travelling & touring:with Burzil Dube
Lesotho is one of the world’s three small nations that are completely surrounded by other countries and whose economies are largely dependent on those encompassing them.
The country, which is over 30 000km2 in area, is encircled by South Africa and relies heavily on its neighbour for most of its economic affairs and other related issues.
Lesotho is widely known for the iconic Thaba Bosiu mountain where King Moshoeshoe I and his Basotho army used the highland to repulse the Ndebele warriors under King Mzilikazi.
As if that was not enough, a sizeable number of early Boer settlers met a similar fate when boulders were thrown at them and had to retreat after heavy losses.
Today, Thaba Bosiu remains one of the country’s major tourist attractions as the small nation blends its cultural history with the hospitality industry.
It is a well-known fact that Basotho are among the tribes, which go out of their way to promote their cultural norms as part of a comprehensive tourism package.
Various types of Basotho traditional attire have somehow carved the proverbial niche in the Zimbabwe hospitality sector. Their seshoeshoe garb as well as mokorotlo, a conical traditional hat, are proving to be a hit in some of our tourist resort areas.
However, this column is not about extolling the virtues of Lesotho, but might be some form of a wake-up call to various tribes in our country to emulate without necessarily copying and pasting their regional counterparts.
In the coal mining town of Hwange, there is a rather hilly area, which is traditionally known to locals as “Government Hill”, while others also call it “Hwange’s Lesotho”.
Most of the infrastructure as well as land in the coal mining town is administered and “owned” by one of the major local coal mining companies.
The situation is, however, different for those resident on “Hwange’s Lesotho” despite being sandwiched by the mine; local governance is their administrative first port of call.
However, services such as water, sewer reticulation and electricity among others are provided by the coal mining company just like Lesotho’s reliance on South Africa for most of its business needs.
The hill’s plateau is not more than 10 hectares, hence its reliance on the coal mining company for most of the services.
During the early colonial times, Government Hill was the district headquarters of the then British South Africa Police (BSAP) and situated about a stone’s throw away southwards from the camp was what used to be the mine’s hospital.
It was during this particular time that a paramount chief of the Whange lineage was arrested by the early colonial settlers and detained at this police station.
According to oral tradition, the chief was accused of “possession” of what they termed supernatural powers and was questioned over his prediction concerning a major tragedy that was set to occur in the vicinity with dire consequences.
As for the name of the chief and other related fundamentals, that is deliberately reserved for another column in the coming weeks. However, there are relatively interesting twists and turns that make the Nambya people to be among the hallowed tribes. More in the forthcoming edition.
Following his arrest, the chief was detained overnight in a police holding cell and was scheduled to be taken for trial the following day.
However, the trial did not materialise as the chief was found dead in the holding cell the following morning and this drew outrage among his subjects. It remains to be concluded if a postmortem was done at the hospital that was situated a stone’s throw away.
The police holding cell is currently the sole colonial settlers’ visible desolate edifice, while renovations have been periodically done to adjacent houses where most local civil servants are accommodated.
There are long-term plans to turn the former holding cell into some monument as part of efforts on linking this colonial relic with Nambya cultural history.
Some Nambya elders in consultation with local traditional chiefs have already come up with ways on how the place can be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
Such a move will certainly put Hwange on the country’s tourism map and in the process contribute to the district’s economic development.
While preservation of such historical artefacts may seem to be of no importance, this might go a long way in promoting the tribe’s history.
In neighbouring South Africa, a monument was constructed in Howick commemorating the place where former president Nelson Mandela was arrested on August 5, 1962. The official name of the heritage place is universally known as the Nelson Mandela Capture Site.
Howick is a town situated in the KwaZulu-Natal and the place has proven to be a hit among both local and foreign tourists.
Yours truly can bear witness after also having toured the place and that was teeming with all sorts of visitors.
The renowned Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in detention, is now a museum of note where apartheid history is laid bare to visitors.
It is my fervent hope that this Nambya dream becomes a reality as the nation seeks to jumpstart the hospitality industry which is currently under intensive care due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The same also applies to the country’s various tribes as well.
I firmly believe that Peterson Chandabala Ncube and Lawrence “The Penpusher” Moyo, among others, will carry on the legacy of the Nambya elders.
I personally know you will make it.
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