Opinion / Columnist
Mzilikazi the Sequel U-X Ongasolveki: The Shona are by no means enemies of the Ndebele nation!
14 Mar 2013 at 20:04hrs | Views
This threatens to be a long piece. Besides the two primary texts, Andrew Giddens Bain's 'Moselekatse the Bull Elephant and Moffat's Matabeleland Journals' edited by AJR Wallis, the piece has also benefited greatly from the opinions of people that sent e-mails either in rebuke or in appreciation of the first piece.
I promised a well written piece in the previous article, but alas due to some of the emails I have been forced to re-write the article and in the process I have incorporated many a theme that I had previously thought was insignificant. Yet again out of excitement the article is jumbled up again, eish askies, it is the consequence of trying to sum up three books in three articles. I have neither sought nor received or do I intend to seek consent from the Khumalo family as some suggested. This piece continues on the same trajectory as the first one Mzilikazi Unearthed: Affordances, Dynamics and Architectures. It does not intend to be scholarly in any manner but if anything, let it be a dialogue with the reader. I have also been asked to give my own interpretations which I will do but the third and last piece will let the quotes speak for themselves again, just like the first one. I wish to create a dialogue between the past, the present, manufactured history, colonial history and 'post-colonial' history that is, if there is anything that can be called post-colonial in Africa today.
This article is structured as follows. The first section, which forms the bulk of my discussion, explores warfare and nation building in Mzilikazi's world. The second section examines trade and commerce. If warfare and nation building is a bore one can easily skip to the second section on trade or vice-versa kanjalo nje. I try to bring fresh quotes and new insights in that journey of excavating Mzilikazi's mind with the aid of perceptions of men who interacted with him on a daily basis, hunters, missionaries and medical doctors. These are men who were carefully selected or allowed into Mzilikazi's private space. I also lace the discussion with my thoughts not with the intention of hoodwinking the reader, angisuye gubuzela njengalabo ababhala amahistory textbooks ethu. I begin.
Reading and getting buried into Bain and Moffat almost convinced me Mzilikazi lived only a decade or two ago. The ideas Mzilikazi held about the law, trade, evolution, mechanics and warfare were astounding and are still the discourse today. Maybe it came with the position he held. But still he was switched on than most African leaders of today as I will demonstrate in the trade section. That said, his engagement on theories of evolution with Moffat years before Charles Darwin's 1854 'On the origin of species' was published is astonishing (to be discussed in the next article).
Mzilikazi: Nation-building and warfare
Mzilikazi was not only a military giant but someone that brought fear to his neighbours and still does to a lot of people today. Bain quotes Robert Schoon,
"I was told of the existence of the AmaNdebele and their formidable leader. As we went northwards along the south bank of the Vaal more and more intelligence regarding the existence and activities of this powerful group was gathered, the existence of the powerful scion of the Zulu".
This observation comes when Mzilikazi is still around Magaliesburg. For perspective sake, Magaliesburg is in present day , in the West Rand, Gauteng, South Africa. Those who live in Pretoria today are living in Mzilikazi's first capital. According to Andrew Geddes Bain, Mzilikazi had three military strongholds. The largest was Ekungwini, near Apies River, stretching all the way to where union buildings in Pretoria stand today. The second was Dinaneni, a Sotho name. Dinaneni is present day Haarbeespoort Dam and surrounding areas (those posh areas). At this point the lion people Bataung (oMdawini-Sibanda) were dwarfing the Nguni stock. To digress, it is interesting that after the defeat of Moletsane the Bataung chief by Mzilikazi many Sibandas of Sotho origin did away with the Moletsane totem. Moletsane was a formidable opponent who also used guns. The population at this time had grown from a miserly 500 to an imposing 70 000. The third military stronghold was Hlahlandlela in present day Rusternberg. I would like to find out if there is any causal link between the choice of Pretoria (the geographic space) as capital of South Africa and the final pushing away of Mzilikazi by the Afrikaner.
