Last week I gave you a perspective steeped in history. I am grateful for the polite responses I got, whether by way of counter-arguments or by way of polemical affirmations. Either way, the responses were polite, unduly so, if you ask me. There was a bit of a clutter, a bit of hanging points, minus the beauty of Rome's hanging gardens. I am always amazed by how my readers, forever percipient, always finish my hanging sentences, and correctly too! In writing that piece, I confess to two powerful tags: the powerful freshness of French arms on African soil on the one hand, the puzzling cheer -- not jeer -- from affected Africans on the other. Both developments jolt your convictions, get you to wonder whether you quite understand the continent: its peoples, its aspirations, its vision.
Or whether what you have always mistaken for scars from an odious white history, are not in fact treasured, decorative tattoos: happily borne markers of a proud identity and attractiveness. Why is intervention in Africa cheered as beneficent? Radical nationalists and leftist thinkers of which I think I am a part, today eat a humble pie, indeed wipe off the splatter from a big egg on their face. And here is what has cooked this humble pie.
The fallacy of neo-colonialism
You have a coup in Mali, the threat of another in Central Africa Republic. Both are former French colonies whose "independence" and sovereignty has had to survive under a continuing history of French colonial domination. I have never quite liked the idea of neo-colonialism. It gives a false sense of some movement beyond colonialism, some movement since Independence, a movement we all know is founded on the mistaken notion that colonialism ever visited Africa for purposes of governing the barbaric native.
It didn't. It visited Africa for extractive reasons, for the sole purpose of extracting natural resources for the benefit of the "mother country", whatever that filial metaphor means. That point should not be too hard to grasp for Zimbabweans. Unlike the rest of the continent, we were not colonised by the Imperial Government.
Rather, we were colonised on its behalf or in its name by a body corporate, the British South Africa Company (BSAC) whose commercial objectives were clearly spelt out. Where others had political figures and structures above them, we had colonial shareholders. Where other colonial governments raised taxes as revenues, here we had administrative revenue streams and commercial revenue streams. The former fed into costs for administering this real estate we now call Zimbabwe, and of course meeting costs for public works that made the estate exploitable.
The latter went straight into the BSAC balance sheet, destined for many of its shareholder pockets by way of dividend. We are one "colony" where value was reckoned not so much in political terms as in commercials terms, where proceeds were reckoned and described by the acronym ROI -- return on investment.
How Rhodesians started indigenisation
And hey, did you know, gentle reader? That the Rudd Concession created a property regime where anyone who earned from, or owned a mine, could only do so on a 50-50 basis with the BSAC? You think Kasukuwere invented the 51/49 equation? Think again. The same principle also extended to land, even though the company entitlement was less onerous on the haver. I argue that the property regime as it related to land and settlers more gave away usufruct rights than ownership rights on the men upon whom Rhodes had placed the burden of opening up the estate! Ownership vested in the company, with everyone being a lessee. But there is more to know. Soon company rule became unbearable on the settlers who felt short-changed, having given life and limb to the project, all on the promise of plenty: morgens upon morgens of land, claims upon claims of gold in the fabled land of Orphir. Don't forget that for enlisting as a volunteer force against Lobengula, these pioneers already disbanded and roaming the country in search of gold, had signed the Victoria Agreement under which more would be given them after the fall of the Ndebele Kingdom.
Who benefits from mining?
Hardly a decade after the death of Rhodes, the route to a cosmic collision between an angry community of settlers and a profit-focussed company had been paved, paved clearer than that followed by the so-called Pioneer Column. The company, with its narrow commercial goals, gave a narrow, stifling misrule to the nascent community. Its rule lacked public goals, indeed arrested the development of Rhodesia as a self-governing colony that it wished to be.
The arguments advanced by the increasingly restive settler community against the BSAC would turn Kasukuwere green with envy. The company, they argued, was scooping all value down South and beyond, all to profit invisible people with no interest in the development of Rhodesia and her children. They were referring to shareholders of the BSAC. Listen to Ethel Tawse Jollie, herself wife of Archibald Colquhoun, first administrator of Mashonaland in 1900, and later a key player in the push for a self-governing Rhodesia in the run-up to the 1922 Referendum. She had this to say about the BSAC: "It has to be remembered . . . that the mining industry, as it developed, contributed practically nothing in direct taxation to the revenue of the country.
