Zimbabwe to Return Seized Land to Foreigners

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

After the Zimbabwean government agreed to compensate the White farmers the hefty sum of $3.5 bn last month (Is Zimbabwe the New Haiti?) when they have no money in their coffers, it was only a short step to agreeing to return seized land to foreigners. Excerpts below are from an article on the BBC website. Again why are the people, who will be forced to pay for all this, not consulted?

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Zimbabwe has offered to return land to foreign nationals whose farms were seized under a controversial government programme two decades ago. Thousands of white farmers were forced from their land, often violently, between 2000 and 2001. The seizures were meant to redress colonial-era land grabs but contributed to the country’s economic decline and ruined relations with the West [caused by foreign economic sanctions and embargo]. A separate compensation scheme has been launched for local white farmers. They have not been offered land, but the government last month promised them $3.5bn (£2.6bn) for seized infrastructure[Is Zimbabwe the New Haiti?]. The US has said compensating farmers is one of the requirements for it to lift decades of economic sanctions.

Zimbabwe on Monday said foreign citizens who had their land seized could now apply to get it back. Hundreds of Europeans – mostly Dutch, British and German nationals – whose investments were protected under international agreements could benefit from the offer [if their investments were protected, why do they need compensation now?], reports the BBC’s Shingai Nyoka from the capital, Harare.

In a joint statement on Monday, the ministers of finance and agriculture said some black farmers who received land under the programme would now be moved [to where?]. To allow the former owners “to regain possession” of their land, the government will revoke offers made to black farmers [will they also be compensated like the white farmers?] currently occupying the farms and “offer them alternative land elsewhere” [really? – I don’t trust this sneaky government- with the West they have binding agreements, but with the locals… nothing ], the statement said.

King Lobengula Quote on the Chameleon and the Fly

Zimbabwe_King Lobengula 1893
King Lobengula in 1893

Did you ever see a chameleon catch a fly? The chameleon gets behind the fly and remains motionless for some time, then he advances very slowly and gently, first putting forward one leg and then the other. At last, when well within reach, he darts his tongue and the fly disappears. England is the chameleon and I am that fly.”  King Lobengula

Is Zimbabwe the New Haiti?

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

Did you guys hear about the government of Zimbabwe agreeing to compensate white farmers the hefty sum of 3.5 billion dollars? I was shocked! When there is barely any money in the country, and the economy is in shambles, how can the government agree to this? Moreover, did these white farmers ever compensate the Africans after independence in 1980 for using their lands for a century, for abusing them off their lands? And for all the years of economic embargo forced on the country? Lastly, the clause is set so that the country will be paying this debt forever12 months to raise half of the money when the country is on life support? This is so disgusting, Robert Mugabe must be rolling in his grave!

Haiti flag
Flag of Haiti

So my question is, is Zimbabwe the new Haiti? Remember how Haiti was made to pay France for over a century because of their freedom (When France extorted Haiti, the greatest heist in history)? Because the past slaves had beaten the masters, they were forced to pay France for over a century the hefty sum of 90 million gold francs (equivalent to 21 billion U.S. dollars in today’s money – when Jean-Bertrand Aristide requested reparations, he was ousted) after winning its freedom from France…? And this is why Haiti is so poor! Imagine this: Someone abuses you for years, not to say decades and generations, you finally free yourself, and now you are forced to compensate them because you freed yourself through a ruthless battle from their years of inhumanity. How fair is that? We must be living in a different type of world, because I just don’t understand the logic! Now, it would seem to be Zimbabwe’s turn?

I have always been skeptical of Mnangagwa… but now it has been fully confirmed! When I see this, I wonder why Africa’s leadership is so full of traitors, collabos, and haters of their own people! This will be the topic for another day. Excerpts below are from the CNN article of July 29, 2020.

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Zimbabwe’s government signed an agreement Wednesday worth $3.5 billion to compensate white farmers who were evicted from their land during a controversial and often violent land redistribution program in the early 2000s under former President Robert Mugabe.

This momentous occasion is historic in many respects, brings both closure and a new beginning in the history of the land discourse in our country Zimbabwe,” said current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, after signing the agreement at State House with Andrew Pascoe, the president of the Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe….
According to the agreement, 50 percent of the $3.5 billion would be paid with 12 months from the day of signing, while the balance is paid within five years.
Economists agree that the Zimbabwean government, cash strapped after years of hyper-inflation and allegations of mismanagement [and economic embargo imposed by Western powers], cannot afford to make the compensation.
In a statement, the Finance Ministry said that they will be issuing long term bonds and that the parties will approach international donors to try and raise the funds.