It is interesting that while the whites gathered intelligence on Mzilikazi during his time in Gauteng, his intelligentsia also gathered information on whites too. And the information that Mzilikazi gathered on the whites was the turning point of the Ndebele nation and the central theme of this piece. He summoned the first white men to his court, hunters, Schoon and MckLuckie to help him know more about guns and gunpowder with the view of acquiring the weapons. This fostered new diplomatic relations with the whites something that would add a new dimension to the Matabele life. I will visit this important dimension at the end and illustrate how it shapes all Matabele and Zimbabwean life today.
Mzilikazi's first experience with a gun is a hilarious one, of 'gangnam style' proportions for those who have watched the video. He requested a demonstration from Schoon. According to Schoon;
"the first shot was fired by the Hottentot servant at a stone that left a bright flash of lead and bluish impression. This caused Mzilikazi to arrogantly peer at the damage and remark that he could have done more damage to the rock by spitting on it"
However, more was still to come. I am not really sure if he was undermining the effect of the gun on the rock or the fact that the shot was taken by a servant, eyayingamila impiko, akana abe nyonyana afufe.
Irritated a little by Mzilikazi's reaction, Schoon asked Mzilikazi to point out to him an ox that was marked for slaughter, and with one shot placed behind the ear the beast dropped dead. The reaction was an amusing one from Mzilikazi a man who had seen death almost in all forms. According to Schoon;
"Mzilikazi was horrified and for a moment stared in disbelief at the dying spasms of the beast, before retreating backwards towards his hut, where he tripped at the entrance and stayed there for the remainder of the day".
After this experience Mzilikazi set out to acquire guns by all means. He also sent is intelligence led by Mcumbatha his prime minister to live and learn the habits of the white men and their political intentions in Kuruman. Lobengula his son also had many young men working in Kuruman and mines to study the white men. For example he knew them well such that he made them fight each other with treaty after treaty, the Grobler Treaty, Liepert treaty or the Rudd concession and others. It is a bit puzzling how simple minds and some professors who cannot see beyond ethnicity and have foolishly reduced the colonial enterprise to the love of sugar and mirrors after all they don't realise after Gwabalanda Lobengula was actually brought up in a white household. In fact he had love for riding horses as sugar to him was something he was born into and very trivial. Lobengula was actually riding a horse when he declared the Matabele civil war on Mbiko kaMadlenya Masuku who was a right-winger who believed that Ndebele was Zulu as Lobengula was not because his mother was of Swati stock. To reduce the colonial enterprise to sugar is very simple and at the least dull as it says more about the person who says it. In a nutshell in Fanonian ways of seeing, to the intelligent eye, someone who reduces the colonial enterprise to sugar holds himself and the black race in very low regard. Therefore do not be shocked when the same person says the black man is an ape or when he says ethnicity determines intelligence. I remember talking to a lady from Uganda and a friend from Nigeria. They were busy agreeing on how the Buganda and Yoruba are more intelligent, hardworking and civil than other 'tribes' in their respective countries. Having had experience in such talk, I said to them, whites are more intelligent than blacks and tall people intelligent than short people. The Nigerian guy was quick to realise what I was talking about. Of course I did not dispute that a dozen men can stand out in their generation but it does not mean that their families or ethnic groups automatically become intelligent too. For example in the golden age of inventions in Europe, one person would invent a dozen things but that has nothing to do with race as the shaduf and writing were long invented in Africa but it had nothing to do with the black person. Maybe the context and need pushed this one individual to discover something. More often than not it is a question of access. This should be left for another day. Back to Mzilikazi.
I agree with Moffat that Mzilikazi is the most intelligent of his generation. But again I will say in politics and leadership, for example he realised that nation building is inclusive and does not exclude, the way African leaders of today do. We see European nations realising the importance of inclusivity' as they gravitate towards the European Union. It is clear that African people as shown by Mzilikazi, were not savages, these were intelligent men with their own intelligentsia too. It does not end with Mzilikazi, Lobengula encourages intermarriages between white people and his people for diplomatic relations. Yes Mzilikazi in terms of nation building, warfare as Shaka realised, and politics Mzilikazi was a cut above the rest. He gave a good name to Africans as the Kingdom of Benin did in Nigeria or the Egyptians did with pyramids. However in other spheres there were individuals intelligent than him for example in architecture, the BaNambya are well known for building stone houses while the Batonga taught Mzilikazi to make and use canoes, the Bakwena taught Mzilikazi pottery, the Mashona contributed doctors and spear welders while the Bakalanga had the whole Matabele nation adopting the Mwali religion and the reverence of Njelele and the whites taught him how to use guns. Mzilikazi was not a jack of all trades but was an expert in creating a collective and make it function at the same time without destroying the individual identities. It must be categorically said, and no one can steal it from him, Mzilikazi's success was infusing his diverse population, where his tribe was the minority, with a sense of common nationhood, one shared by the Ndebele community today, and it is this success that has attracted jealousy and hate from many a grouping. It remains the curse and the blessing of the Ndebele nation.
