Rhodes ‘legacy’ finally put to rest

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THERE was something very unique at the Matopos Research Station, the venue of President Robert Mugabe’s 93rd birthday celebrations.
Thousands of Zimbabweans from the country’s 10 provinces converged at the venue; the elderly, the youths and the middle-aged.
To the young, it was a mere venue for celebrating the President’s birthday, but to the elders it was a double celebration.
A celebration of putting Cecil John Rhodes’ ‘legacy’ to an end.
Peter Godwin and Ian Hancock’s book Rhodesians Never Die asserts that Rhodes’ resting place is more than a grave; it is a monument to perpetuate his ‘legacy’ but thousands of Zimbabweans proved them wrong when they reclaimed their heritage by shaming Rhodes’ so-called ‘legacy’ at Matopos.
Everything was completely transformed when the owners of the soil descended on the ground that Rhodes claimed to be his.
The former Rhodes Junior and Preparatory School is now named Matopos Junior School; his paper house and favourite resting place, although declared a National Monument, is now a pale shadow of itself.
Rhodes ‘prohibited’ the burial of people at the World’s View area atop the Matopo Hills ‘within a radius of two kilometers of his grave’.
His grave lies atop a sacred African traditional shrine in the hills.
The grave, on a granite outcrop, is covered with a metal lid. The place where the colonial architect was buried is called Malindidzimu, derived from marinda evadzimu which means the resting place of the spirits.
But last weekend, the spirits of Zimbabwe visited his grave, the sound of music from sons and daughters of the soil reverberated on his grave; he must have turned a countless times in his grave as owners of the land made a bold statement with regards ownership.
The Shona and Ndebele people still hold the place sacred despite his grave being there; and placing Rhodes there was the defilement of the highest degree as it disturbed the ancestral spirits of the land.
Rhodes was buried in the Matobo Hills six years after the end of the First Chimurenga.
There are many shrines in the Matopo Hills which include the Njelele Shrine and caves where some of the great spirit mediums of this country are buried.
However, Rhodes chose to be buried at this all-important Mwari shrine to destroy our centre of spiritual power.
This was the culmination of the whiteman’s deliberate effort to erase who we are as a people.
The coloniser erected memoralabia and decorated buildings with symbols that perpetuated the story of their ‘victory’ over the indigenes.
Plaques and monuments like the anthill in the Matopos National Park where negotiations with the warring Matabele warriors were held are still there celebrating the ‘victory’ of whites.
Rhodesians loved to commemorate everything with a monument as evidenced by thousands of plaques and memorials wherever they laid their feet.
The plaques and statues were a statement that the land was now theirs, to keep forever.
However, the indigenes fought tooth and nail for their land and reclaimed it in April 1980.
The efforts and sacrifice to achieve independence might not have been of much significance to hundreds of youths who were mesimerised by the green scenery and rocky outcrops of the Matopos and took pictures on their mobile phones, but the freedom they enjoyed going about their business in the beautiful land made all the sacrifices worthwhile.
Our children must be told that ‘we will never be a colony again’ as emphatically stated by President Mugabe.
At the 21st February Movement celebrations, the story of Matopo Hills was re-written.
We will not celebrate and revere colonial relics.
Zimbabweans will celebrate their heroes and heroines who are our source of inspiration and not the likes of Rhodes.
The celebrations in Matobo District are a lasting legacy for the youths and those who did not understand Zimbabwe’s spiritual history.
The spiritual memory of our ancestors has not been wiped out.
Matopo Hills still conjure up memories of the First, Second and Third Chimurengas and our religion is doing away with colonialism.
There were heavy rains during the celebrations and the nation expects a bumper harvest.
Perhaps this is the time all spirit mediums should converge at the Njelele Shrine to give thanks to Musikavanhu while our youths must reflect on the importance of this venue to the history of Zimbabwe.

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