There is need to erect the statue of the last Ndebele king, Lobengula Khumalo in one of the streets in Bulawayo and rebrand the city as a true City of Kings, a member of the Ndebele royal family has said.
Prince Zwidekalanga Khumalo said the erection of the statue of King Lobengula should be part of efforts to give an identity to the city built on the ruins of his palace.
“One aspect is the correct statue of King Lobengula produced from extensive consultation, which should be erected in Bulawayo because this was where his palace was located and that cannot be changed,” Khumalo said. “It is anathema that at this time, we still have no statue that marks the correct history and identity of this town.”
The call for the erection of King Lobengula’s statue comes on the eve of the commemoration of the battle between Ndebele warriors and white colonialists at Pupu in Lupane and the disappearance of the last Ndebele king on December 4, 1893.
Khumalo said it is also important that the naming of buildings, streets and schools carry the correct image of Bulawayo as the City of Kings.
“We believe that the city fathers should seriously consider relabelling the names of some important parts of the city so that they carry the correct image of the city.
“There is a need for roads and schools to be named after royal persons to carry the correct titles. If you just say Mzilikazi that means nothing. If you just say Lobengula West, that means nothing. It should be King Mzilikazi Township or King Mzilikazi High School.
It should be King Lobengula West Township or King Lobengula Street. It should be Queen Lozikeyi Primary School. Even schools like Nyamande and Nyanda should be called Prince Nyamande Primary School and Prince Nyanda Secondary School,” he said.
The Prince said it was also important to recognise historical sites around the city.
“We believe that Bulawayo does have other historical sites and artifacts such as the Hanging Tree along Main Street, the Inxwala site at the corner of Main Street and Masotsha Road, State House, which was King Lobengula’s palace.
“These sites need protection and recognition in the form of proper naming, which will define the identity of the city correctly,” he said.
Khumalo bemoaned an alleged systematic effort by successive governments to wipe out the history of the Ndebele people in Bulawayo.
“One aspect that is critical around Bulawayo is the effort made by progressive governments to try and obliterate the history of the Ndebele people in Bulawayo,” Khumalo charged.
“Mzilikazi High School was originally called Mgandane School. In 1966, the government censored the use of that name because Mgandane was regarded as a dedicated terrorist.
“He was a senior commander in King Lobengula’s army who went to the king and indicated that he would confront and fight the whites because they had imprisoned a Mr Mugabe for stealing copper wire. He was shot and killed and is buried in Masvingo,” he said.
The Prince said the use of politically motivated censorship was still reflected in Bulawayo in many ways.
“From the street point of view, while we cherish any nation building efforts, we believe that each city and the naming of its roads must carry the names of historical figures of that particular area.
“The government needs to have a re-look at its apparent intent to turn every Zimbabwean city into a ‘national heroes’ acre’ by naming streets in every town after the same heroes.
“We respect our heroes but we believe we need to work out a way of making sure that everybody respects these heroes without necessarily obliterating the history of other people. We need to preserve the history of the local people,” he said.
Khumalo said he was raising this point to coincide with the disappearance of King Lobengula and the epic battle of Pupu.
“The direct royal descendants of King Lobengula exist and on this day of his disappearance, they lead Umthwakazi in remembering with a spirit of Zhi, which is a measure of unwavering determination,” he said.