Cecil John Rhodes - an Ndebele perspective


As a child in the early 1940s I spent much time at my Gogo's village in the District of Kezi, Southern Rhodesia.

My Gogo, Mafulela Thebe, was a very proud Ndebele, steeped in the culture and tradition of her people.
It was simply marvelous to listen to fireside discussions at which there were some who had actually been at the famous defeat of the Alan Wilson Patrol in December 1893 at Shangani. [seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shangani_Patrol].

From these elders I gained a pretty clear impression about our history and their attitude.
They did not love Rhodes. But they did greatly respect him. They regarded him as principled, honourable and as an example of good leadership (of his people). Honour was a greatly prized attribute to the Ndebele people.

The reason for this attitude was simple. In those days the universal culture of man was "invade, conquer and subjugate". This had been so from time immemorial across the planet. [It only changed in 1948 when the UN signed off on the UDHR after 2 bloody world wars and the Holocaust]

In fact the amaNdebele were only in that region because Mzilikazi had trekked from Zululand and forcefully subjugated the locals. They were also acutely aware of the bloody regional mfecane campaigns by King Shaka Zulu and Mzilikazi.
So the universal culture was “victori spolia", i.e, "to the the victor the spoils". As said, that was the culture across this planet. and had been so from the time of Noah's Arc. You were either "dominant or "subjugated".

Their only lament, and it was very much a never ending lament, was that Rhodes and Co had "isgwagwagwa". Isgwagwagwga was their name for the Maxim Machine Gun and "isgwagwagwa" was the sound it made when being fired in battle.
They were as certain as ever that, had Rhodes not had this advantage "their people" in Southern Africa, including the Zulu, would never have been beaten. 

That was their lament, no more no less ... and the stories were long and colourfull about their attempts to negate the terrible advantage the invaders had because of isgwagwagwa.
They respected Rhodes and his people for their education and technological advancement. Remember we did not even have the wheel at that time.

In the result they had elected to guard Rhode's grave "forever".

She must be turning in her grave in the light of recent events. She would undoubtedly see this as cowardly unprincipled, dishonorable nonsense.
I can hear her exclaim - "Hau, we could not beat Rhodes when he was standing in front of us, so now we want to fight with his statue!!!??? Who can do such a thing .... only u'mtwana we mpisi (the child of a hyena).".
The hyena was seen as being always guilty of detestable, despicable conduct.

That is how it was at that time.

PS: Wikipedia --- - The awful power of the Maxim machine gun
"Lobengula's troops were well-drilled and formidable by pre-colonial African standards, but the Company's Maxim guns, which had never before been used in battle, far exceeded expectations, according to an eyewitness "mow[ing] them down literally like grass".[16] By the time the Matabele withdrew, they had suffered around 1,500 fatalities; the Company, on the other hand, had lost only four men.[16] A week later, on 1 November, 2,000 Matabele riflemen and 4,000 warriors attacked Forbes at Bembezi, about 30 miles (48 km) north-east of Bulawayo,[15] but again they were no match for the crushing firepower of the major's Maxims: about 2,500 more Matabele were killed.[15]

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