The penultimate in a series of six poems from the Xhosa poet, Melikhaya Mbutuma. This was recited in February 1963, two months after the fourth poem (see also parts one, two and three for the background).

Much of the poem is a response to pamphlets produced by Thembekile Enock Tshunungwa (b.1923), a teacher and businessman, who had been an ANC organiser and one of the 156 defendants in the 1956 Treason Trial. Acquitted in 1961, he allied himself with Matanzima, publishing versions of Xhosa history which attributed the divisions in Xhosa society to the 1856 Cattle Killings and not to any actions by Matanzima. Mbutuma partly concedes this, but angrily disputes the historical details, including Matanzima’s legitimacy.

This poem was recited in February 1963.

How exasperating to lack fighters when there are men.
How frustrating to look in vain for volunteers.
How futile to fight a lonely battle in the midst of multitudes.
What a curse to be born with cowards!
What a curse to be born with cringers!

Royal scion, face up to your duties so the nation may thrive,
You are the only hope of the nation,
You are the only one born to your position.
You are the only king of kings.
Royal scion, the angels have descended upon you;
Your pronouncements are filled with blessings.
Live forever, noble one!

I am referring to you, powerful one like bull-dozer,
To you, daring and fearless fighter,
To you, watchful and agile one, like hili’s magic pebble, (1)
To you, dark-brown one, like an Afrikaner bullock,
To you, whose penis-sheath is made of the skin of a lion and a leopard,
To you, shaper of our destiny, though it be directed against him. (2)

I blame Young and his followers; (3)
They are the ones who have created tensions among the Thembu.
On the Nonesi Mountains, Mtikrakra’s grudging voice can still be heard. (4)
Mvuzo and Mhlobo themselves would oppose Tshunungwa’s statements. (5)
Matanzima would be shocked if he were to hear these things. (6)
It is true that he migrated to fill Sarhili’s vacant land. (7)
It is also true that by the time he crossed the Cacadu River,
He was no longer on speaking terms with the senior Thembu chiefs.

Tshunungwa’s statements on Thembu history are surprising.
Chief Ngangelizwa never sanctioned the division of Thembuland. (8)
Sir, I find your pandering to the feelings of the government repulsive.
When I last heard of you, you were being tried for treason. (9)
But now I find you Chief Matanzima’s ardent supporter.
Do likewise Z. Matiwane and support Chief Zwelihle; (10)
After all, he is senior to Chief Matanzima.
The difference is Matanzima has been educated to the point of indoctrination, (11)
He has been taught even how to achieve chieftainship.
It is for this reason that the Thembu today are stunned and speechless;
They curse modern education and those who have received it.
They have found it ruinous and degrading to the African way of life,
For it has perverted and prostituted chieftainship as they know it.

Pardon me, Tato’s male heir. (12)
Perhaps Mhlobo’s son may be excused; (13)
The explanation for his position is to be found in the heavy pockets of the rulers.
A poverty-stricken population is easy to bribe.
And yet, such an act is a direct sacrifice of posterity.
I also don’t blame Tshunungwa, for starvation is an unbearable thing.
Don’t smaller animals sacrifice their young when confronted by an enemy?

As far as I know, there are only four chiefs in Rhoda. (14)
Their chieftainship has been established from antiquity.
The Ndungwane chieftainship is in the hands of Ndarala, (15)
That of the Gcina is entrusted to Chief Gecelo,
That of the Jumba is in the hands of Mgudlwa,
And that of the Hala has been given to Matanzima.
Those are the four chiefs known to me in Rhoda;
They have accepted Matanzima’s seniority because he is of Thembu royal descent.

Similarly, the Qwati and the Jumba accept the overlordship of Chief Zwelihle. (16)
But the question is, who put the Jumba chiefs under Matanzima? (17)
Is it you, Thembu? Please answer, I would like to know.
Answer me, king, I am enquiring.
Who created an independent chieftainship In Rhoda?
Who handed over to Matanzima Phalo’s Jumba?
Who sent Chief Bangilizwe and others to exile? (18)
Is it, perhaps, you, Mr Tshunungwa?
I ask because you have been holding forth about a ‘king’ in Emigrant Thembuland.
Where were you and your friends migrating to?

I remember the time Mgudlwa went for circumcision, (19)
I remember him being described as Mtikrakra’s younger brother.
All these facts are recorded in Thembu tradition!
Chief Ngangelizwe himself acknowledged them.
Even the Mabel’entombi Mountains bear witness to these words. (20)
Matanzima has put himself under the wing of the White government,
This has made Mgudlwa revert to the hairy and mighty beast. (21)

Tshunungwa, I beg you, withdraw on the question of Thembu chieftainship.
The wheel of fortune takes turns.
Be advised, lest your present protectors leave you in the lurch.
I fear the day Sabata dies, things will go haywire!
Not only his followers will suffer but everybody, I am afraid.
Does that matter to the modern chiefs, who are so callous?

