The Qualities Required To Sustain A Powerful Ndebele Nation.
Gojwana - 15 November 2002
the previous publication on the Talking
Point: Indonsakusa, (Leadership:
The Qualities Required To Revive The Ndebele Nation and Restore It As
Powerful as It Once Was), there was an assertion that for any society
to legitimately call itself a nation and survive, it must have a leader
who is able to articulate its aspirations at the same time moving that
nation towards the realisation of those aspirations. It was also put forward
that the Ndebele seem to be unable to produce individuals of the right
calibre to fulfil the leadership vacuum.
fact that the post-Joshua Nkomo leadership vacuum calls for someone with
a true sense of nationalism and a high degree of bravery was established,
as well as that the development of individual leaders is a possible and
assailable task. This, it was said, is because of Ndebele national traditions
which are still in place but which need to be vigorously reinforced and
coupled with a modernist approach which will take into account globalisation.
conclusions were that Ndebele people need a leader who will seize upon
the embodiment of uBuntu/Humanity while he/she possesses the strong nation-building
qualities (of Mzilikazi kaMashobana) and that the leader must also have
the intellectual capacity (of Joshua Nkomo) but above all, the new leader
must gain the total support of the Ndebele by restoring a sense of pride
and consciousness amongst the Ndebele society.
assessment of the present plight of the Ndebele nation shows that these
requirements can only remain an illusion if there is neither discussion
nor appropriate steps taken to arrive at them. Abadala bathi ikhethwa
ematholeni. This means that a Ndebele leader can only come from the
present stock of individuals. This publication therefore seeks to offer
explicit life-lessons on how to become or elevate someone to a successful
Ndebele leadership in a modern day society.
is a popular idiom which says that "we are all born leaders". Potentially,
each and everyone of us can become a prominent and a great leader and
that is subjective and hugely dependent on the seizure of opportunities
that one is exposed to. This is also subject to circumstances. The main
concern about the leaders of tomorrow is their present circumstances and
whether there is a greater potential for decline rather than fostering.
By putting under scrutiny the circumstances which brought about the emergence
of the likes of Mzilikazi and J.M. Nkomo and comparing them to those of
the modern day Ndebele society, we will see that there are similarities
in the way in which oppression has been the catalyst for the emergence
of these leaders.
the circumstances which account for the fostering of these leaders seem
to offer differences whereby propective leaders have emerged and tried
to regroup by forming organisations, only for those organisations to disappear
into thin air without making a significant impact on behalf of the Ndebele
nation. In Joshua Nkomo's own words (to a white Rhodesian minister)
"Akulaqunga olukhula egumeni" - the tall grass cannot grow on the
beaten pathway . With that in mind what, in today's society, would
we say constitutes that beaten pathway?
some points in the history of Mthwakazi, the Ndebele people had to choose
and accept Mzilikazi, Lobengula and Joshua Nkomo as their leader.
When Nkomo used the beaten pathway metaphor, he had been asked why he
was apparently letting the people pull him down to their level (by representing
their views). It seems the Rhodesian detractors only wanted Nkomo as token
representation and Nkomo rightfully pointed it out that such a situation
would NOT be progressive for the people as a whole.
a contributing factor to Joshua Nkomo's rise to prominence and effective
leadership was that he was self-mastered and wise enough to avoid the
beaten pathway. Is this a trait which today's prospective leaders lack?
Nkomo went on to say, around the same time, that "A leader is he who
expresses the wishes of his followers. No sane leader can disregard the
voice of his people and supporters." Apart from being self-mastered,
Joshua Nkomo had a sense of commitment which saw him take on three roles
in which he was representing the people. Today's prospective leaders need
to master the art of juggling roles between commitment to family (earning
a living) and commitment to the Ndebele people. Two years ago, the revived
Zapu had a President who also happened to have a role as a teacher in
the remote rural areas. No wonder the detractors found it easy to pernetrate
the organisation and dislodge it!
