Zimbabweans Divided Over Cecil John Rhodes’ Grave

Zimbabweans are divided over Cecil John Rhodes’ grave in the Matobo National Park, a sacred hill where for centuries Zimbabweans would go to consult their ancestors.

Rhodes died more than 120 years ago in South Africa aged 48.  

Modern-day South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia were named Rhodesia after him

Part of younger Zimbabweans want Rhodes’ grave and  remains removed to rid the country of the last vestiges of colonialism, AFP reported.

But the grave attracts tourists who bring much-needed income for surrounding villages – and many local people oppose any exhumation.

In neighbouring South Africa, students at the University of Cape Town launched a “Rhodes-Must-Fall” protest in 2015, initially to pull down Rhodes’s statue at the campus.

It later morphed into a global campaign, which saw Oxford University resisting calls to remove a statue of the politician – placing an explanatory panel next to it instead.

Often described as a philanthropist but also an arch-racist, Rhodes dreamt of a British Africa from Cape Town to Cairo, with the blessings of Queen Victoria.

Cynthia Marangwanda, 37, from Harare, is enraged by the presence of Rhodes’s grave. She believes he chose that site because he knew its spiritual significance to the local people.

The activist said it was his “final display of power, a deliberate and calculated act… of domination.” 

The economic benefits accruing from tourism, do not hold water for Marangwanda.

She believes “Matobo is such a beautiful landscape, it doesn’t need this colonial grave,” to attract foreign visitors.

Tafadzwa Gwini, a 33-year-old historian and co-founder of the Rhodes-Must-Fall campaign said the presence of the grave in Zimbabwe is an “insult to our very existence as a people.” 

Gwini said exhuming the remains “is a form of reclaiming our identity as a people.” 

Nicky Johnson, a 45-year-old white Zimbabwean simply doesn’t understand the outrage around the grave. He spoke to AFP:

I brought my kids. I also came here as a kid. History shouldn’t be tampered with. He wanted to be buried here, that’s how it should be.

Akhil Maugi, 28, who lives in Bulawayo, shares similar sentiments. He said:

You can’t erase what happened. No one would come here if this grave was gone.

Pathisa Nyathi, a 71-year-old local historian, points out that it was “the grandeur of the rocks” that made it a “holy site” that once attracted pilgrims from neighbouring countries.

The “pre-eminent shrine” in the region “was sacred to Africans” but not to Rhodes, said Nyathi.

Micah Sibanda, 82, said Rhodes’s grave is “important” to the villagers because it attracts visitors who in turn buy crafts “and we get some money to send our kids to school, … get food and clothing,” said Sibanda.

After all, Sibanda said, the white visitors are also coming “to pay respects to their own ancestor.

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14 comments on “Zimbabweans Divided Over Cecil John Rhodes’ Grave

  1. I think Mugabe gave a good answer when he was asked about the grave. He said Rhodes is causing no one any harm. He is lying underground, buried. Seriously we cannot deny the story of how whites arrived into this country. Rhodes headlines that story. Are the spirits at Matobo complaining? If they are we can talk to them, if they are not, there is no problem.

  2. All we need are roads, clean water, electricity, Internet, etc. Leave John Rhodes alone at least he gives us tourism in Mat South. Our struggle was about building not destroying. Remember what Tongogara said about black and white living together in independent Zimbabwe. Don’t divert attention from Aljazeera report.

    1. Isn’t it funny that people cannot read correctly. This article is quoting citizens, not government officials or politicians.

  3. You should be pressing for good roads and transport systems that take employers and employees to work safely and speedily, electricity thst is always available and stable to make sure production in industry is not interrupted, water, amenities etc… Rhodes is a dead man, only God knows where his soul is. You can remove his grave and still suffer another 2 decades to make it 6 if you yourselves don’t change your ways or continue to focuss on trivia.

    1. You seem to be addressing government, yet government has not said anything about the issue. Its fellow citizens being quoted here. As such direct your responses to your fellow citizens.

  4. Fools want to divert attention to a 120 year old grave….when they argue about getting 10 year old potholes fixed. Non story here.

  5. Those from outside Mthwakazi Matebeleland have no say in this. This grave is a tourist attraction for our provinces, for development purposes. We have been denied development opportunities since 1980. All that we had because of Rhodesian balanced economic development of the country was destroyed by ZANU. We will not accept outsiders continuing to deny us economic opportunities, because of some stupid political posturing. How does removing the grave change the history of the country? Nonsense!!

  6. Ngaabviswe uyo, hapana zvachinotibatsira that grave, let local ancestors rest in peace there is no place in UK where you have such arrogance where a murderer has declared to be buried in a foreign land. Foreigners come to his grave to give thanks for the atrocities and loot he made that self aggrandising crook.

  7. Why then did so many thousands of Africans line the road leading up to his grave ? Because they remembered and saluted “Bayete” the one who made peace with them at their ‘indaba’ in that same sacred place shared by Mzlikiazi’s bones, surrounded by the same sacred rocks and by thousands of impi warriors wielding their assegais, as he shook the hands of their indunas who could have killed him and the 3 white colonialists with him. Jeremy Lewis

  8. IF Rhodes really was “a murderer and a self-aggrandising crook”, why was he not ASSEGIED, unarmed, in cold blooded revenge by those INDUNAS at that indaba they convened after your 1st Chimurenga in 1896 within those Kulezo ntaba held sacred by both their local ancestors; as well as by the 4 unarmed colonialists whom they encircled-Rhodes and his 3 whites-speaking Ndebele?
    Why, instead, did they line the road from Bulawayo,“the place of killing“, saluting his passing body, draped with the British Union flag Jack carried on a colonial oxwagon, crying out the black man’s “Bayete” along on the way up to his grave ?
    It’s because he was a peace maker, a man of peace who shook hands with their indunas as they broke sticks symbolising the breaking of weapons of the conflict started by their ancestor Mzilikasu: whose bones still lie close by Rhodes’s, and will continue to lie amoung those sacred rocks – undisturbed by you and your ignorant country folk.

  9. The current ills of this NATION are steeped in looting/corruption, hence the urgent need to exterminate, extirpate the founders of these ills and bring about meaningful development……..chiguva cha Cecil John Rhodes hachina basa nekuparara kwaita nyika ino…

  10. It is a shame these brain- fondold,brain-wadhed,and brain – full of hatred,only thinking going backwards not forward,do exist at this particular time,more-so ,a poor fugitive Zimbabwean,can speak of a grave,120years old,no guys use your brain to think not to walk with brain and think with legs,why not speaking of development,bringing investors,and build the future for our young generation, sometimes munonyadzisa mazimba shame,no guys, please let’s renew our minds,and mindset,musiye utsinye hwamakadzidziswa Na mugabe mhani,basa ndere kuyemura nyika dzevamwe,yenyu muchiuraya.munowanei pakubisa nevhu waimbova mutumbi was rodded,shame munonyadzisa, let’s go and vote murego nyadzisira.

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