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King Mzilikazi's Commemoration 2020

by Prince Zwide Peter Khumalo
12 Sep 2020 at 09:10hrs | Views
The Covid 19 pandemic protocols made it impossible for formal annual first week  of September celebratory gatherings and festivities to take place at the Royal Palace, Emhlahlandlela in the Matopos. The year 2020 will go into the annals of history as a lost year in all forms including the spiritual connection with our ancestors. This is a very painful experience as the King Mzilikazi commemorations had become galvanised into the routine lives of the Umthwakazi nation. The King Lobengula Royal Trust notes, however, with great appreciation the gesture by the National Museums of Zimbabwe to arrange a meeting with the Khumalo Clan to consult on what the family expects to be done in the Government's plan to refurbish King Lobengula's Old Bulawayo Palace, King Mzilikazi's Emhlahlandlela's Royal Palace Site and the respected King Mzilikazi's Grave.

Old Bulawayo had been reconstructed in the 1990s and was later-on destroyed by an wild forest fire that had come from about ten killometers away. Emhlahlandlela and the King Mzilikazi's Grave are registered monuments that are downtrodden and are in a despicable state compared to the well kept Rhodes' Grave  that is reachable by a tarred road in the same area. The three, Umthwakazi Royal Sites, are almost inaccessible with rugged and heavily potholed roads leading to them. This simple comparison explains and justifies the need for action to be taken to improve the conditions of the Royal sites; otherwise fifty years since attaining Indipendence from the British colonialists in 1980, it is impossible to explain why African indigenous locations with African spiritual content and rich history continue in that state.

The meeting on the 4th September, 2020 at the National Museums of Zimbabwe, Western Region, in Bulawayo allowed for a differentiated commemoration of King Mzilikazi's life. The Khumalo Clan and, indeed the Umthwakazi nation, were ably represented by, for purposes of records, Themba Nhlokoma kaNyamanda, Clement kaMbehane, Leo Zulukandaba kaNyanda, Dr Bruce kaBheje, Irvine kaMahlahleni, McDonald Dumisani kaMphazima, Phillip and the writer, Zwidekalanga Peter kaSumpe kaNyamanda, all of Khumalo surnames.Dr Mahachi and Senzeni Khumalo respresented the NMZ and were hosting Home Affairs Ministry Officials, Hon Minister Kazembe Kazembe and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry. This meeting was a replica of a similar one held at the same premises forty years ago in 1990. Fifty members of the Khumalo Clan had been invited then from all around Matabeleland and forty-eight turned up to attend the meeting. The Government at the time had instructed all Parastatals to identify ways of generating income. The NMZ had a choice to develop the Khami Ruins or Old Bulawayo. It was decided by NMZ to develop Old Bulawayo. The Ministry of Home Affairs then headed by the late Dr Dumiso Dabengwa consulted with PF-ZAPU at a meeting at Umguza College that was followed by the NMZ Western Region meeting with the Khumalo Clan.The NMZ was represented by Dr Mahachi and Dr Albert Kumbirai. Old Bulawayo was an attraction because tourists would be at Old Bulawayo in time and space when they arrive in the City of Bulawayo, the City of Kings.

The 1990 meeting  included many legendary Khumalo Clan elders like Gideon Joy Khumalo, Ngandela Mpandezemithi Khumalo, Sozibele Khumalo, Gavumende Khumalo, Jack Sikhonkwane Khumalo, Zulu Mbehane  Khumalo, June Khumalo, Mabhada Khumalo to name a few and some Chiefs that included the late Chief Khayisa Ndiweni, Cadmore Nyangazonke Ndiweni and Chief Sivalo Mahlangu. A Committee of eighteen was selected to oversee the work at Old Bulawayo. The Committee proceeded to King Mzilikazi's grave to perform spiritual rituals and report the intention to reconstruct Old Bulawayo. It was at that site that the elders appointed Gideon Joyi Khumalo son of Joyi, that was son of Gabana who was son of Umuntu (Tshukisa) the first born child of King Mzilikazi and his wife MaSigola to be custodian of Old Bulawayo. He was to be assisted by Ngandela Mpandezemithi, the last born child of the last King of Umthwakazi, King Nyamanda that was corronated on 25th June 1896 and Queen Mathebe (younger of the two Mathebes). Leo Zulukandaba Khumalo the son of Mthimbili that was the son of Nyanda the last born child of King Mzilikazi and Zwidekalanga Peter Khumalo son of Sumpe Velezulwini  that was the son of King Nyamanda and Queen Mangongo Nxumalo were asked to co-ordinate and link the cultural elders expectations and the NMZ Technical staff operations in the Old Bulawayo project.

