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Is it Inkosi or Mambo for Matebeleland?

13 Nov 2018 at 09:29hrs | Views
Just when we all thought the three-dimensional intra-Khumalo royal feud pitting Princes Bulelani Lobhengula, Peter Zwide and Raphael Stanely was enough of an unnecessary impediment in the path of the Ndebele people's quest for cultural fulfillment then enters Mike Moyo and his Mambo Dynasty Trust. Moyo's trust is challenging the legitimacy of King Mzilikazi's lineage as kings for Matebeleland people.

His claim to the crown is based on the pre-Ndebele ruling dynasty whose power suffered a decline and subsequent demise due to internal strife within the Rozvi Kingdom which made it easy for the first wave of Nguni immigrants under Nqaba and Zwangendaba to expunge it. Mzilikazi, who built a powerful State from a diversity of ethnic groups on the Rozvi rubble, never found any standing Kingdom in the country although he allowed the Rozvi Priests space in the religious lives of his people through the various deities scattered in the country especially the uMlimu/Ngwali Deity based in the Matojeni Shrine.

The Rozvi Kingdom had itself replaced the Torwa State which had replaced other less known Kingdoms which had themselves displaced the San Hunter-gatherers who, as ancient rock paintings in the country would attest, were the indubitable earliest inhabitants of the land. The Ndebele Kingdom was itself later destroyed by British colonial settlers in 1893 after a bitter war of resistance with King Lobhengula's warriors. Interestingly before and after 1893 no claim to the throne had ever been made by the Rozvi descendants or Karanga/Kalanga lineage as they interered into a Ruling Conferderacy with the Ndebele Mornachs in which they took care of the nation's spiritual lives as the Nguni exercised political power.

So powerful was that pact that in the 1896 Matabele Uprising uMlimu through Mkwati and other priests worked closely with Ndebele Rebellion leaders such as Queen Lozikeyi, Prince Nyamande, Siginyamatshe Dlodlo, Mlugulu Thebe, Dliso Mkhwanazi, Somabhulane Dlodlo, Faku Ndiweni etc in prosecuting the armed rebellion. A coronation of one of King Lobhengula's sons had been planned to take place once the invaders had been driven out. Never at any time then and during the subsequent years did a Rozvi descendant challenge the legitimacy of the Khumalo as the rulers of Matabeleland.

Based on his interview with the State-owned Chronicle, Mike Moyo, who confessed to be the only member of the Trust, seems to want a personal stake in the Kingdom. Mr Moyo sounds like someone bargaining for personal accommodation in the kingship matter but feels ignored and overlooked by the organisers of the Ndebele Royal Crown Council.

Many people think that Moyo is being opportunistic as he attempts to take advantage of both his close ties with the Zanu PF Government (He was awarded a lucrative security tender by the Zimbabwe Government) and his well-reasoned assumption that the Government of the day will be more sympathetic to a Rozvi Mornach than a Ndebele one. His mention of former Vice President Mphoko's patronage of the project was a clever tactic to brand the Ndebele Kingdom's revival as a G40 creation in the current corridors of power which is sure to have it staunchly resisted. His four biggest predicaments are however as follows:

(i) The traditional structure of the chiefs in Matabeleland does not favour a Rozvi claimant to the throne as they have never historically submitted to one before. This is simply because when the Ndebele Kingdom was established, the Mambo kings had long been deposed by other Nguni groups who preceded Mzilikazi. Most Ndebele chiefs owe no allegiance to any mambo king except a few in Hwange and Buliima-Mangwe. This is the reason why Mike Moyo's first demand is to create Rozvi chieftancies which are now allegedly defunct. His strategy includes the criminalization of Nguniness which must be isolated and jettisoned by cutting down on their constituencies and replacing them with pre-Nguni families. Certain Ndebele surnames (misguidedly those with animal totems despite anthropological evidence of their Ndebelesness) are to be removed from the roll of Ndebeleness so that only Ngunis are seen as Ndebeles. In that regard the vast majority (60%) of the Ndebele population will then be seen as being Rozvi (not Ndebele) therefore deserving the right to install a Mambo King. He thinks the inherently anti-Ndebele Zimbabwe Government will easily accommodate that agenda as a ploy to block a supposedly hostile (albeit authentic) Ndebele Mornach.