This trait is still eluding even some brilliant people in our generation today. To point at language, particularly isiNdebele as dominant is a bit silly as it is absurd. I mean the centre spoke the isiNdebele language which also is a hybrid of languages but isiZulu being the centre; as a result the periphery would gravitate towards the centre. For example many Sotho groupings(most have animal totems) even changed their surnames to Zulu sounding ones eg Bataung to Sibanda (Sibanda means animal or lion), Mokoena to Ngwenya, Nare to Nyathi it was not only about animals, we have Moloi meaning witch changing to Mloyi and some Bakgatla changing to Mnkandla(It must be said, I am not categorical about these surnames, not all . This changing of surnames is not one way. For example when Rhodes destroys the Khumalo families, some Khumalos for safety reasons are known to have changed their surnames to Moyo and Ncube. To go a bit further, for example, today some Shona elements who claim that their ancestors were massacred by Mzilikazi are actually the Nguni culprits who caused much havoc in present day Zimbabwe on their way to Malawi and to a limited extent Mozambique. Some of them have, due to various reasons come back en-masse to Zimbabwe since the turn of the twentieth century. These include the following surnames, Mawere, Mombera, Ngoma, Chatunga, Hara, Mtizwa(some Shoko, Mtizwa and Hara were however Kalanga taken captives or in marriage to Malawi/Zambia), Tembo, Kangwere Mvula. If there is any doubt, the lineage of these surnames can be traced and provided with ease. In fact the list is endless though not categorical and I am not saying they are all are claiming to have been massacred by Mzilikazi. Interestingly all Masekos and some Phiris their lineages trace back to all Nguni royal families. My question, if Mzilikazi was a monster why did his nation remain rainbow? All the languages except isiSwati survived in his kingdom. This might seem a trivial issue. My question is why hasn't Tong survived in Kariba or Xhosa in Chiredzi, and even Sotho in Bikita, Zvishabane and Mberengwa? Let us get back to Mzilikazi.
When the gun demonstration took place, Mzilikazi already had a stash of guns with him. John Bloem captain of the Springbok band and Moletsane chief of the Bataung, launched a combined attack on Mzilikazi who of course had hordes of cattle, the currency of the day. Before this, together with the Berganeer band, an army of mixed race people, would, through the use of guns loot Mzilikazi's cattle. Mzilikazi had in the past let them go without knowing how to react or maybe to just buy time. This deceived the groups into taking a huge risk but of course promised great dividends, something that no one had ever tried with Mzilikazi, to go all out against him. Even Shaka himself had been very cautious when attacking Mzilikazi and getting defeated twice. Even at that, the third time he did not send an all out army even after Liwa's selling out. The combined groups attacked. This was to fulfil McLuckie's description of the Matabele;
"The Matabele are numerous and powerful from the nature of their warfare. It is foot to foot, with no-one throwing missiles. They are in friendship with no tribe, are feared by all. Their hand is against every man and every man's hand is against them".
Mzilikazi was always going to attract enemies because of five main things. First, he was in transit and vulnerable, second, he was too powerful, something that called for unity among his enemies who of course were always defeated in whatever form they came in, third, he had order, his nation was clearly defined and was refuge to many victims of justice, Bain mentions it in a sentence that escaped slaves found a home in Mzilikazi's nation. I was always of the belief that there was no slavery in Southern Africa, but after reading these two texts, I see the power of brainwashing, and I cant even believe I foolishly accepted that there was no slavery in Southern Africa when by only looking at the socio-political environment of the time evidence points to slavery. Fourth, Mzilikazi was wealthy. Lastly, Mzilikazi rubbished the white stereotype of the African as a savage and a hunter gatherer. This did not even sit well and does not sit well with people that write African history. They focus on the warfare effects forgetting how their warfare was the worst in history driving to extinction the original inhabitants of America or the aborigines of Australia not to mention what they do in Africa today.
