Izibongo Ngonidzashe

Izibongo Ngonidzashe
IzibongoNgonidzashe75.jpg
Mambo of Rwizikuru
Reign1 June, 1968 - 21 September, 1979
Predecessorhimself as President
SuccessorKupakwashe Ngonidzashe
Chairman of the National Salvation Council
Reign18 January, 1964 - 1 June, 1968
PredecessorPierre-Ardachir Niyonzima (as President)
Successorhimself as Mambo
Vice-PresidentFred Ngonidzashe
Born(1921-04-28)28 April 1921
Vongai, Riziland (present-day Rwizikuru)
Died21 September 1979(1979-09-21) (aged 58)
Crogan, Rwizikuru
SpouseAnatswanashe Ngonidzashe
Issue10+ children, including Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe
Full name
Nathaniel Izibongo Ngonidzashe
HouseHouse of Ngonidzashe
FatherMunonzwa Ngonidzashe
MotherKugarakunzwana Ngonidzashe
ReligionHigh Estmerish Church
OccupationGeneral, politician

Izibongo Ngonidzashe (28 April, 1921 - 21 September, 1979) was a politician and military official, serving as general, as the Chairman of the National Salvation Council after a 1964 coup that overthrew Pierre-Ardachir Niyonzima, and the first Mambo of Rwizikuru, ascending the throne in 1968, and reigning until his death in 1979. Having reigned for 15 years, 8 months, and 3 days, he was the longest reigning leader of an independent Rwizikuru until his son and successor, Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe surpassed his record on 25 May, 1995 as the longest reigning leader of Rwizikuru.

Early life

Izibongo Ngonidzashe was born on 28 April, 1921, as the second child and eldest son of Munonzwa Ngonidzashe and Kugarakunzwana Ngonidzashe in the town of Vongai at the district of Parunoguma, and was baptized into the High Estmerish Church as Nathaniel.

His family moved to Port Fitzhubert in 1923, as his father sought to give his children a good education. Thus, in 1926, Izibongo Ngonidzashe entered the Charles Fitzhubert School, where he was described as an excellent student by his teachers, and he was noted for his propensity to go into the library to study for hours at a time.

In 1932, he finished his elementary studies, and took the exams to get into the James Parlow Grammar School (present-day Shungudzemwoyo Nhema Grammar School). After passing them, he began his schooling at the James Parlow Grammar School, where they noted his "knowledge of most things," and his charisma, which they likened to his father.

After finishing sixth form in 1939, he began to participate in his uncle's Rwizikuran National Movement, initially as a low-level member, but eventually reached the point that by 1945, he was a leader of the local chapter in Port Fitzhubert.

Early political career

Legislator

In May 1946, the first elections were held for an independent Rwizikuru to select the new President to succeed the outgoing Estmerish authorities, as well as the first elections for the National Assembly. Izibongo Ngonidzashe was nominated by the MRR (formerly the Rwizikuran National Movement) to be the candidate for the constituency of Dockside.

He won the constituency with 67% of the vote, against rival candidate Nokutenda Pocock of the Mubatanidzwa weVakuru, and thus, on 2 December, 1946, he was sworn into the National Assembly.

As soon as he was sworn in, he gained a reputation of being his uncle's mouthpiece, with speaker Lucas Maraire saying in 1947 that he was "the mouthpiece of his uncle [i.e. Samhuri Ngonidzashe]," and that "it is improbable that he has any aspirations beyond what he wants to say."

Despite this reputation, Izibongo Ngonidzashe was seen by many in his constituency as an effective legislator and one who "listens to what the people have to say." Thus, in 1950, he soundly defeated Mbada Gumede of the opposition for his seat in the legislature.

