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The amaNdebele monarchy

31 Oct 2017 at 17:31hrs | Views
On 9 September 2017 hundreds of Ndebele people and their leading chiefs gathered at Mhlahlndhlela to be told that a successor to the Matabele kingship had been identified. He is Bulelani Khumalo, a descendant of Prince Njube who was one of Lobengula's sons.  

Bulelani (32)  was born in South Africa and lives in Grahamstown. Mhlahlandhela was Mzilikazi's home and the king's death on 8 September 1868 has been commemorated   there for years now.

The announcement was made by Phathisa Nyathi, an historian and publisher of many books, who has assumed the role of spokesman for the Ndebele Monarchy. There are three factions in the Ndebele monarchy issue, each claiming to represent the true line of success to  the throne. The main rival to Njube's line comes from Nyamande's line, while the third comes from Hlangabeza's line which is rejected out of hand by both Njube and Nyamande's lines.
While admitting that Nyamande was Lobengula's first son, Nyathi claimed that Lobengula had not yet been crowned king when Nyamande was born.   He was just ijaha, he said. If this is not contrived, was it a tradition among the Amandebele that a prince could not father an heir? Lobengula's princeship was not challenged. In another attack on Nyamande, Nyathi said Njube's and Nguboyenja's exile meant that Njube qualified ahead of Nyamande to be the heir.  According to this reasoning, the fact that Njube was Nyamande's younger half-brother did not matter.

It is common knowledge, however, that Lobengula became king on 1 January 1870 and Nyamande was born three years later in June 1873. There is also irrefutable evidence that Nyamande did become king by popular acclaimation on 25 June 1896 but his kingship became aborted after the end of the war with the Chartered    Company. In 1914 he began his campaign for the restoration of his father's kingdom and the division of Matabeleland into two states, one for the Matabele and the other for white settlers.

The information about Nyamande's coronation at Entumbane on 25 June 1896 is revealed from a thesis The Ndebele Under the Khumalos 1820 - 1896 by Julian Raymond Dennis Cobbing. It was submitted in May 1976 for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Lancaster. The coronation followed a meeting -in- council of inzindunankulu on 13 February at Entumbane. Dhliso Mathema presided over the meeting which, among others, was attended by Babayane and Skombo.  Among those who recognized Nyamande as king were two brothers Fezela and Tshakalisa, with Mlungulu Khumalo leading among Nyamande's supporters. Queen Lozikeyi and Karl Khumalo were among the supporters. According to Cobbing, leading Ndebele izinduna met at Entumbane on 13 February to discuss the issue of a king for the nation. Nyamande's coronation at the same venue followed on 25 June.

Nyamande's call for a Ndebele homeland form the subject of several chapters in a new book The Right of Conquest Madness which is due to be published in the near future.  A feature of this new book focuses on Nyamande's call for a two-state solution in Matabeleland, a subject which resulted in acrimonious exchanges between him and the Chartered Company Administration. Cobbing's thesis is a 600-page work that pays so much attention to points of a subject about which detail and fact are often glossed over for political and other reasons. The thesis resulted from tapping from a wide resource base of official records and other sources of information including interviews with a wide cross section of Ndebele people who should know their own history. It quotes extensively from a wide spectrum of official documents records many of which contain information which is little known today.  On 1 July Pyke, Carnegie and Reed from Hope Fountain were told the the following:  
"About three weeks ago (Cobbing quotes from official records) Nyamande with a strong bodyguard came from the west round the east side of this fort (Hope Fountain) and across to Babayani's late kraal. From there he crossed into the hills. He had been sent for by the chief Indunas Dhliso Mathema of Nyameni, Babayani and Sekombo who had assembled in council to elect the young chief as king. On 25 June Nyamande was formally elected king".

One Gielgad wrote: "these fresh stories of a king are likely to unsettle the people already surrendered."

Another obsersed: ‘unhappily for the Ndebele  the restoration of the kingship had come too late and did, in the long run, prove to be abortive, although less, as Powell asserted, because Nyamande had rivals than because the Europeans had won the war.' What Powell was saying is that Nyamande did not have any rivals as far as the Ndebele nation was concerned.

The new book mentioned above will reveal that  there was an attempt by the Chartered Company to silence him by buying him off but this fell through when he refused to be corrupted. Nyamande was described by the Superintendent of Natives in the Chartered Company administration as someone whose "doggedness of purpose can produce more than is desirable". No one among Lobengula's sons has earned this credit. The Company did not take kindly to the idea of a Matabele homeland and Nyamande was muzzled by threatening him with arrest or exile.  The matter came to a head when the Company offered to allocate him enough land for his personal needs and Nyamande rejected the offer. Soon after his interview with the Administrator of the Company, it was discovered that he had already written to leading Matabele chiefs  demanding that more land be allocated to the people to further his two-state solution. He was prepared to buy the land if the Chartered Company was unwilling to provide the land.