Once I had a terrible dream.
I dreamt they were conspiring against my chief.
They were planning to take away the chief’s life.
It was three chiefs and two maidens.
It was indeed a frightful dream!
They only way they could kill him is by poison.
His only crime is that he has exposed and discredited the enemies of the people.

The government supporters say, ‘How dare he humiliate the Minister?’ (22)
It is not he that has humiliated the Minister.
It is rather the views of the Thembu and the rest of the people.
For a long time my chief has been sensitive to the nation’s views.
Any chief who claims the people agree with the Government’s schemes is lying.
If this claim be true, why are you chiefs being attacked?

Let’s acknowledge, we have been deceived.
Originally, a chief was the strength of his people.
Ironically, it was Sampu himself who handed over the Thembu to the British. (23)
It was he who undermined the integrity of the Thembu,
So it is not surprising that today the Thembu are so submissive.
When people refuse to stand for the truth, opportunism becomes rife.
Thembu, your chief is being watched closely.
They want him to accept bribes, like so many other chiefs.
It would be tragic is that were to happen to the protector of the people.
They should leave him alone until the fearful days come that lie ahead.
I see him as the only chief that represent’s the people’s wishes.

Eben Botha Sigcawu treats him with respect, (24)
Chief Victor Poto also holds him in esteem,
I see Zwelidumile Hintsa paying him homage,
Dilisa Matiwane also obeys him without question,
Sigidi Matiwane extols his deeds to the skies.
I see him as the personification of power and might.
Live forever, heavenly messenger!

Royal scion, what are you hesitant about?
You were the first chief in the Transkei to ask for independence. (25)
Now this, our ‘peaceful’ government is answering you,
But opportunists have grabbed it with both hands.
You did not ask for it on your own behalf.
The way this ‘freedom’ is being offered is puzzling.
Perhaps they see it as the last straw in their dying days.
Supposing they get it, where will they enjoy it?

Is it not true they spend most of their time in hiding? (26)
The only remedy, Black multitudes is to unite under one leader.
There is only one well-tried and seasoned among the chiefs.
He is the only one who believes the proof of the repast is in the eating.
I am referring to the dark-brown, turbulent heir of Dalindyebo,
The only weapon that can cut Matanzima down to size.
Ah Jonguhlanga! Royal scion, please respond, I am saluting. (27)

Here is the poem in the original Xhosa:

Hay’ ukuswela amadoda ezibulukhweni,
Hay’ ukuswela amadoda ndiwafuna,
Hay’ ukuzalwa wedwa unabantu,
Hay´ ukuzalwa namagwala bafondini,
Hay’ ukuzalwa nezilambi madoda.

Mntwan’ enkosi yomelela uphilise,
Nguwe wedwa unozala wesizwe
Nguwe wedwa owakhonjwayo esizweni,
Nguwe wedwa ukumkani wezikumkani
Mntwan’ enkosi zihil’ ingelosi emazulwini;
Ivuz’ imibethe yamazulu imilebe yakho,
Phila naphakade mntwan’ enkosi.

Nditsho kuwe makhafula konke ngokufanayo,
Makhafula bonke bembiza ngegama,
Ingqungqumb’ imbokotho kahili,
Ubelu olunamazinga ngokwenkonde,
Magqishela ngofele lwengwe nengonyama,
Umqingqi wamatye emkhubekisa.

Mna ndigxeka uYangi nabalandeli bakhe:
Nguye owawuhlula-hlulayo umzi kaThembu.
Iintaba zoNonesi zisatheth’ uMtikrakra nangoku.
UMvuzo noMhlobo bayamphikisa uTshunungwa.
Angothuka uMatanzima ndikhe ndamvusa.
Ndohlukene naye ephang’ umdaka kumaGcaleka.
Ukuz’ aliwel’ iCacadu engasathethi,
Lisiko umphakathi ukuphangela inkosi yakhe.

Uya ndothusa umfo kaTshunungwa ngobuThembu
Ndigqibele uNgangelizwe engabacalulanga abaThembu.
Uya ndothusa ngencasa yakhe kuRulumente.
Ndahlukene naye elingwa ematyaleni okungcatsha,
Ndimbona sel’ emenz’ ikumkani uDaliwonga.
Vela nawe Z kaMatiwane umwonge uZwelihle
Yinkosi engaphezulu kuK.D. Matanazima.
Kuloko akafundanga ufundisiwe,
Wada wafundiswa nokunikwa ubukumkani.
Namhla abaThembu bazishwayimbana:
Bayayishwabulela imfundo nabafundi bayo.
Ilisikizi, kubantwana beenkosi inengqalekiso,
Kungoku iyabaphanzisa ibahluth’ ubukhosi.

