Bul­hoek Mas­sacre is hon­oured with song and dance

Daily Dispatch - - News - By SIKHO NTSHOBANE

WHILE the deaths of around 200 wor­ship­pers 96 years ago near Ko­mani still serves as a re­minder of a painful past, the an­niver­sary was com­mem­o­rated with song and dance this week­end.

Back then, led by lay preacher and prophet Enoch Mgi­jima, hun­dreds of Church of God and Saints of Christ con­gre­gants had put their roots down at the foot of a hill in Nta­belanga and re­sisted all at­tempts to re­move them.

At least 200 were mowed down by hun­dreds of armed po­lice in 1921, in an event that was later called the Bul­hoek Mas­sacre.

Mgi­jima, who es­caped the on­slaught, died in 1928 at the age of 60.

But far from the som­bre mood that of­ten ac­com­pa­nies such com­mem­o­ra­tions, the 96th Bul­hoek Mas­sacre an­niver­sary was full of colour, mu­sic and danc­ing.

At the site of the mas­sacre, about 30km from Ko­mani, hun­dreds of con­gre­grants in their church uni­forms used the oc­ca­sion to school other mem­bers as well as the nearby com­mu­nity about Mgi­jima’s “ex­tra­or­di­nary” feats de­spite be­ing un­der siege from the then white forces.

The event was also at­tended by the mayor of Enoch Mgi­jima lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Lindiwe Gunuza­Nk­wentsha.

Evan­ge­list Mavuso Dokoda, who gave a de­tailed his­tory of the church dur­ing the event, later told the Daily Dis­patch that the revered prophet would have been greatly dis­ap­pointed at many hap­pen­ings to­day, es­pe­cially the fact that the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion still did not own land.

“He would rep­ri­mand the gov­ern­ment for not do­ing what is re­quired by God for his peo­ple,” he said.

“When we speak about land, we talk about the wealth that is de­rived from the mines, the value of the land to agri­cul­ture, its im­por­tance to live­stock and even the wealth we get from trees.”

Con­trary to claims that less than 200 peo­ple had been killed dur­ing the mas­sacre, Dokoda claimed the numbers were higher than that but they were still try­ing to col­lect more in­for­ma­tion.

He said some of the peo­ple who had died came from as far afield as the then-North­ern Transvaal and ar­eas like Lusik­isiki and Mbizana in the Eastern Cape.

Dokoda said Mgi­jima had been a vo­cal op­po­nent of the op­pres­sive regime of his time and had been at the fore­front of the fight to ac­quire land. He had also set up the first ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem near Nta­belanga.

He said the church had con­tem­plated sub­mit­ting a claim for land near the Bull­hoek Mas­sacre site that could be used for de­vel­op­men­tal pur­poses.

Gunuza-Nk­wentsha said they were hop­ing to turn the site into a thriv­ing tourism cen­tre.

She said while the area of Ko­mani had pro­duced great lead­ers their de­scen­dants had so far failed to cap­i­talise on that.

The mayor also took time to apol­o­gise to con­gre­gants on be­half of her mu­nic­i­pal­ity for tar­nish­ing Mgi­jima’s name.

She said there had been neg­a­tive re­ports about the mu­nic­i­pal­ity es­pe­cially in lo­cal me­dia.

“We are do­ing our best to make sure that you [the church] don’t feel em­bar­rassed for lend­ing us his name to use,” she added. —

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