We see more hands set against the nation. But before I elaborate, we must be reminded that Mzilikazi left present day KwaZulu-Natal with around 500 people. In 1822 his nation not tribe was 70 000. In other words, his nation was dwarfed by the BaSotho as observed by Bain.
17 January 1837, General Potgieter also took a chance on the ferocious and ever triumphant Matabele nation. Realising that Mzilikazi's major impi had gone north; he seized an opportunity to attack. At the same time Dingane the Zulu king took a chance to unleash his own impis on Mzilikazi. In a war that lasted nine days versus two ferocious armies(I am yet to hear how the longest ZIPRA or ZANLA battle lasted-that is gun-to-gun) Mzilikazi once again triumphed. This was not a light victory. Here Mzilikazi was fighting against a foe that used his same foot-to-foot- man-o-man warfare-cow horn formation combined with the lethal use of gun. But there were serious casualties on Mzilikazi's side.
From the 70 000 he was left with around 20 000 people. Realising the perpetual attack and the instability of the region, living up to his nation builder pursuits, Mzilikazi did not sit around and defeat people for the sake of his ego. Seeking stability for his nation he moved on leaving Marico Valley and headed for what is known as Zimbabwe today on the land occupied by the Kalanga, Batonga, Nambya, Bavhenda, some Tswana groups and the San for hundreds of years. It must be said there is no shred of evidence that points to the people Mzilikazi name Mashona occupying that area. It cannot also be ignored that the Karanga who in the turn of the 20th century assumed a shona identity could have traded or had relations with the Kalanga. And among the Karanga today there are many people of Nguni stock who were part of the Nyamazana crusade. It must be clearly articulated, that there is still a need for concrete evidence that Mzilikazi killed the Kalanga en-masse as articulated by many outside the chiefs that were displaced or killed. This would have been outside the norm, since Mzilikazi killed those who resisted his kingship and authority. For example he lived and ferociously defended his tributaries and even had regiments in most of those groups. An interesting thing is when one clownish and excitable Sekai Holland a graduate or second generation product of the Chitepo College of Party Ideology(CCPI), who after reading too much colonial history together with ZANU trenches history called Mzilikazi a mob and raider who took his people's cattle was embarrassed when not only his father the late Hove rebuked her but the Masvingo elderly chiefs told her to come and show them where Mzilikazi took those cattle from. Of course it must be said, to date, Masvingo constitutes the highest number of people who do not subscribe to the CCPI which has given birth to the Zimbabwe we have today not of course ignoring the third party that everyone knows or pretends not to know, the British.
Mzilikazi, here is a man who triumphed against all odds. The trek from KZN was not an easy one and even difficult for a man who moved around with women and children. I presume the elderly were part of the group, though I do not have any evidence for this. I think only a few men in history can attest to that, the likes of Moses and Joshua of the bible know what it is to lead men and women through a wilderness. If I remember quite well, though knowing it was God's will some wanted to stone Moses to death while others wanted to return to slavery. I have to say, watching from a distance, it was not any easy journey nor was it for the feint hearted. Above all Mzilikazi lived to an old age something unususal for Zulu kings who more often than not were hated and assassinated by their people. Mzilikazi's situation could have been worse because his nation was composed of many nations who could rebel anytime if they were not happy. His friend died Moffat died 15 years after his death. Before they both died, in one of their conversations, Mzilikazi had complained bitterly about Shaka's assassination. He made it clear that it was something wrong that the brothers did. Consequently one would really question if there was real animosity between Shaka and Mzilikazi, something that Moffat observed too.
