Children of the soil, spell your own proper name


SOON after independence in 1980 there was a general call throughout the country for the rewriting of our history.
This was because the history that Africans were taught in Rhodesia was written by whites and taught by whites and Africans had been trained to follow in their white masters’ footsteps.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church that established its Centre at Chishawasha was responsible for coming up with the name ‘Zezuru’ for the Children of Murenga who lived on the Highveld.
The Church continued to popularise their dialect as the ideal Shona language.
They established a Printing Press at Chishawasha to produce literature that propagated the supremacy of the Zezuru tribe and language.
The Chishawasha Primary School Zezuru Shona Readers were produced to cover the whole country from Zambezi to Limpopo from Sub ‘A’ to Sub ‘B’ and from Standard One to Standard Six.
These readers propagated the artificial newly coined Zezuru language by the Catholic Church as the Standard Shona language for the whole country.
Other dialects such as ChiManyika, Chikorekore, ChiKalanga, ChiNambya, ChiVenda, ChiShangwe, Chitonga, Chitoko or ChiMaungwe etc. were regarded as deviant or entirely separate languages not to be confused with the real Shona language which was Zezuru.
By the late 1940s, the so-called educated Shona Africans in a Zimbabwe ruled by Rhodesians had to abandon the beauty of their own Shona languages and speak Zezuru if they had to be recognised by Rhodesians and get what was regarded as decent employment for Africans in Rhodesia then.
Such history written by Rhodesians cannot be regarded as Zimbabwean history.
Rhodesians write their own history, not our history.
The history that Rhodesians write about Zimbabwe is about their own life in Zimbabwe.
Most of it is superstitious about Africans.
The following examples will help illustrate this.
Reverend Burbidge had watched the Shona of Barwe perform their rituals for rain in 1935.
He listened to them mention a hierarchy of names of their departed ancestors.
Rev Burbidge was interested in finding out whether the Shona worshipped God or their ancestors.
If they worshipped God, mention of their ancestors would end with God on top.
If they worshipped their ancestors only, they would leave God out.
Now, when Rev Burbidge heard the Shona request the ancestors below to present the request for rain to the ancestors above, who they called Varikumatenga, which means those who are higher up, in Shona he was satisfied that the Shona indeed worshipped God through their ancestors.
Therefore the Shona religion was not very different from Christianity, according him.
But the most fascinating blunder was that in his bid to say that Shona religion was the same as Christianity, Varikumatenga in his ears sounded as Wamakatenga which means, “He whom you bought” which he then interpreted as meaning he who “purchased” the Shona with his blood.
Such bogus similarities between Christianity and Shona religion spread like a wild fire all over Zimbabwe.
You even hear African priests and intellectuals say, there is no difference between how the Christians and the Shona worship.
The Christians worship God through Jesus.
The Shona worship God through their ancestors.
Just one more example from Focus on History Book I: A Lower Secondary Course for Zimbabwe by Neil Parsons.
He says the Shona who moved from Great Zimbabwe and founded a new state in Butwa are known to historians as the Torwa which means ‘strangers’ according to Portuguese documents.
Now, those who follow this column in The Patriot may also remember that outsiders and not Zimbabweans were also responsible for naming the whole territory under Mwene Mutapa, from Lower Ethiopia to Cape Town as The Land of Gold.
You may also remember how the title Mwene Mutapa, which means Ruler of Mines and Mining, Guardian of the Mines and Mining, Overseer of All Activities Related to Mines and Mining Industries and Trade in the Land; or simply King of Mines or Prince of Mines, was corrupted to Mwana Mutapa, Monomotapa and Munhumutapa.
But most importantly, you may have come to realise, from your own observations, how the Zimbabwean eminent scholars, businessmen and politicians have embraced these distortions and their false meanings as historical truth, and how our education system continues to cherish and teach them in our schools and all our people in Zimbabwe without any signs of relenting.
Previous articles in this column in The Patriot also explained that Indian traders referred to all the sons and daughters of Mwene Mutapa’s Land as the children of the Land of ‘Sona’, and that ‘sona’ is the Indian name for gold which was corrupted to ‘Shona’ by European colonialists who confined its use to Africans who resided in the Capital Province of the Land of Gold, known as Zimbabwe today.
These were now the real Shonas.
And African historians concurred.
Still the whiteman was not finished.
The real Shonas were still a threat to his rule if not divided.
So, he went on to create new identities among what he called the real Shona in order to divide and weaken them.
And the so-called real Shonas swallowed their white crafted identities as their real identities that set them apart from their brothers and sisters, not only among the so-called real Shonas, but all their brothers and sisters in whole Land of Gold from Lower Ethiopia to Cape Town.
The reverse also became true.
Our brothers and sisters from Lower Ethiopia to Cape Town no longer see themselves as brothers and sisters of the so-called real Shonas in Zimbabwe, but refer to their brothers as foreigners and treat them as such and even worse than whites who are the real foreigners.
All what this boils down to is the need for Africans to control their own history and spell their own proper name.
If we leave that task to whitemen, we shall face the danger of abandoning the control of our destiny and the hearts and minds of our children to the whitemen.


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