Chapter 22.

The Exodus.

Mzilikazi was the last to leave with his bodyguard. Trembling under the weight of the sad news from the front, he quailed at the sight of the deserted huts of his great city. In the middle of the morning he overtook the bulk of his people resting in the woods. He at once sent word to collect the veterans and returned soldiers with the object of making a final stand against the invaders of his land. This army he himself would lead, while the women and children with the cattle should push further North.

These orders, which were executed with remarkable promptitude, revived the hopes of the jaded nation. Magicians immediately set to work making sacrifices, muttering incantations and burning all kinds of charms. Praises of the King were profusely and vociferously sung, while the men tested their shields and spears and chanted the ancient Zulu war songs. These martial exercises and the death-defying enthusiasm of the warriors restored public confidence, and the hope was expressed that the King's own impi would turn the scales where Gubuza had failed, and shortly after midday the army was on its way.

The vanguards of Mzilikazi's veterans having reached the summit of a high hill, saw in the direction of Inzwinyani what looked like a rising cloud-bank growing more and more dense. It was the smoke ascending from the hundreds of deserted huts of Inzwinyani which lay scattered across two valleys.

For a time the sight damped the ardour of the majahas, for they had not until then realized the near proximity of the foe. Someone suggested, and it was hoped that

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perhaps the Gubuza with the laudable intention that no valuable loot should fall into his pursuers' hands. But Gubuza at that time was resting his tired army about twelve miles to the west of the burning city. In passing through it, early that morning, some of his men had actually entered the capital for a hurried examination of the ruins of what used to be their home, and to see if they could conveniently carry away anything left behind. Many valuable articles, flung away by the people in their haste to get away, lay strewn about the huts. Indeed, while thus occupied among the huts, the soldiers heard a few shots on the outskirts and flames began to shoot up, thus forcing them to cut short their inspection and hurry out of the place.

In order to elude his pursuers, Gubuza ordered his flight along a well-wooded depression where his retreating forces could less easily be seen. It was because of this strategy that the advance of the King's impi escaped his notice. Mzilikazi's army soon came in contact with the invaders' scouts. The latter, having now acquired a supreme contempt for the feeble resistance of the Matebele, were recklessly riding over the country. The impi promptly surrounding them, killed four Boers, four Griquas and twenty Barolong, captured their horses and arms and put the remainder to flight.

This enterprise, led by the King himself, was the first success of the Matebele in a running fight that lasted nearly a month. The whole army came back in an orgy of rejoicing and trampled upon the dead bodies of their uncanny foes to make sure that they should not rise again. Some headmen suggested, and the suggestion was adopted, that the hearts of such brave warriors should be cut out to prepare charms to inoculate the impi with their valour.

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One Matebele who could ride — Qanda by name — mounted one of the captured horses and proceeded to scatter the good news among the fugitive tribesmen and women in the bush.

On arrival at the temporary refuge, Qanda, who at first was mistaken for one of the invaders, created consternation among the fugitives. Women at the sight of the horse screamed, believing that the enemy was already in their midst. Till then all war news from the front was to the effect that the mere sight of the invaders was sufficient to cause death; so having seen the horse these women covered their faces, laid themselves down and prepared to die in the rays of the flaming tail of the notorious star of ill-omen; in this way a number of babies were injured.

This enterprise, led by the King himself, was the first success of the Matebele in a running fight that lasted nearly a month. The whole army came back in an orgy of rejoicing and trampled upon the dead bodies of their uncanny foes to make sure that they should not rise again. Some headmen suggested, and the suggestion was adopted, that the hearts of such brave warriors should be cut out to prepare charms to inoculate the impi with their valour. One Matebele who could ride — Qanda by name — mounted one of the captured horses and proceeded to scatter the good news among the fugitive tribesmen and women in the bush.

But when his identity was established by the panic-stricken people, Qanda's message sent a thrill of joy through the encampment and there was a sensational demonstration of relief. It was supposed that the dead scouts comprised the whole of the army of mischief-makers and loud were the praises sung in honour of Mzilikazi, the redoubtable ruler of earth and skies, who had definitely destroyed the agents of the fatalities of a bewitching comet.

The glad news reached Gubuza that night, and he at once led his retreating forces back to rejoin the King. It was a depressed army, however, that returned. The impi, however, had witnessed a succession of disasters with nothing to cheer them; they had been fighting and marching for days and nights with very little sleep and hardly any food; yet they were hopeful that the King had by a miracle freed the country from the implacable devils, whose thunder they had been subjected to since the invasion commenced.