For the year ending March, 1921, the commercial receipts from Mines were £143 000, and the administrative receipts . . . £23 000. Rhodesia's greatest asset, therefore, has been exploited with the smallest direct benefit to her administrative revenue and the largest for the benefit of shareholders." This is a white Rhodesian woman arguing against a company whose shareholding was based in South Africa.
Diamonds, an old question
She also made a point which resonated with today's political economy: "The Victoria Falls Power Syndicate ( a subsidiary of BSAC), which now controls the electric power of the Rand, has a concession for the water power of the Falls, and this is locked up. It is not being used and cannot be developed. Rhodesian diamonds, for the most part, cannot be worked because the Company made an agreement with de Beers.
These concessions are of financial value to the Company or they would not have been made, but they do not bring one penny to the Rhodesian Treasury. They are part of the price Rhodesia pays for her Company." I hope gentle reader, you realise she is chafing about a speculative agreement between BSAC and de Beers which bound this country right up to mid 2000 when Government decided to challenge it in respect of Marange, the same claim which reincarnated as ACR, itself a disguise of de Beers.
The settlers bemoaned about skewed infrastructural development, which they argued was geared towards scooping Rhodesia's finite mineral resources, never towards meeting the needs of communities who live in it! The Rudd Concession, argued the settlers further, was a huge millstone on Rhodesia, a country made not by the company, but by the pioneers who became its settlers! And going by what had been extracted by the company, Rhodes's shareholders had been repaid a thousand times over! The colonial lady's conclusion was damning: "The mining laws robbed a man (the settler) and Rhodes kept him going with doles." apparently Rhodes was in the habit of buying off dissent with occasional handouts. Look who is making the argument! Look who has the same argument today! And look, look dear reader, who is opposed to it now!
A False epoch
I wondered off a bit. My chief intention was to mark the false movement implied in the drift from colonialism to neo-colonialism. The notion of neo-colonialism rests on a mischaracterisation of colonialism, does it not? If resources were the prime target of colonisation, with governance as an incidental, nay, costly way to "pacify" the native for better extraction under conditions of perfect order, how then does dismantling the colonial state, itself a means to a resource-extraction end, become a real marker, a milestone of consequence in our overall evolution? And how does the exploitation of Africa's resources under a seemingly happy, fluttering flags of "independence", itself a continuation of the colonial status quo, become a new phase, a new marker after some supposed movement, a new phase?
Surely if the abiding objective of colonialism was resource extraction, the same extraction, albeit under conditions of political independence, marks more and better of the same, more and better of the same from the point of view of white interests of course. To a villager who is no sharer in sinecures of the "new" State, all he sees are Anglo's mounds of dead, red earth, forever rising, rising and rising against ever diminishing natural resources? Which means the notion of neo-colonialism is a petit bourgeois one, a marker of a false "epoch" of a native elite that takes over the management of a costly state which the Imperial Government could have been spared if it had a choice.
Not free, only out of jail
From that perspective, it is clear that what happened to Africa between Nkrumah's 1957 and Mandela's 1994 is not epochal when measured against itself, or against the requirements of genuine independence. It only becomes epochal when it shows and makes good possibilities for real socio-economic transformation sorely needed on the continent. I remember Mugabe making the same point in Lusaka when the now defunct Frontline states leaders met a free Mandela for the first time.
In what may have been an ungainly but truthful point to make at the time, the President reminded all those gathered that while Africa correctly celebrated the release of Mandela, Africa did not have to forget that the struggle within which Mandela's incarceration came about was broader than him, with larger goals aimed at the destruction of a whole system that made the African a hewer of wood and drawer of water in a world in which he was the supposed principal. It was a very bold but impolitic point to make. Here was a country and continent which was collectively enamoured of Mandela, collectively inclined to substitute its overarching goals of universal freedom and social justice for only one centred on the release and freedom of this one man.
A country and continent that felt wholly free, albeit vicariously, through the release and "freedom" of this one great man, never mind that he was not free in actual fact, only out of jail. Never mind that he is not free to this day, only narrowly privileged. When true history gets written one day, it shall acknowledge that after this remark, the Mugabe/Mandela relationship was never the same afterwards. Nor was the profoundness of Mugabe ever appreciated until in much later, and in recent times when black South Africa, as the rest of black Africa, now realises that dismantling the colonial state is no epoch-maker.
