King Lobengula was sacrilegiously assassinated by Cecil John Rhodes
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â€œIt was a sad sight to watch the ethical degradation of one of the most remarkable intelligences among the men of his generation; it was heartrending to see him fall every day more and more into the power of unscrupulous people who did nothing else but exploit him for their own benefit. Cecil John Rhodes was, perhaps, the most wonderful and the most tragic.
Whether he realised this retrogression himself it is difficult to say. Sometimes one felt that such might be the case, whilst at others it seemed as if he viewed his own fate only as something absolutely wonderful and bound to develop in the future even more prosperously than it had done in the past. There was always about him something of the "tragedic-comedy" applied to Napoleon by Pope Pius VII. At times it was evident he experienced regret, but it is doubtful whether he knew the meaning of remorse.
The natives seldom occupied his thoughts, and if he were reminded in later years that, after all, terrible cruelties had been practised in Mashonaland or in Matabeleland, he used simply to shrug his shoulders and to remark that it was impossible to make an omelette without breaking some eggs. It never occurred to him that there might exist people who objected to the breaking of a certain kind of eggs, and that humanity had a right to be considered even in conquest.
And, after all, was this annexation of the dominions of King Lobengula a conquest? If one takes into account the strength of the people who attacked the king? Can one do else but regret that those who slaughtered King Lobengula did not remember the rights of mercy in regard to a fallen foe?
There are dark deeds connected with the attachment of Rhodesia to the British Empire, deeds which would never have been performed by a regular English Army. I do not want to disparage them or their courage, but I cannot help questioning whether they ever had to withstand any serious attack of the enemy. I have been told perfectly sickening details concerning this conquest of the territory now known by the name of Rhodesia.
The cruel manner in which, after having wrung from them a concession which virtually despoiled them of every right over their native land and after having goaded these people into exasperation, the people themselves were exterminated was terrible beyond words. For instance, there occurred the incident mentioned by Olive Schreiner when over one hundred people were suffocated alive in a cave where they sought a refuge.
Rhodes became aware of the abuse that had been made of his name and of the manner in which it had been put forward as an excuse for inexcusable deeds, but he was far too indolent and far too indifferent to the blame of the world, at these particular moments to disavow those who, after all, had helped him in his schemes of expansion, and who had ministered to his longing to have a kingdom to himself. Apart from this, he had a curious desire to brave public opinion and to do precisely the very things that it would have disapproved.
Rhodes loved to humiliate those whom he had at one moment thought he might have occasion to fear. This explains the callousness with which he made the son of Lobengula one of his gardeners, and did not hesitate to ask him one day before strangers who were visiting Groote Schuur in what year he "had killed his father." The incident is absolutely true; it occurred in my own presence.
At times, such as that related in the paragraph above, Rhodes appeared a perfectly detestable and hateful creature.â€
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Source: Colls Ndlovu
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