Speaker

When Lucas Maraire died in December 1950, Izibongo Ngonidzashe was named mutauri. While Maraire had been very non-partisan, Izibongo sought to use his position as speaker to advance both his uncle's agenda, and his own personal agenda. As such, he began to use his powers for his party's benefit, and to the detriment of the opposition parties. Thus, unlike the traditional convention, he placed a very active role as speaker, voting on issues, even if there was no tie to be broken, and voting in accordance with the wishes of the supporters of Samhuri's government

These actions were seen as contrary to constitutional protocol, which led to an incident on 10 September, 1951, when opposition legislator Cecilia Sands, was kicked out of the chamber by the speaker after she issued a scathing criticism of the speaker's actions in the preceding vote. This action caused almost every opposition legislator to leave the chamber in protest, leaving only a single member of the opposition, Rambwa Dabengwa, remaining in the chamber.

In response to this mass walkout by the opposition, Izibongo Ngonidzashe suspended the day's seating. The following day, when only Rambwa Dabengwa showed up, Izibongo Ngonidzashe tabled a motion to expel all the "dishonorable members" from the National Assembly, to hold a by-election in all of the affected constituencies, and to "permanently disqualify all those who participated in the mass walkout." This motion was passed with ninety votes in favor, all from the government, one vote against from Dabengwa, and with fifty-nine absent.

Thus, by-elections were scheduled on 6 November, 1951, after his uncle, Samhuri Ngonidzashe approved of the request, which only had candidates from the government running, as the opposition declared a boycott. Thus, after the end of the 1951 by-elections, there were 149 members who supported Samhuri in the National Assembly, with only Rambwa Dabengwa representing the opposition.

With the near-complete destruction of the opposition from the National Assembly, Izibongo Ngonidzashe's agenda was free to go unchallenged, with Rambwa Dabengwa only being able to offer feeble resistance against the actions of the government. Thus, over the next few years, he was able to use his position as Speaker to refuse to give any time to Dabengwa.

Presidency

Izibongo Ngonidzashe campaigning in Port Vaugeois, 1954

In 1954, with Samhuri Ngonidzashe reaching the end of his second term, and the constitution having a two-term limit, he was forced to step aside.

Thus, in June 1954, a convention was organized in Port Fitzhubert for Samhuri's supporters to select a successor to Samhuri. Izibongo declared his intention to run to be the party leader, while Shungudzemwoyo Nhema's nephew and Vice-President, Vudzijena Nhema also announced his intention to run for the party leadership.

Over the next few days, a flurry of activity emerged as factions emerged: Vudzijena was supported by many "moderate" members of the government, while Izibongo was supported by the radicals.

On 18 June, 1954, Samhuri Ngonidzashe formally lent his endorsement to his son, Izibongo. This caused Vudzijena's support to evaporate, and the following day, Vudzijena renounced his candidacy, effectively naming Izibongo as the Presidential candidate for the government.

With his victory in the leadership convention, he began to hold campaign events and rallies across the country. In April, the opposition finally selected a candidate, Isaac Mnkandla.

While Izibongo's campaign was centered on veRwizi nationalism, "prosperity for all," and on "continuity," Mnkandla's campaign was centered on attacking Izibongo's record as Speaker, and calling him a "dictator" along the lines of TBD in neighboring Mabifia, as well promising a "multicultural federation."

Thus, over the next few months, it appeared to be likely that the opposition would gain most of their seats in the district of Yekumavirira, while the government would gain most of their seats in the remainder of the country. Thus, Izibongo Ngonidzashe chose to exploit the issue of religion in the district of Yekumavirira, with a rally in Port Vaugeois (present-day Port Tsalar) on 30 April where he said that "a victory for our supporters is a victory for the Sotirians." That rally, which included anti-Irfanic attacks helped gain him support among the Sotirian population in Yekumavirira.

By the 24th of September, when elections were held, the results for the presidential campaign were officially 75% in favor of Izibongo, 24% in favor of Mnkandla, and 1% either for other candidates or spoiled votes. In the National Assembly, 135 seats went to supporters of Samhuri, with only fifteen seats going to supporters of Mnkandla.

Thus, on 2 December, 1954, Izibongo Ngonidzashe was inaugurated to succeed his uncle. His uncle took his seat in the constituency of Dockside, and was elected Speaker.

