xxxxxAs we have seen, it was in 1888 that the South African politician and entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes obtained permission from the Matabele chief, Lobengula, for his trading company, the British South Africa Company, to search for minerals in part of his kingdom. Once elected prime minister of the British Cape Colony in May 1890, he persuaded his friend, Dr Jameson, to lead a pioneer column to open up the way to Mashonaland, an area thought to have gold deposits. After setting up forts along the way, the expedition founded Fort Salisbury in the September and claimed the area for the British crown. This alarmed Lobengula. He invaded Mashonaland to keep control of his people, and this caused The First Matabele War in 1893. The Matabele had great superiority in numbers, but the company’s troops were well armed with rapid firing rifles and the new Maxim machine gun. As a result they defeated the Matabele at battles near the Shangani and Bembesi Rivers, and, with the death of Lobengula, the war came to an end in 1894. Matabeleland and Mashonaland were annexed by the British South Africa Company and given the title of Rhodesia in May 1895. White settlement began on a large scale, but, as we shall see, in 1896, in the wake of the Jameson Raid, a rebellion against British rule brought about The Second Matabele War.
THE FIRST MATABELE WAR 1893 -
Map (South Africa): from www.androidillustrated.com/Members_of_the_Pioneer_Column. Map (South Africa): licensed under Creative Commons – www.thefullwiki.org/First_Matabele_War. Shangani: by the English battle artist Richard Caton Woodville, Jnr (1856-
xxxxxAs we have seen, it was in 1888, that the South African politician and entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes, in exchange for money and a large supply of firearms, gained some important concessions from Lobengula, the king of the Matabele. By this agreement -
xxxxxJameson was put in charge of a pioneer column of some 180 white settlers, supported by 200 police of the British South Africa Company, and work on clearing the way through 400 miles of trackless, difficult terrain was begun in the July. Forts named Victoria and Charter were built along the way, the union jack was raised at Fort Salisbury (modern Harare) in the September, and the following year Jameson was appointed administrator of Mashonaland, the traditional home of the Shona people.
xxxxxThroughout this undertaking both Rhodes and Jameson had been careful not to antagonise Lobengula, but the Matabele chief, despite the concessions he had granted -
xxxxxIn the conflict that followed, beginning in October 1893 and known as The First Matabele War, Lobengula’s army -
xxxxxIt was planned that three columns of about 250 men each would join forces at Iron-
xxxxxHaving won the battles of Shangani and Bembesi, Jameson decided to make straight for the capital Bulawayo (Gubulawayo), advancing in two columns. In the meantime Lobengula, having learned of his army’s defeats, set fire to his capital and fled into the bush. When the advanced guard reached the town they found that the arsenal and most of the wooden and mud huts had been destroyed. In an attempt to capture the king and bring the conflict to a speedy end, Jameson then sent out a force, some 300 strong, to find the Matabele chief. In December an advance party of 35 men crossed the Shangani River and, having traced his whereabouts, encamped overnight to await reinforcements. During the night, however, heavy rain made the river too difficult to cross. Thexsmall contingent, known to this day as the Shangani Patrol, was completely surrounded by the Ndebele. Three managed to escape across the river, but the remainder went down fighting.
xxxxxBut despite this setback, the end of the war came with news of Lobengula’s death, caused, it is believed, by smallpox or dysentery. The Matabele acknowledged defeat by mid-
xxxxxThe following year Jameson was appointed the first administrator of Matabeleland, and by a proclamation in May 1895 this territory, together with Mashonaland, was officially given the title of Rhodesia in honour of the man who had extended British influence further into South Africa. White settlement began on a large scale, but peace was not to last for long. As we shall see, in March 1896, in the wake of the Jameson Raid, the Matabele rose up against their colonial masters and brought about The Second Matabele War.
xxxxxIncidentally, it later emerged that Lobengula, following the defeat of his army at Shangani River, had in fact sent a quantity of gold as a peace offering to Jameson. However, the two troopers assigned to take the message of surrender absconded and shared the gold! They were later caught and imprisoned. ……
xxxxx……xxIn November 1891 Lobengula, concerned that the British South Africa Company was taking more than it was entitled to, granted a German financier named Edward Lippert the exclusive right to land in Matabeleland and Mashonaland. Rather than object and risk raising questions as to his company’s own activities, Rhodes purchased the Lippert Concession outright, at considerable cost! ……
xxxxx……xxInxSalisbury early in 1891 volunteers were invited to settle in the healthy upland area of Manicaland, situated south-
xxxxx……xxThexmaxim machine gun, the first to be fully automatic, was invented by the American-