TRAVELLING AND TOURING with Burzil Dube
LAST week’s piece where Yours Truly was advocating for the construction of Mtshane Khumalo’s statue at the Matopos Hills alongside the graves of Cecil John Rhodes drew some interesting comments from readers.
To the uninitiated, Mtshane Khumalo was one of King Lobengula’s senior Indunas and commander whose fighting prowess and tactics left early colonial settlers bamboozled and in awe. He was also known by the moniker Ndindikuyasa for his military astuteness.
Khumalo is widely remembered for the Pupu Battle in 1893 when his regiment fought Major Allan Wilson and his Shangani Patrol comprising of 34 servicemen, who were on a mission to capture the last Matabele king in an effort to secure his capitulation.
However, this was not to be as the entire early colonial forces met their fate in what today is widely known as the Pupu Battle.
Pupu is situated about 40km north east of Lupane and the area was recently declared a national monument while a mural depicting this famous Anglo-Ndebele war is to be constructed as a matter of urgency.
It is also recorded that no prisoners were taken in the literal sense by the Matabele warriors, who had sworn to defend their king at all costs.
The remains of Shangani patrol men were buried in August the following year at Great Zimbabwe Ruins, but were later exhumed and reburied at The Matopos Hill as per Cecil John Rhodes wish.
Also according to Rhodes’ wish, a memorial was to be constructed at the Matopos Hill and is still known today as Shangani Memorial.
The crowd-pulling oblong flat topped structure has murals depicting the Pupu Battle on all its bronze’s four sides.
The main inscription reads, To Brave Men, with a smaller dedication given beneath: “Erected to the enduring memory of Allan Wilson and his Men who fell in fight against the Matabele on the Shangani River December 4th, 1893. There was no survivor”.
As earlier alluded by Yours Truly, there is utmost need for General Khumalo, aka Ndindikuyasa, statue to be erected where remains of major players of the renowned Shangani Patrol are interred. He was also a key player in most of these battles between the Matabele and early colonial settler forces during the reign of King Lobengula.
Infact, they are legendary faces of the same coin. This may also apply to other senior Matabele commanders, who also took part in the Pupu Battle deserve to be featured in the same vicinity where the likes of Alan Wilson and others are buried.
It might be strange or awkward, but Yours Truly believes the history of The Shangani Patrol would not be complete without Ndindikuyasa statue being erected at the iconic Matopo Hills.
However, the establishment of the statue would not be complete without refurbishment and maintenance of roads leading to battle site.
Those who have used this road before whether to Ngwalati or Manoti will bear witness with Yours Truly there is a lot of work which needs to be done.
The gravel road from Lupane past Shangani River is rather an eyesore and powers-that-be need to really spruce up this particular highway for the sake of easy accessibility.
A similar predicament awaits the traveller, who has to pass through Shabula whose road disrepair status is a cause for concern to any motorist.
As this particular road snakes its way through Komba, Lupaka, Matshakayile, Cross Gobhi, Mpahlwa and Gomoza, visitors could be advised to be wary of vehicle damages and other related issues.
However, such types of highways are also adventurous when embarking on simplistic game drives that are more exploratory on rough terrains as part of animal viewing.
So, after all is said and done, Yours Truly will continue advocating for Mtshane Khumalo’s statue to “overlook” the likes of Cecil John Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson and Major Allan Wilson among others.
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