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The story of a lost Monarch ( the crocodile's egg)

18 October 2012, 07:32

The demise of the graves of the Lobengula family is the result of the power struggles between the colonial regimes, led by Cecil John Rhodes. The story of the lost monarch begins in 1894, after the Matabeleland wars that permeated to the death of King Lobengula Khumalo, heir to the throne of King Mzilikazi, who died during the pursuit by the Colonialists, that saw to the total destruction of Bulawayo Kraal and all that represented the African Culture to the British Empire, the beginning of Victorian era.

The four (4) sons of King Lobengula, Mpezeni (1879-1899); Njube (1880-1960); Nguboyenja (1884-1951); and Sidojiwa (1888-1957), after the death of their father were taken to Cape Colony for further “education” and to alienate them from their Ndebele clan. The Administrator in Southern Rhodesia and the Chief Native Commissioner of Matabeleland were adamant to keep the sons out of the land of their birth and were constantly deprived of any contact with the Tribesmen, but only by correspondence and intermittent visits from Mlimo messengers and Mtupana a guardian appointed by Lobengula before his death. Njube the eldest of the three boys left behind after the death of Mpezeni of pneumonia, was ultimately banned and settled in Port Alfred, were he bought a farm, in Hyman’s Party Location in Bathurst Division for £600, from the monthly allowance he received from the Administrator in Southern Rhodesia.

Njube Lobengula had a chronic shortage of money which resulted in bad relationship between him and the Administrator. He wrote several letters to the Chief Native Commissioner in order to visit his relatives where he can ascertain some financial assistance, with the “cows” he believed were duly owed to him, by certain Induna’s and also the government of the day. The British South Africa Company under the command of Queen Victoria, that chiefs should be subject to the Royal House in England, and that the Chief Native Commissioner should be the Administrator of all African Affairs.

Alban Njube Lobengula (a.k.a. A.N.L. Mzilikazi ka Matshobana, born c.1880-1910), heir to the throne after King Lobengula untimely departure, was first married in April 1901 to Annie Mashiqa Ma’Dlamini (mfengu woman), who passed away on 16 Feb 1906. She bore two (2) children, Albert (1902-1957) and Rhodes Njube (1903-1937), who had received their basic education in Grahamstown, under the watchful eye of Queen Mpoliyane, before she unfortunately passed away due to Tuberculosis in 1912. The Anglican Church played a prominent role in the upbringing of the two boys, since they attended Mission primary school, and Rev W.Y.Stead was their tutor. The Rev W.Y. Stead was appointed as their guardian, they grew up with his son William Henry, who later became the Native Commissioner in the Southern Rhodesian Native Department.

The second wife of A.N.L. Lobengula was the daughter of late Chief Luthuli Kama of AmaQhibira from Middledrift district, Mary Nongokwakwe, the niece of Chief Ngangelizwe, who was the main supporter of the Order of Ethiopia, because of his close links with the Dwane family which was rebellious against the Anglican Authorities. A tribal dispute existed between Chief Ngangelizwe and AmaGqunukhwebe since he planned to give land to the Order.

A memorial ceremony took place on the 13 August 1911, at Fingo village, Old Native Location Cemetery, known as KwaNdancama, conducted by Rev Stead, of St Phillips of Anglican Church, in the presence of the two (2) boys and Manja the representative from the Matabeleland, sent by Queen Lozikeyi. In 1912, Queen Mpoliyane the grandmother passed away, she was buried near Njube. The only memories of Njube was his two sons he left behind in the care of Administration, and a Township named in his honour in Bulawayo, Western Commonage No.3, with a school, library and a clinic, was virtually Njube’s only memoirs in the country of his birth. In 1912 his mother was also buried at kwaNdancama, and his widow Mary followed in 1961, but since building of the Luvuyo Hall and houses around the area, some of the graves where demolished and some are on unmarked graves. A plan to exhume the bodies is underway, since it is proper for the Royalty to be buried in the land of his birth and close to his “Ancestors” in Matopos Hill.

The guardian of the two children Rev. Stead, who were left behind in a foreign land, alienated from their traditional culture were settling well, that by 1912 they had passed standard 1 and 2, a letter to the commissioner affirmed to the fears felt by the Administrator about the future of the two boys and the political uncertainty of the Tribal Chiefs wanting a Head leader for Matabeleland.

Rhodes Njube Lobengula, the younger son went to Loveday College to further his studies as a lawyer and he later settled in Gosforth, Peddie with his wife Rosamund Nombina Kawa, before he passed away by drowning in the river, leaving behind five (5) of his children, four (4) girls and a boy, Fana; Ruth; Baba; Zila (my mother married to Mda family); and Faith. The entire family has passed away, only Zila who is still alive, and living in Johannesburg.

The sad story of the Lobengula clan, a monarch exiled in foreign land, without any recognition from Authorities, is laid in ruins and in unmarked graves, in Luvuyo Hall, kwaNdancama, Fingo village far from the land of their forefathers in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

The King Lobengula Foundation is undertaking a Development Plan that would leave a legacy amongst the people of KwaNdancama by building a Museum in memory of A.N.L.Mzilikazi ka Matshobana and his Queen mother Lozikeyi and to erect a Plaque in honour of King Lobengula Khumalo.

An application to declare the graves in Luvuyo Hall as a National Heritage Site is also awaiting response from SAHRA.

The “crocodile’s egg” has been found in a dilapidated land, and it needs to hatched, it is the reason that the exhumation of the bodies is of utmost importance to the people of Matabeleland. The son of the soil should go back in the land of his forefathers, and his grandfather King Mzilikazi the founder of AbaThwakazi of Matabeleland, is buried in Matopos Hill and his father King Lobengula Khumalo will be remembered by all Ndebele people as a National Heritage. The Makana Municipality is taking an active role in this matter to preserve and protect our Culture and Heritage in our townships. We also hope that the community will engage actively to promote the fragile welfare of  our arts, craft and culture in the Townships.

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