Dispaches from the past relevant to the present.

Zazi Foundation- Heritage writes:

'They will kill the Boers tomorrow' (Bulal' umthakathi!!!- Kill The Wizards)

If W.B. Rubusana was alive today he would be the one leading the charge shouting, "Qulani sizwe, zemk' iinkomo magwal' andini" (Be on guard, preserve our heritage). When he published his anthology of prose and poetry in 1906 he was precisely worried about the erosion of African history and heritage. Let us partake in eating the bread while it is still hot and fresh from the oven. All political and legal experts and analysts have expressed their disssent and utter disgust to the findings of the judge in the hate speech trial of Julius Malema. I would like to submit from the onset that the song, Ayesaba Amagwala is not the main issue in this debacle, but rather the essence of blackness and its heritage is the one that is being insulted. As in Shakespear's Julius Ceasar, black people have been stabbed in the back and betrayed by the very same constitutional order that they fought for.

My mind could not help but go back in history when an utterance similar to "Dubul' ibhunu" was made and to look at the reasons, circumstances and consequences thereof. In February 1838, Willian Wood, an interpreter of Dingane (King of The Zulu) predicted to Francis Owen, a missionary, that Dingane was going to 'kill the Boers' that were visitng him. The Boers that Wood was referring to were Piet Retief and his crew. It is said that Owen did not believe Wood's assertion and dismissed it as sheer speculation. Without waisting time, the following extract from Donald R. Morris (The Rise And The Fall of the Zulu Nation, 1965) provides us with events that unfolded after Wood's prediction:

'On the morning of February sixth Dingane invited all the Boers and their servants to a farewell dance....When they seated themselves in a group in the center..[of the kraal]..the dance started. When the dance was at its height, Dingane suddenly leaped to his feet and screamed, "Bambani AbaThakathi (Kill The Wizards)". Each unarmed Boer before he could rise was seized by a group of Zulus and dragged out of the kraal to the neighbouring hill of execution'. A total of about sixty six Boers and about thirty of their Khoikhoi servants were killed that day including Piet Retief who was kept to watch the executions before they killed him. The space in this column does not allow me to elucidate and narrate Dingane's reasons for killing Retief and his people except to say that he did not trust them.

There are interesting similarities when ones looks at both eras. Let us start by taking a cursory look on the black side of the divide through the character of Malema as a leader and its similarities to that of Dingane and his era. Dingane was a murderous-tyrant and a key member of a tripartheid alliance that killed his brother, Shaka kaSenzangakhona on the 22nd of Septmber 1828. The other two members of the alliance were his brother Mhlangana and a chief called Mbopha. After killing Shaka, Dingane executed Mhlangana and chased Mbopha away. Julius Malema was an integral part of the tripartheid alliance that toppled Thabo Mbeki (apparently another dictator who did not tolerate alternative views). Malema is also a rich ANC member in a country where there is mass poverty and where babies unnecessarily die in dirty hospitals and till recently he was 'willing to kill' to achieve his political ends. Is it not ironic that we find ourselves diffending our history and heritage through a questionable character like Malema?. This very same Malema spits in the faces of poor black people and uses them when it is convenient for him. In the white side of the historical narrative we had Piet Retief and some missionaries who made it their hobby to enslave and dispossess black people of their economic and heritage rights. The White Afri-Forum are latter-day practioners of white neocolonial and neoapartheid attitude that seeks to further undermine the essence of blackness and the right of black people to exist. As we all know, there are no clear winners in this hate speech case given the fact that Malema is receiving huge support even from some white liberal legal circles. For the purposes of our narrative let us give the first round to King Dingane and Julius Malema. 

The killing of Retief and his group sent shocking waves throughout Afrikaanerdom and other settlers in the KZN and beyond. The Boers therefore hastily started making preparations  to avenge the death of their people. After nine months of rallying support, the Boers started attacking Zulu kraals early December 1838. A final scene of their revenge is remembered today as the Battle Of Blood River which took place on the 16th of December 1838. It is estimated that more than 3000 Zulu warriors perished during this battle and that there was not even a single fatality on the side of the Boers (Mhmm!!! makes one wonder). Well how about we give the second round to Piet Retief and the White-Afri-Forum given the fact that the judge ruled in their favour anyway. I think this madness will continue like the wars between the Zulus and the Boers, but I hope no one will be literally killed this time.  

In conclusion. If I were to submit that Malema's character is not that different from that of members of the Afri-Forum in terms of nation building, would that imply that we should accept the insult of black people or that of white people by using our legal systems? Certainly not!!. As much as Malema's character is as errant as that of Dingane, but still his cultural rights and history must still be respected. When Piet Retief was killed by Dingane he was still a Boer with his own history and will be remembered as such. When the White Afri-Forum loses the appeal (I hope), they will still be descendants of the architects of Apartheid and that is their history. When Dingane lost the Battle of Blood River he still remained the king of the Zulu and a custodian of their culture and heritage. The only difference between now and then is that the judge's ruling attacks the dignity and the history black people in general while promoting and protecting those of White-Afri-Forum members. That is not justice.        

Phumelele Zonela-kaMoti
"A wretched of the earth"
071 215 7073