National Geographic : 1975 May
HERE IS A HILL in racially troubled Rhodesia that has become a shrine to black man and white alike. Ndebele tribesmen call it Malindidzimu, and its boulder-strewn brow commands a superb view of the Matopos, a chaos of huge granite blocks and precari ously balanced rocks, of stark cliffs and outcrops of stone eroded into tortured, monstrous shapes. R Malindidzimu means the "Dwelling Place of Spirits." For 1 generations it has been a veritable pan theon of bygone war riors and chiefs, an cestors of both the Ndebele and Shona and venerated by them. On this pri mordial eminence, the revered departed choose to reside in their spirit existence, and from it they con trol the affairs of By ALLAN C their descendants. SENIORASS, Whites know the hill as the "View of Photog the World," a name given it by Cecil THOMA John Rhodes. Indeed, Rhodes, the British born empire builder, was buried there at his request. Near him lie other white pioneers, including 34 men of a military patrol wiped out by the Ndebele (also known as the Mata bele) in a Custer-like last stand. Both Ndebele and Shona fought the whites. But in 1896 the former agreed to peace terms with Rhodes, and six years later they turned out in a respectful throng for his burial. At their request no farewell volley was fired, lest it disturb the spirits. Standing near the simple bronze tablet marking Rhodes's grave, I pondered the sad irony of that windswept hill. . VISTA ra S After the burial Col. Frank Rhodes said to assembled chiefs, "Now I leave my brother's grave in your hands as a proof that I know the white men and the Matabele will be friends and brothers forever." Today that place of brooding spirits lies within a national park. The fraternity of the grave is uni versal, and black man and white share, for time unending, their integrated hill. lesia, But their living heirs have yet to assure either peace or broth erhood in the lovely land of Rhodesia. Recently that coun try's minority white government and mili tant black national ists achieved the first step in the difficult task of resolving their long and bitter confrontation. Lead ers of both sides FISHER, JR. accepted a cease-fire NT EDITOR (since broken) in the guerrilla warfare ,phs by that has flared for years along Rho ONEBBIA desia's northern bor der. They also agreed to a conference that, it is hoped, will forge a new constitution acceptable to both blacks and whites. Prime Minister Ian Smith then freed from prison scores of black nationalists. Detente in Rhodesia-if indeed it can be achieved-may take months, even years. The divisions have been wide and deep. The white government has been an un yielding holdout against the powerful tide of black nationalism flowing south across Afri ca. There are 5,800,000 Africans, or blacks, in Rhodesia and about 270,000 Europeans, or whites. Yet the minority race has firmly con trolled the Senate and House of Assembly of Two cultures at a crossroad: A chic European and two Africans carrying reed stools to a store cross First Street in Salisbury, high-rising capital of Rhodesia. In the rich heart of southern Africa, whites-outnumbered 20 to one-seek a meet ing ground with blacks amid rising demand for majority rule.