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By daybreak King Mzilikazi effected a junction with his disappointed commander. To them the golden dawn broke drear and hopeless, for, before Gubuza had time to render a full report of his generalship and the losses of the preceding days, their pickets ran in to say that a yet more imposing body of the allied forces were marching upon them and at once the impis scrambled to meet their fire.

“O Gubuza, my brother,” was the lament of the despondent King, his melancholy voice sounding like a dead weight upon the disconsolate spirit of his general, “Would that I were with you on the day of the big fight; to share in the terror of your brave men! What sorcery are we faced with, my brother? Your experience has indeed been greater than the most thrilling battles of another age. Truly your indunas were more daring than the bravest Zulu warrior who ever cast a spear. What would you advise under this heavy cloud of death? Speak, for you alone bear the amulet that could shield us from the edicts of fate. Even now do I hear the thunder of their murderous weapons.”

They advanced to a more elevated position, and looking down towards his warriors and the one-sided battle raging before him, Mzilikazi beheld with an all too vivid realisation the actual cause of the rout of his people.

There they were, marching spear in hand and shields aloft according to their ancient formation; but alas! only to fall in masses before the fire of the musketeers.

“Bona! Bona!  1 ” said the broken-hearted Gubuza to his despondent King, pointing a solemn finger at the frightful scen of massacre, “it is thunder, lightning!

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None but the super-human can resist it. My advice to the Great-One is, take the body-guard, return at once to the people and remove them to a place of safety while I remain behind to delay the enemy's advance.”

King Mzilikazi, adopting the advice of his commander-in-chief, turned and retraced his steps. He had for years been cherishing a beautiful ideal. He had made preparations for overpowering and annexing adjacent tribes and augmenting his armies with the fighting forces of the conquered peoples; and, having trained and inspired them with Matebele courage, he had dreamt of possessing the most invincible army that ever faced an enemy; then, with his power thus magnified, he had looked forward to a march upon Zululand and the establishment of an idyllic empire, stretching from the sandy woods of Bechuanaland to the coast of Monomotapa, and along the Indian Ocean, through the Tonga and Swaziland, as far South as the coast of Pondoland; and then he should him in and subdue the wily Moshesh of Basutoland! So much for human ambition.

Marching back to his waiting people, the King heard the lament of his guard, mourning the loss of Prince Langa, “the bravest son of the great one.” This was an unparalleled blow. “My son, my son, my gallant son and glory of my eyes,” he groaned. “He fell beside his brave uncles Dingiswayo, Matambo, S'tonga, Tabata … and Dambuza, the warrior orator is also among the slain.”

Mzilikazi quavered under the lash of these reminders. He recalled with a pang the patriotic speeches of Dambuza and the others, now killed, and the poignancy of the new situation in which Gubuza, who, in the heydey of their rejoicings, was accused of being a coward, now remained his sole pillar of strength. “Where is that bombastic

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spirit now,” he asked himself. “The wind, which at one time seemed to be under my sway and that of my invincibles, continues to blow as if nothing has happened; the leaves of the great modubu and mopani trees are waving in the breeze as if gladdened by the flight and melody of birds of every plume. The mountain mist like a giant pall still connects the peaceful earth with a dull sky and the clouds roll heedlessly by in the same manner as they did during the height of my glory; everything retains its natural serenity, the fatal comet has not blighted their existence. Only one giant is uprooted and overthrown. Low lies the city of Inzwinyani. Mayebab'o!  2  Shall not my greatness survive? Could not the storm have been averted? Yes, then why was it not avoided? Forsooth, the cataclysm was not unexpected.”

He wished that he could meet the authors of his extreme misfortune and smash their skulls for them. He felt that he could not entrust their execution to a deputy but would lop off their heads with his own hands. “Who was responsible for this calamity?” he asked himself once again.

Looking about him he regarded the sympathetic faces of his bodyguard, then remembered with a tremor that none by Mzilikazi was the culprit and muttered: “I alone am to blame; notwithstanding that my magicians warned me of the looming terrors, I heeded them not. Had I only listened and moved the nation to the North, I could have transplanted my kingdom there with all my impis still intact but — Maye-bab'o! — now I have lost all!”