Uxolo mutwan’ enkosi mbokoto kaTato,
Umtaka Mhlobo kum apha akanasizathu;
Ndityhol’ iziphatha-mandla ngengxowa ukuba nzima.
Ke thina zilambi siyakwazi ukulukuhleka.
Ikanti iintsana zethu sizilibele ngasemva.
Andimgxeki umfo kaTshunungwa iphango linzima.
Ndifike ixhama lithengisa ngabantwana kudyakalashe?
Mna ngokwam iinkosi zine, eRhode.
Zimilile zinobukhosi obunengcambu.
Bukhosi bamaNdungwane bukuNdarala,
Bukhosi bamaGcinma buphoswe kuGecelo,
Bukhosi bamaJumba bukuMgudlwa.
Bukhosi bamaHala ndibuphosa kuMatanzima.

Nanzo ke inkosi zam ngokuzazi kwam.
Ziyinikile imbeko kuMatanzima kub’ engowegazi.
Nje ngoZwelihle kuma Qwati namaJumba.
Ngubanina owazidibanisayo wazinika uMatanzima?
Ndiphenduleni baThembu, ngaba nini na?
Ndiphendule kumkani ndim obuzayo.
Ngubani owenza ikumkani eRhode?
Ngubani na owaya kulahla uBangilizwe Joyi?
Ngaba nguwe na mfo kaTshunungwa?
Ndiva ukhala ngekumkani yeMfuduko.
Nanifuduka nisiyaphi na madoda?

Ndiya mkhumbula uMgudlwa esaluwa,
Ndiya mkhumbula kusithiwa ngumninawa kuMtikrakra.
Tyelimhlope amabali abhaliwe apho kuwe!
AmaNgolothi kaNgangelizwe ayemdaka namehlo.
Ziintaba ndini zaMabel’entombi nqhinani.
Wazifihl’ uMatanzima kwabukuloNtsasana,
Wavel’ uMgudlwa walicinga iramncwa eliindevu.
Ndiya kucela mfo kaTshunungwa roxa ngobukumkani.
Lent’ ivili iyajikeleza ngenene bafondini.
Hleze abakuloNibe banibonelele banijikele.
Mhla wanishiya ngophanyazo umntwan’ enkosi ndiyoyika!
Nditsho macal’ omabini ndinovale ndiyoyika.
Ngamagora abantwana beenkosi ndibancamile?

Ndiphuphe zidwesha ndiphuphe isikizi,
Ndiphuphe abantwana benkosi besebungeni.
Ndiphuphe beceb’ ukusub’ ubomi bekumkani.
Iikosi zintathu, ndiphuphe iitombi zimbini.
Yint’ etsho umzimba wam waklumeza.
Kukumdlisa kuuphela esangamoyisa ngako.
Lo mntwana kaSampu akasanyelisi uyasibhentsisa.
Yin’ ukude athobe noMphathiswa?
Hay’ uMphathiswa akathotywe kumkani.
Uthotywe zizmvo zabaThembu nezizwe.
Ukumkani kudala wevayo umile bubuzwe.
Nkos’ eth’ abantu bavuma ayithethi nyaniso.
Nigadelwa ntoni na nivana nje nabantu?

Ngxe kumkani akukho kumbi silukuhliwe.
Kumkani yezizwe lithemba ezizweni.
NguSampu owanikela ngengqukuva kwiTshawe laphesheya.
Ikwanguye owanikela ngobukhali besizwe.
Kunamhla abaThembu bathambe bangumtya.
Zakufihlwa iinyaniso kumka udakada kakade.
BaThembu le mbokotho yenu bayibungile.
Bathi ma ife ngedliso ixelise iinkosi ezininzi.
Ndixoleleni zizwe ngengubo yomzi kaNtu uphela.
Ndixoleleni ide ifike imihla endiyibonayo.
Ndikubona mntwan’ enkosi inguwe wedwa ukumkani.

Ndibona uBotha Sigcawu ekunika imbeko,
Ndimbona uVic kaPoto ethoba kwakuwe,
Ndimbona uZwelidumile Hintsa ezithoba,
Ndimbona uDiliza kaMatiwane ekuthobela,
Ndimbona uSigidi Matiwane ekuphakamisa.
Ndibona ubunganga nobungangamshwa kuwe.
Phila naphakade sithunywa samazulu!

Mntwan´enkosi woyika ntoni wa kodwa?
Nguwe owacela inkululeko ngaphambili.
Namhla lo Rulumente woxolo uyakuphendula,
Bayasuka uzipho-nde bayayigxoba.
Ke wena wawungazithumanga wawuthunyiwe.
Olu hlobo iza ngalo le nkululeko andiluqondi.