I could go on and on about warfare and nation building in Mzilikazi's Matabele nation but a lot has been said in that regard and is found in many texts. The next section introduces trade something that history books hide from us. It must be observed that the Matabele nation relied heavily on trade and not only raids. And it must be said, even before his arrival, Tswanas, Mashonas, Kalangas also used to raid each other especially in times of drought and pests. It is very foolish and naive to lump the way of life of a generation to one person just because they had a superior and all conquering war technique.
If I may take the liberty, it must also be said without fear, Mzilikazi's impis were technically advanced such that they used boats as a mode of transport. They were taught this skill by the Batonga people. In fact the Zambezi River was called uGwembe. Deriving this name from the term eGwembeni,meaning the place of boats.
Before I got to the next section let me add a few sprinkles of war here and there.
While Mzilikazi was a victor, there are people that have claimed gross victimhood but are known to have stolen cattle from Mzilikazi, not once, not twice, not thrice but four times. This thieving as a trait led to even to the excuse for the Anglo-Ndebele war when a thieving chief had stolen cable and circumstances led to the English finding a way to attack Lobengula who through intelligence had made it difficult for the English to attack him, as they had already peacefully and without resistance occupied present day Mashonaland. On stealing Mzilikazi's cattle, Bain says;
"The Mashonas who live north of here, have four times stolen cattle from the Matabele. They don't have many a herd since their pastures do not allow for cattle rearing. Mzilikazi's cattle are a temptation to everyone, but they come with repercussions"
Moffat also points out the same incident in different light,
"The Mashona who lie only four days journey north east have four taken cattle from the Matabele. A commando sent four or three months ago did not, it appears, succeed to their expectations. They live on a hilly country, difficult to get through. As nothing must be heard or said of the invincible of Moselekatse being either, failed, driven or conquered. It is unspoken of in the nation".
Moffat thinks it is him who makes Mzilikazi not to attack people. It could be true. But it seems Mzilikazi has displayed this trait many a time. He is calculating. For example when the Bergannears steal his cattle several times and he lets them get away with it. But when the Bergannears unite with other groups to conquer him, he wipes them out, takes their guns and cattle. It is clear that this is not a guy who always spoils for a fight as we are taught.
Some expeditions were unsuccessful. For example Moffat says;
"William was on a commando consisting of ten companies, who went to the Zambezi and crossed it on boats, but the expedition was unsuccessful, many died. The distance is ten days but it took them four months"
Mzilikazi's philosophies of trade
I will brooke no argument here, lol! No one can convince me that if contemporary African leaders would follow Mzilikazi's philosophy of trade Africa wouldn't be faring way better economically.
I begin with Moffat's attention-grabbing account;
"Mzilikazi is a hard merchant to deal with. He can ask what he likes knowing well there is no one in his dominion that can undersell him"
Bain explains how Mzilikazi made sure trade went his way, "Moselekatse is the only one with whom Barter can be effected. Every task of ivory is his and no one can dispose of one but himself and from what I have seen, it is to the benefit of his people. It is a shame to hear of a hungry person in his kingdom" Moffat adds,
"Moselekatse takes advantage of trade, and supposing that ivory must be precious, from the distance people come to buy it, demand a high price"
One basic observation is that what our leaders today have tried to turn into rocket science, Mzilikazi saw it as his second nature. Today we see African nations exporting a tonne of rubber for way less than USD10 000 when 100kgs can produce toys and tyres worth way more than USD10 000. The best teak in Lupane is found in billionaires' houses and one unit can built a whole clinic, but the timber leaves Lupane for a pittance. I can say, if Mzilikazi saw that teak was in demand he would have called any price he wanted, not for a pittance. Rather he stayed with his timber. The problem is nothing but greed and no-one cares about the people. With Mzilikazi it was people first then trade, with these guys it is trade first then people.
