Old Umtali 1891-1897: Conservation, interpretation and under | 17267
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Old Umtali 1891-1897: Conservation, interpretation and understanding a colonial past using historic buildings as evidentiary sources


Njabulo Chipangura

This paper will critically address the questions of conservation, changes in use and values of historic buildings at Old Umtali a former colonial town that lived between 1891 and 1897 before it was converted into a mission school thereafter. The buildings have since then survived up to now and have been used by the United Methodist Church (UMC) with various conversions to suit contemporary uses. The paper therefore seeks to examine how the buildings at Old Umtali can be used as historic documents and as evidentiary sources that can help explain the experiences of colonialism in the post-independence state of Zimbabwe. One of the key arguments that will be pursued in the paper is that the historic buildings at Old Umtali can be viewed and defined as cumulative scenes for past actions produced by colonial encounters. The built environment in this regarded is seen as a historic document which can provide information about the past which is not available from any other source. In a way the paper will show the importance of conserving historic buildings because they constitute an important aspect in the management of heritage in Zimbabwe.

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