In his first term, Izibongo Ngonidzashe focused on implementing anti-colonial policies, while reversing course on his uncle's socialist policies: while he did keep some elements, mostly the non-partisan politics, he felt that the continued influence of socialism was in itself a "remnant of colonization" and had to be removed. In 1956, the increasing activities of the Yekumavirira Liberation Movement led him to extend his term from four years to five years, although still keeping the term limit in place.

Despite his authoritarian nature, he invested in the construction of the Mugwagwa, which connected the cities of Sainte-Germaine, Port Fitzhubert, Port Graham, and Port Vaugeois with each other, and sought to not alienate the "bourgeoisie," as he felt that they were still needed to help build the country. He also continued cooperating with, and developing the institutions of the United Bahian Republic, with his greatest achievement being founding the Congress of Bahian States in 1956.

In 1959, his uncle relinquished his role as Speaker, handing the role to Izibongo's younger brother, Ingwe Ngonidzashe, and resigned his position as leader of the faction, allowing Izibongo to become the official leader of the faction. In the 1959 elections, he won with 95% of the vote in a dubious election, and his party won every single seat in the National Assembly.

In his second term, he presided over rising tensions with the Irfanic population in Rwizikuru. As many Irfanic people in Yekumavirira were joining the Yekumaviriran Liberation Movement, he passed legislation in February 1960 which closed almost all mosques in the country, with two of them in Port Vaugeois, and the other in Port Fitzhubert. This led to substantial protests in Port Vaugeois, leading to the Port Vaugeois massacre on 4 March, 1960, killing twenty-two people and injuring sixty-three people.

As well, he began to reduce the amount of foreign investment coming into Rwizikuru, with Izibongo saying in 1961 that "foreign 'aid' and investment is a tool for colonial powers to continue to extract our God-given wealth." Thus, he instituted policies that restricted foreign investment, and instituted strict regulations and high taxes, so to ensure that "any development truly benefits the people of Rwizikuru, and not the elites in Ashcombe." He also purged the rest of his opponents within his ranks.

Thus, by the end of his second term, he was facing a declining economy, and increasing unrest in Yekumavirira, combined with increasing tensions with neighboring Mabifia. At around that time, he began plans to organize his coronation, and in November 1963 commissioned jewelers from Eldmark to produce a lavish crown.

Mambo

Coronation

Coronation crown, 2016

With the constitutional term limits coming up in 1964, Izibongo Ngonidzashe held a convention in March 1964 for his supporters. As Izibongo Ngonidzashe had not requested an amendment, it was widely believed that he would transfer power to his younger brother, Ingwe Ngonidzashe, or to his son, Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe, while maintaining leadership of the faction.

However, Izibongo stunned the crowd when on 2 March, 1964, he announced his intention to suspend the Rwizikuran constitution, citing the instability in Yekumavirira as a reason, but also citing the fact that it had been "modelled on imperialist governments that have no ties to Bahian tradition."

Thus, he announced his intention to establish a monarchy, with himself as Mambo, or King of Rwizikuru. Despite opposition led by Fred Ngonidzashe, as well as opposition from both Tabora, which left the United Bahian Republic, and Djedet, which threatened to halt diplomatic correspondence with Rwizikuru, Izibongo Ngonidzashe was able to secure support for his motion, and on 5 March, 1964, they agreed to Izibongo's proposals.

The next day, in the National Assembly, Ingwe Ngonidzashe tabled the motion to "suspend the constitution effective 2 December, 1964," and was unanimously approved by all the representatives. With this approval, the Speaker declared the dissolution of the national assembly sine die.

In October, he amended the constitution to declare Rwizikuru an absolute monarchy, and replace it with the Basic Law of Rwizikuru.

With the end of the Republic, Izibongo's priorities were immediately set to organizing a lavish coronation ceremony, which he chose to model after the coronations of previous Estmerish monarchs. By that point, his crown, produced by jewelers from Eldmark had been completed, and after having it be delivered and "fit him quite nicely," he officially designated it as his coronation crown.

He also selected the venue to be coronated, choosing Saint David's Church in Port Fitzhubert, as he was a devout High Estmerian, and arranging the ceremony to take place on 2 December.

