Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
MTHWAKAZI Republic Party (MRP) activists disrupted the Queen Loziba lecture series by researcher Panashe Chiguhamadzi claiming she was unfit to do so as she is from the Shona tribe.
Their behaviour, described by many as distasteful, was seen by all and sundry at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Bulawayo on Thursday evening.
Chiguhamadzi, an essayist and novelist, born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa had been introduced to a packed gallery. Upon taking to the podium, a group of about six activists stood up from the back with four placards.
“Panashe Chigumhadzi go lecture Mashonaland people on Mbuya Nehanda, & Sekuru Kaguvi who never fought whites but were witches and spirit mediums.
“We don’t need Panashe Chiguhamadzi to lecture us about Loziba & Lozikeyi, the wives of the late King Lobhengula,” read some of the placards.
However, it was clear the MRP activists needed the lecture on Loziba. Contrary to their placards, Loziba was not King Lobhengula’s wife, but was the wife of his father King Mzilikazi and Queen Lozikeyi was King Lobhengula’s wife.
An MRP ring leader Patson Xaba disrupted the lecture when he went to the front and stood next to Chiguhamadzi with his placard.
This prompted NGZ Bulawayo director Butholezwe Nyathi to stand up and ask them to be escorted out. The crew was led out of the gallery by Cliford Zulu, the gallery’s curator.
To her credit, Chiguhamadzi remained calm while all this transpired and continued her lecture when the men had left the venue.
The MRP activists’ actions were met with looks of disgust from the crowd. Pathisa Nyathi, a historian, who was part of the crowd was also not impressed.
After the lecture, Xaba said they had disrupted it as there were other people who were “more culturally qualified” than Chiguhamadzi to tell the history of Ndebele queens.
“The history of our people (Ndebeles) is supposed to be told by people from our tribe. They should be able to pronounce the name Dlodlo properly not what we were hearing here.
“We want people like Pathisa Nyathi, Voti Thebe, Sam Mkhithika and many other historians to tell us about our history,” said Xaba.
While the lecture series was about Queen Loziba, Chiguhamadzi delved into the late Yvonne Vera’s lecture which looks into the national “obsession” with what she memorably called the “the frozen image” of Mbuya Nehanda shortly before her 1898 execution by the British South Africa Police for her role in the 1896-1987
Umvukela/Chimurenga. She interrogated why it is that the striking 1910 image of Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo, a woman who played a crucial role in the Second Umvukela/Chimurenga as a medicine maker, military tactician and negotiator is not an icon of Zimbabwe’s national portraiture.