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Who killed King Lobengula?

By Munyaradzi Huni

Since the death of King Lobengula in 1894, historians have been battling to unravel the truth regarding the death of this second and last King of the Ndebele.

King Lobengula
King Lobengula

It has been reported that Lobengula died in Zambia’s north-east province in 1922 and was buried under a baobab tree near the town of Lindazi while there is also belief that he died and was placed in a cave at Pupu east of the Lupane administrative offices.

Others even claimed that Lobengula died in Malawi and the debate over his death has refused to die up to this day. Some say Lobengula died of smallpox, others say it was dysentery with some claiming that the King died of food poisoning.

King Lobengula’s death remains inconclusive and in a book entitled: “Cecil Rhodes — Man and Empire-Maker,” that was published on August 26, 2005, Princess Catherine Radziwill who lived with Rhodes for many years makes stunning revelations that show that the King was killed by Rhodes and his warmongers.

In Chapter Three of the book, paragraphs 36 and 37, Princess Radziwill describes the brutality of Rhodes and his soldiers, saying:

“There are dark deeds connected with the attachment of Rhodesia to the British Empire, deeds which would never have been performed by a regular English Army, but which seemed quite natural to the band of enterprising fellows who had staked their fortunes on an expedition which it was their interest to represent as a most dangerous and difficult affair.

“I do not want to disparage them or their courage, but I cannot help questioning whether they ever had to withstand any serious attack of the enemy. I have been told perfectly sickening details concerning this conquest of the territory now known by the name of Rhodesia.

“The cruel manner in which, after having wrung from them a concession which virtually despoiled them of every right over their native land and after having goaded these people into exasperation, the people themselves were exterminated was terrible beyond words.

“For instance, there occurred the incident mentioned by Olive Schreiner in “Trooper Peter Halkett of Mashonaland,” when over one hundred savages were suffocated alive in a cave where they sought a refuge.

“Personally, I remain persuaded that these abominable deeds remained unknown to Mr Rhodes and that he would not have tolerated them for one single instant. They were performed by people who were in possession of Rhodes’ confidence, and who abused it by allowing the world to think that he encouraged such deeds.

“Later on it is likely that he became aware of the abuse that had been made of his name and of the manner in which it had been put forward as an excuse for inexcusable deeds, but he was far too indolent and far too indifferent to the blame of the world, at these particular moments to disavow those who, after all, had helped him in his schemes of expansion, and who had ministered to his longing to have a kingdom to himself.

“Apart from this, he had a curious desire to brave public opinion and to do precisely the very things that it would have disapproved. He loved to humiliate those whom he had at one moment thought he might have occasion to fear.

“This explains the callousness with which he made the son of Lobengula one of his gardeners, and did not hesitate to ask him one day before strangers who were visiting Groote Schuur in what year he “had killed his father.” The incident is absolutely true; it occurred in my own presence.”

So Rhodes murdered King Lobengula? Well, well, well, it looks like the debate regarding the King’s death is back with us once again and, for the first time, it seems the correct answers are coming out. The Sunday Mail