Museum Security Network

Is Tudor Parfitt a fraud or is he? Take the ngoma back to "civilisation"

Watch, and make up your mind: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/23406793#23406793

Just a few quotes:

  1. 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)
  2. 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)

  3. 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).

  4. 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

Ton Cremers


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
Tudor Parfitt

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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!

Ton Cremers


From: Tudor Parfitt <tp@soas.ac.uk>

Subject: Not buying the ngoma

Date: 8 april 2010 11:42:43 GMT+02:00

To: Ton Cremers <museum-security@museum-security.org>, Traude Rogers <traude.allison.rogers@ntlworld.com>, Godfrey Mahachi <godfreymahachi93@gmail.com>, nmmz <nmmz@mweb.co.zw>

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.

It goes:

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.

Best wishes

Tudor

———————————

subject: Answ.: Not buying the ngomafrom: MSN / TC <museum-security@museum-security.org>Date: 10 april 2010 14:03:15 GMT+02:00to : Tudor Parfitt <tp@soas.ac.uk>

CC: Traude Rogers <traude.allison.rogers@ntlworld.com>, Godfrey Mahachi <godfreymahachi93@gmail.com>, nmmz <nmmz@mweb.co.zw>

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?”
Your answer:
“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.

Ton Cremers

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And a very interesting mail on the Africom List:

