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Published: January 10, 2013
The Lozwi/Rozvi Monarchy should be revived. It is the true uniting factor that transcends tribal barriers. It is representative of all Zimbabweans in every region be it Matabeleland, Mashonaland, Masvingo or Manicaland. We have done our homework and the chaos that stifled the same project when we tried it in the 1950s is now a thing of the past. Zimbabwe as it was, a unitary state from Zambezi to Limpopo, has to heal its wounds but it won’t do so by dividing itself in answer to emotions.
Yes there have been clear wrongs committed against our people but deep as they are, sad as they are, atrocious even, they can never be a rallying call for dividing a country that was never at any time divided. I say so because I know this for a fact, because it is my direct ancestors who were the hegemony in the solid, united country.
Netjasike/Tjilisamhulu/Chirisamhuru built and governed from Manyanga, Tjibundule/Chiundura built and governed from Kame/Khami and Changamire Dombo from Danangombe/Dlodlo. All these areas are in present day Matabeleland. They collected tribute from tribute paying tribes in present day Midlands, Masvingo, Mashonaland, Manicaland, Manica and Gaza in Mozambique, Limpopo in South Africa and also large parts of Mozambique. All these people would never have a king or chief installed without the knowledge of their Emperors who were based in BuLozwi [present day Matabeleland]. Each time they wanted to install a leader they would first send the person to be confirmed at Njelele, the main shrine of Mwali in present day Matabeleland. Normally Mwali would give advice but not directions on who that tribe would install as their leader. After that the tribal leader would be confirmed in front of his people and neighbours by a representative of the Lozwi/Rozvi who would give him his royal insignia. This is not something that happened only in the remote past. Gutu was confirmed this way; by seeking guidance from Njelele and he was chosen ahead of his rival Munyonga in 1963. Zimbabwe was and ought to be one country. From BuLozwi [present day Matabeleland] the Emperors ruled a united country, and at Njelele again in Matobo, Matabeleland South, everyone worshipped to one God, Mwali. The people spoke Kalanga as the official language, and they addressed their kings that way. They also spoke to Mwali in Kalanga, which was and still is the language of Njelele.
We have wronged one another over the years, but we cannot reinvent truths because of wrongs. We should all be brave enough and face our past together and address our past together. All past wrongs must be addressed bravely and boldly and as a people we should never allow a piecemeal approach to such wrongs and liability thereof. We cannot pick and choose the victims and perpetrators we want and then seek to condemn and reward them in accordance to our own designs. We cannot deny Gukurahundi. We cannot deny UDI era atrocities. We cannot deny colonial era atrocities that Cecil Rhodes and the pioneer column and colonial governments thereafter are responsible for. We can also not run away from the fact that among ourselves even before white people came to Zimbabwe there were tribal fights and these in some cases took the form of outright atrocities. Ndebele-Shona relations were not rosy. Deniers of these historical facts, be it Gukurahundi, UDI-era, colonial-era and pre-colonial era atrocious realities are the ones who are doing Zimbabwe a great disfavour.
THE SOCIAL CLIFF
While in the USA they are celebrating their avoidance of the fiscal cliff because of their honest approach to problems they faced as a nation, Zimbabwe is confronted with a perpetual social cliff that has aggravated because of a failure to grasp the mood on the ground. In all this the political leadership lack of a clear resolve is so telling and the consequences of that has been simmering tribal and racial tensions that will implode one day. As a people we are at a point where we need to divorce from these historical realities that sadly underpin our current regional and tribal relations but we can never do so by keeping quiet as what has been the case since the founding of the modern nation that is now Zimbabwe.
When the Nambya are asked about Mzilikazi they remember him as the person who killed their king, Hwange and wreaked havoc in their polity together with his Ndebele warriors. When the Kalanga are asked about Mzilikazi and the Ndebele again they remember them as the people who destroyed their way of life. When the Shona are asked about Mzilikazi and Lobengula they remember both as people who wreaked havoc on them and destroyed their lives. Lobengula is further accused of killing Chaminuka.
