Ndebele or Matabele People

he Ndebele people, also known as the Matabele people, are an ethnic group that primarily lives in the southern region of Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Ndebele are a Bantu-speaking people and are closely related to the Zulu people of South Africa.

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Ndebele culture is known for its rich tradition of art and crafts, particularly beadwork, basketry, and textiles. Ndebele women are particularly known for their intricate beadwork, which is often used to decorate clothing, jewelry, and other items. The Ndebele people also have a strong tradition of mural painting, which is used to decorate the walls of ""Home""s and other buildings.

The Ndebele people have a rich history, with a powerful and centralized kingdom that existed in the 19th century, led by Mzilikazi, a leader of the Ndebele people. The Ndebele kingdom was known for its military strength and expansionist policies, which led to the conquest and assimilation of many neighboring groups.

Ndebele culture has a strong emphasis on community and family values, and the extended family is an important aspect of Ndebele society. The Ndebele people also have a strong tradition of storytelling, music, and dance, which is often used to communicate historical events, cultural values, and social commentary.

It's worth noting that the Ndebele people are one of the ethnic groups that exist in Zimbabwe, they have their own distinct culture, language, customs, and traditions. The culture is also affected by the history and the political situation of the country.

There is an ongoing academic debate regarding the historical relationship between the Ndebele people and ""Great Zimbabwe"". The origins of the city and the people who built it are not well-established, and several theories have been proposed. Some argue that the city was built by ancestors of the Shona people, while others suggest that it was built by an earlier civilization that predates the Bantu-speaking groups that currently inhabit the region.  It is possible that during the period of ""Great Zimbabwe"", the Ndebele people came into contact with city and possible occupied the city. 

Relationship to the Zulus

The Zulu and the Ndebele are related as both groups are Bantu-speaking people of southern Africa. They share similar cultural practices, such as traditional music, dance, and art forms, as well as a similar social structure with a strong emphasis on community and family values.

Chaka was a powerful leader of the Zulu people in South Africa in the early 19th century, who is credited with creating a centralized and powerful kingdom through military expansion and conquest. He is considered one of the most influential leaders in southern African history.

The Ndebele people, also known as the Matabele, are believed to have descended from a faction of the Zulu people led by Mzilikazi, a general and chief of the Zulu military during Chaka's reign. In the early 19th century, Mzilikazi and his followers broke away from the Zulu kingdom and established their own kingdom in present-day Zimbabwe, which became known as the Ndebele kingdom. Lobengula was the son of Mzilikazi. 

While Chaka did not directly lead the Ndebele, his legacy had an impact on the formation of the Ndebele kingdom. Mzilikazi who led the Ndebele people, was a general of Chaka's army and he learned many military tactics and strategies from Chaka, which he later used to conquer and establish his own kingdom in Zimbabwe.

It's worth noting that the Ndebele and Zulu people have distinct cultures, languages, and traditions. The Ndebele culture is influenced by the history and the political situation of Zimbabwe. While the Zulu culture is influenced by the history and the political situation of South Africa.


Zimbabwe Map

The town of Beitbridge was named after Alfred Beit, the founder of the De Beers diamond mining company and a business associate of Cecil Rhodes. He was also a director of several companies, including the British South Africa Company and Rhodesia Railways. The Alfred Beit Road Bridge, which is a prominent feature of Beitbridge, was constructed in 1929 and financed jointly by the Beit Railways Trust and the South African Railways. This bridge, and subsequently the town, were named in honor of Beit's significant contributions to the region's infrastructure and economic development.

Alfred Beit, born on February 15, 1853, in Hamburg, German Confederation, was a notable figure in South Africa's history, renowned as an Anglo-German gold and diamond magnate. His legacy extends beyond his business acumen, as he significantly contributed to infrastructure development in Africa and various educational and scientific endeavors.

Beit's early life in Hamburg marked the beginning of a journey that would see him become a central figure in South Africa's diamond and gold industries. Apprenticed to Jules Porgès & Cie, a diamond firm, he honed his skills in stone examination. His initial venture into property speculation in South Africa laid the groundwork for his future successes. After moving to Kimberley, Cape Colony, in 1875, Beit quickly became intertwined with the diamond business, collaborating closely with Cecil Rhodes and playing a vital role in the Kimberley Central Company. His focus on the Kimberley mine and subsequent involvement in the goldfields of Witwatersrand in 1886 marked significant expansions of his business interests.

In 1888, Beit shifted his base to London, better positioning himself to manage his financial empire and support Rhodes' ambitions in Southern Africa. His life in London was characterized by significant real estate acquisitions, including Tewin Water near Welwyn, a large Regency house with Victorian additions. However, Beit's involvement in the controversial Jameson Raid of 1895, aimed at triggering a coup in the South African Republic in the Transvaal, resulted in both him and Rhodes being found guilty in a House of Commons inquiry. Despite this setback, Beit continued to exert considerable influence in Southern Africa.

Beit's personal life was marked by his decision never to marry, and he had no children. He passed away on July 16, 1906, at Tewin Water, leaving behind a substantial estate. His philanthropic legacy is profound; he established the Beit Trust, which provided significant funds for infrastructure development in former Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi), focusing later on university education and research. Notably, one of the major projects financed by the Beit Trust was the Birchenough Bridge in former Southern Rhodesia. Additionally, in recognition of his generous donations, the Royal School of Mines at Imperial College London erected a memorial to Beit, and the Imperial College residential halls on Prince Consort Road were named Beit Hall in his honor​

Beit's contributions to infrastructure and education, along with his central role in the diamond and gold industries, have left an indelible mark on the history and development of Southern Africa. His legacy continues to be felt in the region, notably in the form of educational and infrastructural developments funded through his philanthropic endeavors.

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Market Scene

Painting by Barry Lungu