Following this reverie, the King vividly recalled the death

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of his wife, Nomenti, who succumbed to a mysterious disease the day after they evacuated the capital. The flight of his nation kept him preoccupied, so that he had been unable to give her a queenly burial. He further thought of the still more mysterious disappearance of Umnandi, the jewel of bygone days, once so dear to his heart. “That daughter of Mzinyati,” he said to himself, “was the mainstay of my throne. My greatness grew with the renown of her beauty, her wisdom and her stately reception of my guests. She vanished and, with her, the magic talisman of my court. She must have possessed the wand round which the pomp of Inzwinyani was twined for the rise of my misfortune synchronized with her disappearance. Yet she was not the only wife in my harem. How came it about that all was centred on her? What was the secret of her strength? It is clear that calamities will continue to dog my footsteps until that wife is found. The combined efforts of my people have failed to bring her back to me. How could she be found? Yet she must be found. I shall have her found.”

These thoughts tormented Mzilikazi all the way, until he reached the crest of the last slope, from which elevated position he could see his people resting among the woods. He heard the bitter wail of the children who hungrily shrieked aloud for food. He saw anxious mothers pressing their empty breasts into the mouths of crying babies, but the teats of starving mothers failed to still the gnawing pangs of hunger and the little ones kept up their weak discordant wail.

All this seemed to affect Mzilikazi tremendously. He alarmed his guards by muttering to himself aloud: “Of what use are these things to me? The bones of my sons and nephews and those of my great fighters lie still and

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lifeless on the battlefields. Their arms are powerless and never again shall wield the assegai. Give me neither spear nor shield,” he thundered. “Find then some other weapon if I am to live in this world. Give me the lethal weapon that will frustrate the wiles of my pursuers; bring me the sword of fire to pierce their craven hides,” he exclaimed like one in delirium.

Surveying the ruins of all his hopes and remembering the rich, red Matebele blood sacrificed so lavishly, in hopes that the end would justify the means, and contemplating the inevitable gloom with which he stood face to face, Mzilikazi heaved a deep sigh and wished that he held the keys to open the gateways of the elements of thunder and lightning, so as to command these forces to hurry down and annihilate and blot out forever the armies of his tormentors.

Then, passing his hands before his eyes, as if to wipe out the calamities of which he was the victim, he drew himself up to his full height — a noble and kingly figure, despite adversity — raised his voice and with something of his old dignity he addressed the gathering crowd: “Amandebele, O People of Matshobani, Listen to me! We have escaped from one tyrant in the land of the rising sun and fought our way through Basuto, Mantatise and Bechuana, until we found a resting place in this country, surrounded though it be by vile treachery. You are my witnesses. Have I not been kind to these Bechuana traitors? It was my desire to incorporate them with ourselves so that together we could form one great nation; they pretended to be willing, yet they have always played me false. When they failed to bring tribute I slew them not; yet at the first opportunity they did not hesitate to abuse my kindness. Those Barolong

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dogs assassinated my indunas, the Bangwaketse beasts led into a desert trap one of my regiments; the Qoranna dissemblers helped my enemy; the Bahurutshe and Bafokeng, while professing to be my friends constantly sowed thorns in my path; the deceitful Griquas also laid snares for me. Sechelle is the one friend I found in this country; yet when I appealed to him for an army to support me in my present plight he promised one next moon, when he knew it would be too late. Nevertheless, I do not wish to quarrel with the doubtful friendship of his Bakwena. As for those other Bechuana robbers, the informal spirits they have invoked upon me will recoil on them. Tradition tells of no instance where a man has ever found a neighbour in spirits of that kind. Spirits are not of this world and the witch who associates with them does so at his peril.”

“Those bearded Boers who killed my herdboys and stole my cattle are to-day helping them to destroy me.”

“The Bechuana know not the story of Zungu of old. Remember him, my people; he caught a lion's whelp and thought that, if he fed it with the milk of his cows, he would in due course possess a useful mastiff to help him in hunting valuable specimens of wild beasts. The cub grew up, apparently tame and meek just like an ordinary domestic puppy; but one day Zungu came home and found, what? It had eaten his children, chewed up two of his wives, and in destroying it, he himself narrowly escaped being mauled. So, if Tauana and his gang of brigands imagine that they shall have rain and plenty under the protection of these marauding wizards from the sea, they will gather some sense before long.”

