Mzilikazi (meaning The Great Road), was a Southern African king who founded the Matabele kingdom (Mthwakazi), Matabeleland, in what became Rhodesia and is now Zimbabwe. He was born ca. 1790 near Mkuze, Zulu Kingdom (now part of South Africa). The son of Matshobana whom many had considered to be the greatest Southern African military leader after the Zulu king, Shaka. In his autobiography, David Livingstone referred to him as the second most impressive leader he encountered on the African Continent. He was also the father of Lobengula.
The territory of the Northern Khumalo was located near the Black Umfolozi River, squeezed between the lands of two strong rival groups: the expanding Mthethwa empire of Dingiswayo and the land of the equally ambitious and much more ferocious Zwide of the Ndwandwe. Mzilikazi’s boyhood was spent in the household of his grandfather Zwide. Inevitably, as he grew to manhood he observed the less powerful Khumalo being drawn into the conflict between Dingiswayo and Zwide.
Bayethe! Ndebele Nation! You are the knobkerrie that menaced Tshaka. You are the big one who is as big as his father Matshobana. You are the string of Mntinti and Simangele Simangele son of Ndaba. You are the string of Mntitni and Ndaba The string they made until they wet tears You are the sun that rose from the ear of the elephant, It rose where upon the birds announced to each other. You are the son of Simangele who was kicked! Who was kicked by long feet and by the short ones. You refused to eat the gift of meat in Bulawayo. You are the fighter who has marks of fighting, You are the cattle that opened the closed pen with their horns, Because they opened the Ngome forests and left. You are the moon the people said had set Yet it was just rising; It rose in the year of Mpeyana. You are the cow that showed its face from the crowd. You are the log from which the Zulus cut firewood until they left it. You are the cow that, while it was just emerging made progress.