Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city and it is 439km from the capital, Harare. Its location was selected by the last Matebele king, King Lobengula. Bulawayo used to be one of the country's most attractive cities and a major transport hub for Southern Africa until Zimbabwe entered a period of economic depression in the early 00s. The name Bulawayo is loosely translated 'the place of slaughter' or 'the place of killing', which is derived from the Ndebele word 'bulala' meaning 'kill'.[1]


Originally, Bulawayo was the capital of the Ndebele State during the time of King Mzilikazi. The city was founded by the Ndebele king, Mzilikazi kaMatshobana around 1840.[2] By 1872 it was made a royal town by Mzilikazi. The city's occupation by the British South Africa Company on 4 November 1893 signified the end of the Matebeleland nation and the birth of Bulawayo as a city. This is the day that marked Lobengula's death and the conclusion of the Matebele War. On this day the Union Jack flag was raised representing the official founding of Bulawayo as a town. [3] In 1897, the new town of Bulawayo acquired the status of municipality. It gained city status later, in 1943.


'The City of Kings' as Bulwayo is also called is a multicultural city mainly populated by the Ndebele ethnic group which arrived in Zimbabwe in the 19th century from Zululand. Most of Bulawayo's residents can speak at least three languages (including English, Ndebele, Kalanga, Sotho, Nambya, Tonga and Venda). According to the survey carried out by the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZimStat) in 2012, the city had a population of 655 675. [4]


Bulawayo's temperatures ranges from 14 °C in winter to 28 °C in summer. Rainfall in the capital averages 575mm annually.


  1. CityByo, Home, 'CityByo', Pulished: ND, Retrieved: 24 Apr 2014
  2. Bulawayo
  3. Byo 1872, History of Bulawayo City, Zimbabwe, 'Bulawayo 1872', Published: ND, Retrieved: 24 Apr 2014
  4. Nqaba Matshazi, Storm over Byo census results, 'The Standard', Published: 23 Dec 2012, Retrieved: 24 Apr 2014