Posts Tagged ‘Anglo Zulu war’

Black History month: Pro Africa is Anti-nobody

It’s funny how when things change, the more they remain the same.

Last week when a lecturer introduced himself at Business school, he told the class that he was a racist. Everyone was obviously astonished,; here was this white South African male in his early 40’s openly declaring that he didn’t like black people. What was even more appaling was the fact that he dared to talk about race in 2015! The blacks were offended and the white people equally so, but as our educator for the day we had to humor him.

His analogy was that, he wasn’t racist because he chose to be, he was racist because he was raised to be. All his life he was conditioned to think and behave in a certain way. He only first saw a picture of Mandela when he was 20 years old and spent about 2 years in military school with racist ideologies being drummed into his head. So he had no choice but to BE. An electoral vote will not suddenly shift his paradigms; it takes much more than that for things to change.

The whole point of his shocking declaration was that we all needed to talk about race and not make it this horrible monster that opens you up to so much judgment. In South Africa white people are “apologetically” white and black people are also apologetic of who they are. We are all tiptoeing around each other, while neglecting to love each other and ourselves for who we are. Being pro-Black is not being anti somebody, it simply, means you love and embrace who you are and the culture you were born into, likewise for other races and cultures.

Mental Slavery

February is Black History month, and in commemoration I though I should share an extract of Robert Sobukwe’s first recorded speech while he was a student at Fort Hare University. Reading it really proved to me that not much has changed, instead we have created an illusion of freedom and became more afraid of who we are. Celebrate black history, be proud of your scars, embrace the possibilities and remember that no amount of money  or denial will change the color of your soul.

This extract is from a biography of Robert Sobukwe’s life written by Benjamin Pogrund’s titled: “How can man die better”

how can

“I had an occasion last year and also at the beginning of this year to comment on some features of our structure of which I do not approve. It has always been my feeling that, if the intention of the trustees of this college is to make an African College or University, as I have been informed it is, then the Department of African studies must be more highly and more rapidly developed. Fort Hare must become the center of African studies to which students in African studies should come from all over Africa. We should also have a department of Economics and Sociology. A nation to be a nation needs specialists in these things……….

 I said last year that Fort Hare must be to the African what Stellenbosch (University) is to the Afrikaner. It must be the barometer of African thought. It is interesting to note that the theory of ‘Apartheid’, which is today the dominating ideology of the State, was worked out at Stellenbosch by (Dr W.M.M) Eiselen and his colleagues. That same Eiselen is Secretary for Native affairs. But the important thing is that Stellenbosch is not only the expression of the Afrikaner thought and feeling, but it is also the embodiment of their aspiration. So also must Fort Hare express and lead African thought. The College has remained mute on matters deeply affecting the Africans because; we learn, it feared to annoy the Nationalist government. What the College fails to realize is that rightly or wrongly the Nationalists believe that Fort Hare staff is predominantly United Party. So that whether we remain mute or not the government will continue to be hostile towards us. So much for the College…

…I know of course, that because I express these sentiments I will be branded an agitator. That was the reaction to my speech last year. People do not like to see the even tenure of their lives disturbed. They do not like to be told that what they have always believed was right is wrong. And above all they resent encroachment on what they regard as their special province. But I make no apologies. It is meet that we speak the truth before we die. I said last year that our whole life in South Africa is politics, and that contention was severely criticized…During the war it was clearly demonstrated that in South Africa at least, politics does not stop on this side of the grave. A number of African soldiers were buried in the same trench as European soldiers. A few days afterwards word came that from the high command that the bodies of the Africans should be removed and buried in another trench. ‘Apartheid’ must be maintained even on the road to eternity…

…. And as Marcus Garvey says: ‘You cannot grow beyond your thoughts. If your thoughts are those of a slave, you will remain a slave. If your thoughts go skin deep, your mental development will remain skin deep’. Moreover a doctrine of hate can never take people anywhere. It is too exacting. It warps the mind. That is why we preach the doctrine of love, love for Africa. We can never do enough for Africa, nor can we love her enough. The more we do for her, the more we wish to do for her.

I wish to make it clear again that we are anti-nobody. We are pro-Africa. We breathe, we dream, we live Africa; because Africa and humanity are inseparable”.

-Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (21 October 1949)

I have taken extracts of the speech, for entire read feel free to purchase the book. The aim of this article is not to sow negativity in our young democracy, but as my lecturer eluded, it is to create open dialogue on our racial dynamics. I believe we can find common ground at some point in this life time, but only through a principle of love. Love for oneself and love for another despite the history.

History will forever remain, we cannot pretend it away. We cannot remain divided, because that only perpetuates the slavery mentality. If you really think about it we are all slaves to a certain extent, black and white.

Aluta!

photo 4

It’s not Braai day

So a friend asked me what my plans  for National Braai day were, and my response to her was that, I don’t normally braai on Wednesdays, so I guess I’ll just be sleeping my free day away.

I understand that National braai day is a day where we’re celebrating something we all share in common, I mean every South Africans loves a lekker braai! Yes a braai is a strong part of South African culture, but it’s not the only one, so can someone please explain to me why is it celebrated separately- on the same day? Isn’t the title; “National Heritage Day” enough to accommodate this culture as well?

Your heritage gives you identity, and the more you forget it, the less you remember who you are. I fear the day, 20 years from now, where your children will be bringing wors and chops to school to celebrate national braai day on 24 September, and wouldn’t even have the slightest clue what national heritage day is all about. Whatever we want the future to be, we need to start shaping it today. Our children need to embrace being African and know where we come from as a continent. You cannot instill cultural pride in a child through osmosis, they need to see you embrace it and live it and only then will they imitate it. So while you’re busy having a braai on National Heritage day, consider what picture you’re painting, and don’t forget that someone is making a whole lot of money from meat sales on the other side. Think about it.

I think branding Heritage day to national braai day is an insult to African culture and the perfect money making scheme. Breweries and butcheries absolutely enjoy watching black people being gullible while they pocket millions. I say black people because during heritage day, we always dressed up in our traditional attire and cooked traditional African food. So if you’re gona substitute that menu with a chop, Checkers will not stop you buddy!

I’m in no way attempting to be racist, but 24 September is an indigenous African holiday. It’s original name before Heritage day, was Shaka’s day, which commemorated the strength and the bravery of the Zulu warrior, whose army was the only one Queen Victoria was worried about during the Anglo war. At this day it might seem primitive to celebrate some tribal King who won a battle and not a war, but it is part of who we are and that portion of history can never be erased from our calendar and our DNA. Heritage day, was an inclusive definition to accommodate all the indigenous African cultures and I think it should end at that. National braai is really pushing the name way outside of its original context

Since the dawn colonization in Africa, Europeans made an effort to erode the African off his identity. We were taught how to dress, speak English, worship their Gods, despise our own, discriminated against and made to doubt our humanity through apartheid, etc. I am not despising everything the white man brought to Africa, geesh, how could I? Their stuff is awesome. BUT African child, you cannot substitute who you because of what others bring to you.

Let those who want to celebrate braai day do so with the outmost pleasure, but you should not allow it to overshadow your celebration of identity and all things colorful. I can celebrate National braai day on any other South African holiday, I can even host the event, but please not on my Zulu day. No thanks.

Proud Zulu girl

Battle of Isandlwana – Heritage day 2013

I decided to celebrate Heritage day by sharing a little bit about my home town, Nqutu in KwaZulu Natal.  My entire paternal family is from there and I have spent half, if not most, of my life in NTU. The stars are always brighter that side, which makes it one of my favourite places to visit!

Nqutu

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Nqutu is a small, beautiful town in Northern Kzn with temperamental weather. It is composed of many rural villages such as Nondweni, Qhudeni, Sandlwana, Maduladula, etc. I come from a village called eZinkondlwaneni, which is somewhat closer to the town’s civilization. The name ‘Nqutu’ is derived from ingqutu, ‘flat-topped vessel’, descriptive of a nearby hill from which the village takes its name.

