Glimpse of Africa’s past

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A BIRD’s eye view of the past life of a lost heir and a royal history long forgotten was the experience of guests who gathered in Grahamstown’s Fingo Village on July 1 to witness the launch of the King Lobengula Route Tour.

The descendants of King Lobengula, notably his sons, Alban ANL Mzilikazi and Rhodes Lobengula, are buried next to Luvuyo Hall, off C Street, KwaNdancama, in Fingo Village – far away from the land of their ancestors in Zimbabwe. So, how did their final resting place come to be Grahamstown?

After the Matabeleland wars in 1894 that brought about the death of King Lobengula and the annihilation of the chieftainship by the colonial government under Cecil John Rhodes, the royal heir, ANL Mzilikazi, and his younger brother were stripped of their possessions and sent to South Africa to be “educated”. ANL Mzilikazi received a stipend from the government and had a farm at Port Alfred – he died in 1910.

The rediscovery by the King Lobengula Foundation (KLF) of the nearby World War 2 cemetery and the development of the new Egazini Precinct will contribute to the abundance of interesting sites in and around Fingo Village. The preservation and protection of these and other local heritage sites is of paramount importance as they reflect the history of African nations before, during and after colonisation.

This new tour aims to ignite interest in the abundant cultural heritage to be found in the Grahamstown townships and it is hoped this initiative will prompt the start of other tours beyond the CBD. Increased tourism to these areas will result in job creation which will benefit the surrounding community as crafters and entrepreneurs will be able to sell their products to the visitors.

Present at the launch were Riana Meiring (local economic development director, Makana Municipality), Thembinkosi Sindane (manager, tourism and heritage, Makana Municipality), Prof Julie Wells, councillor Brian Jackson, Sue Waugh (director, Makana Tourism), Ann Waugh, Otto Ntshebe (Ottours) and I, as chief executive of the KLF.

Sizwe Mda, King Lobengula Foundation, Grahamstown

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