INTRODUCTION: In 1978, the Elim Mission Station in the Vumba Mountains in a remote area of what was then called Rhodesia was the scene of the brutal killings of twelve missionaries and children.
ELIM MISSION, ZIMBABWE 14 JULY, 1981 (REUTERS - CHRIS EVERSON)
GV PAN Graveyard TO missionary grave. 0.08
CU Gravestones. (3 SHOTS) 0.20
CU PAN Graves. (2 SHOTS) 0.32
Background: INTRODUCTION: In 1978, the Elim Mission Station in the Vumba Mountains in a remote area of what was then called Rhodesia was the scene of the brutal killings of twelve missionaries and children. The twelve whites who died included a three-week-old baby.
SYNOPSIS: Today the mission station is a peaceful place, with few reminders other than these graves of the brutal killings which shocked the world community, just over three years ago. The massacre near Umtali elicited strong responses, both domestic and in Britain.
At the time, the then British Foreign Secretary, Doctor David Owen, said the attack was a horrific reminder of the need to end the war, and the dispute that followed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence well over a decade before. This was the scene at the Elim Mission after the attack in June 1978. The massacre took place without firearms. The victims were stabbed, bayonetted and bludgeoned to death.
Some bodies were half-stripped, while others were mutilated. The massacre took place on the mission's cricket field. The staff and their children died while the 250 black pupils were distracted at a meeting elsewhere. None of the blacks living on the station was harmed. White MP's in the Rhodesian Parliament blamed Patriotic Front forces, but responsibility for the attack has been disputed.
The Patriotic Front's leader, Mr. Mugabe, now Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, then denied the claim that his forces were responsible. He said the missionaries were killed by others, to divert attention from Rhodesian security force activities.
Now the Mission Station, in the lush Vumba Mountains, recalls the past, and the violent events of the bush war that preceded the British-backed settlement and birth of the state of Zimbabwe in 1980.