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Mnangagwa’s Lobengula Joke Sparks Debate

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week sparked debate after his joke appeared to mock the revered Ndebele king, Lobengula.

As reported by NewsDay, Mnangagwa on Thursday said King Lobengula was ignorant of innovation and killed a man who had shown him a mirror after seeing his reflection.

He made the remarks while addressing a gathering in Chivhu at Makumimavi Primary School while commissioning 17 schools.

Also Read: Minister suspends ZBC presenters over Lobengula sellout remarks

Mnangagwa urged young people to embrace new information and communication technologies and be tech-savvy so they will not be like the “old man” Lobengula. He said:

As I was touring the school, I saw the computer system — pupils in one class were talking to others in another class and we were seeing them through the computer system.

It happened long back and I was telling VaChiwenga [Vice-President Constantino]. Long back, Mambo Lubengula (Lobengula), King Lubengula, when he heard from Queen Victoria — she invited King Lubengula for a friendship, but she said, ‘For it to be stronger, send your three envoys so that they will come and see where I rule because my missionaries have seen your jurisdiction already, so send yours so that they will see here (England).

Mnangagwa said King Lobengula later sent his three envoys to England, who brought a mirror. He said:

So the three envoys went and were given a mirror and they looked into the mirror and saw themselves.

When they returned, before they had explained what transpired, they gave the King the mirror and he saw himself and said, Umthakathi lowu. Bulala Umthakhathi… (This is a witch kill this witch).

And the man died. So we do not want people among you who are dull like this old man. We must promote education, science and technology.

The remarks ignited animated discussions within the crowd, with some expressing their disgruntlement through inaudible interjections.

Mnangagwa reportedly paused his speech as the palpable discontent became apparent.

This comes barely five months after ZBC suspended two presenters Farai Magada and Victoria Manase for denigrating Lobengula live on national television.

King Lobengula was the last Ndebele monarch. He ruled the Matabele Kingdom after the death of his father Mzilikazi in 1868, until the demise of the Kingdom in the mid-1890s.

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