By SIYAMTHANDA PONGCO
The first of September marked the beginning of a month, a season and heritage month. The day also saw the launch of the King Lobengula Foundation events that will take place in during Heritage month at the Princess Zila Lobengula Cultural Village.
Stakeholders present at the event
Various stakeholders gathered at the beautiful landscapes of Princess Zila Lobengula Cultural Village. Present at the even was representatives from various organisations including the Albany Museum. Makana Municipality. Rhodes University, traditional healers and members from civil society.
Lost monarch, a generation lost in a foreign land
Sizwe Mda is the grandson of Rhodes and Nombina Lobengula, born of Zila, the last daughter of the heir of King Lobengula. He is also the CEO of King Lobengula Lodges and Tours, which offers unique Heritage Guided Tour Routes in and around the Frontier Regions. Mda, tells a story of the ‘Lost Monarch, a generation lost in a foreign land’. But is the Monarch truly lost? Is the generation genuinely lost in a foreign land? Or have they just found a home far away from home?
Fleeing the Mfecane wars to Zimbabwe
According to Sizwe Mda, Lobengula means who was very sick later became King Lobengula. He was the son of Mzilikazi who was the son of Matshobana who had fled Shaka Zulu’s tyranny during the Mfecane wars. Mzilikazi settled into the Matebeleland in what now is known as Southwestern Zimbabwe. His son, King Lobengula, ruled the Matebele Kingdom from the death of his father, Mzilikazi, in 1868 until the demise of the Kingdom in the late 19th century. In later years, Lobengula’s descendants would later be taken to Makhanda by Cecil John Rhodes and unknowingly buried in Fingo Village.
One of Lobengula’s descendents Princess Zila Lobengula Mda, passed away on the 23 of March 2018, and the opening of the Museum was in her honour as she dreamt of one day telling the story of her Ancestors laid so far from home without due recognition by the South African authorities and the community alike. Mda said it is for her legacy that the Museum was established to give back to the Community the wealth left behind by the Great Mzilikazi kaMatshobana from Kwa-Zulu under the hands of Shaka the Warrior.
Cultural preservation includes the importance of studying, teaching, and documentation for future generations to come. The people of Makhanda don’t know who King Lobengula is, nor are they aware of the Princess Zila Lobengula Cultural Village in Fingo Village.
“I grew up here in Makhanda and have never heard of the King Lobengula Foundation, which is unfortunate,” said Reverend Nokuzola Gitywa.
She said, however, communities need to ensure that the children of Makhanda get to know and be taught about such cultural sites, especially in the township of Makhanda.
“The discussion of cultural preservation does not happen enough. The lack of awareness is causing local history, culture, and languages to die,” Mda said.
Mda emphasised that preserving indigenous languages and rituals is vital so that people can keep in touch with their history and culture.
The panel discussion concluded that it would be interesting if the local schools, not just in Makhanda but in the country, could start exercising the idea of teaching local history to preserve cultural Heritage for future generations.
Rami Xoxa said, Makhanda is a unique town filled with cultural history, there is so much to learn, and our story and history need to be told by us and not by outsiders who often, if not all the time, misappropriate information about history.
Other Lobengula Foundation Activities
During Heritage month, Sizwe Mda said King Lobengula Foundation would be starting Herbal Classes for those interested to know more about Herbs. Herbalist Mr Mgxotheni, will offer training for beginners and advanced students.
Mda said they are looking at a Holistic way of healing, using roots and other plants. We shall be starting a herbal garden within the establishment. Those interested in learning or looking at some of our plants in our beautiful garden are more than welcome to book a Tour with us which will take you through some beautiful landscapes.