Retired nurse leads revived Hikwa chieftaincy Acting Director Co-ordination Ms Sikhangele Ndlovu installs Chief Hikwa at Dombodema High school in Plumtree yesterday. Looking on are Bulilima Constituency MP Dingumuzi Phuti (left) and Acting Chief Wasi

Mkhululi Ncube, [email protected]

HISTORY was made yesterday in Bulilima District, Matabeleland South Province, when 80-year-old Adelaide Tshuma nee Nleya was installed as Chief Hikwa, becoming the first of the revived chieftainship and first female chief in the district.

The Hikwa chieftaincy had been downgraded to headmanship by the white colonial settler government but the Second Republic restored it to its original status in November 22, 2023.

Bulilima District now has six installed chiefs — Chief Masendu, Chief Mphini, Chief Kandana, Chief Manguba, Chief Madlambudzi and the latest Chief Hikwa.

Hundreds of jubilant villagers from wards 15 (Vulindlela), 16 (Dombolefu) and 20 (Dombodema) thronged Dombodema High School, which was the venue for the ceremony.  The school is a few meters away from Chief Hikwa’s homestead. 

The new chief is a retired nurse who was born in 1944 and did her education at Tjontenga Primary and Dombodema Secondary schools before crossing the border to Zambia where she did nursing.

During the struggle, Chief Hikwa helped freedom fighters who needed medical care and when the country got its independence in 1980, she worked as a nurse at the United Bulawayo Hospitals and retired in 1999.

A representative of the Manyangwa family where the Kalanga rain-making mountain shrine is located, Mr Twoboy Manyangwa, said the installation of Chief Hikwa was symbolic as she was a strong advocate of Kalanga culture.

“I’m thrilled by her appointment because she is someone who has great knowledge of our culture including what is done at Manyangwa shrine,” he said. 

“Before she became the chief, she visited the shrine for cultural practices. The late shrine guide Mr Guttone Manyangwa had promised that on the day of her installation we will send ingcebuthu hence we are here to fulfil his wishes.”

Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Daniel Gware, who was represented by the Acting Director Co-ordination in the Office of the President and Cabinet in Matabeleland South Province, Ms Sikhangele Ndlovu, said chiefs play a critical role in the development of communities.

“The Government greatly respects and attaches great importance to the traditional leaders as they are the custodians of our traditions and cultural values,” he said. 

“Traditional leaders promote and uphold our cultural values among members of the communities. They are also influential in development agents.”

Minister Garwe said it was important for traditional leaders to acquaint themselves with their duties as spelt out in the Traditional Leaders Act so that they partner with Government in driving economic programmes.

“As a chief, umama must find her place into this blueprint and play her role actively on the key development areas like education, health, agriculture, natural resources management, communication and water provision in her area of jurisdiction,” he said.

Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, in a speech read on her behalf by the Acting Director of Local Governance and Public Works, Mr Zecharia Jusa, hailed the Government for the work it is doing in filling vacant various posts in the traditional set up.

“As we pursue the devolution agenda it is imperative that communities have clear and proper reporting structures that will enable citizen participation in development matters. The institution of traditional leaders has been in existence since time immemorial, which has a vital cog in the governance matrices and judicial system of the day that brought sanity in the way people conduct themselves,” she said.

Dr Ndlovu also hailed President Mnangagwa for granting the wishes of the Hikwa people, which proves beyond doubt that he is a listening President. She said Matabeleland South province now have 36 chiefs with three vacancies still to be filled.

In an interview after her installation, Chief Hikwa said her installation was testimony that indeed the Hikwa chieftainship was back.

“My installation today is a confirmation to all that this chieftainship is back. Some may not have known about it but today they are all clear as the Government has fulfilled its revival by installing me to the post,” she said.

Bulilima MP, who is also ICT and Courier Services Minister, Cde Dingumuzi Phuthi, said the installation of Chief Hikwa was a milestone development.

“Chief Hikwa is an infrastructure and social development-oriented person. 

“Every time I talk to her I always gain something valuable in her. This development today means that things will move forward. She also loves our culture and in this new position she will help teach our children to follow our ways,” he said.

The Hikwa chieftainship was reduced to a headman status in 1951 by the colonial government together with that of chiefs Masendu, Madlambudzi and Kandana.—@themkhust



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