UNVEILING OF A MONUMENT
ENDLAMADODA-NKANDLA : SEPTEMBER 15, 2001
We stand here today as the sons and daughters of a history spanning many generations. We stand as proud members of a nation whose ancestors have given us a firm foundation of unity, solidarity and strength. Our kings and amaKhosi have written a history which shall forever be remembered for its moments of seemingly inexplicable courage in an uninterrupted flow of visionary leadership, sound judgement and patriotic love for our Kingdom. Among those whose names will echo on our children’s lips is the name of Inkosi Sigananda, whose memory we now honour with the unveiling of a monument dedicated to his life. I am proud to be a Zulu. In moments such as these, I feel that pride well up within me, speaking of a pathos which runs through my people, and which words may never adequately express.
The writing of the history of the Zulu Nation continues today. As the backbone of our Kingdom, our amaKhosi express the remarkable character of their own forebears as they lead our people with dedication and single-minded commitment to development. Today, our amaKhosi are a living link with the rich heritage of generations past. They express our unity of purpose and our collegial will for peace and prosperity. Indeed, they have been called the guardians of the treasury of our history, the gatekeepers to the wealth of our past. Yet they are also the leaders who will guide us towards a future in which this present day will be considered worthy to remember. In times to come, we will recall the political liberation of South Africa as a natural link in the chain of our people’s history. Surely it is the predestined crown of a multi-generational struggle for victory.
This day, this moment, will be remembered in years to come by the unveiling of a monument to Inkosi Sigananda. It signifies our pausing to consider the road we have walked to emerge in this time of nearly tangible victory. I believe the strength of our nation is intertwined with our reverence for the mighty men and women who stood up and shaped the destiny of our people. Inkosi Sigananda was one of these. The honour I feel at unveiling this monument is increased by the ties of blood I maintain with this great man. Inkosi Sigananda was part of my own family. His clan is one of the oldest clans in Zululand and is closely related to the Buthelezi Clan. Inkosi Sigananda’s grandfather, Inkosi Mvakela, married a sister of Nandi, King Shaka’s mother. Inkosi Mvakela’s son, Sigananda’s father, was thus King Shaka’s first cousin. As we well know, King Shaka was my own maternal great, great grand-uncle.
While Inkosi Sigananda’s father, Zokufa, was chief, the clan became renowned for its craftsmanship in making hoes, axes and assegais and were frequently commissioned by the King to manufacture various supplies. Inkosi Sigananda himself was an excellent smith whose reputation went well beyond his own clan. As a young man, he was recruited as a warrior and in his lifetime saw a great deal of military action.
He was at Mgungundhlovu in 1838, and a witness to the death of Piet Retief. He fought with the Usuthu during the great Thukela Battle on December 2, 1856, fleeing shortly thereafter to Natal where he took refuge in the clan of Mancinza, who was the father of Inkosi Bhambatha. In 1871, King Cetshwayo extended an invitation to Inkosi Sigananda to live in KwaZulu which Sigananda accepted. There he became chief over his clan. He fought for King Cetshwayo during the Zulu War, seeing KwaZulu restored in January of 1883. In 1884, Sigananda again fought with the Usuthus in the battle of Khothongweni. He was a seasoned warrior and a respected leader. Yet, in our collective memory, Inkosi Sigananda shall forever take the role of loyal subject to his King. His loyalties ran deep and proved him to be a true embodiment of our people’s culture of respect for our leadership.
When King Cetshwayo was buried near Enhlweni, where Sigananda resided, a member of Sigananda’s own family and his trusted adviser, was appointed keeper of the grave. As Zulus, we give due reverence to the institution of the King, knowing our King to express our identity as a people. In this same way, we support and respect our amaKhosi as the essence of who we are. The loyalty of Inkosi Sigananda to King Dinuzulu wrote a chapter of our history that influenced not merely the Zulu Nation, but the shaping of South Africa.
Inkosi Sigananda accepted to act on the wishes of King Dinuzulu, regardless of the personal cost, and threw in his lot with Bhambatha once the Bhambatha Rebellion against the imposition of poll taxes was well under way. Inkosi Sigananda’s own people felt the burden of the poll tax as deeply as many other clans at that time and had expressed an inability to pay the amount required. At this, the colonial government decided that Inkosi Sigananda was too old to properly manage his clan and approached his senior son, Ndabaningi, asking him to take over from his father. It is interesting to note that while Sigananda was estimated to be 96 at that time, one of the greatest chapters of his life was just ahead.
