Ndebele state

The Ndebele State was a state founded by Mzilikazi on the South Western Plateau of present day Zimbabwe. The Ndebele people are descendants of the Khumalo people who lived under the rule of Shaka in present day South Africa. They got their name ‘Ndebele’ during their association with the Sotho people in the Transvaal region. The name ‘Ndebele’ meant strangers from the coast. The breakaway of the Ndebele from Shaka has been attributed to their leader Mzilikazi who ruled for 50 plus years.[1]

See National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.


The Ndebele history is traced from the Ndwandwe of Zwide and the Zulu of Shaka. The story of how the Ndebele ended up in Zimbabwe is explained in terms of the impact of the Mfecane—a nineteenth century revolution marked by the collapse of the earlier political formations of Mthethwa, Ndwandwe, and Ngwane kingdoms replaced by new ones of the Zulu under Shaka, the Sotho under Moshweshwe, and others built out of Mfecane refugees and asylum seekers. The revolution was also characterized by violence and migration that saw some Nguni and Sotho communities burst asunder and fragmenting into fleeing groups such as the Ndebele under Mzilikazi Khumalo, the Kololo under Sebetwane, the Shangaans under Soshangane, the Ngoni under Zwangendaba, and the Swazi under Queen Nyamazana. Out of these migrations emerged new political formations like the Ndebele state, that eventually inscribed itself by a combination of coercion and persuasion in the southwestern part of the Zimbabwean plateau in 1839-1840. The migration and eventual settlement of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe is also part of the historical drama that became intertwined with another dramatic event of the migration of the Boers from Cape Colony into the interior in what is generally referred to as the Great Trek, that began in 1835. It was military clashes with the Boers that forced Mzilikazi and his followers to migrate across the Limpopo River into Zimbabwe.

One Capital of the Ndebele state was Gubulawayo.


  1. [1], Origins of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe, Published: 5 September 2012 , Retrieved: 28 February 2018