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.
Below is the text for the Treacherous Rudd Concession which granted exclusive mining rights in Matabeleland, Mashonaland, and surrounding areas between King Lobengula of the Matabeleland, and James Rudd (representing Cecil Rhodes). This eventually paved the way for the colonization of then-Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). As you can see, the concession: (1) forbade Lobengula from signing further concessions with other European powers without the consent of Cecil Rhodes/ BSAC; (2) No more than ten Europeans were to enter Lobengula’s territory at any given time; (3) Gave Cecil Rhodes and the BSAC mining monopoly in Matabeleland; (4) In return, Lobengula would get (i) A monthly payment of $ 100, (ii) 1000 rifles and ammunition, (iii) A gun boat to patrol the Zambezi... which he mostly did not get, and the terms were never respected by the British (what else is new)!!!
Know all men by these presents, that whereas Charles Dunell Rudd, of Kimberley; Rochfort Maguire, of London; and Francis Robert Thompson, of Kimberley, hereinafter called the grantees, have covenanted and agreed, and do hereby covenant and agree, to pay to me, my heirs and successors, the sum of one hundred pounds sterling, British currency, on the first day of every lunar month; and further, to deliver at my royal kraal one thousand Martini-Henry breech-loading rifles, together with one hundred thousand rounds of suitable ball cartridge, five hundred of the said rifles and fifty thousand of the said cartridges to be ordered from England forthwith and delivered with reasonable despatch, and the remainder of the said rifles and cartridges to be delivered as soon as the said grantees shall have commenced to work mining machinery within my territory; and further, to deliver on the Zambesi River a steamboat with guns suitable for defensive purposes upon the said river, or in lieu of the said steamboat, should I so elect, to pay to me the sum of five hundred pounds sterling, British currency. On the execution of these presents, I, Lobengula, King of Matabeleland, Mashonaland, and other adjoining territories, in exercise of my sovereign powers, and in the presence and with the consent of my council of indunas, do hereby grant and assign unto the said grantees, their heirs, representatives, and assigns, jointly and severally, the complete and exclusive charge over all metals and minerals situated and contained in my kingdoms, principalities, and dominions, together with full power to do all things that they may deem necessary to win and procure the same, and to hold, collect, and enjoy the profits and revenues, if any, derivable from the said metals and minerals, subject to the aforesaid payment; and whereas I have been much molested of late by divers persons seeking and desiring to obtain grants and concessions of land and mining rights in my territories, I do hereby authorise the said grantees, their heirs, representatives and assigns, to take all necessary and lawful steps to exclude from my kingdom, principalities, and dominions all persons seeking land, metals, minerals, or mining rights therein, and I do hereby undertake to render them all such needful assistance as they may from time to time require for the exclusion of such persons, and to grant no concessions of land or mining rights from and after this date without their consent and concurrence; provided that, if at any time the said monthy payment of one hundred pounds shall be in arrear for a period of three months, then this grant shall cease and determine from the date of the last-made payment; and further provided that nothing contained in these presents shall extend to or affect a grant made by me of certain mining rights in a portion of my territory south of the Ramaquaban River, which grant is commonly known as the Tati Concession.
(signed by Lobengula, Rudd, Maguire, Thompson, Helm and Dreyer)
I hereby certify that the accompanying document has been fully interpreted and explained by me to the Chief Lobengula and his full Council of Indunas and that all the Constitutional usages of the Matabele Nation had been complied with prior to his executing the same.
One of my very first articles on this blog was on Great Zimbabwe, the capital city of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, a kingdom which flourished from approximately 1220 to about 1420 in Southern Africa. The modern-day country of Zimbabwe is named after this great kingdom, and it is only befitting that we explore together the origin of its name. Why would a country which was named Southern Rhodesia change its name to Zimbabwe? Why bother changing names?
Well, for starters, I find it a bit sad for a country to only be known as ‘Southern something’ without no real name of its own… I know, … things happen (like countries splitting apart). Secondly, Rhodesia was named after Cecil Rhodes, the British man who committed the greatest atrocities in Southern Africa, while establishing British rule over the different African countries in the late 19th century. Therefore, once the people of Southern Rhodesia became independent from British rule, it was only normal to claim a name that was theirs, and not the name of some foreign oppressor who committed the worst atrocities in their country. It’s like seeing yourself through someone else’s lens; you only become free once you can look through your own lens, and appreciate and value yourself.
Thus the name Zimbabwe was chosen. The name “Zimbabwe” is a Shona term for Great Zimbabwe, an ancient ruined city in the country’s south-east whose remains are now a protected site, in the modern-day province of Masvingo. There are two theories on the origin of the word. The first theory holds that the word is derived from dzimba–dza–mabwe, translated from the Karanga dialect of Shona as “large houses of stone” (dzimba= plural of imba, “house“; mabwe= plural of bwe, “stone“). The second theory claims that “Zimbabwe” is a contracted form of dzimba-hwewhich means “venerated houses” in the Zezuru dialect of Shona, and is usually applied to chiefs’ houses or graves. In your opinion, which of these two theories is closer to the truth?
Zimbabwe was formerly known as Southern Rhodesia (1898), Rhodesia (1965), and Zimbabwe Rhodesia (1979). The first recorded use of the name “Zimbabwe” as a term of national reference was in 1960, when it was coined by the black nationalist Michael Mawema, whose Zimbabwe National Party became the first to officially use the name in 1961. According to Mawema, black nationalists held a meeting in 1960 to choose an alternative name for the country, and the names Machobana and Monomotapa were proposed before his suggestion, Zimbabwe, prevailed. I am so glad the name Zimbabwe was chosen. Enjoy this video about Zimbabwe, the country which held the great civilization of stones. I will talk about the different great kingdoms and civilizations that flourished in the area in later posts.