At the meeting of the 4th September 2020, the Khumalo Clan sought an explanation for a number of queries that related to what has changed now from the cause of the meeting forty years ago.They also wanted to know, how other than negligence, Old Bulawayo had been burnt to ashes. Dr Mahachi, the National Director of NMZ, explained satisfactorily and the Khumalo representatives found themselves confortable to continue with the discussions in the meeting. Past experiences were however openly stated by the Khumalos that made a very promising project at Old Bulawayo cultural hub fail to take off as a tourist attraction.

NMZ had been able to produce a sellable product, but the project was very weak in the marketing aspects. The originally planned villages network around Old Bulawayo that were each to show-case some typical Umthwakazi cultural activities and performances did not come about. The Old Bulawayo failed to be an attraction. The resolution was expressed at the meeting that the priority in development of the three sites would be Old Bulawayo with concurrent development of toilets and water supply facilities at Emhlahlandlela. Important in the discussions was the emphasis that interpretive centres need to only carry the history of the community associated historically with the monument. An example given was that it does not make educational sense for the history of the Nguni to be in an interpretive centre at the Chinhoyi Caves or at the Zimbabwe Ruins when they had nothing to do with the history of the local people there. The issue relating to the King Mzilikazi's grave was to be shelved for now.The meeting recommended that the custodians at the cultural sites would be permanent employees of NMZ.It is hoped that the collaboration of the two Ministries, the Home Affairs and the Tourism one would provide an operational synergy at the relevant heritage sites.

The significance of this meeting is that it coincided with the time the people of Matabeleland annually commemorate the death of the nation builder par excellence, King Mzilikazi. Instead of singing, dancing, meat eating and drinking traditional beer, some very serious thought provoking discusions were made at which, in a very united form, important decisions were achieved for the furtherance of the cultural development of the heritage sites. Unlike the normal commemoration scenario where Khisi's Khumalo's House, (many of us know Philisi Khumalo or Dr Frank Khumalo), would direct the Khumalo Clan on the order of the ritual ceremony of appeasing the spirits, important decisions were made in development issues, exchanging historical notes and separating issues on the basis of cultural interpretations and expectations. If the issue of King Mzilikazi's grave had not been shelved for cultural strategic reasons, it probably would have also come out that the historical custodianship of the King's grave was under Gula Khumalo of the Bozongwana family.

The issue of development touches a lot on trying to link history to modernisation.There is a lot that can be tapped from history of our forefathers that has great relevance to modern ways of doing things including corporate leadership.King Mzilikazi's leadership attributes have a place in corporate leadership as researched and presented by the writer at a National University of Science and Technology Leadership Conference at the Victoria Falls in 2013. Whilst King Mzilikazi was a migrant leader his intelligence and wisdom that enabled him to build a nation with everlasting value systems cannot be overlooked. Below is a summary of the his leadership attributes that the research found applicable to modern corporate business leadership.

King Mzilikazi's Leadership Attributes in Business
1. He delivered a picture of reality (visionary).
2. He had power, authority and responsibility (charismatic).
3. He created a common sense of purpose (change agent).
4. A practical leader that constantly defined the enterprise (innovativeness).
5. He stuck ruthlessly to the business model (risk taker).
6. Listenership cannot be delegated (consultation/to seek consensus).
7. Affinity for people creates affinity among people (team builder).    
8. To win combine patience, caution and intellect (humility).
9. All business is people business (common good).

Direct any questions to:
Prince Zwide Peter Khumalo
King Lobengula Royal Trust
+263 772 350 443

Source - Prince Zwide Peter Khumalo