a classical case of reciprocity, it turns out at the time of his appointment
to the Southern Rhodesian ANC presidency, Joshua Nkomo was a railway trade
unionist. Nkomo was asked, because of his charisma, to help get things
organised in a then disorganised ANC committee which included Edward Ndlovu
and a man he refers to as "Old Man" Dliwayo. The rest is history. It was
the people and members of the Southern Rhodesian ANC who found themselves
in a weakened position and in need of a leader. The ANC was the long grass
trying to grow in a beaten track. Now, there are numerous organisations
representative of the Ndebele people in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora who
find themselves in weakened and disorganised circumstances, uqunga
oluzama ukukhula egumeni. It certainly appears as if modern day groups
and associations often fail to identify and elevate the right individuals
to represent them in the way the ANC did Nkomo.
can doubt the effect that the acts of genocide and the mysterious deaths
of the likes of Sydney Malunga has had on the Ndebele people. Such recent
events have instilled an element of fear which has contributed
to the lack of the emergence of a leader. However, such is the nature
of leadership that it requires a brave individual.
zithi nxa zibubona ubukhosi zibugxozele indenda. Izihlakaniphi ziyabesaba
ngoba zisazi ukuthi butshoni." 
the words of advice from Mkhithika to Lobengula as documented in UMbiko
kaMadlenya. It is a fact beyond doubt that Mzilikazi and Lobengula
had traditional and strong advisers. It is such Ndebele traditions, some
of which are still in practice. They need to be revived to serve as the
source of inspiration for prospective leaders.
like the Ancient Egyptians who followed explicit life-lessons on how to
conduct oneself alone, when with others and when in leadership, the Ndebele
nation strives on such life-lessons based on oral tradition. On leadership
the Egyptians wrote this in their sacred literature:
you are leader and command many, strive for excellence in all you do
so that no fault can be found in your character. ..
see that the plans you make are carried out. Do great things which will
be remembered long after you. Where there is praise, detraction cannot
be courteous and listen carefully to the presentations of petitioners.
Stop not their speech until they have poured out their heart and spoken
that which they came to say. Those with grievances like to speak out
and have their petitions heard. But whosoever stops a presentation raises
the question of why does one having this power act in this manner. Not
all that is asked for can be granted, but a fair hearing satisfies the
gain respect through knowledge and gentleness of speech and conduct.
Give commands only where necessary and fitting. Those who abuse their
authority provoke resistance. And those who place themselves above others
are brought low. Be not silent when it is your duty to speak, but be
cautious in your speech lest you offend. When you answer the angry,
show self-control. For the angry heart speaks fiery words, but those
who walk gently, their path is already paved. Moreover, those who worry
all day will have no happy moment. But those who pursue pleasure all
day will not be able to sustain themselves. 
lessons are given in the Old Testament, Book of Proverbs.
the Ndebele nation, the foremost mechanism of communicating such inspirational
advice has been through oral tradition. But since the destruction of the
Ndebele culture by colonialism, the facilitation of all instructions has
either totally disappeared in some circles or evolved in such a way that
only distorted and inadequate facts are yielded. However, there is literature
available which gives an insight into the traditions associated with the
advice given to a leader. As mentioned earlier the late Mayford Sibanda
offers the following but realistic account of the advice given to
Lobengula by his father's Chiefs in UMbiko kaMadlenya,.
the fact that the scene is set at a time when the Ndebeles were about
to be confronted with two wars, a civil uprising against Lobengula and
later a war against the white colonialists, the Ndebele people could not
find it in themselves to proceed without a well informed and advised leader.
Modern day political and traditional leaders should take such rites seriously.