Why the Name: Bulawayo ?

Zimbabwe2
Map of Zimbabwe

I always loved the sound of the name Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe, after the capital Harare, and the largest city in the country’s province of Matabeleland. BU-LA-WA-YO… Doesn’t it roll on your tongue? Doesn’t it sound like thunder ? … like something big must have happened there? Well, …

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

Bulawayo was founded by the Ndebele king, Lobengula, son of Mzilikazi, when he settled in Zimbabwe in the 1840s, after the Ndebele’s people great trek from northern Kwazulu, in South Africa. The name Bulawayo comes from the Ndebele word bulala which translates to “the one to be killed.” It is said that at the time of the city’s founding, there was a civil war due to a kingship succession dispute. The dispute was between Mbiko ka Madlenya Masuku, a trusted confident of King Mzilikazi and leader of the Zwangendaba regiment, and Prince Lobengula who he (Mbiko Masuku) thought was not a legitimate heir because Lobengula was the son of the king born to a Swazi mother, of a lesser rank.

Lobengula1
King Lobengula of Matabeleland

At the time Lobengula, was a prince fighting to ascend the throne of his father Mzilikazi. It was common at the time for people to refer to Bulawayo as KoBulawayo UmntwaneNkosi, “a place where they are fighting or rising against the prince” or the “the place where the prince shall be slain“. The city of Bulawayo coincidentally has the same name as the capital of the great Zulu warrior king Shaka ka Senzangakhona in Kwazulu, where Mzilikazi and his Khumalo clan and other Nguni people came from.

In the 1860s, the city was highly coveted by Europeans, because of its land, wealth, and strategic location. Cecil Rhodes tried different tactics to trick King Lobengula. Lobengula once described Britain as a chameleon and himself as the fly. The fact that Lobengula was a force to reckon with is not to be ignored. Cecil Rhodes himself confided to Rothschild saying, “I have always been afraid of the difficulty of dealing with the Matabele King. He is the only block to central Africa, as, once we have his territory, the rest is easy … the rest is simply a village system with separate headmen …” So trickery was the only resort for Rhodes in order to get Lobengula. Thus, the treacherous Rudd Concession – 30 October 1888 (British Colonial Treaties in Africa: The Ruud Concession in Zimbabwe 30 Oct 1888).

Zimbabwe_Cecil Rhodes
Cecil Rhodes

During the 1893 Matabele WarBritish South Africa Company (BSAC) troops invaded and forced King Lobengula to evacuate, after first detonating munitions and setting fire to the town. BSAC troops and white settlers occupied the ruins. On 4 November 1893Leander Starr Jameson declared Bulawayo a settlement under the rule of the British South Africa Company. Cecil Rhodes ordered the new settlement to be founded on the ruins of Lobengula’s royal kraal,a typical action by a conquering power. This is where the State House stands today.

Zimbabwe_Bulawayo principal street in 1905
The principal street of Bulawayo in 1905

Historically Bulawayo has been the principal industrial centre of Zimbabwe; its factories produce cars and car products, building materials, electronic products, textiles, furniture, and food products. Bulawayo is also the hub of Zimbabwe’s rail network and the headquarters of the National Railways of Zimbabwe. Thus its nickname: “City of Kings” and also “kontuthu ziyathunqa” – meaning “smoke arising” in Ndebele, because of its large industrial base, and the large cooling towers of its coal-powered electricity generating plant situated in the city center which once used to exhaust steam and smoke. Today, as the rest of Zimbabwe, it slowly pushes through the steam.

Zimbabwe_Bulawayo in 1976
Bulawayo in 1976 (Wikipedia)

Bulawayo is seen as the door of tourism to the Matabeleland province, as its capital. Matabeleland boosts of Victoria FallsMatopo National ParkHwange National ParkKhami Ruins and a bigger share of Lake Kariba. As a side note, the infamous Cecil Rhodes‘ grave is said to be at World’s View, a hilltop located approximately 35 km (22 mi) south of Bulawayo, which is part today of Matobo National Park.

Well, if you visit the city of Kings, remember King Lobengula, remember his fire, and his fight for his people’s freedom from western domination… remember the greatness of the Ndebele king, and remember the fire that burns dormant in the people of Bulawayo, fanned by their ancestors. Enjoy the video below on Bulawayo.