These politicians talk of tourism enhancing the image of the country and bringing foreign currency while it worsens both. Firs t the image is even worse in this way, a white guy living on uemployed benefits in England can visit any African countries, there waiters and beggars treat him like a king begging for gratuity. His image of Africa is changed for ever. He thinks they are beggars born to be slaves and he now believes in white superiority. Autistic white people in mental homes in England can easily bring back to England a dozen wives each from well to do African families because of nothing but image. The imaginary foreign currency ends up in corrupt leaders' pockets. Why is it that the so called educated leaders, cannot even live up to a simple person like Mzilikazi who could not even write. Someone who never saw an escaped slave as Yoruba, or William the coloured as mixed race but a commander or the Mashona as his doctor or the Kalanga as his priests and Iron welders and not foreigners. Something must be seriously wrong with the books that they read. I sometimes laugh with both pain and scorn when I see Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe in that picture signing that document at Lancaster. Behind them men with degrees in law and economics smile with glee while selling their country to the lowest bidder only to realise 20years later that they had been duped and came back to revisit the land issue. Lobengula a man with no degrees played them around and they signed more than half a dozen documents and within three years he addressed the issue after realising he had been duped only for his inferior weapons to lead him to defeat or rather his ill-disciplined crack army which perpetually reminded Lobengula that he was not brave like his father Mzilikazi when he stopped them from fighting. He knew the result and the ways of the white man as he had spent a significant portion of his life with white men. Maybe that too was Mzilikazi's plan since he knew Lobengula to be the heir to his throne. It still remains though. Our educated men are still in it today, selling the country for the love of chow-mein, beef fried rice and chop-sticks while singing shamelessly singing, Lobengula sold the country for sugar.
Despite the richness of Moffat's text, there are however some sprinkles of contradictions but what is increasingly conspicuous throughout the text is that there is no single instance where he fails to be impressed by Mzilikazi's intellectual acumen and curiosity. Moffat reflects on wide-ranging and diverse conversations that leave him exasperated and intellectually challenged, especially when, without prior knowledge, Mzilikazi addresses issues that are during the time hot topics in the British parliament. He has listening skills of an avid student. According to Schoon, Mzilikazi could appear disinterested and distracted while at the same time it was obvious by the questions that he later asked that he had indeed listened to and absorbed all that had been told him.
I conclude by discussing one of those intellectually engaging discussions between Moffat and Mzilikazi. This one is centred around trade. A sequel to this will discuss hilarious stuff, such as women, evolution, science and other interesting quotes from Mzilikazi. I will discuss his parliament how it was conducted, also how a kalanga man in his kingdom mastered the art of making guns and of course not ammunitition. Before I discuss the trade debate, I have to mention this. Mzilikazi entered Zimbabwe via the Makgalakgadi pans through Bumbusi the kingdom of the Nambya. Mzilikazi is the one that killed the last chief Wankie, of the BaNambya King Rusumbami. It must be said he is the only recorded person killed by Mzilikazi in the BaNambya kingdom. Rusumbami was no weakling himself. He was feared around present day Zimbabwe. The myth was that he had two hearts, one old, the other young unfortunately the myth claimed his life. Mzilikazi requested to see the two hearts and that is how he died. Chief Rusumbami's succesors became humble tributors of Mzilikazi. The Nambya are the last people to be known to live in houses of stone in present day Zimbabwe.
On that Rusumbami note, I discovered a great lie that has been peddled for too long. I have grown up to be told there was no slave trade in Southern Africa. In fact, there was slavery in Southern Africa and during Mzilikazi's time. I am not talking about escaped slaves that Bain says joined Mzilikazi. Moffat points out that one positive thing about Mzilikazi, is "that he has not allowed the slave trade to penetrate the Matabele land and the fear he commands has deterred any slave trader to enter the land of the Mashona up north'. however Moffat and his doctor have observed that in the land of the Batonga, the slave trade is a common feature and they have been hearing about it a lot. They make it clear that once the Batonga became tributors of Mzilikazi, the slave trade ceased abruptly. Back to trade issues.
The passage calls for a close reading, it reveals much that is central to Mzilikazi's view of trade. Moffat; "I encouraged Mzilikazi to trade more and dispose of any surplus. He said he did not trade with low-lives and thieves who stole. He could only trade with people who had right of property by conquest, not his neighbours, dirty thieves"
Moffat; "I told him his approach was called free trade and that we, the British practised free trade. Moselekatse asked, "Does free trade mean you trade with your enemies? I said no. Then he asked, "why have the English not taught the Boers to practise free trade? From I what I see he added, The Dutch are enemies to free trade and the English too. Moffat asked why? Mzilikazi pointed out, "Do not the English trade with the Boers who ran away from their government, and do not the English supply them with guns and ammunition? While they know the Boers use it to destroy the our people, that they may take their land".
