By Samora Machel Internationalist Brigade
On the morning of last Saturday (February 5), the Socialist Party of Zambia held an event in memory of the struggle of the Ngoni people in defense of their territories against European colonization on the continent. Nsingu Day – Day of the Ngoni Warriors – is a date that recalls this resistance and keeps the courage and memory of a people alive.
The commemoration ceremony took place at the Socialist Party Secretariat in the country’s capital, Lusaka, and was attended by Party officials and guests, in addition to the performance of the women’s musical group “SP Choir” and the participation of the Nsingu Brigade.
Socialist Party President Fred M’membe commented on the importance of keeping this memory alive in the Zambian people.
“It is 124 years ago today that Commander Nsingu was assassinated in the resistance to Cecil Rhodes’ occupation of his lands, his homeland, to exploit its minerals and take possession of its lands. We are the heirs of this legacy of resistance. This is the source of inspiration for us. A source of determination for us, a source of courage. And an inspiration for dignity, for honesty and inspiration for patriotism. We will never betray your sacrifices and your selflessness. We will do everything in our power to ensure that this homeland is what they wanted us to do.”
The MST was present, through the Samora Machel Internationalist Brigade, and saluted the Zambians and the Socialist Party for keeping the memory of their people alive, an important date of struggle and resistance.
For the brigade members, “to participate in this moment is to be close to the legacy of resistance that runs in the veins of the Zambian peoples, from the presentation of the warriors of the Nsingu Brigade, with their cries for freedom and their movements of courage, to the strong presence of the women of the SP Choir. We continue to struggle side by side with the Socialist Party, which continues to resist in the face of the attempt to erase the memory of the struggles and achievements of the Zambian people”.
A little history
The 19th century marked a period of expansion of capitalism in the world with its slaveholding, violent bases and the expulsion of peoples from their territories. This is the case of African colonization by the European powers of the time, especially the British. Colonialism lasted just under a hundred years across Africa: from the 1880s to the 1960s.
It is during this period that the African peoples are crossed by the capitalist and imperialist forces of Cecil John Rhodes at the head of the British South Africa Company, responsible for the greatest genocide of the black African population at the time. Rhodes’ quest to obtain mineral rights to African lands came along with missionaries and many other Europeans.
Like other African peoples, the Ngoni fought against Rhodes in defense of their territory. According to historiographical data, the Ngoni arrived in the southern African region in 1835, after crossing the Zambezi River near Zumbo and continuing eastward, over the Luangwa River, to some hills where they came into contact with some Chewa.
In 1895, to consolidate their offensive in the region, the British built Fort Partridge, just 100 km north of the palace of Mpezeni, the chief of the Ngoni who had led his people throughout the region and finally came to his last home in the River Lutembwe. His son and commander Nsingu mobilized an army of 10,000 young Ngoni warriors armed with the “asegai” (a short, slender spear used as a throwing weapon by the Ngoni people) to defend their lands, minerals, heritage and the dignity of their people against the Rhodes army with better resources (Maxim-guns and Seven-pounder weapons). Defeated by British forces, Nsingu was executed in the early hours of February 5, 1898, knowing he was dying to fight for the future.
If the previous century was marked by violent colonization and the struggle of peoples in defense of their territories, the 20th century was no different. Marked by popular movements around the world against the capitalist system and its ills and violence against peoples, on the African continent it marks a period of struggle for independence from colonialism, which accompanied the Cold War, a moment of great world polarization with two superpowers – the Soviet Union and the USA.
The independence processes took place in a variety of ways. Whether through violent conflicts, for the liberation of their territories or through negotiations in search of emancipation and consolidation of young African nations. However, it was from the 1960s onwards that most countries gained independence.
Zambia is one of those young nations that seeks through history to remember the deeds of its people. This is how today, 12 decades later, the new Ngoni warriors honor their sacrifices, their courage, their dignity and their patriotism with Nsingu Day – the Day of the Ngoni Warriors.
*Edited by Solange Engelmann