Exhume Cecil Rhodes's Bones
by Stanford Chiwanga
Rhodes's Grave - Matopo Hills
THE continuous recognition and respect conferred upon architects of colonisation have once again ignited a chorus of calls for their removal amid demands by the Governor and Resident Minister of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Cde Cain Mathema, for the immediate removal of David Livingstone’s statue at Victoria Falls and the exhumation of Cecil John Rhodes’ remains at Matopo Hills.
Cde Mathema is not the first person to make the call for the tearing of Livingstone’s statue and the exhumation of Rhodes’ remains. As far back in 2001, war veterans destroyed metal plaques on Livingstone’s statue, which proclaim the Scottish missionary as the discoverer of the waterfalls.
The former freedom fighters attempted to pull down Livingstone’s gigantic metal figure but failed.
A year later the war veterans objected to the location of Rhodes’ grave that is atop the Malindidzimu Shrine (resting place of spirits) because Rhodes spearheaded Zimbabwe’s colonisation as he used his personal wealth to colonise the country on behalf of Britain.
The location of Rhodes’ grave has since yore not gone down well with the country’s tradition and beliefs as Rhodes was known to be a homosexual, a sexual behaviour that is taboo in Africa.
The other source of anger is the fact that Rhodes’ grave is guarded 24 hours a day and seven days a week by an armed policeman while the grave of Mzilikazi at Entumbane also in the Matopos is not protected at all.
Governor Mathema also urged schools to do away with colonial names and replace them with local ones, as they together with Rhodes’ grave and Livingstone’s statue are instruments that still impose upon Zimbabwe the will and culture of Britain.
The Governor said all the symbols of colonialism that are being revered by Zimbabweans and foreign tourists are an affront to the country’s fundamental beliefs and freedoms.
“Rhodes was deliberately buried at Matopo, it was not a coincidence. And I wonder why 30 years after independence his grave is still found on the country’s traditional shrine of worship. It’s an insult to our ancestors and maybe that is the reason why our ancestors at Njelele, where we pray for rain are no longer giving us enough rain.
“All over the country you find schools named after colonialists, statues erected to celebrate colonialism. I am struck and baffled by the attitude of our people to continually embrace a bygone system that worked tirelessly to thwart their energy and aspirations,” Cde Mathema said.
Cde Mathema also suggested that the seventh wonder of the world change its name from Victoria Falls to its original one — Mosi oa Tunya (the smoke that thunders) — a name given to the spectacular falls by the local Tonga people, long before the Scotsman set foot on Africa.
He said: “The total liberation of Zimbabwe is not complete as long as the country continues to live on the legacy of our former masters. As long as the names remain, as long as the scar of Rhodes’ grave remains, it is not the psychological colonisation question alone that remains open, but the question of true freedom.”
Cde Mathema said that in demanding a wholesome change he was not being a racist as his goal was to see Zimbabwe prosper.
“My call is not directed against Britain or whites, but against symbols that persecuted our people and took away our freedom and wealth. For I believe that physical freedom goes hand in hand with psychological freedom.
“Our people still believe that the name Robert Moffat is glamorous than the name Lobengula. Well I will tell that personally I hate all colonial names, as I said before I am not a racist but I hate all people who oppress and intimidate others. And you cannot deny that the missionaries abused us for the sake of their prosperity,” Cde Mathema said.
The resident minister said the statue of Livingstone should be replaced with the statues of President Robert Mugabe and the late Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Nkomo.
“We need to celebrate our own heroes and heroines. We do not get inspiration from the likes of Rhodes, so why should we visit their graves and their statues.
Personally I don’t visit Rhode’s grave. I would love a situation whereby I would go to Matopo and gaze upon the statue of Lobengula or Mzilikazi. That is what the country should aspire for,” he said.