Mtshana hero status delayed but welcome: King Lobengula’s Royal Trust

The recent posthumous conferment of national hero status on General Mtshana Khumalo by President Emmerson Mnangagwa though long overdue is a welcome development, King Lobengula’s Royal Trust has said.

Commander of King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment, Gen Khumalo defeated the colonialist Allan Wilson Patrol at the Battle of Pupu on December 4 in 1893.

Gen Mtshana was also the overall commander of King Lobengula’s other regiments namely Ingubo, Insuka and Insizwa, Ihlathi, Isiziba, Amavene, Mazibalonkwe, Mcijo and Ingwana.

On Sunday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Kazembe Kazembe, visited the Khumalo family to announce the news of Gen Khumalo’s national hero status.

“We have received it (news) positively though we believe that it is evidently a much-delayed action because we had independence in 1980 and it is about 40 years down the line now,” said Peter Zwide Khumalo of the King Lobengula’s Royal Trust.

“We think the government has made a positive move to recognise one of us’ hero status, particularly of historical times. All along what they have considered as heroes are people that fought the war of independence and yet the war of independence did not start off with the recent guerrilla armies – ZANLA and ZIPRA and so on. It started off with our forefathers – King Mzilikazi and their commanders and King Lobengula and his commanders.” 

He said the development was in a way the recognition of the Ndebeles’ historical heroism.

“The reason why we think it is also positive is that the history has not been recorded correctly for the education of our children,” argued Khumalo. 

“It has always left out the stories relating to the history of the Ndebele people. Our children are not being taught that history that is directly relevant to them so by conferring that status on him (Mtshana) we hope the government will now realise that they now need to teach or ensure that the correct history that relates to the people in their varied cultural backgrounds is taught in schools.” 

He said the government now needs to show its commitment to that by ensuring General Mtshana is given recognition given to other both living and departed generals.

“So Mtshana needs to be brought to the same level by being awarded posthumously those stars that relate to being conferred that status. In that way the government will show it is committed to the actual meaning of that status,” said Khumalo.

He said since Gen Mtshanea was serving under a monarchy his recognition could signal the government’s first step towards accepting the Ndebele monarchy.

“It means they (government) are accepting the fact that he was a commander under the control of the King and therefore the monarchy system is going to be one aspect that might be recognised by the government as we go on,” posited Khumalo. 

“It is one step at a time. You know what I am talking about.”

But for political analyst, Effie Ncube, the recognition could be a political gimmick.

He argues that all soldiers who participated in the battle of Pupu all automatically became heroes.

“The so-called recognition is not a recognition at all, it’s a non-event based on wrong history,” Ncube told CITE. 

“It is a political gimmick that must be rejected. Zanu-PF is not qualified to decide who among the people who gallantly fought against colonial invaders in 1893 is a hero. All of them are, of course, heroes whether Zanu-PF likes it or not, accepts it or not, recognises it or not. It was a national resistance, not by individuals but by all.” 

Meanwhile, the unveiling of Pupu National Monument in Lupane in Matabeleland North which was set for this week has reportedly been postponed indefinitely.

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