“Chaka served us just as treacherously. Where is Chaka's dynasty now? Extinguished, by the very Boers who poisoned my wives and are pursuing us to-day. The

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Bechuana are fools to think that these unnatural Kiwas  3  will return their so-called friendship with honest friendship. Together they are laughing at my misery. Let them rejoice; they need all the laughter they can have today for when their deliverers begin to dose them with the same bitter medicine they prepared for me; when the Kiwas rob them of their cattle, their children and their lands, they will weep their eyes out of their sockets and get left with only their empty throats to squeal in vain for mercy.”

“They will despoil them of the very lands they have rendered unsafe for us; they will entice the Bechuana youths to war and the chase, only to use them as pack-oxen; yea, they will refuse to share with them the spoils of victory.”

“They will turn Bechuana women into beasts of burden to drag their loaded wagons to their granaries, while their own bullocks are fattening on the hillside and pining for exercise. They will use the whiplash on the bare skins of women to accelerate their paces and quicken their activities: they shall take Bechuana women to wife and, with them, breed a race of half man and half goblin, and they will deny them their legitimate lobolo  4 . With their cries unheeded these Bechuana will waste away in helpless fury till the gnome offspring of such miscegenation rise up against their cruel sires; by that time their mucus will blend with their tears past their chins down to their heels, then shall come our turn to laugh.”

“Rally now to your burdens, Amandebele mothers; strap your babies to your waists; let us direct our toes to

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the North for there is a refuge there. The Mandebele assegai has served us well in the past. It shall be the indicator of our road to the land of plenty, in a far country that is good for raising corn and the grazing of cattle. We shall ford the Udi and cross the Mocloutse; we shall traverse the territories round Nchwapong, where Sekgoma holds sway, then we shall enter the land of ivory, far, far beyond the reach of killing spirits, where the stars have no tails and the woods are free from mischievous Barolong. Our hunters up in the North have discovered some fertile territories whose rivers abound with endless schools of sea-cow; whose forests are marked by the tracks of elephant and giraffe; where the buffalo roam and the eland browse, where the oryx and the zebra invite us to the chase.”

“Arise, Ama-Ndebele! Let us from hence. *Pambili Lonke!”  5 

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Chapter 22.

The Exodus.

Mzilikazi was the last to leave with his bodyguard. Trembling under the weight of the sad news from the front, he quailed at the sight of the deserted huts of his great city. In the middle of the morning he overtook the bulk of his people resting in the woods. He at once sent word to collect the veterans and returned soldiers with the object of making a final stand against the invaders of his land. This army he himself would lead, while the women and children with the cattle should push further North.

These orders, which were executed with remarkable promptitude, revived the hopes of the jaded nation. Magicians immediately set to work making sacrifices, muttering incantations and burning all kinds of charms. Praises of the King were profusely and vociferously sung, while the men tested their shields and spears and chanted the ancient Zulu war songs. These martial exercises and the death-defying enthusiasm of the warriors restored public confidence, and the hope was expressed that the King's own impi would turn the scales where Gubuza had failed, and shortly after midday the army was on its way.

The vanguards of Mzilikazi's veterans having reached the summit of a high hill, saw in the direction of Inzwinyani what looked like a rising cloud-bank growing more and more dense. It was the smoke ascending from the hundreds of deserted huts of Inzwinyani which lay scattered across two valleys.

For a time the sight damped the ardour of the majahas, for they had not until then realized the near proximity of the foe. Someone suggested, and it was hoped that perhaps the Gubuza with the laudable intention that no valuable loot should fall into his pursuers' hands. But Gubuza at that time was resting his tired army about twelve miles to the west of the burning city. In passing through it, early that morning, some of his men had actually entered the capital for a hurried examination of the ruins of what used to be their home, and to see if they could conveniently carry away anything left behind. Many valuable articles, flung away by the people in their haste to get away, lay strewn about the huts. Indeed, while thus occupied among the huts, the soldiers heard a few shots on the outskirts and flames began to shoot up, thus forcing them to cut short their inspection and hurry out of the place.

In order to elude his pursuers, Gubuza ordered his flight along a well-wooded depression where his retreating forces could less easily be seen. It was because of this strategy that the advance of the King's impi escaped his notice. Mzilikazi's army soon came in contact with the invaders' scouts. The latter, having now acquired a supreme contempt for the feeble resistance of the Matebele, were recklessly riding over the country. The impi promptly surrounding them, killed four Boers, four Griquas and twenty Barolong, captured their horses and arms and put the remainder to flight.

