In a letter to Scrolla.Africa, reader, Andile Ntingi describes a visit to the Intaba kaNdoda monument – and paints a painful picture.
The monument, situated between the towns of Dimbaza and Keiskammahoek (Qoboqobo) in the Eastern Cape is also the burial site of Chief Maqoma (1798-1873), the amaXhosa warrior chief who fought British colonialism.
As I approached the monument, writes Ntingi, I had goosebumps. The scenery and natural landscape en route is majestic and beautiful.
To my disappointment, I found the monument neglected and in ruins. The place looks like it has been deliberately desecrated.
There is cow dung everywhere, fresh and old.
I left the monument wondering what kind of people would neglect such a historical/heritage site.
Did Lennox Sebe, onetime-ruler of Ciskei homeland, care more about his Xhosa heritage than the current rulers who claim an Africanist orientation?
Sebe built the monument on the peak of Intaba kaNdoda and was instrumental in bringing the remains of Chief Maqoma from Robben Island to be buried next to the monument in 1978.
You can tell that the monument was once kept in an immaculate condition. But what I saw was an eyesore and made me angry. Given its beauty and historical significance, in good hands, the monument could be a tourist magnet.
The monument is 25 minutes from Bhisho, the provincial capital, and just over an hour from East London, where there is an airport.
If the Eastern Cape government is unable to look after the monument and other heritage sites, the logical thing to do is to partner with private sector players to manage the sites on its behalf.
Intaba kaNdoda holds valuable history that can be sold to tourists, benefitting local communities with employment and revenue for small businesses.
The mountain was a hideout of retreating amaXhosa forces led by Maqoma following his defeat at the Battle of Amalinde in 1819 by forces led by Ndlambe.
The area subsequently became a battlefield in a series of wars between amaXhosa and the British during the War of the Axe (1846-1847), the War of Mlanjeni (1850-1853) and the War of Nchayechibi (1877-1878).
The Eastern Cape government must come up with a plan to restore the monument.
Andile Ntingi is the founder of GetBiz. He holds an honours degree in economics from Rhodes University.