Fleeing government troops, Bhambatha and his group of fugitives arrived in Sigananda’s stronghold and established their camp in the forests of Mome Gorge, a few kilometres from Sigananda’s Enhlweni Kraal. Magistrates in the district had received instructions to warn chiefs to arrest these fugitives should they enter their wards, regardless of the fact that no European police assistance was offered and the fugitives were well-armed in comparison to their proposed captors. Knowing Bhambatha had taken refuge in his stronghold, Sigananda summoned the elders of his clan and informed them of this circumstance, adding that a messenger from Mangati, another leader of the rebellion, had reported a visit from King Dinuzulu’s messenger, Chakijana Sithole, who declared he had been directed to accompany Bhambatha from Usuthu to start a rebellion in Mpanza valley. Chakijana was apparently rallying support for Bhambatha among the chiefs of the area.
Immediately, Sigananda sent messengers to King Dinuzulu to confirm Chakijana's communication with Mangati concerning the King’s alleged wishes. When they returned, however, they were divided in their accounts of the King’s words. But the elder messenger assured Sigananda that the King wished him to protect Bhambatha from the government's troops who would surely follow. Sigananda now dispatched messengers to all parts of his ward calling on his people to arm themselves and assemble at Enhlweni. Bhambatha emerged from the forests and joined these people. It was then openly known that Sigananda had thrown in his lot with Bhambatha, though he had made no public statement as yet. Inkosi Sigananda sat in the open conversing with Bhambatha and Mangati and later presented Bhambatha with a cow expressing his clan’s offer of hospitality and friendship.
At the same time, reports had been sent to the Commissioner of Native Affairs, against Sigananda’s wishes, that Bhambatha was in the Mome Gorge. Sigananda then chose to send further messages assuring that he was looking for Bhambatha but was unable to ascertain his exact whereabouts. This postponed action by the government’s troops who were unsure of where Sigananda’s loyalties lay. Within days, the men gathered at Enhlweni prepared for war in the traditional way of our people, and Sigananda then spoke his resolve to enter into a conflict together with Bhambatha and Mangati. The rebels met the following day at King Cetshwayo’s grave and under Bhambatha and Mangati's command, they marched towards Nomangci with the intention of attacking the magistracy.
When Sigananda learned of this, however, he urged them to desist until the messengers he had dispatched to King Dinuzulu returned with the confirmation he sought. They agreed and returned to the grave, camping there for a fortnight.
In that time, Sigananda sent messengers to many neighbouring chiefs, several of whom joined the rebels, including some people of Inkosi Siteku, King Dinuzulu’s uncle, Inkosi Ndube, Inkosi Mpumela and Chief Gayede of Natal. What followed was difficult and painful for many of our people. In the ensuing conflict, Sigananda’s kraal was burned and his stronghold attacked by Zululand police. Many people fled their homes in fear. Bhambatha was killed, and Sigananda and Mangati became fugitives, successfully evading the government’s troops for some time. Yet, knowing the loss would be too great for the fight to continue, Inkosi Sigananda surrendered and was immediately placed in prison.
During the great trial which followed in which a specially constituted court found King Dinuzulu not guilty of inciting Bhambatha to rebellion, but guilty nevertheless of high treason, Inkosi Sigananda refused to give evidence without the presence of his King. It seems remarkable now that a man who was deemed too old to manage his clan should be young enough to fight, to run and to stand trial. Inkosi Sigananda was propelled not by virtue of years, but by the steel that runs through our nation and drives our commitment to liberty, equality and justice. During his 38 day imprisonment, Inkosi Sigananda seemed in good health and quite communicative. Yet his body was unable to adapt to the changed circumstances of prison and a bright flame of our history was extinguished.
I must add something here which my later mother, Princess Constance Magogo ka Dinuzulu, told me, and that was that the issue that was used to convict King Dinuzulu, was the fact that Inkosi Bhambatha's wife, Siyekiwe (uMa-Zuma) and Inkosi Bhambatha's daughter, Kholekile, were placed under the care of the King at his Osuthu Royal Residence by Inkosi Bhambatha. That was used as a strong piece of evidence (from the point of view of the prosecution) but it proved beyond doubt that the King had colluded with Inkosi Bhambatha and Inkosi Sigananda, Chakijana Sithole and others who were involved in that uprising, which others refer to as the Zulu Rebellion of 1906 or the Bhambatha Rebellion.
