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see NdebeleNdebele
or Matabele
, Bantu-speaking people inhabiting Matabeleland North and South, W Zimbabwe. The Ndebele, now numbering close to 2 million, originated as a tribal following in 1823, when Mzilikazi, a general under the Zulu king Shaka, fled with a number of warriors
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(Matebele; self-designation, Amandebele), a people inhabiting southwestern Southern Rhodesia. They are related in language (Isindebele) and culture to the South African Bantu and are closest to the Zulu. The population is approximately 500,000 (1967, estimate). Most Matabele preserve their local traditional beliefs; some are Christians.

In the late 19th century the Matabele put up a heroic resistance in the face of colonial conquest. Their chief occupations are farming and livestock raising. Many Matabele work on ranches and plantations and in mines and factories owned by Europeans; some work in the mines of the Republic of South Africa. The Matabele are taking an active part in the general struggle of the peoples of Southern Rhodesia against the racist colonial regime.


Potekhin, I. I. “Voennaia demokratiia matabele.” In the collection Rodovoe obshchestvo: Etnograficheskie materialy i issledovaniia. Moscow, 1951.
Iablochkov, L. D. “Korennoe naselenie Britanskoi Tsentral’noi Afriki.” Afrikanskii etnograficheskii sbornik, vol. 2. Moscow, 1958.
Davidson, A. B. Matabele i mashona v bor’beprotiv angliiskoi kolonizatsii 1888-1897. Moscow, 1958.
Bullock, C. The Mashona and the Matabele. Cape Town, 1950.




a highland in Southern Rhodesia between the Zambezi, Limpopo, and Sabi rivers. Average elevation, 1,000-1,500 m. Matabele is composed of ancient crystalline rocks. Numerous inselbergs and mountain ridges rise from the slightly undulating surface. The eastern margin of Matabele is uplifted (Inyanga Mountains; elevation, to 2,596 m). The climate is tropical, with humid summers; precipitation is 400-800 mm per year. Soils are brown-red, laterized, and extremely eroded. Sparse forests with Brachystegia and Julbernardia have decreased because of plowing. Gold and chromite, iron and nickel ores, and complex and rare-metal ores are mined.

References in periodicals archive ?
Official figures vary, but it can be roughly estimated that around 30,000 Matabele were slaughtered in Mugabe's "liberation" of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.
Civil rights protesters, opposition party members and journalists were detained and tortured, until the Matabele leadership conceded defeat and begged for an end to the violence.
He had visited Dingane in Zululand and was en route to consult with Mzilikazi of the Matabele in the Western Transvaal.
In the Transvaal the rise of the Matabele had produced similar effects.
After too many grim days of sub-standard international cricket on this tour, England got their act together by reducing Matabele to 181-9 after they had made 334 in their first innings.
Right from the start, the series has looked good, as it should since it was filmed on location in South Africa, and last night there were some spectacular shots as Jameson (Neil Pearson) took a private army deep into the land of the Matabele.
Lobengula was perceived as a power resident in the wilderness whose metonymies are the veld, the wildlife and the Matabele amabutho (army).
Rhodes proceeded to help on God's purpose of bringing "peace, liberty and justice" through the Matabele wars, the Jameson Raid, the Boer War, the subjection, first of the northern negroes and then of the Boers, to British domination, and the creation of a vast system of political corruption both in England and in South Africa.
That Mugabe was not alone in this armed struggle is also beyond the scope of this discussion, save to record that another movement, Zapu led by Joshua Nkomo, composed largely of members of Zimbabwe's second largest tribal grouping, the Matabele, played a formative early part in the political and armed struggle.
This fine new town had sprung up on a site once occupied by King Lobengula's kraal, that wily old warrior of Matabele War fame.
In one of those strange twists of fate, while passing through Bulawayo on this journey he opens a newspaper, The Zimbabwe Standard, to read that the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace had released its report on the Matabele atrocities.
But Alan Mullally - with an opening burst of 7-2-14-2 - and Darren Gough stifled the life out of the early Matabele batting.