Finally, he sent out around 3,000 invitations to foreign dignitaries. Despite his efforts at inviting heads of state and members of foreign nobility, the highest-ranking person attending the coronation was pretender to the Estmerish throne Clovis Richard Vernon-Dryden, with most of the few hundred attendees being ambassadors and businessmen.

Thus, on 2 December, 1964, at 8:00, Izibongo Ngonidzashe and his family emerged from the Royal Palace. After climbing a ladder, they got on the howdah on top of the lead elephant, with the TBD mahout leading the elephant from the palace to the church. Behind the elephant were three more elephants, led by TBD mahouts.

An hour later, the Ngonidzashes arrived at the church, and they disembarked from the elephant, so they may go into the church. The elephants were subsequently returned to the zoo.

At the church, while the daughters and younger sons took their seats with the audience, Izibongo, his wife, and his eldest son, Kupakwashe made their way to their seats, with the priest, Isaac Mutambara delivering a sermon on the duties of the King. Following the sermon, Izibongo swore an oath to be a "just and upright ruler for the veRwizi people."

With this, Isaac Mutambara anointed the Mambo with holy oil, and crowned Izibongo as Mambo. Izibongo then named his wife Mambokadzi, or Queen, and his son korona muchinda, or crown prince.

Finally, he received homage from almost all the traditional chiefs, starting with the descendants of the Mubako who once ruled over Chekumabvazuva and Port Fitzhubert, with only the Olongas, who ruled over Yekumavirira not paying him homage, as they refused to attend the ceremony.

With this, the ceremony was concluded, and Izibongo and his family left the church, and returned to the palace in four convertibles. Later that evening, a banquet was held with food being imported from (TBC). After the banquet and subsequent fireworks display, the festivities ended.

Increasing authoritarianism

Following his coronation as Mambo of Rwizikuru, he made it clear that he would rule as an absolute monarch, which caused Djedet to follow through on its threats to halt diplomatic correspondence with Rwizikuru, albeit they did not withdraw from the United Bahian Republic.

Following the passage of the Basic Law which formally established Rwizikuru as an absolute monarchy, Izibongo Ngonidzashe shifted his attention towards cracking down on "foreign bourgeoisie," primarily Mirites, and Irfanic merchants who have done well, as he viewed the existence of these middleman minorities as a threat to Rwizikuru's independence.

At around the same time, tensions with Mabifia were rising, with Elder Omun Ajokhemi demanding in 1966 that the Sotirian population be moved out of Yekumavirira. This led Izibongo Ngonidzashe to close the two mosques in Port Vaugeois, and instituting mandatory religious education, where schoolchildren were to be educated Sotirian values.

These factors led to Izibongo Ngonidzashe to announce on 1 May, 1966 to:

"...expel the people who for generations have reaped the profits of oppression, of colonialism, and of our resources; to seize their property and businesses and give them to veRwizi, and to establish a non-colonial society! Only then will Rwizikuru know true independence!"

Thus, all Mirites in Rwizikuru were ordered to leave the country, with almost all of them leaving for Satucin. In addition, around 20,000 wealthy Irfanics were deported to Mabifia. Their properties and businesses were seized, and were redistributed to the veRwizi nation. However, the expulsion of the Mirites and Irfanic merchants from the country severely damaged the economy, as many of the people who took control of the businesses had little experience operating them.

Besides the negative economic impact, tensions with Mabifia continued growing, with (TBC). Finally, by early 1968, after refusing an ultimatum to cede Yekumavirira to Mabifia, he began to detain Irfanic peoples in Rwizikuru and sending them to internment camps in the eastern regions of the country.

This led to the start of the Mabifian-Rwizikuran War on 6 October, 1968: while initially, the Rwizikurans had the upper hand, with Mabifians reorganization, combined with air support from Zorasan, the Mabifians were able to take Port Vaugeois by March 1969, and all but destroyed the Royal Rwizikuran Army as an effective force. Thus, he was forced to sue for peace, leading to the Treaty of Snarksburgh in the Caldian city of Snarksburgh, which saw most of Yekumavirira change hands to Mabifia, and a population exchange where Sotirians from Yekumavirira would be resettled in Rwizikuru, and Irfanics would be resettled in Mabifia.

