Who is Killing Who?

When I travelled to Pretoria in May 2019, I did not expect that this phrase would be among those that would stick in my mind. It is quite strange because I went for an academic seminar and expected to leave replenished with theories and methodologies that would nourish my work in the days ahead. I have recently become fascinated with the humanities and find it such an extensive area that no amount of knowledge can truly fill, yet I left with the words of a tour guide in my mind, pondering in my heart over and over. These words refuse to leave me “Who is killing who?” South Africa for me remains a place I cannot describe and like I told my friends, I do not feel the spirit of the place. Some people would consider feeling strange because the place is so beautiful and structured etc etc, but for some reason, I cannot place my finger on what South Africa is.

On this fateful day of the tour, it was our final day and we knew according to our program that we would have a tour of the city; we all came out excited to see the wonderful sights of the capital city. Among some of the expected stops would definitely be the Union Building and some other monuments we could not have thought of. The tour guide met us in front of our hotel with his driver and started some interesting discussions, probably to make us comfortable with him. As we drove off to see the city, he asked a question “When did apartheid start in South Africa”. Well, we were not historians; neither were we South Africans, so he probably did not expect a suitable answer from us. So, he chose to tell us the story of what happened when the earliest settlers came to South Africa. These settlers came from more advanced societies and so understood that security was a good survival strategy. The locals on their part lived in the natural environment and thought nothing of building structures and fencing them. However, when settlers started building houses and fencing them, that according to him is when apartheid started because the word means ‘apart from us’. I wondered how such a simple definition could explain all that was and is South Africa. If this definition was ok, then I considered that even in my country, we would have apartheid, because the wealthy build large fences around their houses with sign posts such as ‘Beware, wild dogs’ warning away trespassers.

As we journeyed on, the guide started the story of the Voortrekkers otherwise called Pioneers who came into South Africa led by Andries Pretorius. To cut a long story short, he was leading us to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria that stood as testament to the victory of 470 ‘Pioneers’ pitted against an estimated 15,000 Zulu. This battle today called The Battle of Blood River recounts how the pioneers defeated the Zulus to gain authority over the land. For some reason however, our tour guide did not want to make it seem as if Voortrekkers had killed innocent black people. He did not want to portray the fact that these strangers had strolled into an already occupied territory and wrestled the land from the people. So, he asked the question “Who is killing who”.

The Voortrekker Monument is a complete glorification of foreign domination over locals but somewhere within the monument, the story of King Dingane is well documented and how he betrayed the Trekker leader Piet Retief. In that story, the King agreed to allow the Trekkers to settle on the land in exchange for the recovery of 700 head of cattle allegedly stolen by the Zulus. Following the agreement, King Dingane invited Piet Retief and his followers for a celebratory dinner and asked them to leave their guns at the door as a sign of good faith. However, during the celebrations, the King suddenly shouted, ‘kill the sorcerers’ and his soldiers clubbed all of Piet Retief’s men to death. This was followed by complete massacre of the people who traveled with him to the new land. The guide turned to us once more and with the smile of a Cheshire cat on his face asked ‘So, who is killing who?”


I did not think the question so simple, neither was the answer. But King Dingane must have seen into the future, for he called them sorcerers. They came with guns and technology that was far beyond their understanding. Though they came as friends, they ended up the worst enemies of the people. The spirit of a people lost. What sorcery is more than the one that steals one’s soul? I see South Africa but I do not see South Africans. The spirit of the indigenous people is in their history and even the generation of today cannot tell what they have lost for it is too far in the past to recover and too much water has gone under the bridge. So, who has killed who?

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(4) Comments

  1. InstaFollowFast.com

    The Hutu extremists set up a radio station, RTLM, and newspapers which circulated hate propaganda, urging people to “weed out the cockroaches” meaning kill the Tutsis. The names of prominent people to be killed were read out on radio.

    1. Manka

      That’s so true in spite of how terrible it is. No matter the situation,it is important that as Africans, we learn to love ourselves and not fall into the games of politicians and manipulators who develop narratives that make us one another’s enemies

  2. Safari Casa

    Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.

    1. Manka

      Hi, thank you for reaching out. I do get spam remarks, but what I’ve been able to do is simply mark them as spam. I don’t have so much of it, so I have not yet sought an easier way than that to get rid of them

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