Former Ndebele King
King Lobengula
Lobengula Khumalo
BornLobengula Khumalo
  • King.
Years active1868-1894
Home townMatebeleland Province
Spouse(s)Lozikeyi Dhlodhlo and several others
ChildrenNjube, Nguboyenja, Sidojiwe, Nyamande, Tshakalisa
Parent(s)Mzilikazi Khumalo

King Lobengula was the second king of the Ndebele people who are believed to have migrated from Transvaal during the Mfecane upheavals which were instigated by Tshaka around the 1830s. He was the first son of King Mzilikazi. He signed a hoard of treaties with the British concession seekers and has been blamed for necessitating the inception of colonial rule in 1890 through these treaties.


Lobengula's date of birth is shrouded in ambiguity. It is, however, believed that he was born sometime in 1834 as Lobengula Khumalo. [1]His father was Mzilikazi Khumalo who was the first king of the Ndebele people. His mother was the daughter of King Malindela, who was a Swazi king.[1] It is believed that Lobengula together with mother was sentenced to death, but the Chief who was mandated to kill them released them and they were forced to hid in as a way of escaping the wrath of King Mzilikazi.[2] King Mzilikazi however discovered that he was duped, nonetheless he ordered that his son was reprimanded from entering his courtyard. Lobengula was thus taken care of by a certain Ndebele Chief.[2]. He was married to Lozikeyi Dhlodhlo and several other wives. Some of his sons included Njube, Nguboyenja, Sidojiwe, Nyamande and Tshakalisa.

Military Prowess

It is believed that Lobengula was an outstanding warrior more or less like his father. Contrary to this, it was also reported that he was a weaker version of his father. Lobengula received military training as an imBovana.[1] In 1845, he was inducted into Zwangendaba's regiment which was trained and under the control of Mzilikazi.[1] In 1847, he is said to have led the Zwangendaba regiment against Hendrik Potgieter expedition which had crossed the Limpopo River. Notwithstanding this, it was also believed that Lobengula was part of the Amashlogoshlogo regiment which was also under the control of Mzilikazi.[3]

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In 1863, he Lobengula took part in a campaign directed against the Bamangwato. It was suggested that Lobengula was shot in the neck and scarred for life, although, not debilitated or seriously injured. It was believed that in Matebeleland it was reported that Lobengula was not shot in but had accidentally injured himself as a means of preserving his reputation as a true and undefeated Ndebele warrior.

As the Ndebele King

Lobengula was crowned as the Ndebele king in September 1968 after the death of his father. It was reported that disputes arose over his legitimacy to be the Ndebele king considering that his mother was a Swazi Princess. He was however sworn in as the Matebe king and was coronated in 1869.

The Moffart Treaty

Lobengula’s soft spot and sympathy for the British missionaries eventually led to the downfall of the Matebele Kingdom. On 11 February, he signed the Moffart Treaty with John Smith Moffart who was the son of Robert Moffart who was King Mzilikazi's friend. Lobengula easily welcomed him as a bearer of spiritual tidings. The missionary persuaded the King to sign a treaty with the British, by which Lobengula agreed not to cede land to any European power without the consent of the British.

The Rudd Concenssion

On 30, October 1888, he signed the Rudd Concession (with Reverend Charles D. Helm, Charles Rudd and his induna Lotshe) which sealed the fate of what is now present day Zimbabwe. Lobengula gave Rhodes permission to trade hunt, and prospect for precious minerals. In return, Rhodes offered 1, 000 Martini-Henry rifles, 100, 000 rounds of ammunition, an annual stipend of £1,200.00, and a gunboat which was to be placed on Zambezi River. After realising that he had been duped, Lobengula tried to repudiate the concession but his efforts were in vain. In September 1890, the Pioneer Column raised the Union Jack signifying the occupation of Mashonaland after the British South Africa Company (BSAC) was given the Royal Charter to colonise Mashonaland

The Matebel or Anglo-Boer War

In July 1893, there was the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War of which the Ndebele army was defeated and Lobengula set his capital on fire escaping. It is along, this view that it has been stated that Matebeleland was conquered and not colonised as the Ndebele wrestled against the Europeans.

His Death

It is believed that Lobengula died in 1894, but the cause of his death is still unknown.Some have argued that he succumbed to smallpox whilst this has been dispelled on the basis that he was killed by members of the BSAC.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Peter Baxter Lobengula, "African History", Published:12 May 2011,Retrieved:11 February 2015"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lobengula, King of the Matebele, "Bulawayo History", Published:,Retrieved:11 February 2015"
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PETER"