GWANDA – Some cultural organisations are advocating for the removal of Cecil John Rhodes’ grave from the top of Matopo Hills which is a sacred religious place of the Shona people.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Culture appreciation workshop, the Director of Zimbabwe Heritage Trust Pritchard Zhou said the presence of Rhodes’ remains at a place which is the centre of the Mwari religion or the Njelele/Mabweadziva is one of the sources of the confusion and unrest seen in the country.
Zhou said Matopo Hills is the residence of Murenga Spirit, a spirit believed to have led all the Chimurenga Wars in the country and its convergence and indeed the convergence of many other local spirits with Rhodhes’ is causing problems in the country.
He said Matopo Hills is also a place for rainmaking ceremonies by people from the whole region. One of the colonialists buried at the heritage site is Leander Starr Jameson and Zhou called for their exhumation from the place.
He added that Murenga had been speaking from the shrine for many years but then stopped in 1914 after the burial of Rhodhes on the hills.
“As long as the remains of Rhodes are still lying among our ancestors that means our independence as a nation is not complete. Our freedom will also be incomplete as a nation because the spirit of the icon of colonialists is still mingling with the spirits of our icon traditional religious ancestry as a nation,” said Zhou.
Njelele is situated at Matopo Hills in Kezi ,Mat South Province and has since time immemorial been used by people from all parts of the country as well as other African countries for rainmaking ceremonies and healing of various ailments that affected their communities.
According to oral tradition of the Rozvi ,the origins of Njelele dates back to the 14th Century when the Mbire ethnic group migrated from Lake Tanganyika and settled at Great Zimbabwe where they established the Mwari cult. The Mwari religion was the most elaborate way of worshiping and consulting the Supreme being prior to colonisation.
“When Tokwa and Mutota faught at Great Zimbabwe over succession disputes many people died. Though Tokwa defeated Mutota there was a religious dispute as the traditional religious priests blamed him for spilling the blood of many. They said the spirits were angry and could not stay at Great Zimbabwe shrines. That is when a group of priests led by Dlembeu moved to Matopo Hills and established the Mwari cult at the present Mabweadziva/ Njelele shrine.
“Rhodes’ remains still lie at the Matopo hills as a deity among our ancestors. lt is so disheartening to know that his grave is even taken as a tourist attraction by our children yet Mzilikazi and his two grandsons Sidojiwe and Nguboyenja’s places of rest are just three kilometers from Rhodes’ grave, yet people don’t even go there for tourism.
“The first king of the Ndebeles who died in 1868 was interred in a cave at Entumbane Hills on the northern edges of the Matopo hills but he is never recognised. Our people are busy celebrating the life of a colonialist,” said Zhou.
Zhou added that Rhodes who died on March 26 1902 could have been burried in Cape Town but in his will he said he wanted to be buried on the flat hill at the Matopo Hills. The possibility is that he knew it was a religious place of the ancestry and believed himself to be one of our nation’s ancestors who are watching the nation.