I ALWAYS monitor what people discuss on social media to educate myself on new ideas. This other day I was surprised when a group of Kalanga educationists said that the Mthwakazi are the Nguni and the Khumalo. They were even screaming that people of certain Kalanga surnames cannot claim to be Mthwakazi.
This line of argument and thought if not corrected will harm our children and their children destroying the achievements that their ancestors had covered in uniting the local people. Diversity does not mean division.
I worry about these educationists who did not get history from their grandmothers to juxtapose it with the history from missionaries, hunters and researchers whose source of knowledge of our continent and our past is solely based on what others have read from non Africans that have been published before them.
For the benefit of our children I share in this article what Mthwakazi is and what it means.
Bazukulu I will talk about Africa south of the equator and so when I say African I mean south of the equator.
The first white people or non Africans to settle in Southern Africa were a bunch of vendors from Arabia. They are called Arabs in your textbooks.
These vendors sold cloth and plastic beads to our people. This is the reason why Bazukulu, when our spirit mediums come they all request for a piece of cloth (amalembu) and some beads. This is so with prophets too. Just as much as when all of you come back as spirit mediums you will demand walkmans, cellphones and soda drinks! For the Arabs it was all about swag.
The second group of white people to settle in southern Africa was a bunch of poor peasant farmers from Holland. They brought with them apartheid. It is for this reason that today we have poor areas and rich areas of our urban cities and why we have people called liberation war veterans. For the Dutch it was all about fast food.
There are many folk stories and songs told by our grandmothers that speak to this fact.
Before these two non indigenous groups, you had across Southern Africa black indigenous people.
Bazukulu not all areas of the continent were covered by people because population numbers were very low. Just as in today’s Africa you have forests where humans don’t stay. Names of places and tribes in the then African settlements were derived from the names of the eldest or most powerful people in that community.
Social power was not derived from killing or fighting only. It was also derived from many other human skills and achievements. It is only now in our wrongly educated society that recognises power as coming from political achievement and war only.
The majority of names of places and even tribes that we have inherited were once names of people. This background takes me to what I want to discuss in this article, the meaning of Mthwakazi.
Bazukulu, Mthwakazi is a name of a place. The place got the name from the first ever known indigenous people who lived in the area. Those people were the different families of the Khoisan people. Stupid white scholars called them Bushmen.
The Nguni people of the south called them AbaThwa. The Bantu coined the name Mthwa from the skilful manufacture, use and sound of the hunting bow, arrows and language sounds of the San people.
AbaThwa is not a derogative term but a heroic collective identity name given to champion hunters who did it better than any other Bantu people of the South. If it were derogative the Nguni warriors were never going to associate themselves with it because they had superior military power anyway to choose what they wanted to associate with and how.
AbaThwa left their footprint all over what we call Zimbabwe today in form of their creative fine art on rocks.
The place of Bulawayo and Matopos of today was the prime site and land of the AbaThwa where their Queen lived. Yes they had a powerful respected Queen who the Nguni called Inkosikazi YabaThwa. There are folk stories told about her land, people and herbs.
Before the AbaThwa no other known indigenous people lived here. If ever there were others it remains guess work by those whose job is to dig up history from underground and that history may not be accurate.
Bazukulu every other indigenous people, tribe and clan came to what is now Zimbabwe from somewhere at some point in time. In fact all people who are today Zimbabweans became so because of some historical coincidental movement by their ancestors except for the AbaThwa.
When the warrior King Mzilikazi and his people arrived in this part of Southern Africa many other tribes had arrived and settled here before them. King Mzilikazi being a nation builder and one who unites people under his leadership decided to give due respect and credit to the first indigenous people to have been known to stay in this part of Southern Africa and called the land the country of the people of Mthwakazi.
Bazukulu (kazi) yisijobelelo that describes gender referring to the female. In Bantu of the south indigenous religion, land is female hence when they referred to the land of the AbaThwa they called it Mthwa-kazi.
It was King Mzilikazi who popularised this name as he declared that everyone who stays within this land of the AbaThwa must give due remembrance and respect of the first indigenous people who lived in this beautiful country lest every one forgets about them by referring to everyone as those of the land of Mthwakazi.
He wanted a collective identity that would bring everyone together regardless of tribe, colour, language and social class and background to build a united strong nation while maintaining every one’s unique cultural identity.
To call everyone people from the land of Mthwakazi served that objective well and it was a very suitable selection in honour of the San people.
Bazukulu any other meaning and definition of Mthwakazi that is not inclusive of all the people who stay in this beautiful part of Southern Africa is for selfish interests that divide the people and is neither correct nor desirable.
Any progressive leader would want people to be united under their leadership so that they can prosper as a collective people. Anyone or anything that points at division comes from shallow-minded people who have only read history books written by white authors.
Colonialism and its education Bazukulu continues to hurt us as a people through its wrong one sided education system that excludes Africa’s indigenous knowledge in its composition. This one sided education system motivates us as Africans to fight over petty socially unsustainable things.
We do not have to stick to the word Mthwakazi and its use but we have to stick to its values and to why King Mzilikazi introduced it.
If we are not going to use it in our time then, we have to find another word for the same united identity that is above tribe and race because that is where our ancestors want us to be as a people who call this country home.
This can be so because empires rise and fall throughout the history of man, just as today governments rise and fall. Any government in power can create its own social vocabulary but that vocabulary must be for peace, unity, security and prosperity of all people.
So Bazukulu stop yearning to be identified and be respected through empires and kingdoms that fell a long time ago to a point that you find yourselves abusing such beautiful history and heritage as Mthwakazi and what it represents for the future. Those kingdoms and empires are now in the past. Politically they don’t mean anything anymore.
Your mandate is to come together and create a new world with new identities but same old values of ubuntu. Mthwakazi was not a kingdom or empire. It was a social value of unity, peace, prosperity, security and heritage of many different peoples of this area.
No tribe or indigenous people have the right to claim more ownership of this country or land more than the other tribes or indigenous people. It is simply stupid to do so. We mislead our children. It is important to take the best out of our history and let the worst to die.
Let me end Bazukulu, by letting you know that there is a lot of wrong history that is making rounds and it is your responsibility to be vigilant. Focus on togetherness and oneness all the time from family units to communities and to the nation because this is what a Mthwakazi heritage speaks of.