THE King Lobengula Foundation in conjunction with the Amakhosi Cultural Group are set to host a cultural event meant to kick start bilateral negotiations between South Africa and Zimbabwe for the repatriation of the bones of Alban Njube kaLobengula kaMzilikazi “Iqanda leNgwenya” and his son Rhodes kaNjube kaLobengula.
Alban Njube was the son of Lobengula, the second and last king of the Ndebele whose reign from c.1870 came to an end in 1894 following military defeat by invading British South Africa Company troops as imperialist Cecil John Rhodes carved out a British empire in southern Africa. Lobengula’s father Mzilikazi had established the Ndebele kingdom in the 1840s after fleeing the Zulu king Shaka in South Africa’s Zululand in the 1830s.
The Ndebele kingdom was amalgamated with Mashonaland in 1898 to create the colony of Southern Rhodesia which gained independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.
King Lobengula Foundation chief executive officer Sizwe Mda said the event, meant to unite and build long-term relationships between the two countries, will be held on February 20, at Fingo Village, Grahamstown, South Africa.
“We anticipate a huge turnout from our prestigious academic institution, Rhodes University and would welcome them as part of this cultural event, as some of its students come from neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe,” Mda said.
“It is expected that certain members of our society who have vested interests in the history and heritage of African people will be among those who will give honour to the heir to the throne of King Lobengula, the son of Mzilikazi kaMatshobana.”
Mda said the socio-economic impact of this event will benefit the communities of Kwa-Ndancama, Fingo Village including the greater Cacadu Region and Mathebeleland by means of new trade and tourism routes to be established in the next 10 years prior to the 2026 centennial celebration of its founding.
“This event it is the “window of opportunity” to bring forth innovative and new methods that would stabilise our Southern African Development Community region, politically and economically,” he said.
Among the guests expected to grace the event, that is said to be the precedent to the “Highlanders at 90” celebrations that will commence on February 28 at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, are Chief Nyangazonke, Khula Thobela — the High Priest at Njelele Shrine, Albert Matshelela, and Luke Mnkandla — board member of Highlanders Football Club.
Highlanders are the oldest soccer team having been formed in 1926 by the Ndebele princes Rhodes and Albert. They are seven-time Premier League champions and Zimbabwe’s most successful soccer team after Dynamos.
Highlanders produced some of Zimbabwe’s most successful players: Bruce Grobbelaar and Peter Ndlovu –both of them former English Premier League players. Grobbelaar, easily the best goalkeeper Liverpool ever had, won six English League titles and one Champions League title as well as three FA Cup finals.
Ndlovu, arguably the most talented player ever to have come from Zimbabwe, became the longest serving African player in the English League after a 15 year spell.
Ndlovu and his brothers Adam and Madinda teamed up with Grobbelaar in the famous Zimbabwe “Dream Team” coached by the late Germ.