THE Allan Wilson Patrol, comprising of 34 soldiers in the service of the British South Africa Company, was ambushed and annihilated by a contingent of 300 Ndebele warriors on December 4 1893.
Headed by Major Allan Wilson, the patrol met its fate just north of the Shangani River in Lupane in pursuit of King Lobengula.
The patrol’s members, particularly Major Wilson and Captain Henry Borrow, were elevated in death to the status of national heroes by their kith and kin.
The Rhodes and Founders days became annual public holidays in Rhodesia to remember members of the patrol and a historical war film depicting the episode, Shangani Patrol, was produced and released in 1970.
Last week, The Patriot travelled to Lupane with students from Belvedere Teachers’ College and Masvingo Polytechnic on a trip organised by a dedicated nationalist, Richard Mazorodze.
The history of the famous battle was being narrated by Pathisa Nyathi as students gathered at the scene of the famous battle.
However, the historian was disturbed by the arrival of uninvited guests, a white delegation.
The white delegation arrived in a British Embassy vehicle much to the surprise of everyone.
It comprised of an official from the British Embassy, one Sunderland, an elderly white man in his late 70s and a 12-year-old boy, Stephen Freeth, son of Benjamin Freeth and former Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president.
When asked, the 70-year-old said he had come to honour his heroes and to pass on the history to his 12-year-old ‘friend’ so that their history is not forgotten.
Sunderland said he had longed to visit the historical place for a long time.
“I am glad that I am at this place where our heroes Major Allan Wilson and his battalion were killed by the Ndebeles,” Sunderland said.
‘’The men who died here were courageous and determined but they were outnumbered.”
Sunderland said every British national is proud of Allan Wilson’s courage, dedication, bravery and determination.
He said he came with little Freeth so that the boy would be motivated and emulate Allan Wilson’s courage and pass on the history to future generations.
In an interview, the little boy said he was grateful to be at this historical place where their great heroes fought to the last bullet for their British Empire.
However, Richard Mazorodze the organiser of the tour said that he was not amused by the intrusion of the British official and his Rhodesian friends.
Mazorodze said the objective in organising such trips was to revive the history of Zimbabwe liberation struggle and not the Pioneer Column.
In the process, Mazorodze engages African historians, members of the National Archives and real victims so as to have a true narrative of the events and correct our distorted history by the Rhodesians and Europeans at large.
“The idea is to teach our children our history, correcting the distortions made by Europeans.
“I do not know who invited them to our programme, but this is an indication the war with the Rhodesians is not yet over.”
Leopold Chakanyuka, Secretary General for Zimbabwe Congress of Student Union (ZICOSU), said it was imperative for Zimbabweans to rewrite the country’s history that has been distorted by bitter Rhodesians.
“Whites know the importance of history that is why they came with a 12-year-old boy,” he said.
“It is, however, our obligation to learn and pass on our true story to our future generations.
“Our education ministry must make sure that our history is taught to every student for it is the only way to shape future generations and safeguard our heritage.”
The Lupane tour was an eye opener to many students.
“History must teach our children that there was nothing brave about Allan Wilson and his patrol,” said another student from Belvedere Teachers’ College.
“Instead, they were thieves and colonialists who just wanted to milk our country’s resources.”