Nqutu is about 85km’s from Dundee, 70km from Vryheid, some 40km’s from Rorkes drift and 54 km’s from Blood river. Nqutu is famous for producing prominent maskandi artists such as Mgqumeni and Izingane zoma. And it is also home to the very first iNyanga to purchase an aeroplane (Mr Sosobala Mbatha). But the most famous and historic site is the Isandlwana Mountain (home to the Isandlwana Battlefied). Nqutu is actually in close proximity to several battlefields from the Anglo-Zulu_War (11 January-4 July 1879). Within a 100km radius of Nqutu,  there is the Rorkes drift battlefield, Hlobane battlefield, Isandlwana battlefield, Bloodriver battlefield (eNcome), Khambula Battlefield and Hlobane Battlefield.

ntu

Nqutu’s population is scattered, and quiet youthful, with only 5% over 65 years. Males make up 45% of population with the remaining 55% being female. In 2011, the total population was 165,307 and the official unemployment rate is 44%. It is governed by the uMzinyathi district municipality. Since we’re celebrating National Heritage day, allow me to share a bit on Nqutu’s most prominent heritage site;

Isandlwana Battlefield

The battle of Isandlwana was documented on 22 January 1879 and it was between Zulu warrior and British soldiers. This battlefield is significant because the shape of the mountain is that of a hut (Indlu-hut, Isandlwana- like a small hut). This gave Zulu warriors an advantage over their British opponents. Also on the day of the battle it is documented that a solar eclipse occurred while the battle was on (around 14h29pm). The Battle of Isandlwana reflects one of the greatest victories the Zulu Nation tasted over the British. On the 22nd January 1879 the British Camp was attacked and overrun by some 12 000 Zulus, leaving approximately 1357 Imperial soldiers, Colonial Volunteers and Native Levies dead on the slopes of the hillside below this “Sphinx” shaped hill. Cairns or rocks mark places where the British soldiers were later buried.

This battle stunned the world. It was unthinkable that a “native” army armed substantially with stabbing weapons could defeat the troops of a western power armed with modern rifles and artillery, let alone wipe it out. Until news of the disaster reached Britain the Zulu War was just another colonial brushfire war of the sort that simmered constantly in many parts of the worldwide British Empire. The complete loss of a battalion of troops, news of which was sent by telegraph to Britain, transformed the nation’s attitude to the war.

Full view

Battle Stats:

Combatants: Zulu army against a force of British troops, Natal units and African levies.

Generals: Lieutenant Colonel Pulleine of the 24th Foot and Lieutenant Colonel Durnford commanded the British force at the battle. The Zulu Army was commanded by Chiefs Ntshingwayo kaMahole and Mavumengwana kaMdlela Ntuli.

Size of the armies: The British force comprised some 1,600 men. It is likely that they were attacked by around 12,000 Zulus.

Uniforms, arms and equipment: The Zulu warriors were formed in regiments by age, their standard equipment the shield and the stabbing spear. The formation for the attack, described as the “horns of the beast”, was said to have been devised by Shaka, the Zulu King who established Zulu hegemony in Southern Africa. The main body of the army delivered a frontal assault, called the “loins”, while the “horns” spread out behind each of the enemy’s flanks and delivered the secondary and often fatal attack in the enemy’s rear. Cetshwayo, the Zulu King, fearing British aggression took pains to purchase firearms wherever they could be bought. By the outbreak of war the Zulus had tens of thousands of muskets and rifles, but of a poor standard, and the Zulus were ill-trained in their use.

Isandlwana battlefield

The regular British infantry were equipped with the breach loading single shot Martini-Henry rifle and bayonet. The British infantry wore red tunics, white solar topee helmets and dark blue trousers with red piping down the side. The irregular mounted units wore blue tunics and slouch hats.

Winner: The British force was wiped out by the Zulu Army.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Zulus and caused the defeat of the first British invasion of Zululand. The British Army had suffered its worst defeat against a technologically inferior indigenous force. Isandlwana resulted in the British taking a much more aggressive approach in the Anglo–Zulu War, leading to a heavily reinforced second invasiion and the destruction of King Cetshwayo’s hopes of a negotiated peace

In conclusion

It is quiet sad that I write about these historic heritage sites in my hometown, and I have never been to visit them myself. I’ve driven past there, many, many times. But I have never stopped to think, and embrace what they signify in who we are as a Zulu nation. We eventually lost the war, but the cunning, strong, passionate spirit is within all of us as a tribe. Africa, my beginning, Africa my ending. It makes me wonder how things would be today if such invasions never occurred. Was it necessary change?… I wonder. Next time I go home, I will make sure I visit one of these battlefields and maybe have a braai afterwards to celebrate with my neighbors.

Happy Heritage day to everybody :)!

Signed:

A Proud Zulu girl

 

 

References

http://www.battlefieldsregionguides.co.za/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blood_River

http://www.britishbattles.com/zulu-war/isandlwana.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Isandlwana