(redirected from Ndebeles)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


(ĕndəbē`lē) or


(mătəbē`lē), 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 across the Drakensberg Range into present-day NE South Africa. Reinforced by other Zulu deserters, the Ndebele raided as far south as the Orange River, destroying or absorbing the surrounding tribes except for the Ngwato of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), who paid tribute. Driven north (1837) by the Boers and by the Zulus, Mzilikazi crossed the Limpopo River and established his people in Matabeleland, their present homeland. From his successor, Lobengula (1870–94), the British South Africa Company secured (1888) the mineral concession for all of Matabeleland. Restive under the restrictions placed on them by European settlers, the Ndebele attacked the settlers. Lobengula was soon defeated by the British and died in hiding. With the suppression of a revolt in 1896 the Ndebele abandoned war and became herders and farmers.


See D. Carnegie, Among the Matabele (1894, repr. 1970); J. M. Selby, Shaka's Heirs (1971).



a people living in Transvaal Province in the Republic of South Africa. Population, about 300,000 (1970, estimate). The Ndebele language, Isindebele, belongs to the southeastern group of the Bantu language family. Most of the Ndebele adhere to ancient traditional religious beliefs, such as the cults of the powers of nature and of ancestral leaders; some of them are Christians. Their main occupations are livestock raising and farming. Many Ndebele work on farms owned by Europeans, in mines, or in the cities of the Republic of South Africa.


Potekhin, I. I. Formirovanie natsional’noi obshchnosti iuzhno-afrikanskikh bantu. Moscow, 1955.
References in periodicals archive ?
When the Ndebele arrived in 1841 under Mzilikazi, also fleeing Shaka in the south, they found a severely weakened Rozwi kingdom and, immediately settling near and around the Matopos plateau largely populated by the Banyubi and, merging with the Ngoni people, began their rule over the formerly Shona territory (Pikirayi).
The only acknowledgement by the government in relation to Gukurahundi was the proclamation by President Mugabe that the incident was a 'moment of madness' during the funeral of the late vice president Joshua Nkomo, a father figure of the Ndebele population (Mashingaidze 2010).
Ndebele borrows lexical and phonological elements from contact languages.
The township was ringed by a carnival of ethnic dances put on by thousands of Zulu, Swazi, Venda, Chopi, Baca, Fingo, Hlubi, Tsonga, Tswana, Sotho, Ndebele, Pedi, Zingili, Lobedu, and Karanga warrior ensembles.
The establishment of Kwa-Ndebele and the failure to unite all the Ndebeles in it, including the socalled Northern Ndebeles resident in many parts of Lebowa, defeated the whole purpose of "bringing together that which belonged together" (Nielsen 1996:1).
According to Arnold Sibanda of the University of Zimbabwe, by the late nineteenth century the dispersed Shona peoples and - in the southeastern part of what would become Zimbabwe - the strong Ndebele state together had established a distinctive petty commodity mode of production, in part through the influence of Portuguese merchants.
The many missionary organizations in Southern Rhodesia approved of the ideology of "civilization," which for them meant transforming the Shonas and the Ndebeles to a Christian way of life, even if they were uncomfortable with the more rapacious intentions of the settlers and officials.
The Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele cultures are highlighted.
The remarkable spatial, formal and decorative qualities of southern Ndebele art and architecture strongly affirm the identity of a displaced people.
An Ndebele constable on the streets of Bulawayo gives directions in Shona unless you are white; the Zanu (PF) party cards, which the Youth Brigades have been forcing on the Ndebeles, are printed in Shona and English.
Where does that leave the Ndebeles who only came to Zimbabwe in the 1830s from South Africa?