Mocking Africa's principles
I spoke of the existential self-questioning of nationalist radicals of the continent, adding events in Mali have a lot to do with it. I want to back that up. You have a coup in Mali, itself a real effrontery to the AU's recent principle of taking an uncompromising stance against any undemocratic ascension to power. It is a coup against a state all along paraded as a model of Africa's democratic transition, a coup which takes place as if to mock democracy and its precepts, indeed as if to discount democracy as a panacea to the continent's woes, sorry, wars.
Immediately and appropriately, ECOWAS, the subregional body is activated to apply itself wholeheartedly towards an amicable solution to this militarised political impasse precipitated by a middle-ranking officer of the Malian army, significantly trained in the US. The solution comes by way of a GNU -- oh this vexatious import from Zimbabwe -- which sees the coup leader reinvented and re-emerging as the country's all-powerful prime minister! Thanks to ECOWAS, a coup in Mali by Bantu southerners gets cleansed spotless, with the dirt that previously soiled it, falling on and muddying the AU's great principle against unconstitutional avenues to power! And as if Mali was not murky enough, a similar situation evolves in the Central Africa Republic, again to taunt Africa and her grand pretensions. Pity the AU and its lofty principles!
The Tuareg factor and history
Meanwhile, thanks to Euro-murder of Gaddafi, the Tuaregs -- Mali's historically embittered underdog caste -- suddenly find themselves with enough amour to force their claim for accommodation and justice in the country of birth. Located in northern Mali and largely of Islamic faith, these Tuaregs have had a history of rebelling against the central government they see as discriminatory and non-inclusive.
It is interesting that in spite of this long simmering and often militarised rupture, Mali is still hailed as a model of democracy for the rest of Africa. With arms from Libya, they rapidly overrun government positions in the North, winding up divided on whether to secede or negotiate. Further divided by what kind of state to carve out of that contested secession, with a few but militarily influential radicals calling for an Islamic state governed on principles of Sharia.
That takes place, leading to untold atrocities against locals. The result is wholesale alienation against these hardliners whose ambitions swell to wanting to overrun the whole of Mali so it comes under one Islamic government. And a military offence to the South thus begins, to great popular opposition from the Mali populace.
The principle of colonial borders
Again ECOWAS is in the thick of things, all on behalf of the AU whose other principle is again under attack, namely that colonial boundaries must be recognised, not redrawn. Except they had already been redrawn in the Sudan, to a new situation which while challenging this lofty principle of the AU, actually validated its fears around tampering with colonial borders, however demographically bad.
The new boundary for the two Sudans do indeed creates a new arc of instability. Would Mali emerge as the second instance of new states to emerge from dismantling the arbitrary borders carved by colonial authorities? ECOWAS's strategy seems one of getting the interim government in Bamako to negotiate with moderate Tuaregs so as to isolate the radicals intent on creating a radical Islamic state whose limitations we already saw in the Sudan. Except Mali itself also showed the limitations of a Christian state in a way that paralleled the political failures of an Islamic state in the Sudan! Again pity the AU and its grand principles.
French solution to African problems
Then comes the real big one. The junta in Mali, now decoratively called an interim government, becomes a legitimate Government meriting to be defended by ECOWAS, meriting to speak on behalf of Malians. Except the rechristened junta does not see ECOWAS in such positive light. It holds it at bay, even against an advancing Tuareg insurgency, fearing the coming in of any intervention force comprising Mali's neighbours, as required by yet another lofty principle of the AU, namely that of African solutions to African problems.
The civilianised junta fears that a neighbouring force may encroach on Mali, undermine her sovereignty. Instead, the perfumed junta invites a French Force, calling its political owner -- one Hollande -- a "dearest cousin" of Mali. A second such instance within the same month, the first instance coming from CAR's Bozize. But as it turns out, the sweetened junta did not even have to be wary of an ECOWAS intervention force. ECOWAS has no stomach for intervention, for a fight. As with Ivory Coast, it immediately backs the junta's appeal for intervention by France, Africa's first cousin in Francophone reckoning.
As cruel fate would have it, the AU chairmanship is with Benin, another African state with Francophone colonial roots. Boni Yayi, the president of Benin, speedily wears his AU cap and, speedily again, says Amen to the Mali/ECOWAS French invitation. And vicariously, we all become part of that invitation whose bare precept is French solutions to African problems! Africa's fate thus gets sealed. Ha ha ha, pity Africa's grand precepts.
