Daisy Jeremani Gender Editor
BULAWAYO has been called the City of Kings and Queens, while some call it Komfazi Utshay’ Ndoda, which embodies the effect that queens and princesses had on the city.The history of the city as it celebrates 120 years tomorrow will not be complete without the mention of Queen Lozikeyi, King Lobengula’s indlovukazi or Ndebele princesses.
Queen Lozikeyi (pictured) was King Lobengula’s ndlovukazi who later became the de facto regent of the Ndebele kingdom when King Lobengula disappeared.
In an interview, local historian Pathisa Nyathi said Ndebele royal princesses were made of sterner stuff and were what he termed “ndodamfazi.”
“Female offspring were above a lot of men and this was exhibited through their dress. They would wear indlukula (ostrich feathers) and carry a spear,” he said.
Princess Mfamona, from which the name of the suburb Famona is derived could fearlessly ride a horse in breeches and carried a shotgun.
Nyathi said Lobengula’s indunas would approach Queen Lozikeyi for advice as she was a formidable, intelligent woman of quick wit.
She was also a no-nonsense woman who smoked a pipe and carried a whip and was not hesitant to use it even on men, hence Umfazi Utshay’ Indoda.
In a nation where a few stories of recorded heroism in women, it’s thought-provoking to read some of Lozikeyi’s exploits among them the unrivalled and heroic role she played in the Anglo-Matabele war of 1896. This war is also known as Imfazo or Impi Yehlok’ ebomvu (The war of the Red Axe). She was both a leader and an inspirational figure to warriors who fought hard to salvage a fallen kingdom from the oppressive colonial system.
According to oral and recorded history she was a conspicuous and commanding figure. She was a big, bold and beautiful woman of ample proportions and clearly the leading spirit among the Ndebele queens.
She led a team of other queens, among them Mbhida, Mfaziwamajaha, Mpoliyana, Mahwe Ngotsha and Chibile. Mahwe is buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
Queen Lozikeyi died of influenza at present day Nkosikazi, a place named after her, in Bubi district in 1919.