"Nkosi, nanzi induna zikayihlo sezibuthene lapha ukuthi zikucebise ngoba
kuvele kungumdabuko ukuthi amakhosi acetshiswe ukuze abuse ngengalo
enhle kube lobomi lokuthula ezweni. Akulasihlahla sema singela mpande,
kanjalo akula nkosi engema ingelabo abayisekelayo, abayicebisayo. Akutsho
ukuthi wena Nkosi sikucebisa nje ngoba awazi uyisiwula, kodwa abadala
bathi umfula ugcwala ngezifudlana, ilihlo lilinye aliphumeleli."
account continues with another of Mzilikazi's Chiefs;
"Lobhengula, namhla uyinkosi yesizwe esikhulu. Angazi noma uzasibusa
njengalokhu uMzilikazi ayesibusa. UMzilikazi wasibusa ngemfanelo ngoba
kunguye umdabuli waso; abadala bathi umqambi wengoma kayoni. Kodwa wena
ungasuye mdabuli waso, ungazange ulwe izimpi ezinkulu njengabo Tshaka
laboMzilikazi, akutsho ukuthi ngeke ubuse ngemfanelo. Khumbula ukuthi
abadala bathi ayigwazi ngokumisa.
yokuqala esifuna uyazi yikuthi ubukhosi butshoni. UbuKhosi mntaneNkosi
yakithi abutsho ukuthi usuyingqwele uyabathelisa bonke; abantu
uyiNkosi kutsho ukuthi awusaphili eyakho impilo, awusaziphileli wena,
usuphilela amadlozi labantu. Ungummeli wamadlozi ebantwini, yikho abantu
bezanyamezelela iziphambeko zakho ezincane. Yikho kwathiwa iNkosi kayoni."
the leader that the Ndebele people are expecting to emerge may not necessarily
have the same King (iNkosi) status, the duties bound to the people are
in many ways inextricably intertwined as the following account shows;
"Ngenxa yokuthi umele abantu futhi, njalo lawe uyakwazi ukuthi abantu
abala mcoli, abantu kabalanto enhle, uzakwetheswa imilandu engapheliyo,
izindlebe zakho ziza kuzwa okuzilayo, amehlo akho azabona imihlola.
Yikho kwathiwa iNkosi ligodi lezibi. Kukho konke lokhu bekezela.
banzima ukubabusa njalo banzima kakhulukazi ukubanelisa ubathokozise
bonke. Amakhosi amanengi ayaphaphalaze ngokuthemisa abantu izinto ezinengi
athi phambili ehluleke ukuzenza. Kulula ukuthembisa, kunzima ukufeza.
Kunjenje, wena ungasuke unje uthembise abantu okunengi ngoba usesebunzimeni
bokuthi abanye abantu bakayihlo abakufuni, ukuze bakuvune, kuthi nxa
usuhlezi kuhle ubusukhohlwa ukufeza izithembiso. Abantu bayakwazi lokho
yikho bathi indaba yomakhosi ayibanjelwa mlandu. Mntanami, ungathembisi
abantu izinto ongazoze uzenze. Kungcono uthule, abantu bethuke usubenzele
Furthermore, the present
day Zimbabwean state in which the Ndebele nation finds itself is in a
very precarious situation mainly because of BAD leadership, to put things
lightly, and this has been the case for many years. As such, history will
always judge Robert Mugabe much harshly than it will ever do Joshua Nkomo.
Despite his much heralded faults, especially by the now disenfranchised
Ndebele nation, Joshua Nkomo showed some positive qualities which can
be attributed to such strong cultural rites and which earned him the name
Father Zimbabwe, perhaps his rural upbringing fortunately exposed him
to those rites.
"Umsebenzi omkhulu weNkosi yikugcina isizwe sihlale sisinye, sinyandanye
ibhade lapho okuvela iminkenke ngoba indlu engalutho ukudilizwa yiziphepho
ngeleminkenke emdulini, elophahla olungabotshwanga lwaqina. Ukuze iNkosi
isizwe isigcine simanyene, kayingahlungisi abantu isazisa abanye iseyisa
abanye. Inguyise wabo bonke, ngakho kayingabandlululi abantu isithi
lo liNguni lo nguMtshabi lo ngumSuthu."
