Unravelling history of early settlers

LAST week yours truly mentioned the informative feedback I got from David Scott, one of the followers of this column, where he gave his views on who qualifies to be called an early settler of a particular place.

travelling & touring
with Burzil Dube

A lot has been written in this column where various tribes claimed to have been the first to settle in the then Wankie at the turn of the century.
However, similar scenarios are also prevalent in most parts of the country where being a “pioneer settler” is the catchword.

This can be subject to debate.Here we go.

Dear Sir, It is always with interest that I read your articles on a Sunday morning.

As a proud Zimbabwean, albeit still classified an alien in the country of my birth and permanent residence, having worked in several fields spanning six decades.

I am now 80 years old — I remain as interested in our history now as I was decades ago.

I remain convinced that the history of all nations, including ours, has to start from the earliest of times, because every aspect of it influences everything that follows.

I thought you might be interested on my take of the matter, and so have attached a piece about it.

And herewith is David Scott’s attached document.

“History in Zimbabwe does not start at some conveniently selected point in time, such as 1890, 1965 or 1980.

If Africa is the cradle of humankind, from whence homo sapiens spread right across the globe (for which Africans are justly proud), then those who came back to the continent as assimilators, conquerors, colonisers and immigrants, were all simply returning to their roots.

Interestingly, millions of Africans are now flooding out of Africa and onto other continents — mostly European — every year, from whence their conquerors and colonisers came, to escape their own governance incompetencies at home.

Only very few living in Zimbabwe in 2020 can truly claim genetic and cultural descent from its earliest homo sapiens inhabitants.

Every other black or white person living in Zimbabwe in 2020, is simply heir to the assimilators, conquerors, colonisers and immigrants already mentioned, just as in every other continent on earth. (Kare haagari ari kare) The past does not remain the past.

The earliest known inhabitants of the area between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers are now recognised as Zimbabweans.

These were groups collectively referred to as “Bushmen”, who left proof of who they were, and how they lived, by leaving their calling-cards in the form of exquisite rock art throughout what is now Zimbabwe, and much further afield too.

They were assimilated or conquered, and colonised by Bantu hordes from north of the Zambezi River, and centuries later, the western parts of Zimbabwe and its Bantu people were similarly assimilated.

They were also conquered and colonised by the Ndebele from south of the Limpopo, before history repeated itself, and they were in turn all conquered and colonised by Europeans.

Modern African historians like to claim colonisers from the 1890s onwards forced the local inhabitants to work as slaves — utter nonsense!

Indeed, even in David Livingstone’s time in Africa, in the 1850s and into the 1970s, there was a thriving slave trade, which continued right into the first decade of the 1900s, with slaves being transported from both the east coast of Africa (by Arabs, Portuguese, and other Africans) and the west coast of Africa.
This was only possible with the willing connivance and active participation of African chiefs and headmen benefiting substantially from it.

Indeed, it was European missionaries, including the missionary Livingstone, who did their utmost to stop slavery.

This was done through preaching the Christian gospel, while simultaneously, but slowly opening up the African hinterland to commerce and trade to replace it.
So, it was European colonisation of Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa, which finally ended slavery, with the search for gold and arable land leading to industrial-scale mining and agriculture.

And, of course, by introducing railways, roads, bridges, written languages, commerce, industry, exports and communications, within a decade of their arrival.
African analysts love to blame their colonisers for the sort of hopeless governance they generally have, by telling the world all their problems were inherited (from the whites) at Independence.

That is an oxymoron.

Independence means a complete change from the past, surely, not continuing with all the unwanted issues of the past.”

So, there you have it on who is supposed to claim the early settler mantle.

Meanwhile, this column has also made great strides where others have found their long lost tribal relatives especially those who were part of the so-called early settlers.

Here is another one from Robert Godi, a Tonga tribesman who is based in Epworth, Harare.

“I came across your research about the Tonga-Dombe chieftainship and was also in the process of investigating the whole issue.

“I come from that tribe, but my great-grandfather migrated with Methodist missionaries running away from the curse, which was fast taking away male subjects who would have qualified to be accorded the chief status.

“My lineage starts from Chilimanyama, basically known as Chilima.

“I would kindly ask for more information since my famiy tree chart is missing such information.

“Here in Epworth, Harare, names changed to Chirima and Munzabwa changed to Muzambwa.

“Thank you for the great work.”

Robert Godi finally managed to trace his relatives. Thanks to the Travelling & Touring column.

l Comments always welcome on: dubebasill@gmail.com or Twitter: @DubeBurzil

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