The Pongo Memorial – The Second Matabele War

Pogo Memorial

This memorial commemorates a number of the settlers who were killed in the 1896 Matebele uprising in the Shangani Area [map]

Why this memorial is situated at this point and is given the name “Pongo” are mysteries. The Pongo river is not here but about 15km further west towards Bulawayo. Originally this river was called (in 1893) the Manzimyana, but an 1897 map clearly shows it renamed the Pongo river and this is where the Pongo Store was. One can but guess that perhaps the memorial was put here at the site adjacent to where the settlers had defeated the Matabele in 1893 rather than somewhere else which would have had no special significance.

Where did the name “Pongo” come from?

The dictionary defines Pongo as an early name for a large African ape, the Orang-outang, and it is also what the British sailors call British soldiers!

When was it erected?

Presumably after the coach road was changed to follow what is now the old strip road – but when was this?

Pogo Memorial

The names on the memorial

Most names have been carved onto the stone, and metal plaques were added later and they contain some additional names. One name, Moonie, has a line carved through it and the story is that Moonie was thought to have been killed, but wasn’t and after returning some years later he cut the line through his name.

The list below displays the details of some of the names on the memorial.

Name When
Killed
Details
Berfelsen,
Paul Emal, wife Hannar & 4 sons
End
March
Farming
12miles north of Hartley Hills road
Comploier,
‘Pete’
26
March
Prospector
Grant,
James
End
March
 
Gracey,
Robert
End
March
From
Ireland, Ex BSAP & Prospector, killed with his coloured wife
Hammond,
Andrew Robert
30
March
Engineers,
killed together
Johnson,
WH
30
March
Palmer,
HN
30
March
Jensen,
Charles
30
March
Swedish
Keefe,
Charles
End
March
Killed
together, first two are brothers
Keefe,
Christopher
End
March
Webster,
R
End
March
Matthews,
Benjamin
30
March
Jewish,
killed together, Benjamin was from Rotterdam, Van der dooten from
Melbourne
Van
der dooten
30
March
O’Reilley
T
End
March
Killed
on Leechdale Co’s property
Rowe,
Frank R
30
March
Miner
from St Austell
Radford
A
End
March
Partner
of Leech
Raynor,
Ben Pte
11
Sept
York
and Lancaster Regt.
Taylor,
George
End
March
Missing
since that date, partners. Taylor was Ex Navy, William was Ex 6th
Inniskilling Dragoons
McCabe,
William
End
March
Wienard End
March
Cattle
Inspector
Wren 25
March
Cattle
Inspector
Moonie T ? On memorial, but not in BSAP uprising report

Map of the Location of the Pogo Memorial near Shangani

I took these photos in March 2000, returning to Gweru from our trip to the Matopos so am not sure if the memorial still stands?

Posters & Books on Matabele History

Amazon have a bunch of really interesting posters and books relating to Matabeleland, Lobengula and the history of this area:

In the UK

In the USA

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  • David

    The Pongo store was the site where three men were murdered by a group of six men, Induna Nganganyoni Mhlope was the clan elder in charge of the foray. This group was from the Inyati area. You can find accounts of this day in FC Selous’ book”Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia” as well as Mhlope’s version in T.O.Ranger’s “Revolt in Southern Rhodesia 1896-7 (page 129). His version highlights the strange gulf between the reasoning of the westerners and the Ndebele. Essentially they went to the store and pretended to want to buy cloth and split the store owner’s face in half with an axe. Outside, the others pretended to help a man in the garden and hunted him down in the corn field. The third man escaped after having his head stoved in with a knobkerry… as did the man from the store, being picked up by a man in a cart later next day. Chilling really. Mhlope says in 1938: “These white men were our friends and so they did not expect that we were coming to kill them. They were our friends but since we were going to start to fight they might have come to kill us too.”
    Not all the people listed on the marker were actually killed at Pongo Store. They were people from the Gwelo region but perhaps chosen for other reasons for the memorial (Namely their international origins etc.) Andrew Hammond and his mates were killed at Ingwania (Crocodile River) 25 miles north of Gwelo. Andie Hammond was an old man by 1896, a successful silver mine baron from Globe Arizona. He had founded the Globe and Pheonix mine there with Fred Burnham and some others. A face from the old west in Tombstone Arizona, Andy packed twin sixguns everywhere he went. He had once been called outside to a duel over a woman in Tombstone but she came into the street and pled for his life as his opponent was about to send him to his maker. The times were such that women were never disrespected, even at high noon.
    The Fourie family’s killings highlights the shock and horror that the Victorian Rhodesians felt over the attacks, and they amplified the brutality in their outrage over women and children being murdered. Again it was a tragic vast gulf that spanned the two cultures. Perhaps the marker is a symbolic memory of how it all seemed to go bad from that time to this over the years. Its doubtful the country ever healed those wounds well enough to feel better about anything, as present day Zimbabwe is evidence of. Modern people cannot any longer understand the terrible times they lived in. Certainly those people in 1896 could not have predicted our world.

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