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Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu: A splendid traditional leader, cultural activist, nationalist

14 Feb 2021 at 09:45hrs | Views
UGODLWAYO! Yithi! This is a familiar slogan in the Godlwayo Communal Land whenever people are gathered. Yesterday at around 01.00 hrs their Chief, Vezi Maduna Mafu passed away.

Chief Maduna was among the oldest surviving chiefs in Zimbabwe at the age of just over 85 years of age. However, Chief Maduna from Filabusi/Insiza in Matabeleland South, belonged to the rare class of traditional leaders who were politically conscious and were incarcerated for their political beliefs at various prisons in Matabeleland South.

The Maduna chieftainship was established soon after the arrival and assimilation of the Mafus following the demise of their Ndwandwe State which had been under the leadership of King Zwide KaLanga Nxumalo. Chief Maduna's ancestor was Mahubo who through his military exploits, became Dambisamahubo. They were incorporated into the Ndebele State at EZinyosini on the Vaal River, uLikhwa about 1823-4. Soon thereafter Mahubo was appointed by King Mzilikazi to lead uGodlwayo regiment which had been created to absorb the new arrivals.

After the death of Dambisamahubo, Mthikana, a twin with Ncozana became the chief. Mthikana emerged last during their birth. Mthikana and his people lived on present day Godlwayo Farm, a few kilometres east of Bulawayo. When land was being alienated by whites the Godlwayo people were evicted further south to the Insiza District. Chief Mthikana had married Princess Makhwa Khumalo the daughter of King Mzilikazi. As per Ndebele succession arrangements, it was her son, Maduna who was to succeed Mthikana Mafu when the latter died.

The chieftainship is currently named after Chief Maduna who was prominent in the war against colonisers during Imfazo II of 1896. Godlwayo people then had not been evicted to their present-day location. They attacked and killed some white settlers east of Insiza River. They were led in the campaign by both Ncozana and Maduna. Chief Maduna became a wanted and hunted man. He fled to Mberengwa (EMpatheni). When he was about to face trial, the sole witness against him was struck by lightning, resulting in the acquittal of Chief Maduna. Otherwise, he would have met with execution by hanging.

He was succeeded by son Jim who ruled through a tumultuous period when people in the Insiza District including the sub-district of Fort Rixon (EMakhandeni) were being evicted to create room for whites returning from World War II in 1945. Chief Jim Maduna worked closely with the likes of Benjamin Burombo and his British African National Voice Association and Masotsha Ndlovu who was leader of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), the trade unionists that tried to assist the Godlwayo families that were facing eviction to the Shangani Reserve (Nkayi and Lupane districts)

The next chief in the line of Godlwayo chiefs was Vezi Maduna Mafu who, like his forebears, was politically inclined.

He was, over time, to become a nationalist who engaged the Smith regime head on and as a result was incarcerated at various prisons. Vezi was not only a politically motivated leader in the mould of Chief Sigombe Mathema of ENqameni, he was at the same time a cultural activist who went out of his way to preserve Ndebele culture. He was the rallying figurehead in the struggle for cultural preservation. For example, he was fiercely opposed to the adoption of the practice of shaking hands during funeral wakes.

In 1960 Vezi Maduna joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) led by Joshua Nkomo. It was the first black political movement that he joined. He became politically active and courted the attention of the settler regime. He was arrested and tried at Filabusi. He was charged under the Law-and-Order Maintenance Act (LOMA,1960). He was arrested together with Msenki Moyo. The world political stage opened up for the NDP and some party cadres began moving out of the country. Chief Maduna was one of them when, in September 1962 Zapu, which had succeeded the proscribed NDP in December 1961, was banned. He left for Zambia a year earlier than the establishment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland when many black Rhodesians went to live in Zambia at a time their ancestral lands were being taken over by white settlers.

Thus, following the ban on Zapu in September 1962, Chief Maduna crossed into Zambia in October of the same year.

Zambia was yet to become independent in two years' time. He went to settle down at Kitwe in the Copperbelt. He lived there until 1964 when he returned home. Following abortive constitutional talks aboard British frigates, the next move was in 1972 when the Pearce Commission was set up to test black opinion on the offer that was provided within the broad constitutional framework of the Commission.

Chief Maduna sprang into action and campaigned against the proposals which were resoundingly rejected. The nationalists at Gonakudzingwa had appointed Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Reverend Canaan Sodindo Banana to lead the campaign as the nationalist leaders were under incarceration. For his political role then, he was detained at Gwanda Prison after which he was taken to Colleen Bawn where he was placed under solitary confinement.

Chief Maduna was regarded by the Smith regime as a serious security threat and there was time when the Member-In-Charge at Filabusi, one Morris conducted a meticulously thorough search of his home. Morris possessed intelligence regarding meetings that Chief Maduna had held with Vote Moyo and Norman Mabhena. The chief declined to make a statement.

After that, he was taken to West Nicholson before being transferred to Whawha outside Gweru. Towards the late 70s Whawha was a detention camp for Zapu nationalists. There, Chief Maduna served time alongside the likes of Makhathini Guduza, Dauti Salatiel Mabusa, Joseph Bingo Malunga, Sidney Malunga, Elliot Maphenduka, Welshman Hadane Mabhena, Norman Mabhena, Walter Mbambo and Tengani Guduza, inter alia.

Even as he languished at Whawha Detention Camp the prosecutor at Filabusi went to pick him up so he could answer to charges being pressed against him. The charges were under LOMA and at that time Chief Maduna was represented by lawyer Greenfield of Bulawayo.

Upon acquittal he was taken back to detention in Filabusi. Soon thereafter he was taken back to Whawha where he remained incarcerated till ceasefire in December 1979.

A hero's welcome awaited him from his people who had defied the regime when they were requested to ditch the chief at a time when some chiefs were supping with oppressors and being taken on leisure trips to places such as Israel and South Africa, inter alia. It was not so with Chief Vezi Maduna Mafu who was defiant to the very bitter end.

Following independence in 1980, he became chairman of the Insiza Rural District Council. That came following his election as councillor on a Zapu ticket.

At the Zapu congress of 1984 Chief Maduna was elected to Zapu's Central Committee and after the 1987 Unity Accord, he served in the National Assembly.

Of late he was frail following a stroke last year which saw him hospitalized from August to November. He is survived by wife Mrs Lizzie Maduna, nee Mpala.

May His Very Dear Soul Rest In Eternal Peace!

Hamba Kahle Godlwayo omnyama,
Hamba kahle Mathayi,
Lala ngoxolo Mahlabayithwale,
Lina amalalandawo.
Uz' usikhonzele kuboDambisamahubo,
LaboMthikana lewele lakhe uNcozana,
Laye uMaduna,
Kunye laye UJim!

Source - sundaynews
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