Marching under French air shadow
Then there is a humorous twist. France, not Africa, calls for an African intervention force in Mali, and this after a few but telling sorties and battles against the rebels. The French solution now needs or raises an African problem, that of legitimacy. An African intervention force is still not ready, or if ready, will have to fight - more accurately march -- under air cover of a French solution! More or less the same way Libyan rebels did in the fight against Gaddafi. What happened to a rebel movement now happens to a sub-regional army. Possibly hollered by a French General, a cousin General! And hey, the French solution to African problems appears to have worked, to have delivered. The rebels, suitably pounded by a cousin's ordinances, seem now suitably softened for negotiations. One part of the rebels has already broken ranks, ready to talk to the perfumed junta, backed by ECOWAS, itself backed by French airpower. And history quickly records: that now as before, only the colonial power can and does pacify the warring natives! Old template, new legitimacy.
One sect cheers, another weeps
And then a baffling turn. If you are an honest commentator, you cannot run away from the disheartening fact that French intervention has met with popular approval in Mali, in Francophone Africa and in ECOWAS.
And with disarming reticence in the rest of Africa. In politics, reticence amounts to acquiescence, does it not? The French media has been showing ordinary Malians blowing kisses, waving abundant goodwill to the French army as it rolls on Malian soil, waving goodwill to the French jets as they offload on fellow Malians marked for destruction, only from the North, only Islamic in faith. Clearly the notion of Mali, itself founded on a broad, inclusive nationalism of Sekou Toure, has failed. One sect cheers, another weeps, and all lose.
I am in Addis, waiting for Africa's leaders to meet. Already, there is enough momentum, largely from Francophone countries, possibly ECOWAS member states as well, to push for a resolution to congratulate France for a job well done. Only a few states from southern Africa, Tanzania foremost, dare squirm. In seemingly hapless anger, Tanzania calls Francophone countries "brainwashed", leaving many unsure whether brains that have been washed clean are not the best for the new Africa that would baffle the likes of Nyerere, a quiescent Africa cheering colonial heroes! But nothing new. Did this not start in Ivory Coast? Even Madagascar? Was Libya not the sequel? Is Mali not an elaboration of this script so relentlessly authored by France while Africa sleeps?
Ambiguity of Egypt's correct stance
Another paradox. If Anglophone Africa (note how we derive identity from who colonised us) argues against an AU resolution that flatters French sorties against Africa, she risks splitting the AU right through the middle. But something else has happened. Mursi's Egypt has spoken stridently against French intervention. A ray of hope for supine Africa, one almost says, bearing in mind that Nasser's Egypt was a lynchpin of a free Africa. Most of our early fighters were trained in Egypt, where they not? But Nasser is dead, had been dead for well over half a century. After him came Sadat, a conservative; then Mubarak, pro-American. Then a brief interregnum under a Tantawi-led junta. And Mursi of the Islamic Brotherhood rose, to great uncertainties, even anxieties. Which invites an anxious question: which Egypt has spoken against French intervention? The Egypt under Islamic Brotherhood, or the Egypt of Nasser? If it is the latter, hallelujah! If it is the Egypt of pan-Islamic brotherhood expressing solidarity with Islamic Tuaregs, well, Africa may end divided much further. For invariably, Mursi's correct stance will be viewed as inspired by wrong promptings. That is as entangled as it is, or may be.
Back to white historiography
Which takes me to a reading from history I could not round off clearly in my instalment last week. I shall be very controversial, and thus harden up for massive brickbats sure to follow.
I made the point that when the white force invaded Zimbabwe, it invented an evil out of the Ndebele kingdom and its leader, Lobengula. Or the obverse, it invented a hapless victim-ethnic group in the form of the overly pacifist and politically dispersed Shonas. Let me stress that the white view traduced both peoples.
Ndebele militarisation was viewed and cast as infrastructure for rapine, according to this historiography. Shona pacifism and political dispersal was proof enough that this group did not own a country, could not rule, but was only fit to be ruled, according to the same historiography.
And both could never come together to form a nation-state that deserved a place in the comity of nations, indeed one that could be reckoned in its own right, and in apposition to Britain, the would be coloniser. So it does not matter how you view that historiography; whichever way it nullified African sovereignty, whether as already realised or as promised by political evolution.
