BY SHARON SIBINDI
DESCENDANTS of King Lobengula have honoured arts doyen Continue Loving Mhlanga as an icon of the Matabeleland region, who has spearheaded the preservation and upholding of the Ndebele culture through his works.
Mhlanga, a renowned actor, script writer and arts teacher, is known for establishing Amakhosi Theatre Centre, a hub which produced a range of top artistes from Matabeleland.
Regarded as the pioneer of arts in Zimbabwe, Mhlanga has been in the arts industry for over three decades and has written more than 20 plays, among them The Good President, The End, Sinjalo, Children on Fire and Vikela, and has three books under his sleeve.
King Lobengula’s descendants spokesperson, Prince Zwide Khumalo, told NewsDay Life &Style that the nation should acknowledge Mhlanga and the community of Lupane, in the Pupu area, for spearheading the Shangani Carnival launch.
“The activities are very rich in culture and need the support of us all. This is an important and very tactical move in our cultural development in that it marks the endpoint of the cultural corridor and reminds us of the importance of how our kingdom ended,” he said.
“For purposes of records, representatives of King Lobengula’s family were consulted in 2017 and they interacted with the organisers and Pupu community. The developments at that end of the Ndebele cultural corridor should be a challenge to Bulawayo city to play its positive role in making the city truly African.”
Zwide Khumalo said there was no doubt that the establishment of Amakhosi Theatre on a site which used to be their ancestors’ water well centuries ago and now the Shangani Carnival, is clear evidence that Mhlanga is a visionary.
“Those that have been around long enough will recall the township tourism efforts that he spearheaded and the recent Inner-City-Walk-About he guided, that identified the history and infrastructure that makes Bulawayo a culturally unique place, with artefacts irreplaceable anywhere in this country,” he said.
“Mhlanga, whether one likes him or not, is a hero who has made efforts from which the spring-board for turning Bulawayo into an African city can be anchored.
One other way to honour him is to celebrate such luminaries while they are still alive.”
In February, many showbiz followers called for the recognition of arts doyen Mhlanga, who is widely touted as the “King of Zimbabwean Theatre”. The artist holds an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the arts industry.