The flames of Matebeleland's Desire for Self-Determination

The flames of Matebeleland's Desire for Self-Determination
Published: 06 August 2017 | by George Mkhwananzi


Sometime last year Job Sikhala, an MDC senior official challenged Mthwakazi activist to take him into their confidence and explain why they wanted to 'secede' from Zimbabwe. I am not sure if he got the response he wanted. Here is my succinct response to those with similar questions, not as a member of PDP but as a member of the Mthwakazi nation. Mthwakazi is the collective name of all regions that once fell under the Ndebele Kingdom and that roughly covers the Midlands province together with present day Matabeleland, parts of Masvingo and Mashonaland West. It is the official name King Mzilikazi gave to his kingdom.


Mthwakazi people want out of Zimbabwe because they are being crushed to death by the weight of Shona tribal oppression. However, it would be unfair to attempt to project all the Shona people of Zimbabwe as oppressors of Ndebeles by virtue of being members of that nation. Indeed, many of them have dissociated themselves from the Gukurahundi ideology and even condemned it as an evil practice in much more elaborate ways than some Ndebeles have done.


By Gukurahundi ideology we are not merely referring to the events of the 1980s. We are referring to the ongoing collective attitude of an entire ethnic group who have wittingly or unwittingly barricaded all access to power, opportunities and resources in Zimbabwe by members of the Ndebele nation. That there is tension between these two national groupings cannot be denied; cannot be ignored.


The string of events that culminated with the breakup of the united MDC in 2005 is a case in point. Even Joshua Nkomo, the biggest catch and captive of the Shona so far, speaks about it in his book published in 1984 while he was in exile in London fleeing the same Gukurahundi architects. However, this tension is not at individual level; it is at political level. At individual level people can make friends, fall in love or even intermarry.


My personal view is that Ndebele-Shona relations are not an intertribal affair; they are a subterranean xenophobia between nationals of two rival nations forced to live within the same borders of one country by history. Just like the Ndebele, the Shona are also a great people who have demonstrated incredible bravery in fighting for their freedom from colonial oppression. Unfortunately, because of the deep distrust borne by the Shona against their Ndebele counterparts, they have devoted much of their creative genius in keeping Ndebeles down and out of power instead of developing the country. In the process, they have severely messed up the country to the extent that even their blind beggars have fled it. All this is unnecessary.


I know many people who read this article will immediately conclude that the views expressed here represent or promote hatred against the Shona as a people. Much to the contrary, these views emphasize how detestable tribalism is as ensconced in the Gukurahundist system that is being executed in the name of the Shona, articulated in their language, implemented through their agency, for their benefit and prosperity at the expense of the Ndebele.


Just as there were many good whites who disagreed with Ian Smith's racial discrimination against blacks in Rhodesia but quietly enjoyed the privileges of whiteness, there are also many good Shona people today who do not agree with Gukurahundism but quietly enjoy the privileges of being Shona in Zimbabwe. They unwittingly do this through their linguistic chauvinism when they expect all Ndebeles to know Shona. They do this when they fix two different leadership aspiration ceilings for themselves as Shonas against Ndebeles.


To illustrate this point, just recently, when someone mistook Dr Nkosana Moyo for a Ndebele, they posted an article asking: “Is Zimbabwe ready for an Ndebele President?” My question is: “Who the hell is this stupid Zimbabwe who has to be ready for a Ndebele president when she is being screwed by a really bad, sick and old Shona speaking president for nearly 40 years but doesn’t mind being infected with gonorrhoea?” Why can’t VP Phelekezela Mphoko or Prof Jonathan Moyo aspire to become President Robert Mugabe’s successor, respectively? Why can’t we have a Ndebele National Army Commander, Air Marshal, CIO Boss, Prison Services Head or Reserve Bank Governor?


The Ndebele want to enjoy full citizenship in their country where they will not be made to feel foreign and unwanted. A country where they will aspire for and occupy any position of authority without being told that ‘their’ country is not yet ready for ‘their’ presidency. Ndebeles are tired of being told to go back to KwaZulu-Natal whenever they complain of marginalisation, violation of their languages and heritage; when they demand justice, or want to install a King as their cultural embodiment in accordance with Chapter 15.1(1) and (2) of the Zimbabwe Constitution.


Remember the Ndebele are the only people in Zimbabwe (if not the entire continent) who lost their institution of the King through European colonisation and never regained it after independence.  They do not need a referendum for this just like the resuscitation of abolished chieftaincies does not need any referendum. Now tell me, are Ndebeles full citizens of Zimbabwe?


My opinion is that both nations can benefit much from a peaceful coexistence as two independent neighbouring states than by engaging in futile contests for supremacy over Zimbabwe.


- Source: George Mkhwananzi, Facebook, published by umthwakazireview.com

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