Zanzibar, and the East African Slave Trade

The recall of the Zambezi Expedition in 1863, and the failure of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, largely as a consequence of mounting costs, not least in human mortality, and the failure of the expedition to find the practical highway into the interior that it sought, was a significant blow to David Livingstone’s personal prestige, his reputation, his self confidence and his fundamental sense of purpose…

By the failure of the Universities read more

The Turning Point Strategy

1976 also witnessed important political developments that once again put a stranglehold on the various advocates of a total solution in order that a negotiation process neither invited nor wanted by any of the warring factions. This again was a peace process forced upon the protagonists by their sponsors, and this time involved to a large degree the United States in a world post-Vietnam, and vary cautious about international power play in a sphere increasingly dominated read more

ZAPU in the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle

As the armed wing of ZAPU withdrew to ponder lessons learned, the detained leadership within Rhodesia settled into what seemed likely to be a sustained period of restriction. For Joshua Nkomo the prospect was particularly dreary. Somewhere between the claims of his apologists of untainted zealotry, and his protagonists insistence on his innate corruptibility, lies the truth of what motivated Nkomo. At the very least he was a comfort loving read more

The Emergence of the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle

The immediate consequence of the split in the nationalist movement was violence on a level hitherto unseen. This was a fight to the death, an equalisation and an unequivocal exposure of the deep ethnic and personal fissures that had lain unseen beneath the surface as the cordial first phase of the struggle came to an end. One of the most beautiful understatements ever written about the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle came from the pen of read more

Black Political Awakening in Rhodesia

In the short history of Zimbabwe ZAPU, or the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, has tended to be regarded as a predominantly amaNdebele party, which latterly has certainly been the case, but at its founding it was a continuation of the determinedly multi-racial and multi-ethnic nationalist credo that defined the formation of the revived African National Congress. This was reflected in the leadership, with Nkomo representing the read more

Joshua Nkomo

In 1949 a meeting was held at the Recreation Hall in Salisbury at which a new president was elected for the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress. This introduced to the centre stage of local politics the founding father of black nationalism and the first authentic voice of the people of Southern Rhodesia. The event within itself did not mean a great deal, since at that stage Congress still held its position as a somewhat elitist read more

Rhodesia: The Post-War Land Removals

In the post-war period the long delay in implementing the mass removals that had been implicit in the land Apportionment Act, and many unofficial conventions since, had steadily accelerated as the demobilisations that followed peace in Europe saw large numbers of European men and their families flooding into the colonies. Vast tracts of land in the Midlands and Matabeleland were affected with thousands of people who had for long lived read more

A brief history of Rhodesia

The colony of Rhodesia was born on 13 September 1890 with the arrival in the vicinity of present day Harare, then Fort Salisbury, of some 500 hand-picked volunteers who made up the British South Africa Company Pioneer Column. This represented the culmination of several years of political manoeuvre and capital adventure in the great game known at the time as the Scramble for Africa.

>>Rhodesian Parliament Golden Jubilee

A brief background to the occupation of Mashonaland

In 1885 all the major powers of Europe met read more

The amaNdebele and modern African imperial history

The educated rather than the raw native very often becomes a nuisance to his white neighbours…Report of the Land Commission

The end of the First World War did indeed usher in a change in British imperial policy. A general revaluation of the moral certainties of old coincided with the emergence of a class of educated natives worldwide who were the first among their respective peoples to actively deal with the challenges and seek the benefits read more

The aftermath of the Matabele Rebellion

Matabeleland should be treated as a portion of Mashonaland lately occupied by the MatabeleLeander Starr Jameson

The trust placed in Cecil John Rhodes by the amaNdebele leaders was the trust of desperation, and it was by no means absolute, and bearing mind that Rhodes was a proven master of negotiation the terms of peace were as mixed as they were many. Underscoring the settlement, however, was the sense commonly read more

The Matabele Rebellion

How can the white men punish them? Where are the white police? There are none left in the country.[i]