When an Ndebele is asked about the Shona and Robert Mugabe, they say they are responsible for Gukurahundi and the atrocities that claimed many Ndebele lives. When black Zimbabweans are asked about Smith and white Zimbabweans they talk of a racist lot that was responsible for atrocities at Chimoio, Mulungushi and other areas and also the marginalisation of their ancestors and their colonisation and displacement. And white Zimbabweans also regard Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF as the “black Hitler” bent on removing them from the one and only country they have ever known to be theirs, Zimbabwe. They point to the land reform and now indigenisation as unfair punishments for being white rather than as a measure for addressing a past injustice.
Rhodes is still a white ancestor representing white supremacy and conquest whose “grave should eventually be removed from Zimbabwe”. Preposterous attempts to say he brought people food [and obviously “civilisation”] have been rightly shot down. Nehanda, Kaguvi, Mapondera, Chaminuka, Makoni, Chinengundu, Mashonganyika, Chikare, Chigavazira are viewed mainly as Shona First Chimurenga heroes, Lozikeyi, Mlugulu are only viewed as Ndebele Umvukela heroes. Joshua Nkomo only became a true Father Zimbabwe in death, otherwise he together with Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku were regarded as leaders of dissidents who were responsible for the likes of Gwesela and Gayigusu and the atrocities they committed on mainly Shona targets. And the list goes on probably Mugabe, who is largely demonised in Matabeleland as the father of Gukurahundi whose hands are dripping with Ndebele blood, may also become a respected hero in Matabeleland and Midlands after his death. What I am driving at is the truth about our perceptions which we have done so much to hide but to the detriment of our well being as a nation. Judging from how Ndebele-Shona and white and black Zimbabwean relations have formed on social networking sites such as facebook and in the Zimbabwean Diaspora reality, the tensions are there to see and also frightening, very frightening.
And for politicians to wish that away without addressing them is even more troubling. ZANU PF politicians are not interested at all in discussing Gukurahundi, white Zimbabweans largely believe there were no atrocities committed by Ian Smith during UDI and instead blame ZANLA and ZIPRA even in this day and era, and on Cecil Rhodes they believe the issue is the past although they also believe Ndebeles raided Shonas and that should always be stated and that Gukurahundi atrocities and post-2000 violent land invasions must be punished. MDC-T believes post-2008 crimes against humanity should be addressed but only mentions Gukurahundi at their convenience when they want Ndebele votes in Matabeleland and the Midlands. They are simply not prepared at all to discuss UDI and colonial era atrocities. The MDC without anyone’s surname seems to talk much about Gukurahundi but I must say I am impressed by the leadership qualities of David Coltart as he is the only Zimbabwean politician who has called for the investigation of all atrocities including UDI-era atrocities. He seems to be a lone voice though. Groups calling for secession or even federalism in Matabeleland are only interested in mentioning Gukurahundi atrocities while they completely deny pre-colonial era atrocities by Mzilikazi and Ndebele warriors on neighbouring tribes such as Kalanga, Nambya, Venda, Sotho, Shona, etc and the existence of dissidents.
We are a nation of cowards seeking truths that suit us. We should be ashamed of ourselves and especially our politicians who have failed to address the main problem in our social relations head on. They have allowed the growth of suspicion and the erosion of confidence in people from a different race or tribe. Meritocracy is being sacrificed in honour of tribal, regional or racial loyalty. In my view outstanding politicians who could easily be leaders of the country in their own right, are being judged through tribal, racial and ethnic blinkers to the detriment of the country. They are victims of a lack of political will that has allowed sensitive issues to drag on as convenient tools for political campaigns. Politicians who have nothing to offer in terms of primary issues such as hunger, accommodation, education, development and opportunities for all have allowed the perpetual existence of a social cliff of secondary issues such as neo-colonialism, accountability, secession etc to gain political mileage. They have deliberately avoided meaningful discussion of the matters in order to guarantee the perpetuity of their own political existence. Such minds are destroying the country.
Had politicians wanted, the issue of Gukurahundi, UDI-era, colonial era and pre-colonial atrocities could have been addressed and would by now have been a thing of the past. The artificial barriers that separate us could have been removed and Zimbabweans could have been allowed to choose merit in leadership rather than the franchising of people we identify with and the disenfranchisement of those we don’t. Minds must meet to address these things in our own way and to our satisfaction. We should be ashamed that we have other people coming to us every time in order to get us agreeing. We are a sorry nation of poor souls asking for intervention all the time, we needed Lancaster to end the liberation war and to do so we recalled the British who re-colonised us at our collective invitation, removed the UDI flag, re-hoisted the Union Jack and appointed a new Governor who was answerable to the Crown. Among ourselves we could not agree, we could not use the moral leadership that was there and mechanisms that were there to get us talking again. After 2008 and to this day we need South Africa, and other neighbouring countries to get us talking again.
