Ndebele prince demands access to Byo State House

A descendant of the last Ndebele king, King Lobengula, says there is need for Ndebele people to have access to the State House in Bulawayo to mark the regeneration of their culture and complete decolonisation, as the property was built on land that used to be the headquarters of the Ndebele monarch.

by KHANYILE MLOTSHWA

Prince Zwide Khumalo

Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo, said the land on which the State House was built belonged to the Ndebele kingdom.

“There are certain values and important artefacts, cultural activities and infrastructure that should be put in place for the people of Matabeleland to enjoy efforts of celebrating their traditions and cultures in their ethnic diversity,” he said.

Khumalo pointed out that, for many people in Zimbabwe, colonialism still subsisted and in the case of the Ndebele, British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes captured the land on which their king’s palace was located and built the Rhodes House, which is now the State House at Emahlabathini in Bulawayo.

“Traditional observance dictates that the revival of the Ndebele monarch should start from that piece of land on which the government house is on,” he said.

“The challenge is how we can use our land without interfering with the State House. It is true that, on the instruction of King Lobengula, Chief Sivalo and other chiefs burnt the royal palace, but the traditional peg (isikhonkwane) was not removed and that gives us the right to the land and the extended right to ask government to consider ways of giving the subjects of the king the right to use their land to celebrate their traditions and cultures.

“This is in no way blaming the current government for finding itself there. We appreciate that the government just occupied a house that Rhodes had built for himself on illegally occupied Ndebele palace land.”

Contacted for comment, Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of Culture and Heritage minister Abednico Ncube said: “I think it is better for me not to involve myself in this. I am not a historian; historians will be better placed to talk about this.”

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