At around the same time, East Riziland rebelled against Rwizikuru in the Garamburan War of Independence: while Rwizikuru saw some early successes at the Battle of Tsvangirayi, Rwizikuru was soundly defeated at the Battle of Ntawha in April, and was forced to sign the Treaty of Bazadavo, which granted East Riziland independence as Garambura.

Later years

With virtually all of the Irfanic population in the country expelled at the end of the Mabifian-Rwizikuran War (in 1971, only 3,105 Irfanics were registered in the census), Izibongo Ngonidzashe said that it was a "moral victory for the veRwizi nation," despite the fact many of the Irfanic expelled from Rwizikuru were of veRwizi origin.

His immediate priorities were a purge of the "incompetent soldiers and officers" who have "dishonored our country." They were all tried in a show trial, and were executed by December 1969. As well, he believed that the Treaty of Snarksburgh was a sign that "foreign powers were only interested in undermining our independence as a free nation."

Therefore, in 1970, he tightened Rwizikuru's isolationism, saying on its independence day celebrations that year that "so long as the imperialist attitudes of the old Euclean order remain, we must have as little to do with them as possible." To this effect, he increased restrictions on investment to a point where it was virtually impossible for a foreign enterprise to start a business in the country, and even imposed restrictions on tourists, only allowing guided tours.

As well, as he feared that Port Fitzhubert would be vulnerable to invasion by sea, and by land (via the Mugwagwa), he ordered the construction of a new capital city in what is now Guta raMambo in 1973, to serve as a "chief village in a nation of villages." Thus, over the next few years, the capital was moved, with the new palace in Guta raMambo, Imba yoRudzi, being completed in 1978, and the district where it resides, Gutaguru established that same year.

In 1974, together with Adesine, Rwizikuru invaded Garambura in the Nativity War, with Rwizikuru's aim being to retake control over East Riziland: over the next two years, the Rwizikuran front reached a stalemate, due to the geography of the border between Garambura and Rwizikuru funneling all Rwizikuran forces to the coast. In 1976, the Community of Nations mandated peace between Rwizikuru and Garambura, with some border towns being exchanged.

Death

On the 21st of September, 1979, after visiting the Saunders farm outside of Crogan in the district of Dzakakwirira, Izibongo Ngonidzashe was heading back to Crogan in a royal motorcade, to attend a banquet held in his honor by the white community in Crogan, when the car he was in experienced a broadside collision as they were entering the outskirts of town. The driver was immediately arrested by his bodyguards, while Izibongo was rushed in another car to the local hospital.

By the time Izibongo Ngonidzashe arrived, he was in a critical condition. Despite the doctors' best efforts at treating him, he was declared dead at 4:58 pm. The news was immediately communicated to the crown prince, Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe, who was in Guta raMambo at the time.

With the rest of the royal family informed, Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe informed the NMR to immediately broadcast the news of Izibongo's death: thus, at 5:50 pm, the news was broadcast over radio from the flag station at Port Fitzhubert. The broadcast was repeated, as all other stations cut to the flag station's coverage.

The following day, Kwasiza published a front-page obituary to the deceased Mambo, and hailed Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe as the new Mambo of Rwizikuru.

His body was transported by plane to Port Fitzhubert, as the church in Guta raMambo was not completed, where he laid in state at the old palace in Port Fitzhubert. On 1st October, a funeral service was held at Saint David's Church in High Estmerish rites. His body was subsequently flown back to Guta raMambo, where he was interred at the royal cemetery.

The driver was tried in December 1979, and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. However, Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe pardoned the driver in May 1980.

There have been allegations by some senior royals in the past that the driver was an Estmerish spy, but it has been denied by both Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe, and the Estmerish.