We are collective failures who are shamelessly dependent on anyone and anything for our own existence. We are collectively immature, the laughing stocks of the world who think separation, secession and foreign brinkmanship as ways of solving our own problems. South Africa ended Apartheid on its own, in their own way, on their own terms and charted a future that was and is still based on their own mechanisms. ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party needed no Zimbabwean intervention in Kwazulu-Natal. ANC and the NP are even in a coalition as we speak. In Zambia UNIP and MMD needed no Zimbabwean intervention not even SADC, the same for Kamuzu Banda’s Malawi Congress Party and its Young Pioneers, Malawi solved its own problems. They needed no intervention from anyone. Tanganyika even became one country with Zanzibar, Tanzania, but they solve their issues alone. Burma has solved its own problems by themselves.
Nigeria ended military dictatorships on its own and when Obassanjo tried to get an unlawful third term Nigerian mechanisms and mechanics stopped him in his trail. Ghana ended years of military dictatorships on its own and even now as we speak the electoral challenges by the opposition is being managed through Ghanaian mechanisms. What is it that we have that is missing in other countries? South Africa has much more mineral wealth than we have, it’s more diverse, and yes it suffered even worse from Apartheid than we have. Why do they manage to live together in harmony? Why don’t they need us when they have their problems? Go to Johannesburg and you hear every language spoken; Tsonga, Zulu, Sotho, Pedi, Venda, Afrikaans, Shona, Ndebele and without anyone being crucified. Zimbabwe has failed because of a vacuum, a leadership vacuum. I am not blaming anyone because this is not the purpose of this paper, but Zimbabwe simply lacks a unity leader. One who can rally everyone behind him or her, for the common good!
Even as we speak government has sat down and decided the country’s new capital should be in Mashonaland West. Resources will be channelled towards building a completely new city. The idea is not bad as more construction jobs will be created and there will be new opportunities for our people. But this project is completely misplaced. It has not taken into account the cry that Bulawayo has for years given. That there are no opportunities there and that people in Bulawayo also need to be considered when development opportunities are being planned. It is already a city and needs improvements only, a wiser decision could have been to move the political capital back to Bulawayo and have Harare remain as the commercial capital.
Such a move would deliberately encourage the development of the city into a modern city. It would certainly bring jobs to the youth there which had to move in most of their lives either to Harare or down south. The sight of young men from Bulawayo and Nkayi selling axes in Harare is not pleasing but I have seen this since I was in primary school. The age does not change which means it’s not the same people I used to see but generation after generation sells axes in Harare. I even saw them on my recent visit to Zimbabwe. Lovemore Majaivana captured this in his song “Umoya Wami”. Government’s belief that the political capital city should move from Harare is correct, but it has to be moved to Bulawayo which has for long seen an erosion of opportunities. It is this lack of leadership that has done much to allow the emergence of a social cliff.
THE RUDD CONCESSION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS AS A BASIS FOR SECESSION
When the First Chimurenga was being fought, the main idea was to restore the Lozwi/Rozvi Monarchy as had been directed by Mulenga/Murenga/Mwali hence ChiMurenga [as commanded by Murenga]. Mkwati came all the way from Matabeleland to fulfil that goal, organise resistance and restore a unity leadership. We cannot separate ourselves because of emotion. Proponents of separation have cited the Rudd Concession 1888 and the subsequent Royal Charter. They have argued that Mashonaland and Matabeleland were colonised as two separate entities hence they ought to be different entities. Nothing is further from the truth than this. For a start, the legality of the Rudd Concession is questionable so it therefore has no legal force or implications.
Consequently the Royal Charter that was awarded to Rhodes was also not legal. Lobengula contested the Rudd Concession, by sending his representatives to the Queen of England. He was contesting that he never ceded any land rights to anyone but had given mining concessions. He would not have sent representatives to the UK if he considered Matabeleland separate from Mashonaland. When the British occupied Botswana and agreed with Khama to make it the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland, Lobengula did not contest this. And when the British entered into an agreement with Luwananyika[Lewanika] in Zambia to make it the British Protectorate of Barotseland again he never sent anyone to England or contested this. In both cases he was correct because he had no business in the affairs of two neighbours who were being graciously and willingly colonised. But when the British made moves in Mashonaland he contested, because to him this was not a neighbour but part of one country and the British were now occupying territory he considered part of him by hook and crook.
