“Siye sathatha uhambo olunqamula izilwandle olungama-li * angaphezu kwezinkulungwane eziyikhulu futhi sabona amagagasi amakhulu angangezintaba ezifinyelela emafwini, sabona nabantu abasadla ngoludala basezindaweni ezikude . . . kuyilapho imikhumbi yethu yayilokhu igijime njalo imini nobusuku, idabula kulawo magagasi asabekayo njengokungathi kusemgwaqweni owuthela-wayeka.”—Umbhalo wangekhulu le-15 oseChangle, eFujian, eChina, okuthiwa okaZheng He.

ICHINA iyizwe lezinto ezinkulu. Inabantu abaningi ukwedlula noma yiliphi elinye izwe futhi ingelinye lamazwe amakhulu kakhulu. Abantu bakhona bakha udonga olukhulu olubizwa ngokuthi i-Great Wall, olungolunye lwemisebenzi yokwakha emikhulu kakhulu emlandweni. Imikhumbi yempi emikhulukazi eyayakhiwe ababusi baseChina abangamaMing, uYongle noXuande, yayiminingi kunanoma yimiphi eyayiyoke ibe khona eminyakeni engamakhulu amahlanu eyayiyolandela. Umkhuzi waleyo mikhumbi yempi kwakungumSulumane waseningizimu-ntshonalanga yeChina, uZheng He.

AMANDLA, EZOHWEBO NODUMO

Ngokombhalo okucashunwe ingxenyana yawo ekuqaleni kwalesi sihloko, uZheng He wayethunywe ukuba “enze amandla obuhle (bombusi) aletha izinguquko abonakale, nokuba ababonise umusa abantu bakude.” Lo mbhalo uthi, ngenxa yalolu hambo “amazwe aqhelile kanye nasemajukujukwini omhlaba, wonke asekhonza ngaphansi [kweChina] . . . Izihambi ezivela phesheya kwezilwandle . . . zizele ukuzokhuluma [nombusi esigodlweni] ziphethe izinto ezingamagugu nezinye izipho.”

Amanye amatheku imikhumbi kaZheng He eyafika kuwo

Kunemibono engqubuzanayo ngokuthi yayiyini injongo yababusi abangamaMing yokuthumela imikhumbi kulolu hambo. Abanye babheka uZheng He njengenxusa lamasiko nokuthula lezwe elinamandla kodwa futhi elinokuthula. Abanye bambheka  njengowayethunywe ngenjongo yezombangazwe yokuthobisa ezinye izizwe. Ngempela, uZheng He wayebapha izipho ezinhle kakhulu futhi ebathembisa ukubasekela ngokwezombangazwe ababusi ababemamukela, kodwa labo ababenqaba ukuzithoba nokunika umbusi wamaMing udumo, wayebanqoba futhi abathumbe. Ngenxa yohambo lwemikhumbi lukaZheng He olwaluhlaba umxhwele, ababusi abaningi basezindaweni ezigudle i-Indian Ocean bathumela amanxusa eChina ukuze ayohlonipha umbusi.

Kunoma yikuphi, imikhumbi yempi kaZheng He yayithwala nezinto zokuhlobisa ezibaziwe ezinhle kakhulu, izinkamba eziwubukhazikhazi nendwangu kasilika, okwakwenziwe abenzi bezinto zobuciko bamaMing ukuze kuhwetshwe ngazo emathekwini akude. Imikhumbi yayibuya namatshe ayigugu, izinyo lendlovu, izinongo, ukhuni lwasezindaweni ezishisayo nezinye izinto eziwubucwebe ezazithandwa amaShayina. Yake yabuya ngisho nanendlulamithi, okuthiwa yaba umbukwane eChina. Ngenxa yokuhwebelana ngalezi zinto nokucobelelana imibono, amanye amazwe akwazi ukubona amazwibela empucuko yaseChina ehlaba umxhwele yangekhulu le-15.

Lolo hambo olwaluthathwa yile mikhumbi lwagcina lunqamukile. Eminyakeni engamashumi ambalwa nje ngemva kohambo lukaZheng He, iChina yayeka ukuhwebelana namanye amazwe nokuba nobudlelwane bezombangazwe nawo. Bengasiboni isidingo sokusebenzelana namanye amazwe, umbusi omusha kanye nabeluleki bakhe abangabenkolo yobuConfucian bazama ukulivikela izwe labo emathonyeni angaphandle. Bakhohlwa indaba yemikhumbi yempi eyayiza nezinto eziyigugu, ngokusobala bacekela phansi nemibhalo egciniwe ephathelene nohambo lwemikhumbi olubabazekayo ngisho nemikhumbi uqobo. Kuze kwaba muva nje lapho abantu baseChina nabakwamanye amazwe beye bezwa khona ngendaba yaleso sikhathi esiyingqopha-mlando lapho imikhumbi emikhulukazi kaZheng He yayidabula khona izilwandle.

^ isig. 3 I-li isilinganiso samaShayina, ubude baso buye bashintsha phakathi namakhulu eminyaka. Kucatshangwa ukuthi ngesikhathi sikaZheng He, i-li elilodwa lalithi alilingane nezingxenye ezintathu zemayela noma isigamu sekhilomitha.