Moffat says, this was a question I felt some reluctance to answer, for it was impossible for me to deny the fact that the English did enter into a treaty to supply those very Boers with arms and ammunition. I was only glad that he appeared not yet to have heard of the law promulgated by our government, "The law of Iniquity". The law spelt out, the native tribes North of the Vaal river(read Matabele) should not be allowed to purchase a single ounce of ammunition.
In retrospect, it seems to me that through this law the power, organisation and future of the Ndebele nation was curtailed. The current state of AmaNdebele was sealed before Mzilikazi left Gauteng. I explain how.
Intelligence about a powerful and organised group was gathered. This group was a threat to white interest in many ways. First, this group was organised, with recognisable leadership down to the level of battalions. This did not fit well with stereotypes of savages and disorder that the white man wanted to use to justify colonisation. Second, this was a powerful group, it was always going to delay white interest or conquest. And most importantly it could not be a cheap source of labour, just like the way people in Kuruman where. Third Mzilikazi had not allowed any white man to infiltrate his nation, which limited chances of finding a weak link and destroying the nation without bloodshed. Religious groups could not penetrate. Interesting that this resistance created a lot of hate, such that even today a nation like the Ndebele or Zulu that resisted any form of infiltration has some stereotypes persisting. Even today, the dismissive 'uneducated' clich√É¬© is a veiled attack on people that never accept westernisation. It is hilarious for those with eyes to see, that those who embrace everything western, dressing and accent pretend to be revolutionaries while they were the weak link through which the white man penetrated Africa. So every time one hears 'awufundanga' clich√É¬©, they should understand the meaning on a subliminal level. It means one is not a sell-out and does not conform to Western values.
The point is the downfall of the Matabele was planned while Mzilikazi had not even left present day Gauteng because he was such a huge threat to colonial interests. The Matabele siege did not end with Mzilikazi. In reality the British siege fermented during Lobengula's reign. This was because of three main reasons. First and most importantly the British had managed to divide the nation. Now there were Nguni right wingers like Mbiko Masuku who even resisted Lobengula as king because he was presumably not pure Nguni stock. The British used these divisions to deepen animosity, terms such ezansi and enhla which used to denote geographic space began to denote class and ethnic group. Holingubo, a term that referred to mainly the people who had been found in Zimbabwe, whose style of dressing was wrapping blankets around waists began to signify low class. Second, Lobengula was one of the first Africans in the whole of Africa to rise against the British, in Umvukela which some people who joined later has stolen the whole event by foregrounding Chimurenga and conveniently sidelining uMvukela. Third, Lobengula is one of only two African leaders in history to wipe out a British batallion at Pupu. At least that cannot be stolen by anyone. In fact Lobengula was so formidable that, the Maxim gun was used for the firs time in the Matabele war in 1893. The gun was later used in many significant wars in history, for example it was used by German, Ottoman Empire, Mahdist war, Second Boer war, Polish Soviet-war, Finnish war, Russo-Japanese war and many other wars. What is however learnt from this is that the British never forgive and they have never forgiven the Matabele.
Even today there is nowhere in Africa where graves of white men that died in battle are littered all over than in Matabeleland. One can go to Gadadi, Bezha, Pupu, Shashe, Thuli the list is endless tombstones with all the names are still well preserved. While the British don't forgive the Matabele they still have respect and they sabotage them today because they cannot afford them to rise because they might stir up the whole of Africa. History will only speak for them. One could go to South Africa, the Afrikaner doesn't wanted to be reminded of the defeat in battle by Mzilikazi and the cattle taken. The Bataung know better. No one likes defeat. It lingers for long. While warfare was the order of the day Mzilikazi has been declared as the arch villain. Even before his arrival in present day Gauteng there was instability in the region, but his crime was that he conquered all.
