MOUNT DARWIN in Mashonaland Central Province has hosted this year’s national independence celebrations.
Mount Darwin apparently also hosted the Second Chimurenga longer than any other site of armed liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.
Mount Darwin’s original name is Pfura Mountain.
In so doing, Darwin incidentally championed the white supremacy that informed colonialism, and today informs illegal sanctions on people of colour. It should, however, be acknowledged that the concept of white supremacy predated Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Long before Darwin’s arrival, the Bible had been used to justify the slavery of people of colour, particularly the blackman. Darwin’s greatest contribution was to present ‘scientific proof’ to convince non-Christian evil people (still in doubt) that the coding of human beings into a hierarchy of races was a design of nature and not religious bigotry.
Names are not just referent sounds. They are handles of history and meaning. They are also suggestions and directives. The evil suggested by the name ‘Darwin’, given to Pfura Mountain by Frederick Courtney Selous (pictured), was literally taken to its logical conclusion in the treatment of black people in colonial Rhodesia by British white settlers.
In his ‘Study of History’, British historian Arnold Toynbee simplified the suggestion which Selous encoded in the name Mount Darwin. The late nationalist Herbert Chitepo cited Arnold Toynbee’s hostile suggestion in his 1974 address to Australians:
“When we, Europeans, call people natives, we take away anything from them; anything that suggests that they are human beings. They are to us like the forest which the western man fells down. Or, the big game that he shoots down. They have no tenure of land. Their tenure of land is as precarious as that of the animals that they find. What shall we, the lords of creation, the white people, do with the natives we find? Shall we treat them as vermin to be exterminated or shall we treat them as hewers of wood and drawers of water? There is no other alternative if niggers have no souls.”
Interestingly, however, it looks like locals did not take Courtney’s affront laying back.
They tongue-twisted ‘Darwin’ to ‘Dharuweni’ in a kind of struggle for independence from colonial appropriation. Undoubtedly, it is a resistance that managed to hide the obscenity from public awareness. Inadvertently, it also hid the original name, Pfura, from the national grid.
Today, it turns out, Mount Darwin hid much more than the foregoing. A mineshaft at Chibondo, in the same Mount Darwin, was the cache of some of the worst atrocities committed by the Rhodesians during the Second Chimurenga.
And, in the longer historical context, Mount Darwin networks an African disaster of colossal proportions.
Arguably, the first incursion by imperial Christianity into the Mwenemutapa Empire, headquartered in the Mount Darwin neighbourhood, was championed by a Portuguese Jesuit, Father Goncalo da Silveira.
It was nipped in the bud by the indigenes who killed the charlatan on March 16 1561.
Selous, who named Mount Darwin, was fathered by Frederick Lokes Selous who was chairman of the London Stock exchange that once listed African slaves as stock.
The same Frederick Courteney Selous, who named Mount Darwin, was friends with Cecil John Rhodes, ‘probably the richest and the most ambitious of the capitalist imperialist empire builders known to British imperial history.’ (Chitepo)
Rhodes founded the British South Africa Company (BSAC) that established Rhodesia as a commercial enterprise. The BSAC would be listed on the London stock exchange, chaired by Frederick Lokes Selous, the father of the terrorist who named Mount Darwin.
This meant that vast tracts of the land of Zimbabwe, the land appropriated by the BSAC, could be bought and sold by British speculators who had never, and might never, set foot in Zimbabwe.
Over 100 years later, the generational beneficiaries of the scandal would sponsor opposition politics in the Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to champion a regime change campaign aimed at frustrating the redistribution of land to the generational victims of the robbery.
Courteney Selous, the hunter, explorer and friend of Rhodes, who named Mount Darwin, provided the intelligence that informed the occupation of Mashonaland.
In 1893, the terrorist who named Mount Darwin was part of the command element in the settler-force that invaded and occupied Matabeleland.
He would fight in the same capacity to put down the First Chimurenga.
In the Second Chimurenga, a pseudo-guerilla regiment, the Selous Scouts Regiment, would be named after the terrorist who named Mount Darwin to keep the atrocious legacy alive. It would be based in Bindura, Mashonaland Central, in the neighbourhood of Mount Darwin which he had named.
The commander of the Selous Scouts Regiment, psychopath Ronald Reid Daly, known to his sick following as ‘Uncle Ron,’ credits the terrorists with 68 percent of the genocide committed by Rhodesians in the Second Chimurenga. The regiment’s first major atrocity, code-named ‘Operation Eland’ but known to the survivors as the ‘Nyadzonia Massacre’ (August 9 1976), wiped out 1 028 refugees and wounded over 1 000 more. They used military vehicles painted in FRELIMO colours, as well as ‘turned’ guerillas, like Morrison Nyathi, to gain the trust of the victims.
The bodies they would hide in the Chibondo Mine shaft would surpass the Nyadzonia number by far. The evidence is yet to be used to bring the perpetrators to book as well as atone the restless spirits of the victims.
The methods used by the Selous Scouts, named after Frederick Courtney Selous, who named Mount Darwin, translate to a historic outrage lifted straight from the NAZI manual of war crimes.
They pretended to be freedom fighters in order to gain the trust of their victims.
They poisoned water sources.
They contaminated the land with diseases like anthrax.
They poisoned clothes and food for distribution to the unsuspecting population and freedom fighters.
They tortured their indigenous victims using waterboarding, electric shock, suffocation and burning.
They disposed of their victims in drums of acid.
All this evidence was found on remains of victims taken out of the Chibondo mineshaft. Other recoveries have been made from mineshafts dotted around the country. More discoveries are still being made.
The foregoing is the story of Pfura Mountain, ‘Christened’ Mount Darwin, by a British terrorist, Frederick Courtney Selous.
It is a story that indicts the continued insult to our sovereignty 43 years after uhuru.