Robert Mugabe in His Own Words

Robert Mugabe_12
Robert Mugabe

Africa must revert to what it was before the imperialists divided it. These are artificial divisions which we, in our pan-African concept, will seek to remove.” – Speech at Salisbury, 1962

Was it not enough punishment and suffering in history that we were uprooted and made helpless slaves not only in new colonial outposts but also domestically.” 1960s

We of Africa protest that, in this day and age, we should be treated as lesser human beings than other races.” 2003

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

“If the choice were made, one for us to lose our sovereignty and become a member of the Commonwealth or remain with our sovereignty and lose the membership of the Commonwealth, I would say let the Commonwealth go. What is it to us? Our people are overjoyed, the land is ours. We are now the rulers and owners of Zimbabwe.” – Speech at ZANU-PF Congress December 2003 . This is somewhat reminiscent of when Sekou Touré said ‘NO’ to France in 1958, “It is better to be poor and free, than to live in opulence and be a slave.”

Zimbabwe2
Map of Zimbabwe

We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood … So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe.” – Earth Summit, South Africa, 2002

We don’t mind having sanctions banning us from Europe. We are not Europeans.” 2000s

Our small and peaceful country is threatened daily by covetous and bigoted big powers whose hunger for domination and control of other nations and their resources knows no bounds.” 2000s – Isn’t this true for Africa as a whole today since the Berlin conference of 1884?

“The white man is not indigenous to Africa. Africa is for Africans. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans.” ZANU-PF Congress December 2000.

The land is ours. It’s not European and we have taken it, we have given it to the rightful people … Those of white extraction who happen to be in the country and are farming are welcome to do so, but they must do so on the basis of equality.” 2000s

Robert Mugabe_ZANU PF
Robert Mugabe at a ZANU PF Congress (Source: Nehanda Radio)

“Mr Bush, Mr. Blair and now Mr Brown’s sense of human rights precludes our people’s right to their God-given resources, which in their view must be controlled by their kith and kin. I am termed dictator because I have rejected this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.” UN General Assembly 2007.

African resources belong to Africa. Others may come to assist as our friends and allies, but no longer as colonisers or oppressors, no longer as racists.” 2015

“We have said we will never collapse, never ever. We may have our droughts, our poverty, but as a people, we shall never collapse, never ever.” 

Praising an African King: Praise Poem for Mzilikazi

mzilikazi
Mzilikazi, Matabele King

Mzilikazi (meaning The Great Road), was a Southern African king who founded the Matabele kingdom (Mthwakazi), Matabeleland, in what became Rhodesia and is now Zimbabwe. He was born ca. 1790 near Mkuze,  Zulu Kingdom (now part of South Africa). The son of Matshobana whom many had considered to be the greatest Southern African military leader after the  Zulu king, Shaka. In his autobiography,  David Livingstone referred to him as the second most impressive leader he encountered on the African Continent. He was also the father of Lobengula.

Shaka-Zulu
King Shaka

The territory of the Northern Khumalo was located near the Black Umfolozi River, squeezed between the lands of two strong rival groups: the expanding Mthethwa empire of Dingiswayo and the land of the equally ambitious and much more ferocious  Zwide of the Ndwandwe. Mzilikazi’s boyhood was spent in the household of his grandfather Zwide. Inevitably, as he grew to manhood he observed the less powerful Khumalo being drawn into the conflict between Dingiswayo and Zwide.

IZIBONGO ZIKAMZILIKAZI KAMATSHOBANA

Bayethe!  Hlabezulu!
Untonga yabuy’ ebusweni bukaTshaka.
Utshobatshoba linganoyis’uMatshobana.
Intambo kaMntinti noSimangele-
Isimangele sikaNdaba
Intambo kaMntinti noSimangele,
Abayiphothe bakhal’imvula yeminyembezi.
Ilang’eliphum’endlebeni yendlovu,
Laphum’amakhwez’abikelana.
UMkhatshwa wawoZimangele!
Okhatshwe ngezind’izinyawo,
Nangezimfutshazanyana.
Wal’ukudl’umlenze kwaBulawayo.
Inkubel’abayihlabe ngamanxeba.
Unkomo zavul’inqaba ngezimpondo,
Ngoba zavul’iNgome zahamba.
Inyang’abath’ifil’uzulu
Kant’ithwasile;
Ithwase ngoNyakana kaMpeyana.
Inkom’evele ngobus’emdibini.
Uband’abalubande balutshiy’uZulu.
Inkom’ethe isagodla yeluleka