In the letters he demanded that the Ndebele had to be treated like other vanquished nations in Southern Africa. A Matabele protectorate was also a subject of his petition to King George V in 1919. The new book will also feature the last blow to his two-state solution which was delivered by non other than Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Arthur of Connaught who angrily described Nyamande as ‘foolish' for daring to call for an independent state where the  Matabele would enjoy freedom. This broke his heart and he became a recluse and death followed in 1929. He was  57.

It must be noted that the reason for exiling Njube, Nguboyenja and Mpezeni, who died in 1899, in December 1898, ostensibly for their education, was a tactical move on the part of the Chartered Company to purge the Matabele Monarchy. Their exile had nothing to do with their qualification or otherwise to become king ahead of Nyamande. It was purely a strategy to purge the Ndebele monarchy, and Cecil John Rhodes succeeded beyond his wildest dream in this regard.  The two younger brothers, like Nyamande, were not spared destabilizing injunctions. For instance, Nguboyenja (who was described by a tutor as a student) wanted to study to become a barrister and was actually allowed to travel to the United Kingdom for the purpose, only to be told on arrival that the Chartered Company expected him to become a veterinary surgeon instead. He, like Nyamande, was attacked by paranoia and returned home after only eight months in the United Kingdom, to become a recluse.

Terrence Ranger in his book The African Voice in  Southern Rhodesia says had Nguboyenja been allowed to pursue law as a career , he would have become the first black barrister in Southern Rhodesia 50 years before Herbert Chitepo. Paranoia, by the way, also affected Njube after he  defied the Company and tried to return home without permission.

This was now 1908 and Cecil John Rhodes had long died in 1902 and Njube was no longer under Rhodes' shadow. The Company would not allow this to happen and issued a warrant to the  Bechaunaland police to arrest and deport him back to the Cape Colony. Njube was to die from the same condition two years later.  We have a situation whereby three potential successors to Lobengula were destabilized to ensure there was no successor who could threaten the Chartered Company's edifice in Matabeleland. This may well become the case in the current bid to revive the monarchy. There is a conspiracy against the monarchy.

As far as the Chartered Company was concerned the Matabele monarchy, represented in this case by either Nyamande, Njube or Nguboyenja in this order,   had to be obliterated. It cannot be assumed therefore that the exile  of Njube and Nguboyenja meant that the two younger brothers had a more legitimate claim to the crown than Nyamande.

With the knowledge of Lobengula's coromation in1870 and his marriage to his first wife in 1872, followed by Nyamande's birth in 1873, his right to become  king  becomes unassailable.

Stanley Tshuma-Khumalo has become another claimant but the first two rivals consider him an imposter. According to him his father was a son of Hlangabeza who, it is said, was  Lobengula's brother and was killed by him. There is no known record that Hlangabeza ever challenged Lobengula for the kingship. This has the effect of dismissing Stanley's claim out of hand. Its only value, it may be said, is to cause more division within the ranks of the monarchy which in itself is not without opposition from other quarters. An issue of profound  public interest is related to the status of the monarchy under the projected Mthwakazi state. Many people think that it will be an absolute monarchy on the lines of Swaziland. Nothing could be further from that prospect. The proponents of the state of Mthwakazi are quite clear that the relationship of the Matabele monarchy with Mthwakazi will be purely ceremonial with the monarchy enjoying no political office.  

Moreover the republic will be a federal entity with members enjoying outonomy in certain functions of state, sufficiently devolved to allow for full self-government. There may well be other monarchies within Mthwakazi. If the Nyubi/Lemba people or their Rozvi/Lozwi/Karanga/Kalanga or Nanzwa/Tonga, Venda/Sotho entities(and any others) have their own monarchies, they will be free to elect them and  introduce them to their self-governing  authorities and every facility and support will be given to them for the recognition of such monarchies. The constitution of the federal republic will not interfere with functions of state that make for freedom to run local affairs.

The Mthwakazi Union will be an envy of its neighbours, upholding the the rule of law and the promotion of democratic values. How are these objectives to be attained? By talking to the rulers of Zimbabwe and appealing to the international community for support.  These objectives are achievable without any military option. International law allows an aggrieved people self-determination  by any peaceful means.

1870 - Lobhengula  is crowned king. He marries Nyamande's mother, Mbhida Mkhwanazi ka Lodada that same year.
1873 - Nyamande is born.
1873 - Mhlambi is born, becoming Lobhengula's second son. His mother was Mfaziwamajaha Mkhwanazi, Mbhida's niece.
1875 - Sintinga was born, becoming  the King's third son.
1879 - Njube is born. His mother was Mpoliyana,  a daughter of Faku Ndiweni.
1880 - Mpphezeni is born by another of Faku's daughters.
1884 - Nguboyenja is born.
1888 - Sidhojiwe is born.
1928 - Asa is born. She is still alive.  
1930 - Ngandula Mpandezemithi. He is still alive.

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Source - Jonathan Maphenduka
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