Early settler soldiers who fought in the First Anglo-Ndebele War

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes:The Course of the Anglo-Ndebele War

  • The war began with serious preparations from both sides
  • Lobengula recalled his army that he had sent to Barotseland
  • He positioned them strategically in areas covering Fort Salisbury, Victoria and Bechuanaland
  • Rhodes brought in 1000 soldiers on horses and Jameson recruited some volunteers among locals
  • A Victoria Agreement was signed by all whites who participated in the war which stated that they would each get 6000acres of land, 15 gold claims and a share on cattle raided from Lobengula
  • The BSAC’s army was divided into three areas, that is, Fort Salisbury under Major Forbes, Fort Victoria under Captain Allan Wilson and in the lower veld under Captain Raaf
  • Their overall commander was Colonel Goold-Adams
  • The Ndebele had 18 000 men in total and the settlers were 1 100 assisted by 2 000 Tswana and 400 Shona and Cape auxiliaries
  • The Ndebele were many in numbers but they had less sophisticated weapons as they used spears and shields  compared to whites who had guns
  • In the first battle of Shangani on 25 October 1893, the Ndebele attacked those outside the laager during the night and killed them but they were Africans and whites suffered no casualties as they were inside
  • The Ndebele were repelled and they lost some soldiers
  • The settlers then began their march to seize the Ndebele capital
  • On 31 October 1893 the Ndebele came to Mbembesi by the night and ambushed the laager there
  • The battle was severe but the Ndebele lost because they had less developed weapons and they lost a lot of young men
  • When Lobengula heard that three of his regiments had been defeated he panicked and fled for his capital and set it on fire
  • The settler saw this as a blessing and hoisted their flag there on 4 November 1983
  • Lobengula tried to make peace with the settler by sending them a bag of gold and messages but these never reached to the settlers
  • The whites continued to pursue Lobengula to capture him through Captain Wilson but the Ndebele killed him and his team
  • Lobengula was never captured
  • He died in 1894 of small pox, a heartbreak or both and a hunted fugitive
  • This marked the fall of the Ndebele state
  • The Ndebele people were settled in Gwai and Shangani reserves and most of their possessions were taken

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.