PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has posthumously conferred National Hero status on revered military tactician, General Mtshana Khumalo ahead of the unveiling of a monument at the site where the commander won his most famous battle.
The unveiling of Pupu National Monument in Lupane in Matabeleland North is set for this week but the exact date is yet to be confirmed.
Gen Khumalo was the commander of King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment that defeated the colonialist Allan Wilson Patrol at the Battle of Pupu on December 4 in 1893 as the first shots of resistance against colonialism were fired.
Wilson, the loser, was honoured by the settler regime and the legacy is there for all to see but, Gen Khumalo, the victor had not. Now, the Government has honoured Gen Khumalo for his role in fighting colonialism.
During this year’s Heroes Day virtual address, President Mnangagwa announced that Gen Khumalo would be honoured alongside Queen Lozikeyi, Mgandani Dlodlo and Mbuya Nehanda whose statue is being erected in Harare.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe yesterday visited the Khumalo family to officially notify them of the conferment, which the President did in terms of Section 3 of the National Heroes Act.
In a letter dated November 20, 2020, President Mnangagwa directed Minister Kazembe to make the necessary arrangements for the conferment of National Hero status on Gen Khumalo ahead of the unveiling of Pupu National Monument.
“In his speech during the Heroes Day commemorations on August 10, 2020, President Mnangagwa indicated that General Mtshana Khumalo would be declared a National Hero. Pursuant to this statement by His Excellency, the President, I am privileged to advise you Honourable Senator Mtshana Khumalo, that His Excellency, the President Cde ED Mnangagwa, has in terms of Section 3 of the National Heroes Act, conferred a National Hero status on the revered military leader General Mtshana Khumalo,” Minister Kazembe said in a letter to the Khumalo family.
“It is indeed an honour that His Excellency the President has entrusted me with this important task of conveying this message.”
President Mnangagwa stated in his own letter to the Khumalos that the granting of honours and awards to commemorate particular campaigns or battles is an internationally acclaimed practice.
“Accordingly, during my 40th Independence and Defence Forces Day and indeed in the 2nd edition of the Honours and Awards Booklet, I undertook to embark on a programme to grant special recognition to the legacy of the heroic luminaries of Zimbabwe’s first liberation struggle (The First Chimurenga/Umvukela liberation struggle),” he said.
“It is in that vein that I undertook to award the National Hero status and erect appropriate commemorative statue in honour of the revered military leader General Mtshana Khumalo, who was the commander of the Imbizo Regiment that led the onslaught to defeat and eliminate the Allan Wilson Patrol at the famous battle of Pupu on the banks of Shangani River where there was no settler survivor.”
In 1893, Cecil John Rhodes decided to quicken the subjugation of the land by destroying the Ndebele Kingdom and leader, King Lobengula.
The Anglo-Ndebele War of 1893 triggered by Rhodes specifically targeted King Lobengula who was seen as a stumbling block in the total colonialism of western Zimbabwe. Having noted that the whites had superior firepower especially in the Maxim machine gun, King Lobengula opted to move away from his capital, Bulawayo for some place in the north as the settlers wanted to capture and humiliate him.
Gen Khumalo, the commander of the elite group of fighters was tasked to protect King Lobengula’s life and dignity as he trekked north. The Wilson patrol that had crossed the Shangani River was wiped out at what has now come to be remembered as Pupu.
Khumalo family spokesperson Mr David Siwela thanked President Mnangagwa for the recognition to Gen Khumalo as a National Hero.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo said: “Matabeleland North is an important flame that ignited the liberation struggle. We feel greatly honoured as a province to play host to such a history.”
Government is also seized with the erection of Mbuya Nehanda`s statue in Harare at the intersection of Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere, where it is believed, she occasionally stopped to rest and drink water from a river that flowed through the site.
President Mnangagwa said in the USA they have statues for Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. In France they have statues of their heroes while in the UK they have those of Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell who are their heroes.
President Mnangagwa said a road leading to King Mzilikazi’s grave would be constructed. At Cecil John Rhodes’ grave, there is a tarred road but there is no tarred road leading to King Mzilikazi’s grave.