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ZimDaily recycling a discredited historical myth

15 Dec 2023 at 09:32hrs | Views
While most progressive Zimbabweans are genuinely outraged by renegade political activist Sengezo Tshabangu's calculated and determined assault on democracy at the behest of forces of darkness by disrupting the main opposition CCC, yet aiding and abetting Zanu-PF's authoritarian political repression, some uninformed and vile opportunists have come out of the woodwork to recycle an old discredited colonial and ethnic myth that Ndebele King Lobengula Khumalo "sold" the nation to white settlers for "sugar".

A famous historical portrait of Lobengula currently circulating on social media has now been edited and transposed with Tshabangu's head on it to retell and give the false narrative new traction.

If it goes unchallenged younger generations of digital-savvy Zimbabweans will also fall prey to the recycled myth and wilful falsehood sustained for over 100 years now for divide-and-rule purposes and desperate self-esculpation.

Generations of Zimbabweans grew up on the staple diet of that discredited propaganda which claims that Lobengula - whose illustrious military regiments fought historic battles against colonial invaders, for instance, the Battle of Bonko in October 1893, the Battle of Gadade in Mbembesi/Ntabazinduna on 2 November 1893 and the Battle of Pupu on 4 December 1893 - sold the country.

Due to a lack of counter-hegemony narratives and critical reflection, the false and malicious story is still believed by some.

Yet the facts are well-known.

The British South Africa Company, which invaded Zimbabwe, used the 1888 Rudd Concession as the pretext to invade the country coming from South Africa via Botswana through the southern part of the country.

The colonial army was already occupying neighbouring South Africa and positioned in Botswana.

The Bechuanaland Protectorate was established on 31 March 1885 by the United Kingdom - five years before the Pioneer Column arrived in Zimbabwe.

The Ndebele State, which was significantly regimented, was a sophisticated diverse polity by standards of the time, with a King, Queens, council of advisors, a modern-day prime minister equivalent, chiefs, envoys, trade arrangements, a standing army with regiments across the territory and commanders.

Some of the most prominent regiments were Imbizo, Induba, Zwangendaba, Amaveni, Inxa, iSiziba, iHlathi, iNsukamini, Qweqwe, Umcijo, uJinga and Godlwayo, for instance.

These gave Lobengula a fierce formidable force and ensured he went down fighting on his last stand after the invasion of his capital Bulawayo, as the Wilson Patrol story shows.

For governance purposes, it was divided into smaller territories such as village regiments or regions, that were governed by the King's indunas who reported to him and his advisers, especially Magwegwe Fuyane.

The 1888 mining agreement (Rudd Concession) - which was the Trojan horse - had been negotiated in bad faith by Charles Dunell Rudd, Rochfort Maguire and Francis Robert Thompson.

Prior to that, concession-seekers had petitioned King Mzilikazi and later his son Lobengula after he took over in 1870 over mineral mining rights for some time.

Mzilikazi, who broke away from Zulu King Shaka in 1822 before leading his people through wars and conflicts to present-day Zimbabwe, died in 1868.

When Lobengula realised the mining deal was a fraud and was actually about taking over the country, he cancelled it and then the trouble began.

This, and many other events, led to the invasion and a series of subsequent well-documented battles afterwards.

However, it was the Battle of Pupu or The Shangani Patrol (Wilson's Patrol) that is more legendary.

The Wilson's Patrol was a 34-man unit of the British South Africa Company, which invaded Zimbabwe before the British government assumed control of the self-governing territory, It was ambushed by more than 3000 Ndebele warriors in 1893 during the first Anglo-Ndebele War.

The patrol led by Major Alan Wilson was attacked by the Imbizo regiment under the command of General Mtshane Khumalo, and annihilated.

Also known as "Wilson's Last Stand," that dramatic final stand was ingrained in the imagination of the British public, and subsequently, like events such as the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Battle of the Alamo in America, in  Rhodesia history.

Patrol members, particularly Wilson and Captain Henry Borrow, were elevated to national hero status as their heroics reverberated across the country at war.

Battle Day of 4 December 1893 became an annual Rhodesian holiday two years later and remained an official holiday until 1920.

A historical war film about this episode, Shangani Patrol, was made and released in 1970.

The real heroes of the battle though - the Africans, in this case the Ndebele fighters - have not been properly honoured.

Some monuments of the tattle were constructed from the Rhodesians' perspective, like the one at Rhodes' grave in Matopo Hills, 40km south of Bulawayo.

There should be an alternative monument there to tell both sides of the story.

Rhodes' remains are buried at the site he described as having a "View of the World."

However, the Zimbabwean government has upgraded the  Pupu Memorial site, 50km east of Lupane Centre, to a national monument, monumentalising the historic battle.
All said and done, comparing Lobengula to Tshabangu is an insult to that illustrious history, its makers, its heroes and their heroics - history-makers who were to further demonstrate further courage in 1896-97 during the Ndebele and Shona Uprisings, also known as The First Chimurenga, fought by locals from across different parts of the country.

Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Chaminuka, Mkwati and Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo emerged as the new heroes of the struggle in 1896-97.

When Lobengula disappeared in 1893 under fierce colonial attack and pursuit, Lozikeyi became the de facto leader of the Ndebele State until it was eventually subdued by the machine-gun-wielding white settlers who took over until the liberation struggle of the 1960s/1970s by Zapu and Zanu, culminating in independence in 1980.

Tshabangu is not in that mould. If anything, he is in the mould of Douglas Mwonzora, Bishop Abel Muzorewa or Morrison Nyathi, the faces of struggle and betrayal.

Source - newshawks
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