Above a portrait of queen lozikeyi in oxford University in London England
Inkosikazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo is a well known historical figure and heroine in this part of the world. She was King Lobhengula’s Indlovukazi (Great Queen) who later became the de facto regent of the Ndebele kingdom soon after King Lobhengula’s alleged disappearance and for the better part of Matabeleland’s early colonial history.
Oral and recorded history has it that Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo played an unrivalled and heroic role in the Anglo-Matabele war of 1896. This war is also known as Imfazo or Impi Yehlok’elibomvu(The war of the Red Axe). She was both a leader and an inspirational figure to the warriors who fought hard to reclaim our fallen kingdom from the oppressive colonial system. In a few words she was the shining star of the great war of 1896!
Whilst Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo’s heroine status is well known to some of us in Matabeleland she is virtually unknown to the rest of Zimbabwe.
By contrast, Mbuya Nehanda, another African heroine whose exploits had nothing to do with Matabeleland history seems to enjoy more newspaper, public and TV space in Matabeleland than our very own Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo and I am not surprised why.
After all, during our school days history lessons had a lot about Mbuya Nehanda and nothing about Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo. I hear that our children are also victims of the same academic propaganda!
Mbuya Nehanda does not only dominate our official history books, she has almost everything named after her. I am talking of important public landmarks like schools, streets and even aeroplanes. Her legacy is immortalised in everything and we are made believe that she was great-great-great-great woman who led her people like a messianic figure.Frankly speaking, the people who consider her a hero have done more than enough to create an everlasting memory of her alleged heroic deeds.
What have those whose history is intricately linked to Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo’s great deeds done to immortalise her legacy? I am not going to say much beyond stating what I know has been done, what has not been done and what ought to be done to immortalise her heroine status.
Truly speaking, I only know of a primary school (Lozikeyi Primary School) and a rural area (KoNkosikazi) that was named after our said great queen. She is barely mentioned in official history books and neither do we see her images on national television.
Does this mean that the people who consider her as a heroine have failed to clearly and unapologetically project her said status to all those who care to know about the past? Does it mean that the people who consider her as a heroine do not have any control over what is shown and what is not shown on TV?
As an eternal resident of Bulawayo I find it even more absurd that there is no prominent building or street named after Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo. To add more shame to an already shameful state of affairs, we have almost half the streets in the city centre named after people whose legacy has nothing to do with Matabeleland or better still, Bulawayo’s world famous status as the city of Kings and Queens .
A city of Kings
and Queens that does reserve its best symbol of honour to its best known queen can at best be described as a city of shame. Truly speaking, we can only cleanse this shame by renaming a pre-eminent landmark like Barbourfields Stadium to Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo Stadium. I guess I am not asking for too much from city fathers who seem to be too reluctant to even rename one major street in the city centre after our said heroine.
Talking of historical wars and great battles, I must state that the way the Zulu nation and the South African government have kept the memory of the historic battle of Isandhlwana alive to this date makes me dark green with envy. For those who don’t know history, the battle of Isandhlwana is a time defying symbol of Zulu heroism and resistance to white colonialism. It is a living memory of Zulu prowess and resilience!
More importantly, it is one of the only two best known battles in pre-colonial history which saw pre-colonial African states militarily defeat to the better equipped British colonial forces. The only other battle is our very own battle of Pupu where a British colonial force led by Major Allan Wilson was virtually wiped out by Ndebele warriors.
The battle of Pupu ought to be a living memory of Ndebele prowess and resilience!
What is amazing, however, is that most people in this part of the world happen to more know much about Major Allan Wilson than they know about the victors of the battle in which he met his demise.
Mtshana Khumalo the man who commanded the victorious Ndebele force at that battle is a just a tiny footnote of all official accounts of our history.
Mthwakazi KaNdaba, the battle of Pupu may seem to be an event of the past but it is remains relevant to our present.
That battle was all about who we are and the heroes who fell at that battle died for the cause of liberty. We have a historic duty to commemorate it every year. The 4th of December should be a day to relive this significant portion of our great history as a nation.
The people of Matabeleland should stand up and be counted when it comes to honouring their heroes and heroines, and commemorating events of historical significance. The same obligation lies with the government of the day!
Look, I am not urging the government and the people of Matabeleland to erect giant statues of Indlovukazi Lozikeyi Dlodlo and build towers to her immortality across the land of her birth.
All I am saying is that she is a marginalized heroine who happened to be a predecessor of a now marginalised region populated by her marginalised descendants. Leaving her illustrious legacy in the periphery of memory is more than an insult to the great history of the Mthwakazi nation and that should never be allowed to happen.
By the same token I am not crying for a daily rendition of the battle of Pupu on Zimbabwe’s sole TV channel. All I am saying is that we are not doing enough to keep its memory alive.
Yes, the battle might have been fought a long time ago in a remote area of a now marginalized part of the world by the heroic predecessors of a now marginalized people, but that doesn’t mean we should not commemorate it.
The point here is that it is very important for us to know our true history, demand to be taught our true history and celebrate our true history. To deny ourselves or to be denied by others an opportunity to know and celebrate our own heroes, heroines and history is a denial of a birthright.
“Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child forever “,Cicero once said, and of course he was right. Unless the people of Matabeleland start taking their history, heroes and heroines seriously, they remain cry babies forever. We do not belong to the present, we belong to history and the present belongs to the future.