The Sunday News
By Mzala Tom
KING Mzilikazi established his first royal town, called Mhlahlandlela just outside present day Pretoria (South Africa), in the late 1820s. After facing a series of attacks, he moved with his kingdom further north.
He then established his kingdom in the Transvaal. Boers began to arrive in Transvaal in 1836, resulting in several confrontations over the next two years during which Mzilikazi suffered heavy losses. By this time King Shaka (Sgidi kaSenzangakhona) had long died in 1828.
By early 1838, Mzilikazi and his people were forced northwards out of Transvaal altogether and across the Limpopo River. Just before the Limpopo they parted into two sections. Robert Moffat his close friend had advised him to relocate to present day Ntabazinduna (just outside Bulawayo).
Mzilikazi told Gundwane, one of his principal indunas, to take Nkulumane (his son) with him and carry out Moffat’s instructions to travel with the sun on his right cheek in the morning and on his left cheek in the afternoon and keep on until they reach a range of granite hills.
Gundwane and Nkulumane followed out these instructions. There is a hill in the Gwanda district called Isizeza and they travelled to the east of that hill and then they struck up along the foothills on the eastern side of the Matopos.
They settled at the present day location of Falcon College (Esigodini). Mzilikazi had split off and travelled north-west into present-day Botswana. He went further into the Zambezi valley and later returned via Bulilima (Plumtree side). Gundwane met him at the Manzamnyama river and brought him to Ntabazinduna.
Mzilikazi’s first kraal was established at Ntabazinduna. As soon as he settled he started hearing whispers that his son (Nkulumane) was ordained king in his absence by Gundwane. The more days passed the louder the whisperers told him that Nkulumane was king!
This troubled Mzilikazi until he decided to call his sons for a test. Mzilikazi gathered the young men and told them to sit down, took his ox-skin robe off and said to Mangwane: “hand me that robe.” Mangwane tried to lift the robe and said: “Father, I can’t lift it.”
Then Mzilikazi called each son giving the same instructions and each one was unable to lift the robe until it came to the turn of Nkulumane who effortlessly lifted the robe and handed it to the King. The King was astonished. Where had Nkulumane gotten the King’s powers from?
The King said: “how is it that you are able to lift this robe which I treated with my medicine and others have been unable to? There must be something in the rumours that I have heard that you wish to usurp the throne. I gather from this that the rumours I have heard are true.”
Mzilikazi then banished Nkulumane. He told Wabayi and Mncumbatha to take Nkulumane back to Zululand.
When Mncumbatha returned, the King encouraged them to spread the story that he had killed Nkulumane. Mzilikazi knew they had not killed him, but wanted the people to think so.
Gundwane was sent for by the King with the chiefs who participated in the Nkulumane coronation with him. He passionately refuted the whole story and distanced himself from the allegations. But the King said: “I have already proved by my medicines that you did corrupt Nkulumane.”
Gundwane was found guilty. Five men executed Gundwane and then a larger body was sent to eliminate the rest of the chiefs who were close to Gundwane.
Fear spread among the elite. Zinqumbi drank poison to avoid the spear. Many were caught while packing before they could flee.
Other historians say the chiefs were executed by being thrown down the steep cliff of Ntabazinduna hill hence the name meaning: hill of the chiefs. Others say the name is derived from the fact that it was on this hill that the chiefs were delegated to rule by Mzilikazi.
Was Nkulumane coronated? It is believed that he was indeed coronated. No one knew if King Mzilikazi was alive.
People had grown crops and couldn’t harvest without a king to officiate the inxwala ceremony. Was coronating Nkulumane therefore in the best national interests? (Source: @RealMzalaTom)