History of the Ndebele Kingdom

History of the Ndebele Kingdom

The Ndebele people are distantly related to the Zulu tribe, however, they are a totally different nation. The Ndebele are people of South Africa and Zimbabwe, as the kingdom is a union of different tribes, including the Northern Ndebele and their not-so-closely related SouthernNdebele counterpart. Northern Ndebele The Northern Ndebele people are a Bantu-speaking group of people.

It is an ethnic group in Southern Africa that shares common culture and language called isi Ndebele. The Northern Ndebele were originally known as the Matabele, a name coined from the Sesothostatement the bele, meaning people who are protected behind tall cowhide shields. The history of the Northern Ndebele people began when an Nguni group split from King Shaka of Zululand in the early 19th century.

Under his command, the unsatisfied aba Nguni went on to conquer and rule the areas of the Southern Ndebele. This was where the name and identity of the Ndebele kingdom were chosen. At a particularly disturbing period in Nguni andSotho-Tswana history known as the Mfecane or “the crushing”, Mzilikazi’s battalion travelled west towards the present-day city of Pretoria and founded a settlement called Mhlahlandlela.

Mzilikazi’s soldiers were about 500 in number. Mzilikazi was defeated by the Voortrekkers at Vegkop during the Great Trek of 1838.  When he was defeated, he moved into present-dayZimbabwe where he and the Ndebele people outgrew the local people of Lozvi.  They created a settlement and made the town their own. The settlement is now called Matabeleland, and is around the west and southwest region of the country.

As a result of the new settlement, the local groups and people were absorbed into the Ndebele nation. These groups include people who came from the Southern Ndebele, Swazi, Sotho-Tswana, and ama Lozwi ethnic groups. This nation then took the Ndebele language and culture as its common language and culture. Southern Ndebele The Southern African Ndebele is an ethnic group, native to South Africa, which speaks Southern Ndebele, which is different, both from the Northern Transvaal Ndebele languages as well as the Zimbabwean Ndebele language.


The Northern Transvaal constitutes the people of Gegana, while the Zimbabwean Ndebele are the people of Mzilikazi’s Matabele Empire. The Southern Ndebele people are the followers and descendants of Ndzundza and Manala. Although they share the same name, they are not to beconfused with Mzilikazi’s Northern Ndebele people of present-day Zimbabwe who were a group separating themselves from the Zulu nation.

Both Southern and Northern Ndebele groups came in contact with each other only after Mfecane. The Southern Ndebele people live in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo, all of which are in the northeast of the country. Ndebele Kingdom The leader of the Northern Ndebele clan, Mzilikazi,chose a new headquarters on the western edge of the central plateau of present-day Zimbabwe.

Mzilikazihad invaded the Rozwi state and many of the Rozvi people joined the Ndebele Nation voluntarily because it would offer them protection from their enemies. Some other territories on which Mzilikazi did not settle in paid tribute to the Ndebele Kingdom as a sign of submission and loyalty to him. This new nation was named Mthwakazi by Mzilikazi. Mthwakazi is a Zulu word which means something which became big at its birth or beginning. The Europeans would later call the territory “Matabeleland .In the year 1852, the Boer government in Transvaal had reached an agreement with the Ndebele nation after signing a certain treaty with Mzilikazi.

But when gold was discovered in Mashona land in 1867, the European powers became increasingly interested in the region. The society of the Ndebele people was controlled by many rules of service and social rankings inherited from King Shaka’s reforms among the Zulu people.

The other tribes and clans which were subject to the Ndebele kingdom such as Mashona land, their lives, and property were completely under the King’s control and raided for tributes at will.  This waswhat the British Pioneer Column experienced when they arrived in Mashona land in 1890.Mzilikazi died on 9th September, 1868, near Bulawayo. His son, Lobengula, reigned in his place as king of the Ndebele nation.

Lobengula then established a kingdom that oversaw the region between the Limpopo River and Zambezi River to the north and south.

The land also went between the desert of the Makgadikgadi salt pans to the west and the realm of Shoshangana to the east towards the Save River. In exchange for money and arms, Lobengula granted many privileges and rights to the British.  One of the most important privileges given to the Europeans is the 1888 Rudd concession which gave Cecil Rhodes the right to the entire mineral resources in most of the lands, east of the main kingdom.  As part of the agreement, the British would pay Lobengula 100 pounds a month, and also giving him a thousand rifles, ten thousand rounds of ammunition, and a riverboat. The Rudd Concession of 1888 allowed British mining activities and colonisation of Matabele lands between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. The agreement was also meant to forbid all Boer settlement in that region.  Lobengula, the leader of the Ndebele kingdom, had hoped that the Rudd Concession would reduce the movement of Europeans into the land. But more white settlers moved into the area because of the establishment of the British South Africa Company. The British South Africa Company later set up its own government, made its own laws, and made its desire to have more mineral rights and more territorial privileges, known.


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