The uprising was mooted to begin on the evening of the full moon of March 28 1896, no hint whatsoever of which reached the ears of white settlers and administrators in the territory. Even long time residents of Matabeleland such as the Rev. Charles Helm of the Hope Fountain Mission remained convinced that the defeat of the amaNdebele had read more

Rhodesia, the white man and the land

It is on the land that the African lives and it means everything to him. The African cannot depend for his livelihood on profits made through trading. We cannot depend on wages. We must go back every time to the only social security we have – the piece of land. The land stolen must be restored, because without the land the future of the African people is doomed. God will hear us because that is the thing he gave us – Eliud Mathu, read more

The Matabele War

The invading force of settler volunteers represented an unimpressive army which, without an unequal portion of confidence, would have been overwhelmed by the knowledge that it marched without supply lines, communications or support, and beyond any meaningful assistance or reinforcement. If it did not conclusively defeat the amaNdebele in the early skirmishes – about half of the fighting strength of the amaNdebele was mobilised in read more

The End of the Matabele Road

In an atmosphere of great apprehension and mistrust the Rudd Concession was signed, upon which Rudd took to his horse and sped south to Kimberly where he placed the document in the hands of an immensely gratified Cecil John Rhodes. Thomson and Maguire remained behind in Matabeleland, although neither were held in particular esteem among the amaNdebele, and neither were able to stop or deflect any of the intrigue that immediately gripped the capital in the aftermath. read more

The death of Mzilikazi and the arrival of the white man

The Matabele Mission died in due course of depletion and internal discord, proving only that no man or woman in Matabeleland would dare to commit to anything that competed with the stern residue of Mzilikazi’s rule. However the political importance of the mission was that it introduced the younger generations of Moffat and Khumalo to one another, meaning that when Lobengula ascended to the amaNdebele throne, and when John Moffat took read more


The young prince who had so narrowly escaped death at the hands of his father settled into life as a youth in amaNdebele society in a way little different from any other. The date of Lobengula’s birth is obscure, but if, as has been widely recorded, he was the subject of Mzilikazi’s wrath soon after the union of the two halves of the nation, he must have been born sometime in 1834 or thereabouts.

This means that Lobengula would have been an infant as the tribe was read more

Crossing the Limpopo

For the victorious Boer horsemen the sight of the amNdebele streaming north through the mountain passes of the Dwarsberg must have carried with it more than a sense of simple satisfaction. In the tradition of conquest and counter conquest theirs was now the principal claim to a fine country, and the greatest obstacle standing in its way had been broken and cast asunder. This was manifest destiny. The future of their race and the fulfilment of a cherished aspiration seemed secure.

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Mzilikazi, the Zulu, the Griquas and the Boer

As Robert Moffat’s wagons slipped over the southern horizon and disappeared Mzilikazi turned back towards enKungwini to face arguably the greatest series of challenges to the long term survival of the amaNdebele that he had confronted thus far. The first of these was the long awaited settling of scores with the Zulu that came soon afterwards as Mzilikazi had always feared that it would.

Two years earlier the short but shockingly violent reign of Shaka Zulu had been read more

Robert Moffat and Mzilikazi Meet

Coinciding more or less with Mzilikazi’s Bakwena Campaign approval was given by the government of the Cape Colony to a scheme aimed at extending the trade of the colony outwards to the scattered peoples of the interior. Licences were issued and help offered to those who wished to embark on trading expeditions north of the Cape, and one of the first to avail himself of this facility was a mercurial local character by the name of Andrew Geddes Bain.

Bain was a man of read more

Robert Moffat

In the year 1816 the rather anonymous arrival in Cape Town of a 21 year old missionary echoed similar daily arrivals and departures in a town that had by then been established as an international sea port for more than 160 years. Robert Moffat, a Scotsman and recent inductee into the service of the London Missionary society, arrived as many had before him, with a vague understanding of Africa, a rather generally directed vocation and a read more