It is also important to realise that the British awarded a charter to BSAC, and did not necessarily become part of Zimbabwe until 1910 when the whole country was declared a British Protectorate. The Rudd Concession had no binding force as a treaty and simply has no legal implications to talk of. Queen Victoria indeed assured Lobengula that she was not taking his land but was only mining in his country. We can even argue this on the basis of property rights and the law thereof should that be necessary and we can still come to one conclusion, the illegality of the Rudd Concession as a treaty and therefore its clear lack of binding force on anyone. Zimbabwe was clearly illegally occupied by all accounts. So we cannot place reliance on the Rudd Concession as a basis for arguing secession. Zimbabwe was and is one country that was governed as such. However, yes Zimbabwe has always had devolved or decentralised powers and with the Monarch at the helm of tributary and not competing power structures.
THE CASE FOR A UNITY LEADER
Given this reality it is necessary to suggest an alternative form of leadership. I believe we need to reintroduce the Lozwi/Rozvi Monarchy which was and will be clearly uniting in nature. It need not be absolute as is in Swaziland but could take the character of European Monarchies. They are ceremonious but still retain the power of a sobering word. It is a Monarchy that everyone identifies with in one way or the other. It does not matter someone speaks Ndebele, Kalanga, Shona, Ndau, Venda, Tonga or lives in the Midlands, Mashonaland, Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland. It is the ultimate unity leader that can easily play the role of a sobering presence to a society that is tension filled.
Where politicians have failed we could get relief from a traditional leadership that we all largely identify with. The structures for this are there and this will in no way threaten democracy as we know it. In the same way that Spain and the UK have prime minister-led governments Zimbabwe could have the same and political parties could still compete for power in the manner we have always known. But the head of state will no longer be from partisan politicians who have failed consistently to agree among themselves and pull the nation ahead. Instead they have always humiliated us by seeking salvation outside the country including from people who have in the past counted on the Zimbabwe for leadership.
Our country is great. It is bestowed with natural wealth and great people. It is a great nation with a great history. From Great Zimbabwe, Kame, Danangombe, Manyanga etc. From the defeat of the Portuguese in defence of our sovereignty to our attempt to explore the Moon, a first in the history of mankind, we have stories we to tell that we are proud of. We will make our country Great Zimbabwe again and we will formulate debates that are necessary for our collective good. We need to march together with other nations, compete at the level of the best and succeed where we have failed but to do so we need each other.
We have to face the world together, be it in sport, commerce, trade, however, wherever. We need each other. I have observed us when we are really together we are truly formidable, to anyone anytime. We won the Second Chimurenga together, we built Great Zimbabwe together, we hosted All Africa Games in 1995 together and we supported the anti-Apartheid movement as the leading nation doing so at the time together. In the DRC we deployed together, no white, no Ndebele, no Shona, Kalanga, Venda, Tonga, Chewa, Tsonga or Ndau, we deployed as Zimbabweans together and defeated forces that were threatening the Sovereignty of the DRC. We are praised in that country as a nation not in our individual constituent capacities. This is what we can do, when we are together, we have done it before; we will do it again. We are Great Zimbabwe, we are what we are.
It is not in character for us to fight. We lift each other and mend our torn soles together. We provide and pray for each other, we don’t wish each other bad. Our major shrine was Njelele, for us together, and for those who still worship in that religion, it is still our shrine together. We have to get together and demand our share as one nation, which respects each other and wants to learn from each other, develop our capacities from our resources and build on a respect for diversity. We need to contribute to our collective good by pulling our individual strengths through the recreation of self-governing polities that again should not be seen as threats to collective cohesion but pillars of collective cohesion that must be encouraged and sustained. This is the country we were, and we succeeded that way. This is the country we should be and we will succeed that way.
JULIUS SAI MUTYAMBIZI-DEWA IS A GREATER GRANDSON OF NTINIMA/MUTINHIMA, THE OLDEST SON OF NETJASIKE/TJILISAMHULU THE LAST KING OF THE LOZWI/ROZVI: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or 00447401182271