Van: “Ashton Sinamai” <asinamai@yahoo.co.uk>
Datum: 22 mrt 2010 08:17
Onderwerp: Re: [AFRICOM-L] Is Tudor Parfitt a fraud or is he?
Aan: <africom-l@list.africom.museum>
Of course Tudor Parfitt is a fraud. The Ngoma Lungundu was even a subject of repatriation as the Venda Bantustan (under the apartheid regime) wanted it as the centre of the display. They are said to have visited the QVM to see and probably make a copy for their new museum. So he can not say it was dumped in a museum and that noone knew about it.
Parfitt’s book is a good story and when yu read it you cant but wonder whether it was made for the big screen. Its got all the evidence of big screen-the researcher in danger (so many dangers including Al-Quaeda and some monsters in a cave in Mberengwa Zimbabwe), the researcher living with the primitive, the researcher making a discovery right under the noses of indigenous researchers, and the dictator in the background trying to confiscate a holy icon.
The desperation for tourists (esp with the World Cup looming) has made Zim tolerate him. But many academics are quite embarassed by the attention that he is given with his whimsical theories.
Below is an article written by a MuRemba   http://www.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=16738&cat=10
VaRemba’s Jewish claim — A recent fabrication
By Davison Moses Foroma
RECENTLY, the media carried stories
concerning Ngoma Lungundu.
The stories as published have
raised an important topic, which affects the VaRemba with whom the Ngoma Lungundu is said to be associated.
It is not the association with Ngoma Lungundu that is the issue. Rather
it is the identity of the VaRemba, which coincidentally has been raised
in these publications, which has caused grave concern to members of this tribe, as serious misrepresentations and distortions have been made
concerning their origins.
Professor Tudor Parfitt has been quoted widely as claiming that his
researches have established that VaRemba have a Jewish origin.
He uses genetic research done comparing the Y chromosomes found in the
VaRemba and those found in a priestly class amongst the Jews, which he
claims resemble each other to give credence to his conclusion that this
supports the oral history that the VaRemba have a Jewish descent.
Edmore Maramwidze, the Gutu North House of Assembly Member himself a
muRemba at the symposium held at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) on the
February 17 2010, alleged that the VaRemba are adulterine children born
to Jewish men by Gentile women — a startling proposition indeed.
There are a few VaRemba who have bought into Professor Parfitt’s
proposition. The bulk of those who have bought Professor Parfitt’s
argument are members of what is today called the Lemba Cultural
Association, founded in South Africa by a group of VaRemba whose
forefathers moved into South Africa from Zimbabwe.
The point is that the VaRemba in both South Africa and Zimbabwe are the
same people and cannot have different origins.
The oral history as to their origin cannot and should not be different.
The oral history of the two VaRemba communities separated by the Limpopo River has to be the same as the ancestors of the majority of the South
African group were from Zimbabwe.
Until very recently, about the 1960’s, the oral history shared by the
VaRemba in Zimbabwe wherever they were geographically located be it
Gutu, Masvingo, Chivi, Mberengwa, Hwedza or Buhera has been that their
forefathers hailed from Yemen in the Middle East and that they were Arab traders, “vashavi” in Shona.
The VaRemba are more commonly known among the Bantu communities in
Zimbabwe as vaMwenyi, a Swahili word, which loosely translates to
merchants suggesting they passed through East Africa on their way
southwards.
They are a distinct group of people who do not eat meat of certain
animals, and who only eat the meat of animals they have slaughtered
themselves.
They recite a prayer as they slaughter any animal or bird that is lawful for them to eat. That prayer is in Arabic language and is used by
Muslims.
Only their males who have come out of the initiation school have
authority to slaughter meat eaten by members of the VaRemba community as it is at the initiation school that the prayer is taught.
The VaRemba bury their dead with the corpse facing the north of north
east direction and lying on its right side.
Their culture and original religion (Islam) are inseparable. Although
many of them have embraced different religions mainly Christianity as a
result of missionary work, their culture has failed to break away from
the Islamic influence.
Their males who have come out of initiation school are compulsorily
required to carry a knife on their person.
They use the knife for slaughtering among other things. A man who
borrows a knife to slaughter exposes himself to ridicule and is suspect.
Traditionally, they are not allowed to marry their daughters to
non-VaRemba men. So strong has this tradition been in the part that any
women who eloped to non-VaRemba men were regarded outcasts and disowned.
This practice has an Islamic origin.
The VaRemba do not eat food prepared in cooking utensils used by
non-VaRemba and boys who have not passed through the initiation school
are not allowed to slaughter animals for meat taken by the community.
They have very strict hygienic habits and shave their heads or trim
their hair to the same level.
This article is not meant to detail all the customs and traditions of
the VaRemba. It was necessary to give some information to those not
familiar, in order to assist in identifying the people whose culture and origin is under discussion.
As the customs and traditions of Jews and Arabs are generally similar,
it may be difficult to use the similarity of these to VaRemba culture to determine with accuracy the origin of the VaRemba.
If the customs and traditions were the sole yardstick used to determine
categorically whether the VaRemba are of Jewish origin or Arabic origin, then it would be inconclusive.
That the Arabic and Jewish customs or culture is broadly more or less
