The Pioneer's Cemetery in Old Mutare

near Old Mutare Mission Station, Zimbabwe

18 April and 2 May 2012


The archway entrance to the walled cemetary is inscripted "For Queen and Empire."

The cemetary was to be the final resting place for English settlers who colonized the region.




Gated Community











Thorny Issue








Vandalized commemorative plaque near the entrance of the Old Umtali Pioneer Cemetery.

Its historical importance was recognized by this plaque installed August 17, 1950
on the occoasion of the
Southern Rhodesian Jubilee Celebrations in Umtali.

We assembled these fragments that we found in the weeds near the entrance.





The Pioneer Cemetary, April 2012


The land around the Pioneer Cemetery was
a white-owned farm until those farmers were displaced
by black Zimbabweans within the last five years.
Local blacks removed the marble and metal headstones and
sold them for scrap during those hard economic times.
The abandoned cemetery is overgrown and, being completely surrounded
by subsistence farmers and enclosed by a low stone wall,
it is no longer accessible to white people unless they are
accompanied by a local resident.

We greeted David on the dirt track as we were searching for the graveyard.
David showed us to the Pioneer Cemetery and described the events that lead to its demise.







The only grave which still has a traditional metal enclosure






David and Dr. Edward Dodge search for the
name of the deceased on this metal cross.






Broken Cross of Albert Buring who died in Umtali, Nov 4, 1896.

This was the only piece of marble remaining inside the cemetery walls.





Marker for Edmund Rundle, M.D., 1894

One of only two remaining metal gravemarkers in the cemetery.






Full circle

Land that was for ages the territory of the Manica people,
land that was obtained by white settlers who established vast estates,
that land is now back in the hands of descendants of the Manica people.

Coincidentally, David is wearing a T-Shirt from Columbia, South Carolina, site of the 2002 Youth Congress.







Set Aside










Dr. Edward Dodge and David

David is a local resident and graduate of Hartzell High School.
He lives nearby and has a plot of maize to feed himself and his wife.
He is looking for employment and would like to know how to use canals to bring
river water to irrigate these fields the way the white farmers did just a few years ago.





more photos by GR Davis