27 August 2012

The Impossible happened - Makhanda 'Returned'

by: Zongezile Matshoba
There is an isiXhosa saying that when you wait for a thing that will never happen, you are said to be waiting for the return of Nxele. Makhanda, also known as Nxele handed himself in and was sent to prison on Robben Island after leading a fight against the British domination in the Battle of Grahamstown in 1819. The warrior never returned as promised. He is said to have drowned off the coast of Robben Island in 1820 while trying to escape. His body was never recovered.
The Mjuza family of the AmaTshawe clan,
celebrating the return of their forefather, Makhanda
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
Well, for the Mjuza family, the direct descendants of Makhanda, the reality of his return, though in spirit, was realized after 192 years. The public lecture, dubbed Ukuza kukaNxele / The Return of Makhanda last Saturday in deep rural Tshabo village 2 community hall was well received by the family, government officials, traditional leaders and the rural community of Tshabo village. The presence of the Kingdom of AmaRharhabe leader, Ah, Noloyiso!; local Chief Makinana, Ah, Zwelivuziwe!; the South African National Defense Force Army Major-General Lindile Yam;  the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, the honourable MEC Xoliswa Tom, among other dignitaries, all gave the event the much dignity it so deserve.
“This day is very significant … Blood was spilled … as our forefathers (like Makhanda) started the wars of dispossession …warriors that did not have cannons, but managed to save some of our land,” Chieftainess Nosiseko Gaika, speaking for the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, said.    
Bongani Mgijima, Manager of Albany Museum 
looks on as Mobile Museum Officer, Nozipho Madinda, 
welcomes Adv. Sonwabile Mangcotywa, CEO of NHC.  
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
Advocate Sonwabile Mangcotywa, Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council (NHC) which funded the event, appreciated the initiative taken by Albany Museum to put a rural village like Tshabo on the world map.
“Today Tshabo is famous worldwide,” said Mangcotywa. “State President Zuma, and United Nation’s officials need to come to Tshabo as from next year”. 
He said that this year’s public lecture, which promises to be an annual event, is just the beginning. 
Prof Julia Wells, historian and author, addressing media queries
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
 Professor Julia Wells, author of The Return of  Makhanda book and historian, delivered the  lecture. She revealed other interesting aspects  and alternative views about Makhanda, referred  to as Makana by many nationals.  Makhanda,  labeled by other writers as a warrior who misled  over 10 000 AmaXhosa into a needless, deadly  fight against the British colonial forces was in  fact a spiritual Christian, and an outstanding,  fearless freedom fighter and leader. The latter  view remained suppressed for years by the tragic, negative imagery contained in colonial and  apartheid textbook versions of history. For  Makhanda, it was about indigenous people  fighting back, and not accepting impoverishment  and degradation. Those long wars that Makhanda and many others fought had at long last been won by Nelson Mandela and others when South Africa voted for democracy in 1994. 
The long standing views of doubting Thomases, shocked and surprised, some of whom even questioned a memorial lecture being taken to a village, could have never been proven so wrong. 
Chief Makinana, "Ah Zwelivuziwe!" welcoming
Queen Zulu of Amarharhabe kingdom "Ah, Noloyiso!"
Pic: Zongezile Matshoba
Members of the South African Police Service brass band sang the South African national anthem, and the SANDF Buffalo City Rifles paid salute to the fallen traditional general, Makhanda.
The event was a first phase. The final phase will be an exhibition on Makhanda at the end of the year, or early next year. 

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