Legacy

A profile of him on a Rwizikuran nhovodiki banknote, c. 1980

Izibongo Ngonidzashe's legacy has generally been negative, especially among foreigners. Supporters, such as Rupenyu Chikerema, professor at the University of Rwizikuru, and sociologist Watinoda Kumbula have praised Izibongo's achievements in developing a "non-colonial society," with his appeal to veRwizi traditions, culture, and nationalism, as well as his commitment to not accepting any form of foreign aid.

However, opponents, such as Muchazvireva Ngonidzashe, leader of the Rwizikuru government-in-exile in Caldia, and professor (TBD) of (TBD university) have criticized his authoritarian nature, his willingness to oppress minorities, both ethnic (in the case of the Mirites) and religious (in the case of the Irfanic population), and the fact that he had stymied development out of fear that foreign countries would exploit Rwizikuru's wealth. Many opponents in Bahia also noted that his declaration of an absolute monarchy played a key role in destroying the United Bahian Republic, as it precipitated Tabora's withdrawal, and led to the deadlock which tore the organisation apart following the Garamburan War of Independence.

While it is impossible to determine accurate statistics on his approval rating, due to Rwizikuru's lèse-majesté laws, many in Rwizikuru have appreciated him for his efforts at creating a non-colonial society.

In addition, many places in Rwizikuru are named after him, such as the King Izibongo School in Guta raMambo, and the Izibongo Memorial Hospital in Crogan, where he died, and was renamed posthumously.

Personal life

In 1939, Izibongo Ngonidzashe met his future wife, 18 year old Anatswanashe Nhema, daughter of Shungudzemwoyo Nhema, when his uncle introduced him to her father, fellow nationalist Shungudzemwoyo Nhema. After having fallen in love, they got married in 1940.

He was the father of five sons with Anatswanshe Ngonidzashe: Kupakwashe Ngonidzashe, who was born in 1942, Simbarashe Ngonidzashe who was born in 1944, and died in 1996, Tashongedzwa Ngonidzashe, who was born in 1947, Shungudzemwoyo Ngonidzashe, who was born in 1950 and died in 1959 of malaria, and Taropafadzwa Ngonidzashe, who was born in 1954.

In addition, he had five daughters with Anatswanshe Ngonidzashe: Farisai Chimutengwende, born in 1941 and died in 2005, Chiratidzo Towungana, who was born in 1944 as a twin sibling of Simbarashe, Tinotendaisheanesu Mnkandla, who was born in 1952, Nyemwererai Mtawarira, who was born in 1956, and died in 2011, and the youngest daughter, Isheanopa Ngonidzashe, who was born in 1958.

However, from the late 1960s onward, he exercised the droit de cuissage. By the time of his death in 1979, he had at least three illegitimate children of various women between 1966 and 1979, with some sources claiming that he had as many as 110 illegitimate children in that time span.

He was a member of the High Estmerish Church, and was known to be extraordinarily devout, with a priest in Port Fitzhubert saying that Izibongo was "an extraordinary member of the church: he made sure to attend every service, and sought to expound these principles in everyone."

He was fluent in weRwizi, Estmerish, and Gaullican, and could carry a basic conversation in the Wopoto language.

Titles and honors

  • 28 April, 1921 - 2 December, 1954 - Izibongo Ngonidzashe
  • 2 December, 1954 - 2 December, 1964 - His Excellency Izibongo Ngonidzashe, President of the Republic of Rwizikuru
  • 2 December, 1964 - 21 September, 1979 - His Most Faithful Majesty Izibongo Ngonidzashe
  • Full regnal title - His Most Faithful Majesty Ngonidzashe II, by the Grace of God, and by the will of the Rwizikuran people through the MR's heroic efforts against the colonizer, Mambo and N'anga of the Rwizikuran nation and of the veRwizi people

Domestic honors

  • Rwizikuru - Anogamuchira iyo Kurongeka kweTembo, 1952
  • Rwizikuru - Anogamuchira iyo Kurongeka yeMeriti, 1958
  • Rwizikuru - Changamire kwoRudzi, 1964
  • Rwizikuru - Mubairo wekurwira muvengi, 1969

Foreign honors