THE PRAISES OF MZILIKAZI, THE SON OF MATSHOBANA

Bayethe! Ndebele Nation!
You are the knobkerrie that menaced Tshaka.
You are the big one who is as big as his father Matshobana.
You are the string of Mntinti and Simangele
Simangele son of Ndaba.
You are the string of Mntitni and Ndaba
The string they made until they wet tears
You are the sun that rose from the ear of the elephant,
It rose where upon the birds announced to each other.
You are the son of Simangele who was kicked!
Who was kicked by long feet and by the short ones.
You refused to eat the gift of meat in Bulawayo.
You are the fighter who has marks of fighting,
You are the cattle that opened the closed pen with their horns,
Because they opened the Ngome forests and left.
You are the moon the people said had set
Yet it was just rising;
It rose in the year of Mpeyana.
You are the cow that showed its face from the crowd.
You are the log from which the Zulus cut firewood until they left it.
You are the cow that, while it was just emerging made progress.

Praising an African King: Lobengula’s Praise Poem

Senegal_Wolof griot 1890
Wolof griot from Senegal, ca 1890

Last month, we talked about the griot tradition of West Africa. This African tradition of long lineages of storytellers, historians, and history repositories of the society, extends beyond West Africa, to all over the continent. For the Ndebele of Zimbabwe, the griot is known as the imbongi.

Below is a praise poem celebrating the Ndebele King Lobengula. The poem was recited in Ndebele by imbongi (griot/poet) Mtshede Ndhovu to T.J. Hemans around c.1970. Mtshede Ndhlovu was born when Mzilikazi (Lobengula’s father) was still on the throne, that is, before 1868, making him some 105 years old. His son, Bova Ndhlovu, acted as interpreter, assisting Hemans with the translation.

For the entire poem, with the Ndebele version, please check out African Poems .

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Lobengula1
King Lobengula of Matabeleland

Praise Poem for Lobengula

It roared like a calf. (1)
He who has books is at the river crossing. (2)
The cumulus cloud which rains from overcast sky. (3)
The words of a mountain, King of Mgabi Ndwandwe. (4)
The bird that builds with its beak pointing to a pool of water,
some say catch it some say leave it that it the way it builds. (5)
The black lion of Mabindela.
Grass does not burn in the Kalahari, some burns and bends. (6)
He was furious and then the tribes and commissioners were angry. (7)
Spoor of the leopard that disappears in rivers. (8)
The bush buck that strikes with its hooves and damaged the stones. (9)
Watch him, the destroyer, because he destroyed the commoners. (10)
He who is food they feed from for many many years,
when he dies where will they feed from,
they will eat jackals and roots.
He whose majesty is like that of his father Matshobana.
Cattle have popularity, they are lowing and attract afar.
He whose path is winding like that of ants.
The small bird of the spear, so small it can sit on the spear.

Praises Given to the Kings of the Amandebele,
T.J. Hemans,
Nada X, 3 (n.p., 1971).

Zimbabwe_Rudd_Concession between Cecil Rhodes and Lobengula 1880s
The Ruud Concession

(1) This praise-poem was recorded c.1970, when a new war for Zimbabwe was in progress. Lobengula is contrasted with Mzilikazi for failing to protect the nation. He is a calf compared to a bull and his roaring is not impressive.

(2) Lobengula signed the Rudd Concession in 30 October 1888, granting mining rights to the British South African Company. He assumed the miners would accept his kingship, but it was soon evident that the BSA were coming as colonizers. He who has books is Charles Rudd, the treaty bearer, and the river crossing is the Limpopo, the southern border to Ndebele territory.

(3) A reference to Lobengula’s responsibility as rainmaker. Later in praise [line] 12, he comes food they feed from.

(4) Unlike Mzilikazi, Lobengula drew his legitimacy as chief from his ancestry. See also praises 6 and 13.

(5) Lobengula’s succession was controversial, and his performance as king was disputed.

(6) Mzilikazi was called the tall grass in the Kalahari desert that will burn with men’s leather loin cloths (praise 6). Lobengula is the grass that does not burn.

Shaka-Zulu
King Shaka of the Zulu people

(7) The signing of the Rudd Concession led to anger on all sides, culminating the war of 1893.

(8) Lobengula’s policies were difficult to follow. See also praise 15, where his course is winding like that of ants.

(9) Again, this contrasts with Mzilikazithe bush buck that steps carefully on the rocks, implying diplomatic skills such as wariness.

