13 Jun 2007

A Brief History

Posted by K Chikuse

After the decline of Great Zimbabwe, which had begun in the 13th century, the fragmented Shona tribes allied themselves and created the Rozwi state and encompassed over half of present day Zimbabwe. This state lasted until 1834 when it was invaded by Ndebele warriors and came under the rule of Lobengula. Lobengula soon found himself having to deal with Cecil Rhodes and the British South Africa Company (BSAC) and signed a contract giving up mineral rights to his land in exchange for guns, ammunition and money. A series of misunderstandings followed this agreement and the Ndebele found themselves fighting the BSAC.

British Settlement and Administration
In 1888, Cecil Rhodes obtained a concession for mineral rights from local chiefs. Later that year, the area that became Southern and Northern Rhodesia was proclaimed a British sphere of influence. The British South Africa Company was chartered in 1889, and the settlement of Salisbury (now Harare) was established in 1890.

rhodesia-flagIn 1895, the territory was formally named Rhodesia after Cecil Rhodes and it was under the British South Africa Company’s administration. In the early 1890′s the losing Ndebele allied themselves with the Shona and continued a guerilla war but eventually an agreement was reached to end the fighting.

By 1896, it was apparent to the Shona and Ndebele peoples that the Rhodesian government was not interested in their problems, thus the first Chimurenga was begun. Though this resulted in moderate success, it ended only a year later when the leaders were arrested and hanged. During the next 60 years, conflicts between blacks and whites continued. Laws were passed guaranteeing rights to whites and stripping them from blacks. Land was redistributed to whites and working conditions and wages declined. By the late 50′s two black political parties, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) had sprung up but just as quickly they were banned and their leaders imprisoned.

In 1964 Ian Smith became prime minister of Rhodesia, replacing Winston Field, and started pressing for independence from Britain. The British imposed strict rules before they would grant independence and they included greater equality for blacks. Since Smith knew the whites would never agree to the conditions, in 1965 he made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). Sanctions imposed by Britain were ignored by most other western countries and the economy of Rhodesia actually improved. Conditions for blacks did not improve however and a resurgence of ZANU & ZAPU guerilla warfare began to strike deeper and deeper. Whites began abandoning their farms. This became known as the second Chimurenga. Smith finally began to realize that something needed to be done. Negotiations between Smith and the black political parties began and broke down. Parties disagreed and fragmented. Years of negotiations continued as did white emigration.

In 1976, Ian Douglas Smith received tremendous international pressure, which he could not ignore, causing him to reach an agreement with the political leaders which would result in majority rule in two years. This resulted in the Internal Settlement of March 3, 1978 and general elections in April 1979 under a new Constitution, which provided 75 seats for blacks and 25 seats for whites in Parliament. All residents of Rhodesia over the age of 18, regardless of race or colour, were enfranchised for this election. Bishop Muzorewa’s UANC Party won a majority of the seats reserved for blacks and Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Front party won all 25 white reserved seats. The UANC took office in June 1979, and the country was renamed Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Although the British Conservative Party, while it was still the official opposition, had said they would recognize a majority government resulting from the Internal Settlement, they reneged on this promise when they came to power.

Zimbabwe_flagInstead, they demanded further negotiations, involving all internal and external political parties. The Lancaster House Conference took place in late 1979, at which the British Government, the UANC and the Patriotic Front (ZANU and ZAPU) agreed to participate in new elections, which commenced on 27 February 1980. Elections took place over three days, from 27 February to 1 March 1980, under the supervision of the British Governor. ZANU Patriotic Front won a majority of seats and Robert Mugabe became Prime Minister. In 1990 ZANU Patriotic Front amended the Lancaster House Constitution and Mugabe was appointed President and the country was renamed from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.


c.600-900 Zhizo people populate and dominate the Limpopo region.
c.900 Leopard’s Kopje people replace the Zhizo, who move west into the Kalahari to form the Toutswemogala culture.
1220-1290 Mapungubwe, the first Leopard’s Kopje settlement to exhibit the characteristics of a state is established and thrives.
1325-1450 Great Zimbabwe succeeds Mapungubwe and establishes itself as the biggest political and economic centre south of the Zambezi.
1450 Great Zimbabwe succeeded by two contemporaneous states, Khami to the west and Mutapa to the north-east.
1490 Torwa ruler briefly usurps Mutapa throne before he is deposed four years later by Chikuyo Chisamarengu.
1506 Portuguese establish presence in the Mutapa state.
1515-30 Sachiteve Nyamunda establishes an independent state in the south-east which blocks trade between the Portuguese on the coast and the Mutapa state.
1550 Venda language fully established in the Limpopo region, combining some Sotho and Shona elements.
1569/77 Portuguese attempt to invade the Mutapa state.
1600 Goba people move into the area around the confluence of the Zambezi and Sanyati rivers.
1606-09 Mutapa Gatsi Rusere experiences the Matuzianhe revolt.
1629 Mutapa Mavhura Mhande signs the ‘capitulations’ and begins the reign of puppet Munhumutapas.
1663-1704 Mutapa Kamharapasu Mukombwe’s reign reverses losses to the Portuguese incurred during the reign of puppet Munhumutapas, expelling the Portuguese and redistributing land.
1684 Changamire Dombo defeats the Portuguese at the battle of Maungwe.
1690 Rozvi state and Changamire dynasty established in the west.
c.1700 Large-scale migrations out of Mbire and Buhera begin.
1720s Hlengwe groups begin to form in the south-east, disrupting trade between the interior and Inhambane.
1750 Civil wars reach their peak in the Rozvi state.
c.1750 Sections of the Rozvi migrate out of the central state to form the Nambiya dynasty in the north-west and the Singo dynasty south of the Limpopo.
1768 The Hiya attempt an invasion of the Rozvi state.
1824-32 Several Nguni groups enter the Zimbabwean plateau and each fights the Rozvi state.
1838 Ndebele state established in the west, effectively replacing the Rozvi state.
1857 Ndebele successfully subject most major Shona chieftaincies to their rule.
1870 Lobengula signs the Tati Concession.
1879 Ndebele experience the first serious military defeat by the Shona at Nyaningwe Chivi.
1887 Lobengula signs the Grobler Treaty.
1888 (Feb.) Lobengula signs the Moffat Treaty.
1888 (Mar.) Lobengula signs the Rudd Concession.
1890 (Sept.) Pioneer Column occupies Mashonaland and raises the Union Jack in Salisbury (Harare).
1893 Anglo-Ndebele War/Matabele War or Imfazo I.
1895 (May) British South Africa Company officially adopts the name Southern Rhodesia.
1896 (Mar.) Outbreak of Ndebele uprising/Umzukela Wokuqala or Imfazo II.
1896 (June) Outbreak of Shona uprising or First Chimurenga.

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4 Responses to “A Brief History”

  1. Surprisingly the article talks about Venda being a product of Shona and and Sotho-Tswana languages the time when Shona was not in existence. Venda is a dialect of Kalanga and has no relation with what became Shona in the 19th century. Please do not distort our history for reasons best known to you alone.

    Thank you.


    Fathazia Lenyatso




  3. Yes Were did the name Mashona / Shona come from??? no body knows this why??



  4. what is the oriin of the name shona


    lucas mbambo

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