This enterprise, led by the King himself, was the first success of the Matebele in a running fight that lasted nearly a month. The whole army came back in an orgy of rejoicing and trampled upon the dead bodies of their uncanny foes to make sure that they should not rise again. Some headmen suggested, and the suggestion was adopted, that the hearts of such brave warriors should be cut out to prepare charms to inoculate the impi with their valour. One Matebele who could ride — Qanda by name — mounted one of the captured horses and proceeded to scatter the good news among the fugitive tribesmen and women in the bush.

On arrival at the temporary refuge, Qanda, who at first was mistaken for one of the invaders, created consternation among the fugitives. Women at the sight of the horse screamed, believing that the enemy was already in their midst. Till then all war news from the front was to the effect that the mere sight of the invaders was sufficient to cause death; so having seen the horse these women covered their faces, laid themselves down and prepared to die in the rays of the flaming tail of the notorious star of ill-omen; in this way a number of babies were injured.

This enterprise, led by the King himself, was the first success of the Matebele in a running fight that lasted nearly a month. The whole army came back in an orgy of rejoicing and trampled upon the dead bodies of their uncanny foes to make sure that they should not rise again. Some headmen suggested, and the suggestion was adopted, that the hearts of such brave warriors should be cut out to prepare charms to inoculate the impi with their valour. One Matebele who could ride — Qanda by name — mounted one of the captured horses and proceeded to scatter the good news among the fugitive tribesmen and women in the bush.

But when his identity was established by the panic-stricken people, Qanda's message sent a thrill of joy through the encampment and there was a sensational demonstration of relief. It was supposed that the dead scouts comprised the whole of the army of mischief-makers and loud were the praises sung in honour of Mzilikazi, the redoubtable ruler of earth and skies, who had definitely destroyed the agents of the fatalities of a bewitching comet.

The glad news reached Gubuza that night, and he at once led his retreating forces back to rejoin the King. It was a depressed army, however, that returned. The impi, however, had witnessed a succession of disasters with nothing to cheer them; they had been fighting and marching for days and nights with very little sleep and hardly any food; yet they were hopeful that the King had by a miracle freed the country from the implacable devils, whose thunder they had been subjected to since the invasion commenced.

By daybreak King Mzilikazi effected a junction with his disappointed commander. To them the golden dawn broke drear and hopeless, for, before Gubuza had time to render a full report of his generalship and the losses of the preceding days, their pickets ran in to say that a yet more imposing body of the allied forces were marching upon them and at once the impis scrambled to meet their fire.

“O Gubuza, my brother,” was the lament of the despondent King, his melancholy voice sounding like a dead weight upon the disconsolate spirit of his general, “Would that I were with you on the day of the big fight; to share in the terror of your brave men! What sorcery are we faced with, my brother? Your experience has indeed been greater than the most thrilling battles of another age. Truly your indunas were more daring than the bravest Zulu warrior who ever cast a spear. What would you advise under this heavy cloud of death? Speak, for you alone bear the amulet that could shield us from the edicts of fate. Even now do I hear the thunder of their murderous weapons.”

They advanced to a more elevated position, and looking down towards his warriors and the one-sided battle raging before him, Mzilikazi beheld with an all too vivid realisation the actual cause of the rout of his people.

There they were, marching spear in hand and shields aloft according to their ancient formation; but alas! only to fall in masses before the fire of the musketeers.

“Bona! Bona!  1 ” said the broken-hearted Gubuza to his despondent King, pointing a solemn finger at the frightful scen of massacre, “it is thunder, lightning! None but the super-human can resist it. My advice to the Great-One is, take the body-guard, return at once to the people and remove them to a place of safety while I remain behind to delay the enemy's advance.”

King Mzilikazi, adopting the advice of his commander-in-chief, turned and retraced his steps. He had for years been cherishing a beautiful ideal. He had made preparations for overpowering and annexing adjacent tribes and augmenting his armies with the fighting forces of the conquered peoples; and, having trained and inspired them with Matebele courage, he had dreamt of possessing the most invincible army that ever faced an enemy; then, with his power thus magnified, he had looked forward to a march upon Zululand and the establishment of an idyllic empire, stretching from the sandy woods of Bechuanaland to the coast of Monomotapa, and along the Indian Ocean, through the Tonga and Swaziland, as far South as the coast of Pondoland; and then he should him in and subdue the wily Moshesh of Basutoland! So much for human ambition.

