Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Creating Ndebele identity

I have told you the story of how the 4 royal kids became homeless and how they were handed over to their mothers by Chief Magwegwe eShangane.For months the Tonga people looked after them and nursed the wounded while laying to rest the departed. Thousands changed surnames to those of the BaTonga and married in that land while others went to as far as Gokwe, Zambia, South Angola and Botswana and never to return. The kingdom was no more.
I will now turn to why the royal kids ended up in forced exile in South Africa and why they created Highlanders FC. For you to capture the context of the reasons for sentencing the little kids to exile, I will take you to the Bulawayo of 1894 to 1899.
In February of 1894 the biggest news to hit Bulawayo was the story to all the settlers that King Lobengula had died and that he was buried in BaTongaland with all his royal treasures.
Jameson and Selous made a quick cheers and went straight to work to develop a suppressive settlement for Africans in Bulawayo while they layout a progressive settlement for their pioneers.
So they worked on creating a new identity for the local Africans before readmitting them to this new Bulawayo they were setting up. The identity they selected to give these people was the Ndebele identity.
Before 1893 the indigenous citizens of Bulawayo never called themselves the Ndebele or even thought themselves as Ndebele. Their identity was the Mthwakazi identity and knew themselves to belong to the nation state of Mthwakazi.
One can go back to the indigenous knowledge banks of these people before 1893 and you will not find in their vocabulary the use of Ndebele as identity. You will only find it after 1894.One can however find a lot of the vocabulary of Mthwakazi as identity.
King Mzilikazi did not create or build a Ndebele nation.He did not even know it existed. He founded and created the Mthwakazi identity and nation hence the patriotic praise name 'Mthwakazi Ondlela Zimhlophe.'
The Ndebele as an identity for the people who identified themselves as Mthwakazi was created and first used by missionaries and hunters for reasons best known to themselves.It had nothing to do with the people themselves.
Sitting at the planning table Jameson and Selous where not going to endorse the use of the Mthwakazi identity in their new Bulawayo. It was considered risky and dangerous identity. This would not kill the spirit of these people.They then chose to enhance the Ndebele identity as used by the missionaries and hunters.
The Ndebele identity was for divide and rule by Jameson and his people, while the Mthwakazi identity was for unity and diversity in recognition of the rock recorded people who had painted this countryside, the San.
The suppressive settlement for Africans was created in present day Makhokhoba known then just as the African Location in 1894 and it is here were the new Ndebele identity was shaped and people enticed to accept it as their own identity.

By Cont Mhlanga ebhalela Imfazwe Imp' enkulu
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