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Nkami /Khami of the Butua kindom

Publishing Date : 12 November, 2019

Author :

TOOD MAJAYE
THOUGHT LEADER


Nkami, currently known as Khami ruins, was the next city-state to Great Nzimabwe. It was situated few kilometres from what is now Bulawayo, in the new Bakalanga kingdom of Butua, under the rulership of king Mambo. This came about as the kingdom split with each royal prince wanting a share of his own kingdom. Nkami means a milker in Ikalanga. The name Khami has no meaning in any known language in our region. It is an adulteration of the actual name by the colonists, as is common with many other names of places in Africa. 


The same goes for Dati (bow) which they called Tati (no meaning) and is still called this name to date, as well as others in Botswana that have since reverted to their original names. Previous national cries from both civic and civil quarters to name places, villages, towns and cities in Botswana with original names that have historical meanings attached to them received rebuffing by the government. Most of these names are in the Bukalanga area.  While we changed adulterated names like Geberones, Ghanzi etc, no adulterated Kalanga names (and they are many) has changed to their original names.


During Masire’s reign, he paid heed to SPIL’s agitation for change of names like Sebina, Magapatona, Selolwane and many others in the Central District. No sooner than they were gazetted that the linguistic imperialists in his government, through the then minister of Local Government and Lands, swiftly and corruptly reversed the changes. Quett Masire was generally a good man who loved his country and all its people, but like a heart surrounded by saturated killer fat, he was constrained by narrow minded imperialists surrounding him, who did not seem to understand the meanings of nationalism and  patriotism.


The bastardisation of Kalanga names in independent Botswana continues unabated. No wonder many opposition politicians have consistently mentioned that Botswana independence did not benefit Bakalanga. They are not wrong in this respect. It remains to be seen if Masisi will continue to heed God’s voice for establishing a just and equitable Botswana society. It is not only the bastardisation of names, but of more concerning, is the retention of colonial names of places, which identifies with colonial oppressors, like Daniel Francis for example, after whose name Francistown was named.


When I grew up, Francistown residential areas were divided into three racial groups – Africans, across the Dati River to the west, so called coloureds south east of the town centre and whites in the east central parts. Daniel Francis was one of those advocating for racialism and segregation of people according to their skin colours. Daniel Francis is the one who, through Tati Company took all the fertile land in the North East District and placed the owners of the land in what was called reserves, as they did in Rhodesia and South Africa.  He is the one who took the gold mines of the Bakalanga people for himself by colonial force.


Post colonialism to date, we still glorify and honour him for the perpetration of these inhuman atrocities, with the retention of the name Francistown, which the young people have replaced with the name Ghetto (for lack of historical data), out of the frustrations of it identified with colonists. The question is, was the place just a forest with no name when Daniel Francis and his fellow colonists settled there?


Was gold mining not taking place before the settlers took residence of the place?  Was the gold discovered by Francis? No, the place had a name and the gold had long been discovered by Bakalanga, who were mining and smelting it when Francis arrived in the area.  It was taken from them by colonial force.


Fifty three Many years after independence the city remains the only one in Botswana still holding a colonial name of a person that took our land for no pay and stole our gold. Much of the land is still held by Daniel Francis Tati Company. A colonial company that he presided over as chairman. What justification is there for the retention of this colonial name if one may ask?  It is time that we get rid of the filthy garments of colonialism and change the city’s name to Nyangabwe, an original name with a historical meaning.


That big towering landmark hill that dominates the city and its environment? What is the problem with that? Why should this Bukalanga resident city be the only one in Botswana that still carries a colonial name long after independence? A name that invokes pain and sorrow to the Bakalanga people? Why should Bakalanga be continually subjected to all these sorrowful reminders of the cruelty of colonialism?


Back to Nkami!  Like Mapungubwe and Great Nzimabwe Nkami is also a UNESCO world heritage site. In its description of the edifice UNESCO wrote that Nkami, which developed after the capital of Great Nzimabwe was of great archaeological interest. The discovery of objects from China, Germany, Holland and Portugal origin shows that Nkami was a major trading center for a long period of time. 


Some of the highly significant imported goods that were found at Nkami, included; 16th century Rhineland stoneware, Ming porcelain pieces which date back to the reign of Wan-Li (1573-1691), Portuguese imitations of 17th century Chinese porcelain, 17th century Spanish silverware, etc. also included were both imported and locally manufactured cotton cloth, indigenous pottery and objects made of iron, gold, and copper.


This is an indication of the extent of international trade that was taking place among the Bakalanga and foreign nations. There was also considerable local manufacturing. Indigenous pride in traditional cottage industries is reflected in the following Ikalanga verses praising their intelligence or wisdom, “Buchenjedu ne bunyambi gwe BaKalanga, trnaslated, the wisdom and talents of Bakalanga people.’

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