Nehanda hero of the First Chimurenga

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes:The First Chimurenga


  • The Ndebele and the Shona lost their independence after the Pioneer Column settled in Zimbabwe
  • The new settler did not recognize the political structures that were already existing in Zimbabwe
  • The Shona people were considered weak and cowardly whilst the Ndebele had frustrations after their defeat
  • The whites also forbade the Ndebele from appointing a successor for Lobengula
  • The grabbing of fertile and productive lands by the new settlers leaving the natives in reserves such as Gwai and Shangani also led to the breaking out of the First Chimurenga
  • The settlers also did not have the economic base to colonize Zimbabwe so they had to use dubious methods to get as much cattle as they could from the natives
  • Many native people lost their land due to this through direct raids and paying of fines
  • Chiefs also lost their land distribution powers
  • During the Anglo-Ndebele war, the Ndebele lost so many cattle to the white settlers, for example, before the war the Ndebele had 250 000 heads of cattle but had 40 000 remaining after the war
  • The settlers disrupted the normal economic activities of the Africans, that is, raiding for the Ndebele and the Shona trading with the Portuguese
  • European settlers began exploiting the natives by using them as cheap labour for their mines and industries and this did not go well with the natives leading to the war
  • Labour was recruited with the help of police officers
  • The natives working for whites were also subjected to severe physical abuse as they were beaten by Sjamboks
  • White settlers recruited police officer from the natives and they were not to work among their tribes, for example, the Ndebele worked among Shona and the Shona among the Ndebele.
  • The Ndebele were angered by this because they did not want to submit to Shona police officers whom they regarded as inferior as the Shona had constituted the lowest social group Amahole
  • The British also introduced the hut tax to force Africans to work for them as payment and failure to comply meant punishment
  • The white settlers abused a lot of African women by taking them as concubines and this angered the Africans
  • Zimbabwe was also hit by a hard drought, rinderpest and locusts which increased the burden on the normal African person as they had to pay taxes frustrated the African to go to war
  • Also these natural disasters were viewed as a sign that Mwari or Mlimo was not happy about settlers in Zimbabwe
  • The need to spread Christianity and replace African Traditional Religion which was widely spread among Africans led to the First Chimurenga
  • The influence of religious leaders such as Mbuya Nehanda, Mlimo and Sekuru Kaguvi who were offering emotional and psychological support to the warriors led to the first Chimurenga

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