Honesty is still the best policy, especially when having to deal with yourself
After Mzilikazi had wreaked havoc among the Barolong in Mafeking (now Mafikeng), he was pushing for Bapedi of Sekhukhune.
Angry and bitter after losing to Moshoeshoe, Shaka’s wayward warrior gave a simple instruction – all babies had to be taken away from their mothers, and their heads smashed against solid rocks.
Girls under the age of eight had to be slain, and the rest had to be captured as sex slaves.
All pregnant women and those over the age of 30 had to be exterminated.
Under no circumstances were any men to be spared, and no burials were allowed.
All corpses were to rot in the sun and the birds of carrion allowed to feast until they were as heavy as the elephants.
Sekhukhune was a great military leader and knew that averting war was the best victory – there would be no orphans to take care of, no cripples and no broken families. So he wanted to send Mzilikazi 1?000 Nguni cattle and a message of peace. People were already on the run by then.
Someone said to Sekhukhune that there is a young man called Matome, but the problem was that he was recently married, and his wife was heavily pregnant. Sekhukhune sent for him nevertheless.
How Matome gathered so many cattle and herded them to an elusive and vicious Mzilikazi still baffles historians. But this much we know – when the young man came back, his village was already abandoned except for his heavily pregnant wife, who was walking slowly in an attempt to follow the rest of the tribe.
He arrived on time and helped deliver the baby. He then wrapped the baby in leaves and ran back to Sekhukhune to deliver the news. When he saw the baby in Matome’s hands, he asked how he had delivered the baby.
Matome said: “Ka mabogo a, a manyane (with these small hands of mine).”
They didn’t build statues then, instead the king honoured the young Matome by giving him his own surname, and called him “Mabogoane” (the small hands that do great things).
These days we have big hands but it seems as if their only function is to receive. We need more hands to build our country than reap its nascent rewards.
Shepherds know that it takes every strand of grass to make the pasture green.
Likewise, it takes every hand to build a country but a single strike of a match to burn it down. Now that the idea of putting society first (socialism) has collapsed, and the idea of putting capital first (capitalism) has triumphed, we see families tearing themselves apart for the love of money.
Do good and don’t complain about how society chooses to reward you. Do not let the weed of bitterness spoil your efforts, and do not give your enemies the pleasure of occupying your mind. Life is good, with all its valleys and peaks.
Honesty is still the best policy, especially when dealing with yourself. And remember that your friends don’t need excuses and your enemies won’t believe you. You will make mistakes, and if you have learnt from them, you’ll even know how to repeat them exactly.
When you make the same mistake twice, which you will, just remember that you are made of clay.
Forgive yourself and laugh at your own foolishness. Love life, love people and love yourself. Love your work, no matter how small, because that may be the one thing that immortalises you.
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