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THE LOST KINGDOM – THE RISE AND FALL OF THE IKALANGA MONARCHY (PART 3)

Jeff Ramsay
BUILDERS OF BOTSWANA

In our previous instalment we noted that traditional Chishona and Ikalanga accounts support the view that the abandonment of the Great Zimbabwe settlement was accompanied by the founding to the north-east of the Mutapa state, known to the   Portuguese who settled along the Mozambique coast thereafter as the "Monomotapa".

At about the same time a number of Ikalanga traditions further trace the formation of the Butwa or Bakalanga Kingdom to the south-west migration of people from Mutapa during a period of strife fuelled by the Portuguese sponsored expansion of ivory, gold and slave trading into   eastern Zimbabwe.

Amidst this turmoil a legendary leader remembered as Madabhale emerged to lead the Bakalanga to peace and prosperity

“(Translation) It happened the Munamutapa kingdom was torn by internal fighting, civil warfare that destroyed the Bakalanga. It was then that Madabhale broke away with a very big following and went down to the west of the country, into [modern] Matabeleland. He went there to build a kingdom, having left with a very large following. It was a big kingdom and he had his councillors such as Nimale, Hungwe, Zwikono, Vunamakuni, Nkami, Nigwande, Ninhembwe and many others of the tribe.

After his arrival Madabhale found that that country belonged to the Bakwa [Khoe/Basarwa], and so he came and conquered them. Then we ruled and sounded his war horns. That is where the name Chibundule came from [-bundula = roaring of a bull, war trumpet].”

Thereafter the name Chibundule was associated with the rulers of the first Bakalanga Kingdom, which is referred to in Portuguese records as the Torwa or Tolwa state.

While the above construction is compelling in both the detail of the Ikalanga sources and their consistency with other local and Portuguese accounts, it diverges from alternative interpretations arising from archaeological evidence. Whereas the debilitating influence of Portuguese expansion on Mwenemutapa is well documented from the late 16th century, archaeology dates prominent Chibundule associated sites, including the royal ruins at Khami, to least a century earlier, which is the period that also neatly coincides with the abandonment of Great Zimbabwe.

The conclusion on the part of some archaeologists of a material link between the Bakalanga and the 11th century Mapungubwe civilisation calls into further question the notion that Bakalanga state building began with a breakaway from Mwenemutapa.  Available evidence rather suggests that although Madabhale is the earliest known Mambo or King of Bukalanga, his lineage may very well have been preceded by any number of other now forgotten dynasties.

The post-16th century legacy of the Chibundule dynasty is at least clearer, being associated with the contemporary Balilima or Bahumbe section of the Bakalanga, which incorporates such modern Botswana based branches as Mosojane, Madandume, Nshakashongwe and Majambubi.

Returning to the dynastic traditions, by the end of Madabhale's reign the boundaries of Chibundule royal authority are described as having extended from western Zimbabwe into the Kgalagadi as far west as Makgadikgadi.

To the south the Kingdom is said to have extended as far as Palapye, at its height including much of the Limpopo valley and Venda country. Its northern boundary was the Zambezi. From an Ikalanga account recorded by Masola Kumile as transcribed by P.J. Wentzel:

“Obusa Bakalanga naBakwa, wakabusa xango sawoku: Wakabe ebvila kuDzimbabwe kanoti kumunya [“at the salt”= Makgadikgadi]; kunta yobuVenda eme ngeHuri [Limpopo]; kunta yoBurwa eme ngePalapye; kunta yoBunanzwa eme ngeZambezi. Kabusa yose odan’wa Chibundule.”

It may be further noted that the monumental stonewalled architecture found at the royal ruins at Khami, which are located just to the west of Bulawayo, differs significantly from those at Great Zimbabwe. The walls are elaborately decorated with “check” and “herring bone” patterns.

Well-built houses, presumably belonging to members of social elite, were constructed on the top of stone platforms consisting of layers of retaining walls with rubble fill. The remains of fourteen such platforms can be found at Khami itself, while similar constructions exist throughout north-eastern Botswana as well as western Zimbabwe. Though less massive than Great Zimbabwe, to this author’s own subjective eye the aesthetics of the Khami style ruins are more elegant.

Excavations at Khami and other Chibundule era sites further confirm that from 16th century the Bakalanga and their neighbours continued to be connected to extensive international trading networks. Ceramics and glass objects of Dutch, German and Portuguese, as well as Asian including Chinese origin have been unearthed, along with fragments of both imported and locally manufactured cotton cloth, indigenous pottery and objects made of gold, iron and copper. Also common are glass beads, which as we have previously noted for many centuries served as a regional currency.

Traditional manufacturing is reflected in the following text, also recorded by Kumile:

(Translation): “They knew the iron which is in the earth and families collected copper ore, which was taken to the enclosures for extracting and smelting. There the following things were cast: hoes, spears, axes, knives, earrings, bracelets, blades, long needles, hoop irons, pairs of pliers to hold other iron and adzes for carpentry…”

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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