My point is, the British did not need to forgive the Matabele because they already declared the Matabele their enemies before they even left Gauteng. Here I am talking about a nation not tribe, because by 1893, the Zulu hardly made 3% of the Matabele population. Even some people who were in line for the throne had Sotho or Kalanga names. One can easily cite Lobengula's son Tjakalisa a Kalanga name meaning, the herder.
The British continued with their intention to destroy the Ndebele by taking Lobengula's sons and grand children back to South Africa. That did not work. Charles Mzingelis and Masotsha Ndlovus rose in the 1920s to lead unions. The next thing was the tried and tested British technique. We see the elites, the proven victims of colonial interests forming organisations like Matabeleland Home Society(HMS) or the Kalanga Cultural Society(KCS) in the 1940s. These organisations were formed to promote difference and superiority battles. ZIPRA forces which the British have conveniently labelled them as Ndebele forces because of Joshua Nkomo the head of the party was Ndebele of Pedi/Kalanga origins made the situation worse. Withstanding the lie that ZANU started the liberation struggle in the Chinhoyi 1966 battle or that ZANU split from ZAPU because ZAPU didn't want war, it must be said loudly that ZAPU's operations began in 1960-61 with General Chedu and General Hokoyo and in 1962 many guerrillas were already operating in Zimbabwe. Lets name a few; Mark Nziramasanga, Sikwili Moyo, Zephaniah Sihwa, David Mpongo and Philemon Makonese.
Why then the falsification of this history? Because it is not in British interests to have a history with a strong Ndebele leader once again, a people whose history is scary. It is not a new trend, even in the 1890s the Mkwati Ncubes are given a baffling ethnicity. Organised Africans should be eliminated Mzilikazi, Lobengula, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara. They are not good for history textbooks. They upset the apple cart. So what should history books write? Other tribes should be perpetually afraid of Mzilikazi, he might rise from the nearest bush and snatch the next Naomi Campbell. The animosity between the Matabele nation and the British continues throughout the liberation struggle as general Peter Walls attests the power of ZIPRA and the Viscount debacle does not do the nation any favours. Post 1980 it is an open secret that ZAPU wants nothing but land. Gukurahundi does not help, blacks are set against blacks, even Mugabes realise how mad they were to be used by the British, but now they cant get out of power because the same British wait for him at the Hague. It must be painful to him that he fought all his life to be used like a sanitizer(condom is a bit respectful for an elder). He has to keep on riding the tiger. Its too late because tribalism has already developed a life of its own, just the way the British wanted it and have done in Africa. Even an opposition party led by a guy who blunders all the time has to be voted in by young educated women and men because of ethnicity. Mid 1990s Inqama settlers wanted land, Mugabe threatened them with prison only to follow the same route in 1999. As long as the Matabele people were in the midst of Zimbabweans, the British knew the land issue was going to be addressed but they didn't expect it so soon. That was especially when they had killed the ideology of land by making Mugabe possess all the farms bought by ZAPU who always detested working in the office during the struggle, for example their slogan was 'siyalima ngamapholisa'. Without realising that the country had been divided into Nkomo country and Mugabe country, they bought farms in Mashonaland and of course the farms were repossessed. It took ZANU 20 years to realise its folly, of course all of a sudden they are revolutionaries today.
Welshman Ncube now upsets the British because he is to them a 'Ndebele' leader. Winning seats in Mashonaland will really upset the British because the Nkomo and Mugabe countries they designed in the rigged 1980 elections will collapse. But Ncube will have to beef up his security, they have said it before that he must be eliminated. And they the weakness of average educated Zimbabwean that he or she wears tribal goggles to understand anything. They will use it. That is how the British and pursuit of Mzilikazi has penned out in Zimbabwe today.
I am however perplexed. Why have the Matabele survived after all this assault. Maqhekeni Sithole's words seem to have stood true. He said, "if you want to defeat the Matabele, you have to kill them all, for, if you leave one, he will live to tell the tale and they shall come back to claim what is theirs". It must be a spirit then. It cant be subdued. Evidence is out there for all to see! The British know, they have been defeated once, they shall be defeated once again, for now they have set black against black in Zimbabwe but it wont last forever. 2013 is a new beginning. The truth is coming out!
Source - Tshepo Mabalane Mabalane
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