By Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki
HISTORY is a critical component of a people’s heritage.
People with no knowledge of their history are as good as lost. Often, they have no sense of pride because they are not aware of what they have achieved in history.
White colonial education has given us a historical narrative which is not only deliberately distorted but also missing, literally, hundreds of essential pages containing our great historical achievements.
Heritage teaching and learning requires that we pass on to our learners correct information about our past so that they become proud of the achievements of their forebears.
A legacy of great achievements by our forefathers will inspire us to scale greater heights, confident that we have it in our genes to climb great heights!
After reading some historical narratives, I came across information about our history which is missing from both the old and the new school curriculum.
As part of strengthening our heritage-based teaching and learning, I am sharing the historical information with readers of this column.
First, I will talk about the monuments from which our country gets its name Zimbabwe.
We are proud to know that the builders of the Great Zimbabwe monuments, who were in fact the rulers of the Mwenemutapa Empire, were undoubtedly our forefathers, the ancestors of the majority of present day Zimbabweans.
Zimbabweans should also know that the stone monuments are found all over Zimbabwe, stretching east into Mozambique, west into Botswana and south into South Africa.
The granite stone monuments are found all over the area now called Mashonaland, stretching from Marondera to Mutoko and Mudzi districts.
The largest monuments in northern Zimbabwe are located at the original Masvingo, near Waddilove Mission, at the site where the first Mwenemutapa built his headquarters.
This is the area we find ‘Mutiusinazita’.
The Great Zimbabwe Monuments, further south in Masvingo Province, were built by the son of Mwenemutapa I, who ascended his father’s throne when his father died.
Zimbabweans should also know that the greatest concentration of stone monuments is found in present-day Matabeleland.
Each monument represents a settlement like a town or village. The stone walls were fortifications against attack by outside enemies.
Many Zimbabweans are ignorant of the fact that the Nguni invasions, in the 19th Century, from the south, such as Zwangendaba and, later, Mzilikazi came long after the Great Zimbabwe Monuments had been built.
What is now Matabeleland was inhabited by Kalanga/Karanga people for centuries.
Matabeleland is called the second Guruuswa, (the first is in Tanganyika) for the reasons of its long settlement by these earlier ancestors.
Examples of these beautifully built monuments include Khami near Bulawayo and Nalatale Ruins.
There are many more in south-western Zimbabwe, stretching into Botswana.
The famous Mapungubwe is located south of the Limpopo in South Africa.
Mapungubwe monument, also of highly sophisticated design and construction, is of great historic interest.
The South African Government has established the Order of Mapungubwe as one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed on an individual for national achievements.
Let us now put our narrative into historical context to show the significance of these highly sophisticated architectural achievements by our ancestors.
The stone monuments found in Zimbabwe are similar to those found in Egypt and Sudan where they are even more numerous than here in Southern Africa.
Would it be by coincidence that such stone structures were built by different people?
It took a long time for Europeans to accept that black people built the Zimbabwe monuments.
Various theories were advanced in efforts to prove that black people could not build such structures
Readers may also appreciate that the skills of shaping stones and using them as construction materials is well displayed in Egypt and Sudan, the same areas where our ancestors originated.
The pyramids and structures similar to our Zimbabwe stone monuments occur widely in North Africa where our ancestors migrated from.
Buried inside the stone pyramids are black kings who were called the Pharaohs!
The obvious conclusion is that descendants of these black highly skilled stone masons migrated south with their skills and when they found land where they settled peacefully, they resumed their speciality; shaping granite stones and using them to construct sophisticated stone structures such as we find across the length and breadth of the former Mwenemutapa Empire.
It is common cause that our ancestors migrated south when their empires in Egypt and Sudan were destroyed by armed barbarians flocking down from Europe and Asia.
The populations that remained were gradually coloured brown and almost white by waves of invaders including, at different times, the Greeks (Alexander the Great) and the Romans, pushing their empire south and east.
Most of these light-skinned invaders did not bring women.
They took black African women and their progeny was of mixed blood.
When Mohamed the prophet died, waves of Arabs flocked south to spread Islam and also to loot.
They in turn gradually changed the complexion of the North Africans from black to various shades of white.
So we can see that a lot of valuable historical knowledge has been swept under by European historians.
It has left Africans with no sense of history of great achievements.
So we argue that a heritage-based education, such as our new Education 5.0, must give the correct facts and interpretation of our historical achievements.
This is important as we begin to re-build our confidence and self-belief.
If we think we can, then we will.
If we can see that we once achieved great things as African people, then we will strive to lift ourselves economically .
In the next episode, we shall review the Chimurenga legacy and trace the origins of our (Zimbabweans) fighting spirit in anti-colonial wars.
We have always been our own liberators.