Cecil John Rhodes’ grave in Matopos Hills 45 km south of Bulawayo, in the National park and Matabeleland south province has been vandalized by suspected disgruntled war veterans.
The tomb’s cover is now variously scribbled, most probably by a sharp instrument. According to villagers who refused to be named, some disgruntled war vets, were heard planning to exhume the remains and take them to the Indian Ocean, where they want to dump them.
Rhodes who died in 1902 was buried at the Matopos National park together with one of his colleague Leander Jameson. The place which is a property of the National Monuments & Museums Department has been regarded as one of the popular tourist attraction.
As shown in pictures which ZimEye possess, the grave has been tampered with, and some words have been inscribed most probably after failing to open the grave.
Rhodes was born in 1853 in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He was the fifth son of the Reverend Francis William Rhodes and his wife Louisa Peacock Rhodes.
He wanted to expand the British Empire because he believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was destined for greatness.
Rhodes who never married, pleading “I have too much work on my hands” and saying that he would not be a dutiful husband, has no descendants.
ZimEye visited the National Museum and Monuments Head Office in Harare and talked to Doctor Mahachi who blamed the vandalism on some sections of Zimbabwe’s Liberation War fighters who wanted Rhodes remains to be removed and relocated to England.
Dr Mahachi also ruled out placing security at the Matopos grave site, and appealed to the people of Zimbabwe to look after their tourist attraction. The grave is considered a revered attraction to foreign tourists from all over the world.
A snap survey by ZimEye revealed that a number of Zimbabweans are against the vandalism of this famous grave and that it is part of the country’s heritage. Several people in and around the Matobo district blamed the perpetrators, and openly expressed their opinions that this burial site should not be tampered with.
Norah Gwanzura an educationist added her voice in blaming the vandalism and the intention to destroy the grave. She told ZimEye that if anybody wanted the grave removed, they should also remove other historical places and see if that will make any sense.
Leonard Magorose, a Pastor with ZAOGA, also discouraged the relocation of the grave and pleaded with those offended by it to learn to forgive mistakes of the past.
A selective group of people in Zimbabwe wanted the grave removed because of colonial insinuations
“But would such a drastic move serve any logical purpose, given the financial difficulties being experienced by this embattled country, which is in dire need of whatever hard currency it may get,” said Simon Bhebhe of Kezi who is also a war vet.