LAST week we wrote about the British fraudsters who spawned the Rudd Concession which they used as a basis for the armed invasion and occupation of the land between the Zambezi and the Limpopo, the land of Zimbabwe.
The armed invasion did not go unchallenged as the First Chimurenga was fought in both Matabeleland and Mashonaland.
In Matabeleland, it was fought between March 20 and July 20 1896. Many battles were fought but the July 1896 battles in Matobo Hills were the most decisive.
“By July 20, General Carrington’s forces under the command of Colonel Plummer had taken positions in the Matobo Hills, expecting to take out First Chimurenga warriors in three weeks.
Each attack drew jeers, drew out gun fire and jeers from First Chimurenga warriors who moved with ease from behind one rock to another shooting back at European soldiers struggling up the difficult terrain. A form of guerilla warfare had emerged which rendered General Carrington’s conventional war strategy useless and incredibly ridiculous. After one week of intensive fighting over 20 European soldiers lay dead and nearly 50 were wounded but with no casualties among Chimurenga forces.” (Muchemwa:2015)
This concluded the First Chimurenga in Matabeleland and the whiteman knew he could not defeat the Ndebele in battle.
Two weeks before, the whiteman had hoped to crush First Chimurenga warriors by storming the Ntabazikamambo Shrine and fortress.
But the storming of Ntabazikamambo, on the dawn of the July 5, with the latest models of 7 pounders, mountain guns, Hotchikiss’s, Maxim guns, and dynamite explosives, targeted at each single kopje and hill in Ntabazikamambo, had not had the desired result.
“Hundreds of fighting forces, among them regimental commanders such as Nyamanda and Siginyamatshe, Mkwati, Mtini, Nkomo and Makumbi, Mpotswana and his regiment had escaped during the night, before the storming of the Fortress, thus the most senior commanders of First Chimurenga warriors had not been destroyed as they had planned. Other regimental commanders, such as Umugulu, Sikombo, Dhliso and Emfezela, had already been encamped at Matobo Hills and so were not touched by the storming of Ntabazikamambo. Despite the 150 dead among Chimurenga warriors against 10 whites dead, the bulk of First Chimurenga warriors were still intact and strong. This was a small dent in the force of Chimurenga warriors who had sworn to drive out the white menace by force of arms.”
Thus, the Matobo Hills battles which the whiteman lost dismally only two weeks after the storming of Ntabazikamambo which had failed to defeat First Chimurenga warriors ensconced therein, was a clear message to the whiteman that it was not possible to defeat the Ndebele First Chimurenga warriors in battle.
Muchemwa (2015) writes: “It was clearly more than a military puzzle to Rhodes who quickly realised that there was no military solution to the First Chimurenga in Matabeleland and, against General Carrington’s advice, he offered the warriors a negotiated settlement, thus Rhodes held several indabas with Ndebele Chiefs.”
Both Ntabazikamambo and Matobo Hills are sacred places.
“Where are we to live when it’s over? The whiteman claims all the land?” asked a young chief at Rhodes’s second indaba with Ndebele chiefs (August 28 1896).
Rhodes promised: ‘We will give you settlements. We will set apart locations for you. We will give you land.’
And the young chief angrily replied: ‘You will give us land in our own country. That’s good of you.’
It is poignant that when Rhodes objected to the young chief talking to him with a rifle in his hand, the young chief replied: ‘You will have to talk to me with my rifle in my hand , I find that if I talk with my rifle in my hand, the whiteman pays attention. Once I put my rifle down: I am nothing, I am just a dog to be kicked.’
At the end of the third indaba the summary of the conclusions went thus:
“The Chiefs said the Matabele wanted to come out of the hills, but the question of where they were to settle presents a difficulty. Somabulana, Sicombo, Dhliso…wanted to settle on gardens occupied by them during Lobengula’s time. Mr Rhodes replied that it could be arranged.”
Nothing was ever arranged, these three were the chiefs of Insiza, Umzingwane and Matobo Hills areas which were already occupied by Heany, Selous, Sauer Author and Rhodes as their private property.
They never intended to part with these areas.
Instead, Rhodes gave the chiefs an ultimatum to come out of the hills or the war would resume with immediate effect.
In the meantime, drought, famine and disease had taken their toll on the indunas and their people and they did surrender not because of the ultimatum, but because they could perish due to hunger and disease engendered by those harsh conditions.
Indeed nothing was arranged or expedited; the Africans were to go back to their ancestral lands as tenants on the whiteman’s terms and conditions and subject to summary evictions.
And Earl Grey, the administrator, sealed the insult to the Ndebele with the following communique in October 1896:
“I wish to take this opportunity of recognising the readiness with which private owners have come to my assistance, by placing their farms at the disposal of the administrator for the temporary location of natives. After the next harvest is reaped, should the natives desire to remain in occupation of villages located on private property, it will be necessary for them, with the assistance of the Native Commissioner, to agree with the private owners as to the terms on which they shall be allowed to remain as the tenants upon the land.”
Thus Rhodes did not deliver what he promised — once again, a trail of dishonesty and deceit.
He had been defeated, he accepted he had failed to defeat the Ndebele on the battlefield so he offered to negotiate, but never in good faith, just to play chess until he could get his way.
The Ndebele remain the victors, the nobles who fought valiantly and defeated the whiteman, the ones who were honest and just in their negotiations, demanding their ancestral lands.
Eighty-three years later, at the triumph of the Second Chimurenga, once again the British called for talks they had lost the Chimurenga War, they wanted to negotiate terms of surrender.
The negotiations were at Lancaster House.
Typical of British intransigence and racist selfishness, they still wanted to leave the land in the hands of the British settler-farmers, giving the Africans, the victors, an empty calabash after 16 years of bitter armed struggle in which thousands of our people had perished for our land. We could only repossess our land on the ‘willing-seller willing-buyer’ basis, they charged.
The liberation forces would have none of it and were prepared to go back to the battlefield; they would not buy back their land which the British held as a right of conquest but would now deny the Africans their right of conquest in their moment of victory.
The fear of the freedom fighters going back to battle forced the British to accept that they and their European relatives, including Americans, would pay for the land which the liberation forces Government would repossess from the British settler-farmers in the land of Zimbabwe to give to the masses of Zimbabwe.
And so the burning issue was solved and a ceasefire was signed on December 21 1979.
But the British did not sign the Lancaster House Agreement in good faith.
They were just buying time to get out of the difficult situation of defeat on the battlefield by the liberation forces.
Once that was out of the way, they reneged on their word. In November 1997, they cancelled the crux of the Lancaster House Agreement:
“I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new government from diverse backgrounds, without links to former colonial interests” (Clare Short:1997).
“With the stroke of a pen, Madame Clare Short had unilaterally cancelled everything agreed to by the United States of America, Britain and the Patriotic Front in December 1979 at the Lancaster House Conference. She had unilaterally cancelled the international agreement as if she had forgotten that she was only a Minister on her Majesty’s Service: a Minister under the British Crown; a crown which had declared all land in Zimbabwe Crown Land as a right of conquest in 1918” (Muchemwa:2015)
It is indeed a trail of intransigence, dishonesty, a total lack of integrity, principle, honour and justice by the British from 1888 to date.
If you ever say something and do the opposite, repeatedly, who can trust you?
Indeed, who is beholden to the British for anything …? We of Zimbabwe are not.
A British trail of deception, dishonesty and shenanigans so staggering in the light of so much grandstanding as paragons of virtue and civilisation.