Nehanda not a farce

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IF there was ever any doubt about whites’ racism towards blacks, one has to scour the recurring pattern in the aftermath of the brutal murder of George Floyd, a black American, by a white policeman Derek Chauvin, on May 25 2020 and the wretched manner in which the white settler-regime continued to abuse blacks in Zimbabwe after they murdered the iconic First Chimurenga heroine Mbuya Nehanda on April 27 1896.

Whites have been relentless in brutalising blacks, even under the glare of cameras as seen by the continued murder of blacks in the US.

On December 5 2020, US Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario was harassed by reckless white police officers in Virginia. They pointed their guns and pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop.

Nazario, who is Latino and black, said the two police officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, knocked him to the ground and threatened to murder him.

The officers repeatedly demanded that Nazario step out of the car.

On March 29 2021, Chicago Police Department police officer Eric Stillman killed a 13-year-old Mexican-American boy, Adam Toledo, with the police initially claiming the unfortunate boy was killed after what they said was an ‘armed confrontation’.

They later removed the word ‘armed’ after video footage showed the boy raising his hands before he was shot.

These incidents should, under normal circumstances, snap black people to the reality that they have plenty to fight for in future but certainly not some Zimbabweans who have yet to come to terms with the fact that we not only have a story to tell but to defend as well.

This is a story that has been deftly concealed by whites who wave the human rights flag and so-called ‘democracy’ among other lies they parrot to the masses.

One such story that almost everyone ignored this week is that of Mbuya Nehanda.

And we repeated that story here, whose highlight in the past few months has been the ridicule of the construction of that great heroine’s statue in Harare’s CBD.

These are the same people who would embrace the NGOs that are threatening to destabilise peace and security in the country.

This is what Mbuya Nehanda fought against during the days of colonialism until her time of arrest and murder.

She was arraigned in the High Court of Matabeleland that sat in Salisbury on February 20 1898.

By March 2 1898, she had been convicted in a case entered as ‘The (British) Queen against Nihanda’.

When the British High Commissioner based in South Africa, Alfred Milner, was informed about the death sentence passed on Mbuya Nehanda, he dispatched a letter to the judge to have her executed immediately.

Below is part of the letter:

“The Queen against Nihanda in custody under sentence of death for murder.

I do hereby certify that a report of all the proceedings upon the trial of the said Nihanda for murder in and before the High Court held at Salisbury on March 1898, hath been transmitted to and laid before me as High Commissioner for South Africa by His Honourable the judge Watermeyer when sentence of death was there and then pronounced upon the said prisoner.

I hereby duly authorise and approve of the execution of the said sentence of death upon the said Nehanda.”

Once Judge Watermeyer had received the above authority, he immediately, together with Herbert Hayton Castens Esquire, the acting public prosecutor sovereign within the British South Africa Company territories, who prosecutes for and on behalf of her majesty, wrote an instruction to the sheriff authorising him to kill Mbuya Nehanda.

Below is the instruction:

“To the sheriff of the territory of Rhodesia.

The Queen against Nihanda in custody.

His Excellency the High Commissioner has duly authorised and approved of the execution of the said sentence of death upon the said Nihanda on Wednesday April 27 one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight within the walls of the Gaol of Salisbury between hours of six and ten in the afternoon.

She shall be hanged by the neck until she be dead at such place of execution.

This instruction is therefore to command you that cause execution of the said sentence to be had and done upon the said prisoner accordingly and that you keep and detain her in your custody until she shall have undergone the said sentence.”

Five years prior to this shocking event, a family that would create unprecedented wealth from looting of the country’s resources and people’s livestock had set foot in the country.

The Meikle brothers who, until last year, owned the Meikles Hotel, would go on a looting spree that began in 1891.

And their story, which is touted as the epitome of generational worth and wealth, makes sad reading. 

In most instances, the glamour and glitz behind the Meikles brand almost always blinds the viewers so much that the source of that wealth is ignored.

A historical visit to the Meikles generational wealth, running over a century, is birthed in murky waters. 

The looting of the indigenous cattle, with the Looting Committee headed by John Meikle, what the settlers termed the ‘kaffir warfare’, was not anywhere near a war. 

It was the overrunning of a peaceful people. 

Herewith is the Meikle family’s journey from 1891 to the current million-dollar Meikles family empire, termed generational wealth.

John Meikle, quoted in Rhodesian Genesis, a book on how Rhodesia was built by Cecil John Rhodes, details their beginnings thus:

“We arrive at Fort Victoria on the 7th May 1891. The original site of Fort Victoria consisted of a few wattle and daub buildings and a roughly thrown up ground fort surmounted by sacks filled with sand. 

Ours was the first consignment of fresh stocks of general merchandise to arrive in the country since its occupation.

Our plans for the future were very indefinite. We decided, if we could sell out, that we would do so and return for a further lot of goods. 

But things were in a very bad way – there was no money in the place, very little outside capital having up to then come in to develop the mines. 

The pioneers were for the most part scattered over the country prospecting and pegging farms, earning next to nothing.

After this, they are incorporated into the Looting Committee where they forcibly take cattle from locals across the country.

Rhodes rewards them by giving them some of the looted.” 

John Meikle goes on:

“Tom (Thomas Meikle) brought some of the looted cattle for me and we were fortunate in not losing any from lung sickness.”

After that the Meikles had enough capital to expand their business.

“Headquarters were established in Fort Victoria and from there the brothers spread out to repeat the enterprise; Stewart to Salisbury in 1893, Thomas to Bulawayo in 1894 and John to Umtali in 1896,” one account says.

In 1915, they set up Meikles Hotel, opening it to guests on November 15 that year.

It is said the hotel hosted the first parliament of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1924.

Indeed, it is important to keep in mind atrocities that whites committed against us as we write our history as Zimbabweans. 

But back to Mbuya Nehanda. 

April is her month and children, as the future generation of Zimbabwe, must be taught about the icon as a symbol of colonial resistance.  

They must be taught how she inspired the war of liberation as she had boldly declared before being hanged that ‘…her bones would rise’. 

They must be informed about how she, unlike her compatriot Sekuru Kaguvi, refused to be baptised before being killed. 

Perhaps this is where she nailed it. 

She was hanged as Nehanda, unlike Sekuru Kaguvi who accepted and was baptised ‘Dismas’ (the good thief) by Father Richartz of the Roman Catholic Church before being taken to the gallows.

In that regard, children must know that the statue to be erected in Harare in her honour at the centre of Harare’s CBD is not a farce. 

It is something that should have been done soon after independence in 1980. 

It was long overdue!

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