Marching back to his waiting people, the King heard the lament of his guard, mourning the loss of Prince Langa, “the bravest son of the great one.” This was an unparalleled blow. “My son, my son, my gallant son and glory of my eyes,” he groaned. “He fell beside his brave uncles Dingiswayo, Matambo, S'tonga, Tabata … and Dambuza, the warrior orator is also among the slain.”

Mzilikazi quavered under the lash of these reminders. He recalled with a pang the patriotic speeches of Dambuza and the others, now killed, and the poignancy of the new situation in which Gubuza, who, in the heydey of their rejoicings, was accused of being a coward, now remained his sole pillar of strength. “Where is that bombastic spirit now,” he asked himself. “The wind, which at one time seemed to be under my sway and that of my invincibles, continues to blow as if nothing has happened; the leaves of the great modubu and mopani trees are waving in the breeze as if gladdened by the flight and melody of birds of every plume. The mountain mist like a giant pall still connects the peaceful earth with a dull sky and the clouds roll heedlessly by in the same manner as they did during the height of my glory; everything retains its natural serenity, the fatal comet has not blighted their existence. Only one giant is uprooted and overthrown. Low lies the city of Inzwinyani. Mayebab'o!  2  Shall not my greatness survive? Could not the storm have been averted? Yes, then why was it not avoided? Forsooth, the cataclysm was not unexpected.”

He wished that he could meet the authors of his extreme misfortune and smash their skulls for them. He felt that he could not entrust their execution to a deputy but would lop off their heads with his own hands. “Who was responsible for this calamity?” he asked himself once again.

Looking about him he regarded the sympathetic faces of his bodyguard, then remembered with a tremor that none by Mzilikazi was the culprit and muttered: “I alone am to blame; notwithstanding that my magicians warned me of the looming terrors, I heeded them not. Had I only listened and moved the nation to the North, I could have transplanted my kingdom there with all my impis still intact but — Maye-bab'o! — now I have lost all!”

Following this reverie, the King vividly recalled the death of his wife, Nomenti, who succumbed to a mysterious disease the day after they evacuated the capital. The flight of his nation kept him preoccupied, so that he had been unable to give her a queenly burial. He further thought of the still more mysterious disappearance of Umnandi, the jewel of bygone days, once so dear to his heart. “That daughter of Mzinyati,” he said to himself, “was the mainstay of my throne. My greatness grew with the renown of her beauty, her wisdom and her stately reception of my guests. She vanished and, with her, the magic talisman of my court. She must have possessed the wand round which the pomp of Inzwinyani was twined for the rise of my misfortune synchronized with her disappearance. Yet she was not the only wife in my harem. How came it about that all was centred on her? What was the secret of her strength? It is clear that calamities will continue to dog my footsteps until that wife is found. The combined efforts of my people have failed to bring her back to me. How could she be found? Yet she must be found. I shall have her found.”

These thoughts tormented Mzilikazi all the way, until he reached the crest of the last slope, from which elevated position he could see his people resting among the woods. He heard the bitter wail of the children who hungrily shrieked aloud for food. He saw anxious mothers pressing their empty breasts into the mouths of crying babies, but the teats of starving mothers failed to still the gnawing pangs of hunger and the little ones kept up their weak discordant wail.

All this seemed to affect Mzilikazi tremendously. He alarmed his guards by muttering to himself aloud: “Of what use are these things to me? The bones of my sons and nephews and those of my great fighters lie still and lifeless on the battlefields. Their arms are powerless and never again shall wield the assegai. Give me neither spear nor shield,” he thundered. “Find then some other weapon if I am to live in this world. Give me the lethal weapon that will frustrate the wiles of my pursuers; bring me the sword of fire to pierce their craven hides,” he exclaimed like one in delirium.

Surveying the ruins of all his hopes and remembering the rich, red Matebele blood sacrificed so lavishly, in hopes that the end would justify the means, and contemplating the inevitable gloom with which he stood face to face, Mzilikazi heaved a deep sigh and wished that he held the keys to open the gateways of the elements of thunder and lightning, so as to command these forces to hurry down and annihilate and blot out forever the armies of his tormentors.

