Mzilikazi died on 5th September 1868 following a long period of ill health, but his death was kept a secret by his chief councillors and some of his queens who were with him at Emanxiweni. A cart was brought at nightfall and the King's body was placed in it and taken to Mhlahlandlela where on the 9th September his death was revealed to the amaNdebele nation. For two months the King's body lay in the royal dwelling guarded by twelve queens and after prolonged ritual ceremonies, the burial process started on 2nd November. Black oxen were sacrificed to the spirits of the dead king and his ancestors. The King's body and his personal belongings were placed on two wagons and taken to a hill named Entumbane on the north eastern edge of the Matobo Hills and a few kilometres east of the Old Gwanda road. On 4th November the body was placed inside a granite-walled cave which was sealed with stones. The wagons were taken to pieces and laid in another cave nearby with his possessions including clothes, utensils, sleeping mats, beads, ornaments, such as the arm ring referred to below; furniture and muskets were placed in another cave.
Armed warriors stood on guard at the entrance to the cave as the mourners moved away and returned to the amaNdebele capital at Mhlahlandleia. The guards and their families built a small kraal close to the grave and settled there as custodians of the sacred spot. It was their duty to see that the grave was not disturbed. But when they burnt the high grass to prepare the ground for their sowing, a wind arose that sent the uncontrolled fire up to the kopje and the flames licked at the King's grave and burnt his dismantled wagons. When the new King Lobengula heard of this mishap, he ordered the instant destruction of all in the kraal at Entumbane; even the dogs and chickens were slain.
On 9th June 2016, the Chronicle reported that a gold coated spear belonging to King Lobengula, a black fly whisk and a small brown clay pot were stolen from the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) exhibition site near Old Bulawayo, so the theft of artefacts does not appear to be just an historical problem.
In addition there have been calls from Peter Zwidekalanga Khumalo that the grave of their ancestor, Mzilikazi Khumalo, has been neglected by NMMZ and is in a state of disrepair. Indeed, on my August 2016 visit, the signage was poor and I did not encounter a single person in visiting the Entumbane grave site. His accusations that the present Government has a policy of downplaying the significance in the national identity of Mzilikazi’s legacy in the history and culture of modern day Zimbabwe has a distinct ring of legitimacy about it.
The response from NMMZ that the grave is maintained according to the Khumalo traditions and in fact, “belongs to the Khumalo’s” appears to verge on the disingenuous, and lacks honesty and sincerity as the site is National Monument No. 41 of Zimbabwe and not a Khumalo family possession.
-20° 13' 12", 28° 21'