"Abantu bayafana mntanami, bonke ngabantwabakho. Ukuhlungisa
ngokwabafokazana labantu abalengqondo ezimfitshane. Wena uyinkosi, ungaphezu
kwezinto ezinjalo. Hlonipha bonke abantu abakayihlo labo bazakuhlonipha
bakuthande. Musa ukuba lesihluku uphatha abantu kadedengu, ngoba bazakhala
izinyembezi zabo zithontele phansi ziyobikela abaphansi, abaphansi bakuhlamuke,
izitha zakho zikuhlasele zikunqobe kalula. Awubekwanga ukuthi uhlukuluze,
ubekelwe ukuthi weluse, ukhuze, ududuze abantu abakayihlo."
However, despite Joshua Nkomo's good qualities, conclusions have been
drawn on the monumentally disastrous decisions taken by him, the effect
those decisions have had on the overall situation of the Ndebele people,
and that future leaders will have to guard against such decisions. Discussions
such as this one cannot proceed without some ground being covered on the
aspects which safeguard a nation in the face of enemies, as the following
account will show;
"Ungagolombi izimpi ngabomo. Nxa uhlasela, hlasela izizwe eziyizitha
njalo usuqale wahlala phansi wabona ukuthi lesisizwe silamandla angakanani.
Musa ukuhlasela izizwe ezibombayo ezivuma ukuthela. Nxa isizwe
sibomba sivuma ukuthela, sikhonza kuwe, ungabusasihlupha. Khumbula phela
Khumalo ukuthi impi kayakhi lizwe. Impi kayilamagcobo. Impi icikiza
isizwe, sinciphe ngoba iqeda amajaha abezazala andise isizwe. Ngakho
musa ukuthanda izimpi kakhulu.
KODWA, KODWA, isizwe noma sisinengi njengesihlabathi solwandle,
nxa siyisizwe samagwala sifana lamabele agcwele insimu angazukuvunwa
agcwale ngitsho loba iqoma. Insimu engenganani ilamabele avileyo ingcono
kulodedangendlale wensimu ogcwele ingululwane. Amajaha kawabuthwe afundiswe
impi. Nxa isizwe silezitha kaziphume izimpi ziyehlasela ziphange umcebo.
Noma abadala besithi ukulwa kakwakhi sizwe, baphinde bathi impi izala
amadoda. Amadoda ngama doda ngokulwa lokunqoba lokuphanga imfuyo ezizweni.
Kodwa izimpi kazilwiwe ngonanzelelo Musa ukulingisa uTshaka owathanda
izimpi kakhulu, walela amajaha ukugana, izintombi zaze zaqoqoza zingazalanga,
amadodana abantu aphelela empini. Hayi, ungakwenzi lokho, kucikiza isizwe.
Amajaha aseke alwa avumele agane akhe imizi azale, isizwe sive.
Izimpi kazingalwiwa kuthunjwa abantu ukuthi babe yizichaka
ngoba lokho kuyazila. Abathunjiweyo abangenziwa izibotshwa bagqilizwe,
kabaphathwe ngesihle, bangeniswe emabuthweni esizwe babe yingxenye yesizwe
babe lamalungelo wonke afanele umuntu ophefumulayo owazalwa kabuhlungu
Umncumbatha wacina ngokuthi;
In conclusion, once the Ndebele nation takes the leadership vacuum issue
seriously enough, they will realise that it is them and only them that
can make that leader. On the other hand, those prospective individuals
who have a potential to lead should be brave, work in tandem with the
people and above all seek unity, otherwise sizabe siluqunga oluzama ukukhula
Kawungabathandi abamhlophe wedlulise ngoba bazafuna ukusikelwa imihlaba
abantu baswele lapho abazadlisa khona inkomo zabo. Umhlaba ngowamadlozi,
awusiwo wamuntu. Akulamuntu olemvumo yokubiyela umhlaba athi akungangeni
omunye umuntu, ngokwakhe yedwa. Kuyazila okunjalo." 
 Nkomo, Joshua, The Story of My Life, Methuen.
 Sibanda, Mayford, Umbiko kaMadlenya, Mambo Press.
 Karenga, Maulana, Selections from the Husia Kawaida Publications.