(ii) The second predicament is the territorial definition of the Rozvi Kingdom which has no clear historically referenced boundaries as does the Ndebele Kingdom which uses the colonially defined boundaries followed by all modern African countries (the Jamseon Line is a historical reality just like Rhodesia) and upheld by the OAU. In his interview with Chronicle Moyo's Rozvi Kingdom covers Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Anyone who thinks he can recreate that kind of historical set up is plainly delusional.

(iii) The Rozvi Kingdom is essentially a Karanga Legacy although the Kalanga existed as its subjects. Moyo's predicament is that the territory (Matabeleland and the Ndebele-speaking districts in Midlands) being claimed by the Royal Crown Council (RCC) for the Ndebele Kingdom's jurisdiction is predominantly Ndebele speaking. There you have a kingdom with the majority of people united by a common language and culture. In his Rozvi Kingdom, will Moyo impose a Karanga speaking Kingdom among Ndebele speakers when he does not even speak that language himself? Moyo's plans to involve Masvingo and Mashonaland provinces to decide who should be the King of Matabeleland is dangerously misguided. There is no doubt that that would be doubly-insulting the people of Matabeleland whose very basis for reviving their Mornach is to escape a bombardment and siege by the Karanga and other Shona ethnic groups who wield political power at the exclusion of the Kalanga and other Ndebele people. Whilst the title 'Mambo' is a Shona/Kalanga term for kings many people even among the Kalanga themselves would cringe to the idea of a "mambo" in Matabeleland calling the the shots from Bulawayo as that negates the very essence of Ndebele cultural assertiveness in a region where Shona dominance is felt right up to the bone marrow. Mike Moyo's roping in of an oppressive constituency outside the region would anger even the Kalanga in Plumtree and Nambya in Hwange who have historically stood with the Ndebele. It actually blocks the only outlet for the people of Matabeleland to express themselves through culture. People around Njelele bitterly complain about hordes of people from Masvingo and other places outside Matabeleland who come to the shrine every year to desecrate it. Spiting Ndebeles to please the system will badly hurt the cultural fibre of the region which has stood the test of time. It means that in addition to the highly Shonaslised political platform the Anti-Ndebele Grand Plan will now receive a timely boost from a cultural front to totally obliterate Ndebele-Kalanga cultural survival.

(iv) Whilst the Kalanga are an independent language group in Matabeleland it is however fully integrated to Ndebelehood to such an extent that some of us get confused when an attempt is made to draw a distinction between us and our Kalanga relatives in spite of the language differences. Mike Moyo's profiling of some Ndebele surnames as Rozvi chiefs and izinyanga is highly divisive as it sets the stage for a hutufication of Matabeleland. I do not see the people permitting him to devide them on such artificial grounds.

What must be done?

1. The three warring Khumalo houses must realise that quarreling over a kill not yet achieved is futile. They must close ranks and urgently reach out to each other and resolve their differences and block Shona supremacist agenda introduced through the backdoor.

2. Despite his repeated assertions that the project is apolitical Mike Moyo is being very political is his approach. It is enough to work with chiefs and other traditional structures to address matters relating to the revival of the Mornachy. Curiously, the Mambo Dynasty Trust holds rallies, CIO vetted and cleared public meetings and plans to form structures throughout the country like a political party. The planned coronations of both Mr Stanely Khumalo and Prince Bulelani Lobhengula Khumalo were thwarted by the police whereas Mike Moyo's potentially dangerous Rwandan-Hutu style mobilization tactics are given free passage and free state media publicity. The authentic Royalists must work closely with chiefs and eliminate possibilities of their penetration by elements seeking to poison the population and divide the nation.

3. Whilst the Chiefs are expected to carry the bulk of the project it should be appreciated that they are presently constrained by political pressure by their Employer (The Government) so not all of them will readily avail themselves. There is therefore a need to strengthen the Royal Crown Council by involving a group of non-Chief members to work with the chiefs. The majority of these members should be of non-Nguni stork to dispel any notions of a Nguni exclusivist project.

4. Members of the Royal Crown Council should send a delegation to Government to clarify its intentions and explain to Government what role they expect it to play towards the road to the full operationalisation of the Kingship issue.

5. The RCC must reject the consultation of non-Mthwakazi constituencies for a Mthwakazi project which Mike Moyo is proposing.

6. Based on the history of cooperation between the Rozvi Priests and Ndebele Aristocracy as evidenced since Mzilikazi's times, the Rozvi descendants should be identified and be given a special place and role to play in the Ndebele Kingdom's cultural life so as to achieve total unity and full cultural revivalism in Mthwakazi.

Imbovane YaMahlabezulu

13 November 2018

Source - Online
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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