(10) Mzilikazi’s victories, starting with Shaka, were against enemies of stature. Lobengula is credited with no military virtues and his anger is directed at commoners.

Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe, a Short Biography

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

Here is a documentary about Robert Mugabe and his history, his life, and his leadership. This video talks about him, the fight for independence, the loss of his first son while imprisoned by the British in Rhodesia, and the renaming of the country from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, after the Great Zimbabwe  Empire. I only recently found out that Mugabe had been influenced by Kwame Nkrumah: African Visionary and Ghana’s First President. He had lived and trained at the Takoradi Teacher Training College in Ghana, where he met his first wife Sally Hayfron Mugabe. It is sort of a short biography.

The Rudd Concession – 30 October 1888

Zimbabwe_Matabele kraal 1836_Ndebele people
A Kraal in Matabeleland in 1836

Below is the text for the Treacherous Rudd Concession which granted exclusive mining rights in Matabeleland, Mashonaland, and surrounding areas between King Lobengula of the Matabeleland, and James Rudd (representing Cecil Rhodes). This eventually paved the way for the colonization of then-Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). As you can see, the concession: (1) forbade Lobengula from signing further concessions with other European powers without the consent of Cecil Rhodes/ BSAC; (2) No more than ten Europeans were to enter Lobengula’s territory at any given time; (3) Gave Cecil Rhodes and the BSAC mining monopoly in Matabeleland; (4) In return, Lobengula would get (i) A monthly payment of $ 100, (ii) 1000 rifles and ammunition, (iii) A gun boat to patrol the Zambezi... which he mostly did not get, and the terms were never respected by the British (what else is new)!!!

 

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zimbabwe_map
Map of Zimbabwe

Know all men by these presents, that whereas Charles Dunell Rudd, of Kimberley; Rochfort Maguire, of London; and Francis Robert Thompson, of Kimberley, hereinafter called the grantees, have covenanted and agreed, and do hereby covenant and agree, to pay to me, my heirs and successors, the sum of one hundred pounds sterling, British currency, on the first day of every lunar month; and further, to deliver at my royal kraal one thousand Martini-Henry breech-loading rifles, together with one hundred thousand rounds of suitable ball cartridge, five hundred of the said rifles and fifty thousand of the said cartridges to be ordered from England forthwith and delivered with reasonable despatch, and the remainder of the said rifles and cartridges to be delivered as soon as the said grantees shall have commenced to work mining machinery within my territory; and further, to deliver on the Zambesi River a steamboat with guns suitable for defensive purposes upon the said river, or in lieu of the said steamboat, should I so elect, to pay to me the sum of five hundred pounds sterling, British currency. On the execution of these presents, I, Lobengula, King of Matabeleland, Mashonaland, and other adjoining territories, in exercise of my sovereign powers, and in the presence and with the consent of my council of indunas, do hereby grant and assign unto the said grantees, their heirs, representatives, and assigns, jointly and severally, the complete and exclusive charge over all metals and minerals situated and contained in my kingdoms, principalities, and dominions, together with full power to do all things that they may deem necessary to win and procure the same, and to hold, collect, and enjoy the profits and revenues, if any, derivable from the said metals and minerals, subject to the aforesaid payment; and whereas I have been much molested of late by divers persons seeking and desiring to obtain grants and concessions of land and mining rights in my territories, I do hereby authorise the said grantees, their heirs, representatives and assigns, to take all necessary and lawful steps to exclude from my kingdom, principalities, and dominions all persons seeking land, metals, minerals, or mining rights therein, and I do hereby undertake to render them all such needful assistance as they may from time to time require for the exclusion of such persons, and to grant no concessions of land or mining rights from and after this date without their consent and concurrence; provided that, if at any time the said monthy payment of one hundred pounds shall be in arrear for a period of three months, then this grant shall cease and determine from the date of the last-made payment; and further provided that nothing contained in these presents shall extend to or affect a grant made by me of certain mining rights in a portion of my territory south of the Ramaquaban River, which grant is commonly known as the Tati Concession.

 

(signed by Lobengula, Rudd, Maguire, Thompson, Helm and Dreyer)

I hereby certify that the accompanying document has been fully interpreted and explained by me to the Chief Lobengula and his full Council of Indunas and that all the Constitutional usages of the Matabele Nation had been complied with prior to his executing the same.

(signed by Helm)

Zimbabwe_Rudd_Concession between Cecil Rhodes and Lobengula 1880s
The Rudd Concession of 30 October 1888