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Geology research students from the University of Zimbabwe analysing water sampled from the Mtshabezi River, Thuli Basin.
Metallurgy research laboratory, University of Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwean_parliamentary_election,_2000 [3]


climate change in Africa[edit]


zim geology[edit]

Syntarsus Zimbabwe craton

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see Category:Zimbabwe articles missing geocoordinate data


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On Fringe Theories[edit]

Archived here as an example if needed for other fringe matters...

Various aspects of current debate[edit]

I am trying to pull together several threads here, so afraid this is a rather long post. But I think it is important to take a step back as to what we are doing, and what we should try to achieve on this page.

If we look at the current state of archaeological scholarship and research on Great Zimbabwe, three observations can be made with regard to the Lemba:

  1. It is a historic theory: the original research on the Lemba as builders of GtZ was done a very long time ago. More recent work is either synthesis or addressing other issues (such as the Lemba genetics).
  2. It was a minority viewpoint in its time, and it is not a viewpoint supported by current research.
  3. The main current support for a Lemba origin for GtZ is among laypeople.

This is a classic fringe theory. Indeed that DLMcN's manuscript was not accepted by mainstream academic journals is another indication of this - See also this on peer-reviewed sources and fringe theories. We are not obliged to assume good faith on the part of academic journals, but it makes our lives much more complicated if we start thinking they have some politically-based reluctance to accept a theory. (And I mean no offense, if I tried publishing a manuscript in say theology, which I have a deep interest in but only a little formal training, I'd expect a similar response). And an editor who promotes a particular theory in real life (off Wikipedia) should be careful to avoid suggestions that edits are promoting one's own work. That's advice, not accusation please. From the fringe theories guideline: Wikipedia is not a forum for presenting new ideas, for countering any systemic bias in institutions such as academia, or for otherwise promoting ideas which have failed to merit attention elsewhere.

None of this means that I am saying the Lemba hypothesis is disproved. It is not up to an article on Wikipedia to prove or disprove any theory. All that we can report is what reliable sources say is proved or not proved, supported (by whom?), not supported (by whom?). To go beyond this and say that if you put X work together with Y work, can't you see it shows us something is synthesis. We cannot "reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources" - this would be original research. Whether it makes sense to another editor or not is neither here nor there. In fact it is rare for a theory to be "conclusively disproved", unless it is very narrowly defined. It would be quite simple to disprove a theory that GtZ was constructed in the 4th century BC, or to prove a theory that GtZ was inhabited during the 12th century AD, as either of these theories is easy to test against carbon dating. To conclusively prove or disprove that the Lemba built GtZ would be far more complex, given among other things the partial common ancestry of the Lemba and Karanga (and in itself that's my opinion and original research!). But what matters is for the article to reflect the current status of scholarship on the topic.

If the archaeological consensus changes, then the page should change to reflect this. Indeed, if any reliable source is published explicitly supporting a theory that is currently treated as fringe or historic, then the article should give greater prominence to that theory. But until that happens the article should reflect current scholarship.

In the same way, it is not up to editors to decide whether or not a claim made in a reliable source is valid. In Wikipedia, it matters a lot what Pikirayi has to say about Gayre's archaeological research, or what Le Roux has to say about Ruwitah's documentation of oral tradition. It does not matter at all what Babakathy or DLMcN think about their claims. It is not for me to say whether a reliable source has sufficient evidence for the claims the source makes - surely if I am right that that is not really enough, I can find another reliable source who has criticized the first one. If I cannot find such a source, my criticism is itself original research. It is not up to editors here on Wikipedia to prove that current research is accurate and has sufficient evidence to satisfy another editor (or the converse). It is up to us to report what researchers have discovered and determined. If we take the issue of Shona pottery, the article does give Gayre's theory on this, and states its place in more recent research (and yes that needs expanding). There is no added value in repeating Gayre's views in the section on Gokomere culture - just as we don't repeat Garlake and Pikirayi view's on Gayre's work when we talk of their work in later sections. If Gayre had something to say on e.g. Bent's work, it would be worthwhile to add that to the section on Bent. For obvious reasons, an early source like Bent has nothing to say on Pikirayi's work, or Huffman's. Even if it is a contemporary source A saying X which appears to contradict B saying Y, we cannot say that A is disproving B (or attempting to disprove B) unless A actually said that - or if reliable source C says that A's work clearly refutes B's. Otherwise it is original synthesis. All we can do is report A's work and B's.

Let me address the matter of Lemba origins. It is disingenuous to push for more prominence on the Semitic ancestry of the Lemba in this article, which is not about the origins of the Lemba, and then suggest others have an agenda (political reasons) for rejecting work supporting Semitic origins. To make such an accusation is exactly the same as to suggest DLMcN had some political agenda for suggesting Semitic origins in his MQ manuscript (and I don't allege that, it's an example). Further, to suggest that the real reason why the Lemba hypothesis has prompted such a strong counter-reaction, is its implication that the builders of GZim may have been Semitic is unhelpful. Firstly, it gives twinges of fringe and conspiracy theory by suggesting ulterior motives in the archaeological research community and secondly (far more importantly) because unless there's a reliable source alleging this, the suggestion of bias is itself original research. We have a statement of the Lemba's Semitic ancestry in the first sentence on their possible involvement in construction. This also mentions their Bantu ancestry and is a clear statement of current, up to date research on the topic. It is also sufficient, as the main topic of that section is research on GtZ, not research on the Lemba. More is not needed here, and belongs on the Lemba page. A detailed discussion of the Bantu origins of the Gokomere culture would not be relevant here either. It would be equally inappropriate to re-title to The Lemba, and their Semitic ancestors or The Gokomere and their Bantu ancestors. The issue of a political controversy over origins is documented well in the Political implications section. If there's a reliable source documenting a current political controversy over possible Lemba origins, then the source can be written in there.

The current text gives appropriate prominence to research on the Lemba, and gives a clear account of some of the evidence cited by the original researchers. It also gives reliable sources' views of that research. From the fringe theories guideline: Articles which cover controversial, disputed, or discounted ideas in detail should document (with reliable sources) the current level of their acceptance among the relevant academic community - the article does this, covering several different comments. To say Gayre's thesis is not supported by more recent scholars such as Garlake and Pikirayi is precisely appropriate. It's not up to editors to decide whether or not this criticism is valid. If another reliable source has dismissed this criticism (or dismissed Mufuka's comments or whatever) then we can also include that.

And yes, there are other areas of this article that need more, work, especially to bring the detail of the recent research out. Let's spend some time on that... Babakathy (talk) 07:58, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

I propose the NPOV tag be removed from the article on the basis that (i) the main text of the article is consistent with NPOV, (ii) the Lemba section is consistent with WP:UNDUE, which is a section of NPOV. Babakathy (talk) 11:04, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

I support the proposal. Though there is still ongoing debate about the article's content (as there should be), it is not in breach of NPOV for reasons most cogently outlined in the post "Various aspects of the current debate". Johncoz (talk) 11:17, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Zimbabwe: Lost Material[edit]