Kukho abaxhwiliza ngenzondo eyoyikekayo.
Ngathi bazakuyizuza ngenxa yemihl’ ukubambalwa?
Khona bayizuza boyityela phi na bezula nje?
Dibanani mzi kantu ikumkani ibenye kuuphela.
Ngumaqhashu ojiwe emasekweni kubahlekazi.
Undipheni amafutha ndimthambise uDondolo.
Isijamjeka umafungwa nguNxeko noJustice,
Isithintelo sombeka-phesheya kokaMhlobo.
Aa Jonguhlanga! Vuma mntwani´enkosi ndiyabulisa.

Archie Mafeje,
“The Role of the Bard in a Contemporary African Community”,
Journal of African Languages VI, 3 (1967), 205-211.


Footnotes

  1. Hili is another name for thikoloshe, an animal invoked by witches with supposed powers of levitation.
  2. All the images in these lines suggest Sabata’s power, yet fate may be against him.
  3. Young: Secretary for the Department of Bantu Administration and Development who, it’s implied, wields greater power than Sabata.
  4. Mtikrakra, the last independent Thembu before his land was annexed by Cape government. Nonesi was his famous wife, who ruled after his death and for whom the mountains are named.
  5. Mvuzo and Mhlobo: Kaiser Matanzima’s great-grandfather and father respectively. Tshunungwa: Matanzima’s supporter, who has been making in writing the claims Mbutuma is refuting.
  6. Referring again to Mvuzu, Matanzima’s great-grandfather.
  7. Sarhili, senior chief of the Gcaleka clan, who believed Nongqawuse’s prophecies and afterwards fled his country. His land was occupied by Mvuzu, Matanzima’s ancestor.
  8. Ngangelizwe, Mtikrakra’s successor, had been paramount chief at the time of the annexation. The Cape authorities demanded his dismissal, but conceded this was impractical since he was the only person who could hold the remnants of the nation together.
  9. Tshunungwa had been a defendant in the 1956 Treason Trial. After his acquittal in 1961, he switched from the ANC to Matanzima
  10. Chief Zwelihle:The praise name of the current Mtikrakra, descendent of the chief described in footnote 5, and second senior chief after Sabata. Z. Matiwane, a teacher, is one of his advisers.
  11. Matanzima had studied law at Fort Hare.
  12. Tato was an earlier chief, so this address is to Sabata.
  13. Matanzima. See footnote 5.
  14. Rhoda: Another name for Emigrant Thembuland, an administrative division created in 1865 on land confiscated from the Xhosa in the aftermath of the Cattle Killing (see “The Cattle Killing” under Survival). It was awarded to Thembu collaborators under Matanzima’s great-grandfather, Mvuzo. When the whole of Thembuland was annexed in 1876, the Cape authorities denied that Chief Ngangelizwe exercised any authority there. By the 1950s, the South African government was supporting Matanzima’s claim to rule not just over Emigrant Tembuland but the over whole of what became the Transkei. The main opponent of this subversion of history was, of course, Sabata, with Mbutuma as his spokesman.
  15. Mbutuma insists there are only four chiefs in Emigrant Tembuland, namely Ndarala, Gecelo, Mgudlwa, and Matanzima himself, accepted by the other three as senior.
  16. By contrast, the Qwati and the Jumba owe loyalty to Zwelihle, and hence to Sabata.
  17. So how did the Jumba chiefs come to be under Matanzima? Other questions follow. Who began this business of there being a ‘king’ in Emigrant Thembuland?
  18. The hero of the closing lines of the fourth poem. In May 1958, he had been banished by the South African for opposition to Matanzima. He was (rightly) suspected of being a member of the banned ANC.
  19. See footnote 16. If Mgudlwa was Mtikrakra brother, his loyalty should be to Sabata.
  20. Mabel’entombi Mountains: Mountains overlooking Matanzima’s residence, and so bearing witness against him.
  21. Refers to Sabata. Mgudlwa has come to his senses.
  22. Refers again to the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, who took umbrage at Sabata’s constant opposition. In 1979, Sabata was finally arrested and in 1980 deposed as chief. He fled to Lusaka, Zambia, where he died in exile in 1986.
  23. Sabata’s father, though Mbutuma seems to be referring to his grandfather Ngangelizwe, who negotiated the annexation.
  24. The people mentioned in following lines were chiefs and important men in Thembuland, all supporters of Sabata.,
  25. The issue was not whether the Transkei, home of the Xhosa people, should be independent. Ghana had become independent in 1958, Nigeria in 1960, Tanzania in 1961. The issue was the fraudulent “independence” that was being imposed.
  26. Matanzima had to be protected from his own people by a police guard.
  27. Jonguhlanga!: One of Sabata’s praise names.