: I, Tudor Parfitt, am an ethical man, but those working in the Harare Museum are not. Pure slander by Mr. Parfitt, suggesting that the big white man can buy anything he wants in an African Museum. TC)
My fear is that Mugabe will lay his hand on it (If that is your fear Mr. Parfitt, why boasting about your discovery on American TV? TC).
In my quest to find the Ark of the Covenant I have been shot at, and people tried to kidnap me (So, now Mr. Parfitt even turns into a real Indiana Jones, disgusting movie character robbing cultural objects from source countries. Parfitt and Indiana Jones both are back-dated specimen of a 19th century colonial spirit that most disappointingly is still alive and kicking in the western world).
So, is Tudor Parfitt a fraud or is he? In my view he is. The man can not say that he has been misquoted, for the full interview is still available on the internet: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/23406793#23406793
Easy to read the coverage from Zimbabwe where I was invited last month by the National Museums to attend and speak at the opening of the one object exhibition celebrating my discovery of the ngoma. thousands of people have gone to the museum, and it has been the most successful exhibition the Museum has ever had. As I described in some detail in my book the ngoma had been lost during the independence war: in fact it had been removed from Bulawayo to Harare. The accession card in the Museum of Human Science said nothing about it (photograph of said card in my book)not even the accession date. It was, as I said, in a storeroom used for things which had never been exhibited. The ngoma had never been exhibited. the staff were pleased and excited when I identified it. As i said they did not know what they had, nor do they claim to now. The only reason I knew what it was was that I had made a special study of it. There is no reflection in any way on the competence of my friends in the Museum. There was a rumour, which persists, that Mugabe had taken it. However it is now in safe hands in the Museum and its security is assured. It is an object of great value and it would have been unethical to try to purchase it. I did not try to purchase it. It was not proposed by anyone that it was for sale but an unscrupulous person might have been tempted to offer money for it at a time when people were starving. I am not suggesting, nor did I suggest, that any of my friends would have given in to the temptation.
I was shot at in South Africa. read my book for details. Plenty of people are shot at in SA. It was the Wall Street Journal which first gave me the Indiana Jones tag not me. The rest is just ignorant abuse.
An apology please
Parfitt said what he said in the American TV interview, and in his comment he ignores his own quotes. It is about time I leave out the original question mark. It should not read Is Parfitt a fraud?, but rather Parfitt is a fraud!
From: Tudor Parfitt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Not buying the ngoma
Date: 8 april 2010 11:42:43 GMT+02:00
To: Ton Cremers <email@example.com>, Traude Rogers <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Godfrey Mahachi <email@example.com>, nmmz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There have been some exchanges following comments on Mr Cremer’s website about me, based on a short interview on the American Today programme two years ago.
I have now seen the Today programme section to which Mr Cremers refers on his website.
Interviewer (incredulous) ‘You had the ark in your hands and let it go?’
Tudor Parfitt: ‘Yes and I wonder if that was the right thing to do. Er.. I suppose I could have bought it but it would have been very unethical to do that, I should have told them first what it was…..’
The vigilant Mr Cremers finds this offensive. I do not believe it is. The interview was about my book. It was drawing attention to my book, hoping that people would read it. In the book I specifically say about my meeting with the Director of the Museum:
There was nothing corrupt about Joseph Muringaniza.
He was a tall, gentle man and integrity shone from him.
I never suggested either in the interview or elsewhere that anyone corruptly offered me the ngoma, or that I made any corrupt attempt to buy it.
There is also a limpidly clear implication in the interview based on what I say about the Museum’s knowledge of the object. When I discussed the issue of the ngoma with the Director , as described in my book, I told him what I knew then. However my research was on-going, and my final conclusions (which to some extent hang on Arabic source material which I had not then seen) had not been drawn. As it happens,anyway, on this occasion in 2007 I knew a little more about it than they did, This in itself is not surprising as I had made a special study of Lemba and Venda traditions of the ngoma over many years, including six months field work in a Lemba village near Mberengwe, and had been looking for the object for many years. So the clear implication of my saying ‘I suppose I could have bought it but it would have been very unethical to do that, I should have told them first what it was…..’ is that had they fully realised what it was, i.e., obviously the Museum authorities, they (the Museum authorities ) would not have sold it. Had they not known, then they might have sold it. Had I been suggesting that a corrupt official might have sold it to me, the object’s provenance and importance would have been utterly irrelevant, except as a means of establishing the price. So perhaps Mr Cremers is suggesting that I thought it was unethical to conceal the importance of the object from a corrupt official eager to make a buck?!
But indeed as Mr Cremers quite rightly asserts it is true that I said ‘I suppose I could have bought it’.
Let me make this clear. I am no expert on museum management or practice. It was my assumption, I suppose, or my supposition more precisely, that museums in general occasionally buy and sell things. People have tried officially to buy things from Zimbabwe museums by going through appropriate channels. They too must have thought that Zimbabwe museums sell things, legally . However Zimbabwe museums have a firm policy on this. They apparently never sell. Traude tells me they were offered a lot of money for a Spitfire plane which they have in their collection. They refused to sell it.