the same should not be surprising as in fact the two peoples are cousins being descendants of Ebrahim (Abraham) through Ismail (Ishmael), the
eldest son of Abraham and his younger half brother Isaac. Both Arabs and Jews are Semites.
It is proposed to outline below the points which lend support to the
oral history that the VaRemba are descendants of Arabs as opposed to
Jews. These are:
l The 12 clan names of the VaRemba, which have a definite link to the
Islamic religion and not Jewish religion e.g. Hassan, Sharief, Seremani, Sadiki, Haji, Bakari, to name but a few.
l The prayer recited by the VaRemba when slaughtering animals or birds
is in the Arabic language and is of Islamic origin. This is taught in
Arabic at the vaRemba initiation school together with other prayers.
l The greeting/salutation taught at the initiation school is a Moslem
greeting in Arabic.
l The most important prayer taught in the initiation school though in an adulterated form (in terms of pronunciation) is Arabic and Islamic.
l The tradition of carrying knives by VaRemba males who have been
through the initiation school establishes an irrefutable link to Arabic
tradition or culture, which today is pronounced amongst the Yemenite
Arabs. Jews do not practice this tradition.
l The vaRemba are a patrilineal community i.e., they trace lineage
through their fathers whereas you can only be a Jew if your mother is a
Jew.
l The practice of burying their dead lying on their right side and
facing Ka’aba (Mecca) (north of northeast), when one is in Zimbabwe.
l The popular oral history that the vaRemba/vaMwenyi are (varungu),
descendants of white-skinned forefathers from Yemen.
l The issue of religion is not insignificant in addressing the origins
of the VaRemba. Nowhere in the books of history on Zimbabwe, including
the vaRemba oral history has it been suggested that VaRemba ever built a single synagogue, nor has there been any reference to ruins of a
synagogue in the areas that the VaRemba temporarily settled on their
journey southwards. Neither has it ever been hinted anywhere at anytime
that the VaRemba once regarded Saturday as a day of worship (Sabbath for their Jewish cousins), and yet what distinguishes a Jew from other
races or nationalities is the Jewish religion — Judaism, which Jews
consider to be exclusively for Jews.
Although the VaRemba of today are of various religious persuasions, this does not discredit their claim to Arabic descent as in this day and age choice of religion has become an aspect of the exercise of an
individual’s democratic rights. It is, however, contended that the
original religion of the VaRemba’s forefathers was Islam, and not
Christianity or Judaism.
The suggestion by Professor Parfitt that (genetic) evidence exists,
which supports the view that the VaRemba are of Jewish descent is not
only a misrepresentation of the scientific research carried out by some
scientists, but a deliberate attempt to mislead the VaRemba as to their
correct descendency.
The results of the genetic research, contrary to what Professor Parfitt
claims does not categorically link the VaRemba to a Jewish ancestry. The geneticists have so far not excluded or ruled out the VaRemba claim to
an Arabic origin. The results of the genetic research have therefore
been misrepresented, and clearly, to the prejudice of the VaRemba.
I state categorically that any MuRemba who subscribes to the view that
VaRemba oral history says that VaRemba are of Jewish descent/ancestry is a convert of the recent fabrication, and needs to re-examine his
position critically in the light of the foregoing among other proofs to
the contrary.
Finally, as for Edmore Maramwidze’s hypothesis that is that VaRemba are
sons of Jews by Gentile women – it is too far fetched and has neither
the support of oral history nor the Bible itself. His, is a lone voice?
Those that are keen on establishing the correct genealogical origin of
the VaRemba (if considered necessary to do so in view of the available
evidence), should do justice to the VaRemba community, and avoid
sweeping statements, and research widely.
Clearly, the distortion that the VaRemba have an oral history that
claims that they are descendants of Jews has caused some of us a lot of
anguish — not that there is anything wrong essentially in being a Jew or Gentile for that matter.
Maramwidze and any of those like-minded seem to have left the initiation school half- baked and may be a dangerous example to their VaRemba. It
would not be out of place to suggest that they need to be re-initiated.
Davison Moses Foroma is a MuRemba/Lemba. He is a legal practitioner and
partner with a reputable legal firm in Harare, Zimbabwe.
National Museum of Namibia
P.O.Box 1203 (59 R. Mugabe Road)
Windhoek
Namibia
Phone: +264 61 276832
Cell +264 81 4004807
ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the lord won’t have you, the devil must!!!!
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  1. One Response to “Is Tudor Parfitt a fraud or is he? Take the ngoma back to “civilisation””

  2. No doubt Mugabe is a dictator but he is not the Amin type of dictator who would confiscate a museum object. There are so many valuable objects within NMMZ’s Museums and the ngoma lungundu is perhaps a distant from these!!! Being an intellectual Mugabe understands museum functions more than Parfitt who thinks museum objects can be bought!! I am hoping we will in the future see the back of this academic charlatan who tells us that he has lived for years with the Remba and cant spell or understand a single Shona word Dumbwe is spelt Dumge, and Mushavi is said from arabic when it is Shona for trader!! If the NMMZ is not careful this will affect the reputation. We have seen very senior members of the museum pouting the same Parfitt trash and really wonder why. Dr Mahachi, Mr Chipunza and others have believed Parfitt where some of their researchers have disagreed with him

    By Casey Windows Vista Firefox 3.6 on Apr 14, 2010Edit

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