On the Importance of Preserving History

My blood is *BOILING*!!

If there’s one thing I’ve heard endlessly this past week, it’s that “it’s important to remember history”. If you’ve said (or thought) that to me, I want you to pay attention to this.

I decided to take the advice and read up on one of the few black South African legends I’ve heard of: Hintsa, inkosi yamaGcaleka (Hintsa, king of the amaGcaleka – a significant branch of the amaXhosa). You might know him as “King Hintsa”. Chances are you don’t know of him at all. There’s a street named after him somewhere in Diepsloot.

Short story cut shorter, nkosi Hintsa was held hostage for cattle that were stolen from British settlers **by people who may or may not have been his subjects** until agreed to pay 50 000 (fifty thousand) cattle as a penalty (aside from other outrageous demands). Hintsa refused and tried to escape. As he fled, his captor Govenor Harry Smith ordered one of his men to shoot him. After pleading mercy, nkosi Hintsa was brutally murdered and even mutilated by Smith’s men and his body was dumped in a bush.

As a rudimentary measure of how much ‘history’ you might find on each of these men, do me a favour and search for “Hintsa kaKhawuta” on Wikipedia, and then for “Lieutenant General Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith, 1st Baronet of Aliwal GCB” on the same website. Take note of the detail, accuracy, accolades, and images on each page:

Link – Hintsa kaKhawuta
Link –  Harry Smith

Oh and does “Harry Smith” ring any bells? Vele – it does. There’s a town named after him!!! You pass every time you take a trip from Johannesburg to kwaZulu!

Now I’m not asking for any more statues to be torn down or places to be renamed – but I do want your understanding. If I am hurt by this simple fact, how much more umXhosa? Or umGcaleka? Let alone one of nkosi Hintsa’s descendants? Understand this, and you’ll have grasped the tip of the iceberg of pain and frustration that so many other South Africans are having to deal with.

You’re extremely fortunate if you have a detailed account of your past that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some hardly have one to speak of.

This is why I will continue to say you should support campaigns such as‪#‎RhodesMustFall‬ – not because you must agree with them, no – but because they are perfect and much-needed opportunities for a display of ubuntu and a commitment to a diverse but united Mzansi. Trust me – there’ll be more than enough time and space to talk about our disagreements afterwards.


#RhodesMustFall ‪#‎MzansiMustRise‬‪#‎SoundsTheCall‬‪#‎OneMzansi‬


About uzanokuhle

uza nokuhle
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