I further wish to mention that there was no doubt that Chakijana, otherwise known as uSukabekhuluma, or as uShiyanja ka Gezindaka Sithole, was one of King Dinuzulu's 'scouts' as they were called. I am pleased that accompanying me is Mr Bhekinkosi Ndukenhle Sithole, one of my Councillors. He is the son of a brother of Chakijana, Nqatshana Sithole ka Gezindaka. In fact, Mr Nqatshana Sithole as a young man fetched gourd water (amanzi esigubhu) for the Queen Mother, Queen Nomvimbi (oka-Msweli) King Dinuzulu's mother. Chakijana Sithole has described these skirmishes in Nkandla.
The image of the flame of Inkosi Sigananda is burnt into our collective memory. Yet for that one flame that burns only in our past, there are many whose heat and light are with us in the present. It seems that history repeats itself, for government has again misjudged the capacity of our amaKhosi. At this present time, as we are all so terribly aware, the institution of traditional leadership is being threatened.
The issue of the clash of powers and functions of established municipalities and recognised traditional leaders, is just not being addressed. As amaKhosi, we have gone to government. We have spoken to them, reasoned with them, explained to them, even offered a solution to them. We have pointed out a problem that government agrees exists and they promised to address it, first before local government elections and then before municipalities were established. Nothing was done. Still, nothing is being done. I have spoken time and again of the dangers inherent in this untenable situation and warned of the potential for social disruption and unavoidable set-backs in government’s stated purpose of development and delivery.
Still we have not been heeded. I do not know whether our new democratic government thinks that amaKhosi are too old to manage their people, just as the colonial government thought of Inkosi Sigananda. I do not know if they think we represent an outdated form of societal organisation, or if they hope our flame will simply dim as time progresses. Whatever is causing such a hesitance to respond to the crisis which traditional leadership faces, it surely is based on a wrong perception of the strength, capacity, commitment and fervour of the amaKhosi of the Republic of South Africa. We have led our people with the visionary leadership of generations, established on the works of our past Kings and amaKhosi, and driven by the mandate of a free and responsible people. The writing of our history is not yet finished. We have much fuel for the fire that burns in our belly and just cannot allow government to prematurely erect a tombstone over the institution of ubuKhosi.
I wish to pay a special tribute to Amafa akwaZulu-Natali for the dedication and commitment with which they carry out their important work and to acknowledge the valuable contribution by its Director, Mr Barry Marshall. Amafa has a mandate to give recognition to often unrecognised heroes of the past. For example, they have recently provided funding for the memorial to Bhambatha Zondi and are working on a memorial with the people of Ndlela ka Sompisi Ntuli who commanded the Zulu forces at Blood River. Amafa do not just decide from their offices about where monuments will be established, but respond to communities who wish to see their past heroes receive the recognition they deserve. The monument we are therefore unveiling today has been a joint effort between Amafa and the Shezi people who have themselves contributed to today's function by way of restoring a sense of pride which in the past people have tried to take away from them.
The monument we unveil today does not mark the end of a man, or represent the finality of his life’s work. This monument is a part of the complex and living tapestry of our people, reminding us of the origins of its hue and colour and suggesting the direction of its thread. As we honour Inkosi Sigananda on this occasion, we honour a tradition that continues into the present. Our identity, our social structure, our loyalty to recognised leadership, and all that we are as a nation, are tied in with the memory of this great man.
In years to come, this monument will remind our children of their part in a greater whole that is the Zulu nation. We have a proud heritage. We must bestow it on our children intact. The fear I have that the very soul of this nation is being whittled away by a lack of integrity on the part of government, is exceeded only by the faith I have in the enduring nature of a people far stronger, far tougher and far more united than many seem to see.
I am proud to be a Zulu. I am proud to be an Inkosi. My identity is the identity of my people. Knowing this, I deem it an honour to officially participate in the unveiling of this monument in memory of Inkosi Sigananda, a history-maker and a true son of Africa.
Designed and maintained by Byte Internet Services - Copyright © 2001