Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

People of Godlwayo retain identity and pride

13 Feb 2021 at 10:05hrs | Views
Maduna Mafu, the chief of Godlwayo, led the armed struggle of 1896 in the eastern Ndebele State, together with other leaders such as Mahlahleni Mafu, Siminzela Mathema and Fezela Khumalo.

Godlwayo was formed during the time when the Ndebele were resident in the present day Pretoria are. King Mzilikazi Khumalo was domiciled at Mhlahlandlela, his capital located near present day Hammanskral.

The first chief of Godlwayo was Dambisamahubo Mafu. The village was also called Dambisamahubo Mafu and was associated with Amnyama Angankomo, whose main village was Umzinyathini under chief Majijili Gwebu.

Godlwayo would have started as a military unit which, when its members married, transformed into a village, umuzi. Young men, from the same age group, were conscripted into a new unit, which was given a heroic name and a chief appointed over it. Esprit de corps developed among the unit personnel. Heroic praises were formulated which members of Godlwayo would proudly recite.

Ugodlway' omnyama
Umahlab' ayitwale
Umakhahlela nyovane njengesibhamu samaKhiwa
Amafela ndawonye.
Abaphumbul' injanji yezitimela ngobolo.

One more example of praises for an umuzi will suffice. These refer to Insukamini, whose chief was Manondwana Tshabalala.

Ibhinda litshone
Umdl' adlule njengentethe
Insukamini eyakhela umkhaya!
(as given by Nijo Lusinga in Nyathi (2000))

Each unit, or ibutho, composed a song for itself. The men carried shields of the same color and all this added to the distinct identity of that unit.

In Zimbabwe, Godlwayo, as part of Amnyama Angankomo, settled north of the confluence of the Ncema and Mzingwane rivers.

Dambisamahubo Mafu is said to have escaped death when some chiefs, accused of installing Nkulumane in the absence of King Mzilikazi Khumalo, were tried and found guilty if treason.

His son, Mthikana, succeeded him and was later killed on the instruction of King Lobengula Khumalo. He was accused of supporting Nkulumane during the civil war of 1871-72. Mthikana, who owned a horse in the 1870s, was a rich man. Royal princesses were privileged to nominate a husband of their choice. Invariably, they chose rich men, most of whom were chiefs. It was a crime to turn down such a proposition. King Mzilikazi's daughter, Makhwa, chose Mthikana as her husband.

King Mzilikazi Khumalo (he had no less than 300 wives) came to possess several heads of cattle through his daughters marrying rich men. For example, Mehlomakhulu Dlodlo, Chief of Emakhandeni, paid a hundred head of cattle for Bitshi, King Mzilikazi Khumalo's daughter by Loziba Thebe (okaPhahlana), the chief queen who lived at Emhlngeni (Inyathi).

Makhwa, by virtue of being a royal princess, took precedence over Mthikana's older wives. Her eldest son, Maduna, succeeded Mthikana as chief of Godlwayo. This is the man who led Godlwayo during Imfazo II in 1896. Subsequently, Maduna fled to Mberengwa (Emphatheni) and was thus not among the Ndebele chiefs who met with Cecil John Rhodes in the Matopos to hammer out a peace deal.

At the time of Imfazo II, Godlwayo, whose population comprised the Nguni from Zululand, Shona/Kalanga incorporates, the Sotho and Venda of Tshivhasa (Sibasa), was located near the Shazhabuhwa Mountain.

The only state witness due to appear in the trial of Chief Maduna after Imfazo II was a white man. The day before he was to testify against Chief Maduna, a bolt of lightning struck him, killing him instantly. With the sole state witness dead, Chief Maduna was acquitted. That is how he escaped certain death. He then became a salaried chief under colonial administration. Jim Nduna Mafu assumed the reins of power following the death of Maduna, succeeded by Vezi Maduna Mafu, who is the reigning chief of Godlwayo.

What is of particular interest, though, is that of all the former Ndebele imizi, Godlwayo stands head and shoulders above them all in having successfully retained its pride and identity to this day.

Several reasons can be advanced to explain this.

Following colonization, the Ndebele people suffered land alienation and accompanying evictions more than any other African group in Zimbabwe. People belonging to the same village were scattered and found themselves belonging to several villages far away from their original ancestral homes. For example, the people of Intemba, once under Xukuthwayo Mlotshwa and later Sikhombo Mguni, went to Jambezi Entunteni, Matshetsheni and Ntabazinduna. Their chieftainship, now taken over by Xukuthwayo's son Mvuthu, was resuscitated in Jambezi, although most of his followers were not originally of Entembeni, having been evicted from various areas such as Silobela and Matopo.

By and large, the Godlwayo people were not similarly scattered. The majority of them are today found in the area referred to as koGodlwayo.

The colonial administration dissolved certain chieftainships, especially where the chiefs were regarded as rebels. Inzwananzi, Imbizo, Inyanda and Insukamini are among several imizi whose chieftainships were discontinued.

It was not so with Godlwayo, which has, since about early 1830s, always been under the Mafus. The present chief, Vezi Maduna Mafu, is a descendant of the founding chief of Godlwayo, Dambisamahubo.

During the colonial era, some chiefs became willing agents of the white regime.

With the rise of nationalism, especially in the 60s, some of them were discredited or even killed. This was not so with the Chief of Godlwayo, Vezi Maduna, who was a dedicated leader of ZAPU. During the height of the liberation struggle, Chief Vezi Maduna was arrested. '"Chief Maduna, you are under arrest in terms of section twelve subsection four of the Law and Order Maintenance Act, chapter sixty-five", said Inspector Buxton, leaning out of his Land Rover window' (Godwin, 1996).

Vezi Maduna spent the rest of the war in Whawha Prison. The man who was elevated to the position of chief during Vezi Maduna's imprisonment was ignored by the people of Godlwayo. Vezi Maduna's credibility lies in the fact that he stood with his people through thick and thin.

Perhaps as a result of the reasons given above, the people of Godlwayo are conscious of their history. It is not uncommon to hear men and women in towns addressing each other as 'Egodlwayo'. For some men, Godlwayo has become their name. Others have their homesteads or farms referred to as Godlwayo. Further, the consciousness transcends all levels of formal education. An imbube group, Bright Star Godlwayo Omnyama, continues to perpetuate that identity.

After the political colonization of Zimbabwe, various church denominations followed suit with their brand of colonization, A denomination in a particular area would tend to elbow out competing denominations. Only in a few areas did several denominations co-exist.

In the Godlwayo area, the predominant denomination was the Brethren in Christ Church, which set up its missions at Matopo (1898), Mtshabezi and Wanezi. The church further consolidated the historical and geographical ties among the people.

Churches provided health and educational services over and above their core business of evangelizing the 'heathens' (abahedeni).

The Brethren in Christ opened up both primary and secondary schools within its sphere of influence. Often, student, on completing their course, went to live in town.

There, they continued to attend church services in the urban Brethren in Christ Church. On a social level, they continued to interact as former school mates, home boys or home girls. The net result of all this is the perpetuation of the identity of Godlwayo.

Inqama, in the Gwanda district, would probably come second after Godlwayo, for reasons similar to those enumerated above.

Source - Phathisani Nyathi
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.