The 1893 Anglo-Ndebele War commemorations

By Thomas Sibanda

On 1 November 1893, Cecil John Rhodes’ Pioneer Column conquered the Ndebele kingdom under King Lobhengula. The decisive and last battle was fought at a place called Gadade in Ntabazinduna.

Thousands of Ndebele warriors were mowed with the Maxim guns from all directions of the Pioneer Column’s lager. The gallant soldiers belonged to the Imbizo, Ameva, iSiziba, iHlathi, iNsukamini, and Ingubo regiments.

Over 6000 bodies of the slain troops were buried in a circular mass grave. It was a grim harvest of humans never seen before in the military history of Southern Africa. The centre of this mass grave is marked with this stone monument.

King Lobhengula escaped from his royal palace and initiated negotiations with Rhodes by sending him gold as a token of peace. However, the white scouts stole the gold and never relayed King Lobhengula’s message to Rhodes.

Rhodes instead dispatched Allan Wilson to chase after King Lobhengula. Wilson & his troops were vanquished by General Mtshana Khumalo and King Lobhengula’s military guard. Thus King Lobhengula survived the humiliation of being captured and escaped to Ngoniland.

Every year people gather at Gadade to commemorate the epic battle and honour the thousands of men slain in defence of their land. This year’s commemorations will be held on 4 November 2023.

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