Then, passing his hands before his eyes, as if to wipe out the calamities of which he was the victim, he drew himself up to his full height — a noble and kingly figure, despite adversity — raised his voice and with something of his old dignity he addressed the gathering crowd: “Amandebele, O People of Matshobani, Listen to me! We have escaped from one tyrant in the land of the rising sun and fought our way through Basuto, Mantatise and Bechuana, until we found a resting place in this country, surrounded though it be by vile treachery. You are my witnesses. Have I not been kind to these Bechuana traitors? It was my desire to incorporate them with ourselves so that together we could form one great nation; they pretended to be willing, yet they have always played me false. When they failed to bring tribute I slew them not; yet at the first opportunity they did not hesitate to abuse my kindness. Those Barolong dogs assassinated my indunas, the Bangwaketse beasts led into a desert trap one of my regiments; the Qoranna dissemblers helped my enemy; the Bahurutshe and Bafokeng, while professing to be my friends constantly sowed thorns in my path; the deceitful Griquas also laid snares for me. Sechelle is the one friend I found in this country; yet when I appealed to him for an army to support me in my present plight he promised one next moon, when he knew it would be too late. Nevertheless, I do not wish to quarrel with the doubtful friendship of his Bakwena. As for those other Bechuana robbers, the informal spirits they have invoked upon me will recoil on them. Tradition tells of no instance where a man has ever found a neighbour in spirits of that kind. Spirits are not of this world and the witch who associates with them does so at his peril.”

“Those bearded Boers who killed my herdboys and stole my cattle are to-day helping them to destroy me.”

“The Bechuana know not the story of Zungu of old. Remember him, my people; he caught a lion's whelp and thought that, if he fed it with the milk of his cows, he would in due course possess a useful mastiff to help him in hunting valuable specimens of wild beasts. The cub grew up, apparently tame and meek just like an ordinary domestic puppy; but one day Zungu came home and found, what? It had eaten his children, chewed up two of his wives, and in destroying it, he himself narrowly escaped being mauled. So, if Tauana and his gang of brigands imagine that they shall have rain and plenty under the protection of these marauding wizards from the sea, they will gather some sense before long.”

“Chaka served us just as treacherously. Where is Chaka's dynasty now? Extinguished, by the very Boers who poisoned my wives and are pursuing us to-day. The Bechuana are fools to think that these unnatural Kiwas  3  will return their so-called friendship with honest friendship. Together they are laughing at my misery. Let them rejoice; they need all the laughter they can have today for when their deliverers begin to dose them with the same bitter medicine they prepared for me; when the Kiwas rob them of their cattle, their children and their lands, they will weep their eyes out of their sockets and get left with only their empty throats to squeal in vain for mercy.”

“They will despoil them of the very lands they have rendered unsafe for us; they will entice the Bechuana youths to war and the chase, only to use them as pack-oxen; yea, they will refuse to share with them the spoils of victory.”

“They will turn Bechuana women into beasts of burden to drag their loaded wagons to their granaries, while their own bullocks are fattening on the hillside and pining for exercise. They will use the whiplash on the bare skins of women to accelerate their paces and quicken their activities: they shall take Bechuana women to wife and, with them, breed a race of half man and half goblin, and they will deny them their legitimate lobolo  4 . With their cries unheeded these Bechuana will waste away in helpless fury till the gnome offspring of such miscegenation rise up against their cruel sires; by that time their mucus will blend with their tears past their chins down to their heels, then shall come our turn to laugh.”

“Rally now to your burdens, Amandebele mothers; strap your babies to your waists; let us direct our toes to the North for there is a refuge there. The Mandebele assegai has served us well in the past. It shall be the indicator of our road to the land of plenty, in a far country that is good for raising corn and the grazing of cattle. We shall ford the Udi and cross the Mocloutse; we shall traverse the territories round Nchwapong, where Sekgoma holds sway, then we shall enter the land of ivory, far, far beyond the reach of killing spirits, where the stars have no tails and the woods are free from mischievous Barolong. Our hunters up in the North have discovered some fertile territories whose rivers abound with endless schools of sea-cow; whose forests are marked by the tracks of elephant and giraffe; where the buffalo roam and the eland browse, where the oryx and the zebra invite us to the chase.”

“Arise, Ama-Ndebele! Let us from hence. *Pambili Lonke!”  5 


Footnotes & References

#NoteDescription
1Bona! Bona!Look, look!
2Mayebab'o!Alas!
3KiwasWhite men
4loboloBride-price
5Pambili Lonke!Forward, Everybody!