I did not know this. I did not even reflect on this because it was never my intention to buy it. It certainly did not occur to me while I was there in 2007 to buy it. I never suggested buying it, and no-one suggested to me that I should buy it! Twelve months later in a TV interview when asked the incredulous question ‘You had the ark in your hands and let it go?’ I replied (lamely and a little defensively) ‘Yes and I wonder if that was the right thing to do. Er.. I suppose I could have bought it’.
Given that I had placed on record in my book, which i was promoting, what I thought of the Museum director – namely that he was a man of great integrity, obviously what I actually meant by this was that I could perhaps have bought it legally through the correct channels if I had not told them what it was, but this would have been unethical (and I would not have done that) and obviously once they knew what it was they would not have sold it. I mean the whole thing is so hypothetical…. Fully unwrapped the thought is this:
I could have bought it I suppose IF I had not told the Museum authorities what it was (in which case they would not have sold it) but I could not have done this because to have so done would have been unethical. In other words it would not have been possible for me to buy it.
Looking at the interview again I see however that my meaning might not have been absolutely and entirely apparent to everyone watching the Today show . Clearly it was not clear to Mr Cremers. I apologize if this is so. It also might just have suggested that the Zimbabwe museums sometimes sell things to individuals or institutions. This was mistaken on my part, And if this was inferred by anyone, I apologise for that too.
In the meantime the Museum has made a splendid job of exhibiting the ngoma. The exhibition in February was linked with a symposium at the University o Zimbabwe, opened by John Ngoma, the Vice-President of Zimbabwe, and presided over by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, in the presence of seven cabinet ministers, representatives of the diplomatic corps and Dr Mahachi, the Director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe. I had the honour of addressing this distinguished gathering. The exhibition later in the day was opened by the two Ministers of Home Affairs and I was honoured to be asked to speak at the opening. Since then there has been a great deal of excitement in Zimbabwe about the object, which continues to draw people into the museum. Dr Mahachi and his wonderful team have been kind enough to express the wish to involve me further on this and allied projects, and I look forward to so doing. I hold them all in the highest esteem, and I believe they know this.
I do not think I can usefully add anything further to this discussion.
subject: Answ.: Not buying the ngomafrom: MSN / TC <email@example.com>Date: 10 april 2010 14:03:15 GMT+02:00to : Tudor Parfitt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: Traude Rogers <email@example.com>, Godfrey Mahachi <firstname.lastname@example.org>, nmmz <email@example.com>
Dear Mr. Parfitt,
Even though you sent your e-mail below to me, quite strangely you keep referring to me in the third person. I wonder why…
There is a very obvious contradiction in your mail. In the 2007 interview you said that you could have bought the ngoma, but that it would have been unethical to do so. However, in your present e-mail you first excuse yourself for not being an expert on museum management, and at the same time you tell that museums in general occasionally buy and sell things. If hat is the case why would it be unethical in the first place to buy anything? I still have this very unpleasant feeling – even after watching the TV interview again and again – that you were insinuating possible corruption in the Harare museum.
However, let me start at the beginning. In my mailing list report of March 18 I quoted your TV statement:
“I found the Ngoma (the Ark of the Covenant) in the Harare Museum, and they do not know what they have”
For me that was reason to write the following reaction: (curators in African museums are not ignorant cave dwellers. TC).
There was more about this in the 2007 TV interview. Allow me to quote you further: “They still do not know today what it is because I have not told them”. Isn’t it very strange that you did not tell them your exact findings, but did reveal these findings in front of an American TV audience? Why, Mr. Parfitt, why? I can tell you why: a few days ago you sent an e-mail to Ms. Traude Rogers, the former deputy director of the National Museum and Monuments of Zimbabwe, in which you stated that you could have taken the ngoma back to “civilisation”. Your use of the word civilisation really reveals your true arrogant western attitude. You felt free to tell an American TV audience all you knew about the ngoma, but at that moment and time did not tell the museum. Why didn’t you tell them? Because you regard them as not civilized? In your mail to Ms Rogers you also wrote about the poor economic conditions in Zimbabwe which might tempt museum workers to sell objects. It appears that you are convinced that poverty by definition makes people corrupt. No matter how you twist and turn your words, I do remain very much convinced your TV statement that you could have bought the ngoma was a true insult and accusation.
The TV reporter asked you:
“Is it (the ngoma) going to be a target for thieves and scoundrels?”
“I think the biggest scoundrel out there is Mr. Mugabe, and I just hope he does not get his hands on it”. Well if that was your hope – in my view this was just a sensationalist statement to promote your book – the most stupid thing you could do was state so on American TV. First you reveal on TV what you did not care to reveal to the museum and then you lament that you fear Mugabe might get his hand on the object.
In your latest mails you really did not motivate me at all to retract anything I wrote and implied in my message of March 18.
And a very interesting mail on the Africom List: