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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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is no easy task hosting a Classic so far from home base, and the Matabele's were coimnended by all for their fine efforts.
(He breaks into his native Matabele and starts to hyperventilate, finally releasing long pent-up regret and grief) HAIKONA!
In 1893 the BSAP intervened in an internal Ndebele power struggle which led to the First Matabele War, during which Lobengula's warriors attack white settlements, inflicting a number of casaualties.
(33.) Luke Mhlaba, "Local Cultures and Development in Zimbabwe: The Case of Matabele," in Preben Kaasholm (ed.), Cultural Struggle & Development in Southern Africa (London: James Currey, 1992): pp.
The Matabele (Sindebele speakers), representing about 20% of the population and centered in the southwest around Bulawayo, arrived within the last 150 years.
I joined the New Army the first week, and owing to my Matabele experience, got a captain's commission straight off.
"When they're quite young, these Matabele, they're put in charge of the family goats.
Grogan, who, at twenty-four, became the first man to walk from Cairo to the Cape, having escorted Cecil Rhodes, a few years earlier, to his meeting with the Matabele chiefs to negotiate the end of their 1896 "uprising." He also represented the settlers in their early struggles with the Colonial Office.
That still doesn't add up to the number of people murdered under Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe when one starts with the mass murder of Matabele's in the 80's (15,000 is the approximate number) and the tens of thousands thereafter - in fact the numbers are increasing daily.
As anti-communists had predicted, soon after coming to power Mugabe turned on his former terrorist comrade, Joshua Nkomo, who was of the minority Matabele tribe.
47), and the travellers' route takes them through Inyati, 'the outlying trading station in the Matabele country' (p.