Lobengula (d. 1894) was the second and last king of the Matabele people, now known as the Ndebele (or, linguistically more correctly, the nDebele). Both names, in the sinDebele language, mean "The people of the long shields," a reference to the Matabele warriors' use of the Zulu shield and spear.
The Matabele were an offshoot of the Zulu who fled north during the reign of Shaka; following the mfecane - the "great killing" in sinDebele, during which they killed over a million members of other tribes. They settled in what is now Zimbabwe, and dominated the area until their defeat in the 1890s by the British South Africa Company under Cecil Rhodes and Leander Starr Jameson. Lobengula's predecessor as king of the Matabele was Mzilikazi, a Zulu regimental commander who quarreled with Shaka and rebelled rather than face ritual execution. After rejecting Shaka's emissaries, he led his regiment north and conducted the mfecane until he defeated and subjugated the Mashona tribe, and settled in their land which later became Rhodesia. Mzilikazi's greatest achievement was in developing a regiment of around 900 men into a tribe numbering over five million.
Mzilikazi and Lobengula were kings of one of Africa's great warrior races and they implemented advanced social systems. Under Matabele rule modern western principles of trade were recognised. There was also a system of individual rights which, although severely limited, was unique on the African continent.
Lobengula’s initial royal town, established in 1872, was located about 14 miles of the present day city, on a ridge dominated by the Thabas Inyoka - “hill of serpents”.
Lobengula eventually moved his royal town, and the locality of the modern Bulawayo city was chosen by King Lobengula and he also named his royal town Bulawayo, which is the Ndebele word for “the place of slaughter”, in recognition of an armed struggle that Lobengula was involved in when he ascended to the throne, i.e.
In the distance, the huts of Lobengula’s capital were burning on the further side of the stream.
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