Ndebeles, barbarians of Zimbabwe
Then a controversial one. Whatever your tribe today, there is no running away from the fact that the Ndebele Kingdom, with all its alleged brutalities, amounted to a higher stage in the evolution of Zimbabwe, higher to the small, dispersed Shona formations. I am making a point akin to what the indigenous peoples of Europe would make in respect of the invading barbarians.
The Ndebeles, like Europe's barbarians, were vectors for enlarging conquests, agents of processes that would amalgamate Africa into larger, potentially modern states, modern, viable geographies. And it only takes a warring force, a highly organised and hierarchical, martial structure that the Ndebele state was, that the Shonas in their horizontal small formations weren't.
I am not aware of any state in Europe or any part of the world founded through pacifism, through the milk of human kindness.
I am more than aware of states founded, as Bismarck would say, through iron, blood and tears. While the Shonas may have been pacific in white reckoning, they did not wield the future, could not fashion it. Or even suggest it. While the Ndebeles were bloodthirsty, again as reckoned by white eyes, they wielded the instruments of state formation, had a temperament for it, indeed pointed to the future.
Shonas, bearers of the soul and economy
More tellingly, the Ndebeles recognised their own weaknesses, indeed reckoned that the Shonas, for all their pacific temperament, bore the software of nation-building which they themselves lacked, indeed bore the futuristic nation's soul. Both Mzilikazi and his scion, Lobengula, percipiently incorporated the Shona spiritual cosmos, thereby giving the emerging state its spiritual loadstar, still our loadstar to this day. I am talking about Njerere and some such shrines. Larger political formations, enduring civilisations are founded on incorporations, on hybridity. The Shonas gave. The Ndebeles saw more.
While the Ndebeles had the arms -- the defences for the emerging nation-state - the Shonas had its economy. It is amazing that white reports acclaim Shonas as an agricultural people, producing a wide array of crops and commodities, including tobacco, apart from staple crops which included rice. By the twenties, colonial Rhodesia was already shaping up as a tobacco country, thanks to Shona agricultural pioneers. Even the white man drew from them. In fact, the whole colonial community lived off Shona agricultural industry for a very long time, which is why they could afford to by-pass grain imports, while carting in tons and tons of whiskey! Still that was not all.
The Shonas were consummate miners, which is why most of the mines that power Zimbabwe to this day came from old workings of Shonas. In fact, the auctioning standard of any mineral claim depended on whether or not it encompassed old workings from the Shonas' halcyon days. And of course the Ndebeles could not have raided the hungry. What was still to happen was the merging of Ndebele's formidable defences, and Shona agricultural and mining industries, to create a modern state. Indeed Rhodes' company state fused the two, did it not?
The Ndebele matriarch of the Hera clan
But this is a generous interpretation of an historical what-might-have-been. We all know the above scenario never came to pass, although there were abundant pointers to its coming. For instance, as historians like Ranger clearly show, Ndebele raids were increasingly yielding ever diminishing returns for Lobengula's impis. The Shonas were getting better defended, including recording instances where the impis were soundly beaten off. In my own clan, we have Ndebele blood from a female Ndebele war captive from the Lower Gweru area, who subsequently bore brave sons for the Chiwashira clan.
She lies buried in the Chiguhune area of Gutu. She is our grand matriarch, that Ndebele captive from Chiwundura. The Svosve people have similar stories, in spite of the fact that they were located deep in the Wedza area, so far away from Lobengula's so-called marauding impis. It is clearly conceivable that some balance was beginning to emerge, most likely destined to settle into some larger political formation which would be an amalgam. After all, huge numbers of Shonas had already been incorporated into the Ndebele Kingdom, never mind the discrimination they faced.
Inter-group rifts and native conquests
Still that is not my main point. My main point is how inter-group conflicts within the native peoples have facilitate encroachment throughout African history, have facilitated or spurred intervention in contemporary politics, indeed how such depthless conflict belie more fundamental processes set to eventuate in polities that are larger in history, stronger in contemporary politics.
Or the obverse, how a playing up of such depthless conflicts lead to conquests and foreign rule in history, continued foreign domination in contemporary politics. It was the very military prowess of the Ndebeles against the Shonas on the eve of white invasion which denied them Shona allies in repulsing white invasion.
Or put differently, which gave Rhodes Shona subalterns in the invasion project and the eventual dismantling of the Ndebele kingdom. And you notice this went beyond the Shonas. The Pioneer Column enlisted the services of the Xhosas, Suthus, Tswanas, Fingos and Hottentots. In the case of the Tswanas, they had already applied and secured protectorate status which is what made them "British protected persons", largely as an insurance against the warlike Ndebeles with whom they had raging border disputes.
A whole contingent of Tswanas under the command of a blood brother of the reigning Khama bolstered Rhodes's invading column which used Botswana as a launching pad.
Denying the West a docking point
And as with Malians today, all these tribes cheered as Lobengula and his impis were pounded, brought to grief. That relational set up gave legitimacy to Rhodes whose column was then able to sell its invasion as a grand humanitarian project.
It is a myth that lasts to this day. Fast forward to immediate post-independence and you again find the same history re-enacting itself, albeit in inverted form.
The bloody post-independence conflict which is eventually settled in December 1987, remains a re-entry point for latter-day political pioneers, the only difference being that memories of conflict, as opposed to continuing conflict, become the legitimating staple and driver to such an encroachment. This is probably where Mugabe shows his real leadership. He has consistently denied the West a fresh, continuing and therefore living, on which the West can erect its ambitions for fresh encroachment. You could read 1987 from that angle.
It is significant that the land conflict with Britain saw attempts to fan a breakaway sentiment in the southern part of Zimbabwe. Interesting, too, that both South Africa and Namibia were approached by Blair who sought to invade Zimbabwe. So, too, can you read post-2008 conflict and the subsequent Inclusive Government, as well as the recent breakthrough on the constitutional issue. It is a clever way of denying the West a point to berth. Mugabe has consistently rejected foreign intervention in the politics of the country, even making strategic compromises that pre-empt that, all to emerge stronger later, as indeed shall be shown by the impending elections.
The day Blair laughed
Conversely, this is where the rest of Africa has tripped. An internal conflict in whatever form, not only lowers Africa's guard against imperialism; it confuses the general populace from correctly identifying the real enemy. It can even create circumstances where the populace ends up cheering its own invasion. Is this not the tragedy of Mali and its masses? The French can, from now onwards, prance about the continent with a new found sense of legitimacy, indeed as heroes of African masses.
Even when they intensify their exploitation of Africa's natural resources, they can do so with a clear sense of ROI, return on investment, itself a clean term of business. Who denies that the French must be repaid for bombing us, for bombing and shooting up our sovereignty?
Yes, for extirpating a fraction of us which is Islamic, warlike, Ndebele-like, and thus a danger to us, Africa's new Shonas! And check who has hailed imperial France, hailed Holland.
Tony Blair! He thinks Hollande has done Europe proud, what with an Islamic menace on the doorstep of Europe. Stretch that thinking to southern Africa with no history of Islamic tensions, but with a history of militant nationalism.
One day the wording might change, with Blair thanking some British Prime Minister for following the French lead to take out a threat on democracy's doorstep. Was that not how Gbagbo left Ivory Coast, luckily alive enough to face trial?
Short setbacks, long victories
I sound pessimistic, very pessimistic. In fact defeated into self-doubt. Well, not quite. The masses are quick to give a cheer. But they are also quick to replace it with an ominous jeer, in no time. Today they may cheer in the French, against a sibling armed with wrong beliefs, wrong vision.
But outside of a fundamental refashioning of Franco-African economic relations, their lot remains cheerless, today, tomorrow, forever. At the heart of conflict across the Sahel is the social question of access to resources, of poverty.
That is the dynamic to shape the future. It may be misapprehended today, tucked beneath false contradictions, but it shall always reassert itself in future, inexorably. The Shonas may have cheered in the Pioneer Column, enlisted even into its policing ranks.
But that would last for a mere five years. By 1896, it was clear the white man was no saviour, no friend. Or the obverse, that the Ndebeles were not the real enemy. True, the Ndebeles had started the fight in 1893, without the Shonas. And resumed it in March 1896, briefly without the Shonas.
By June 1896, circumstances had forced a oneness that fused cheer and jeer into one, Shonas and Ndebeles into one mother of all rebellions. Of course defeat followed.
But a major lesson had been imparted to posterity, resurging as combined resistance from 1966, right up to 1979 when the settler colonial state was finally felled.
Often it is not the setbacks of moments in history which matter; it is the hard lessons for history which mould new bearings.
Is SADC not about to give Africa a foil to the ignominy of Mali? I am speculating on SADC intervention in the DRC, under the command of an irate Tanzania? We shall see.