Second Matabele War
||The examples and perspective in this article may not include all significant viewpoints. (December 2010)|
|Second Matabele War|
|Part of the Matabele Wars|
Depiction of Burnham and Armstrong after the assassination of Mlimo. Ndebele warriors in hot pursuit, drawn by Frank Dadd.
|British South Africa Company||Ndebele (Matabele)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Col R.S.S. Baden-Powell
Gen. Frederick Carrington
|Casualties and losses|
The Second Matabele War, also known as the Matabeleland Rebellion and in Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga, was fought between 1896 and 1897 in the country today called Zimbabwe. It pitted the British South Africa Company against the Ndebele (Matabele) people.
In March 1896, the Ndebele revolted against the authority of the British South Africa Company in what is now celebrated in Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga. Mlimo, the Ndebele spiritual leader, is credited with fomenting much of the anger that led to this confrontation. He convinced the Ndebele and the Shona that the settlers (almost 4,000 strong by then) were responsible for the drought, locust plagues and the cattle disease rinderpest ravaging the country at the time.
Mlimo's call to battle was well-timed. Only a few months earlier, the British South Africa Company's Administrator General for Matabeleland, Leander Starr Jameson, had sent most of his troops and armaments to fight the Transvaal Republic in the ill-fated Jameson Raid. This left the country nearly defenceless. The British immediately sent troops to suppress the Ndebele and the Shona, but it cost the lives of many settlers, Ndebele, and Shona. Months passed before British forces were adequate to break the sieges and defend the major settlements, and war raged on until October of the following year.
The War in Matabeleland 
Mlimo planned to wait until the night of March 29, the first full moon, to take Bulawayo by surprise immediately after a ceremony called the Big Dance. He promised, through his priests, that if the Ndebele went to war, the bullets of the settlers would change to water and their cannon shells would become eggs. His plan was to kill all of the settlers in Bulawayo first, but not to destroy the town itself as it would serve again as the royal kraal for the newly reincarnated King Lobengula. Mlimo decreed that the settlers should be attacked and driven from the country through the Mangwe Pass on the Western edge of the Matobo Hills, which was to be left open and unguarded for this reason. Once the settlers were purged from Bulawayo, the Ndebele and Shona warriors would head out into the countryside and continue the slaughter until all the settlers were either killed or fled.
But several young Ndebele were overly anxious to go to war, and the rebellion started prematurely. On March 20, Ndebele rebels shot and stabbed a native policeman. Over the next few days, other outlying settlers and prospectors were killed. Frederick Selous, the famous big-game hunter, had heard rumours of settlers in the countryside being killed, but he thought it was a localised problem. When news of the policeman's murder reached Selous on March 23, he knew the Ndebele had started a massive uprising.
Nearly 2,000 Ndebele warriors began the rebellion in earnest on March 24. Many, although not all, of the young native police quickly deserted and joined the rebels. Armed with Martini-Henry rifles, Winchester repeaters, and Lee-Metfords, as well as old and obsolete guns, assegais, knobkerries, and battle-axes, the Ndebele headed into the countryside. As news of the massive rebellion spread, and the Shona joined in the fighting, the settlers headed towards Bulawayo. Within a week, 141 settlers were slain in Matabeleland, an additional 103 were killed in Mashonaland, and hundreds of settler homes, ranches and mines were burned.
Siege of Bulawayo 
With few troops to support them, the settlers quickly built a laager of sandbagged wagons in the centre of Bulawayo on their own. Barbed wire was added to Bulawayo's defenses. Oil-soaked fagots were arranged in strategic locations in case of attack at night. Blasting gelatin was secreted in outlying buildings that were beyond the defence perimeter, to be exploded in the event the enemy occupied them. Smashed glass bottles were spread around the front of the wagons. Except for hunting rifles, there were few weapons to be found in Bulawayo. Fortunately for settlers, there were a few working artillery pieces and a small assortment of machine guns.
Rather than wait passively, the settlers immediately mounted patrols, called the Bulawayo Field Force, under such figures as Selous and Frederick Russell Burnham; these rode out to rescue any surviving settlers in the countryside and went on attack against the Ndebele. Selous raised a mounted troop of forty men to scout southward into the Matobo Hills. Maurice Gifford, along with 40 men, rode east along the Iniza River. Whenever settlers were found, they were quickly loaded into their wagons and closely guarded on their way to Bulawayo. Within the first week of fighting, 20 men of the Bulawayo Field Force were killed and another 50 were wounded.
In the First Matabele War, the Ndebele had experienced the effectiveness of the settlers' Maxim guns, so they never mounted a significant attack against Bulawayo even though over 10,000 Ndebele warriors could be seen near the town. Conditions inside Bulawayo, however, quickly became unbearable. During the day, settlers could go to homes and buildings within the town, but at night they were forced to seek shelter in the much smaller laager. Nearly 1,000 women and children were crowded into the city, and false alarms of attacks were common. Although they kept up their siege, the Ndebele made one critical error: they neglected to cut the telegraph lines connecting Bulawayo to Mafeking. This gave both the relief forces and the besieged Bulawayo Field Force far more information than they would otherwise have had.
Several relief columns were organized to break the siege, but the long trek through hostile countryside took several months. Late in May, the first two relief columns appeared near Bulawayo on almost the same day but from opposite directions – Cecil Rhodes and Col. Beal arriving from Salisbury and Fort Victoria in Mashonaland 300 miles to the north; and Lord Grey and Col. Plumer (of the York and Lancaster Regiment) from Kimberley and Mafeking, 600 miles to the south. The southern relief forces were nearly ambushed on their approach to Bulawayo, but Selous discovered the whereabouts of the Matabele and the Maxim guns of the relief forces drove back the attackers. Not long after relief forces began arriving in Bulawayo, Gen. Carrington arrived to take overall command along with his Chief of Staff, Col Baden-Powell.
With the siege broken, an estimated 50,000 Matabele retreated into their stronghold of the Matobo Hills near Bulawayo. This region became the scene of the fiercest fighting between the settler patrols and the Matabele. By June, the Shona kept their promise and joined the fighting on the side of the Ndebele. But lacking a clear leader similar to Mlimo, the Shonas mostly stayed behind their fortifications and conducted few raids.
Assassination of Mlimo 
The turning point in the war came when a Zulu informant provided information on the whereabouts of Mlimo. The scout Burnham and native commissioner Bonnar Armstrong were dispatched to find Mlimo's sacred cave, which was used as a shrine, and to capture or kill him. Burnham and Armstrong traveled by night through the Matobo Hills and approached the sacred cave. Not far from the cave was a village of about 100 huts filled with many warriors. The two scouts tethered their horses to a thicket and crawled on their bellies, screening their slow and cautious movements with branches held before them. Once inside the cave, they waited until Mlimo entered.
Burnham and Armstrong waited until Mlimo entered the cave and started his dance of immunity. Burnham shot Mlimo just below the heart. The two scouts then leapt over the dead Mlimo and ran down a trail towards their horses. Hundreds of warriors, encamped nearby, picked up their arms and started in pursuit. Burnham set fire to the village as a distraction. The two men hurried back to Bulawayo, with warriors in pursuit.
Upon learning of the death of Mlimo, Cecil Rhodes boldly walked unarmed into the Ndebele stronghold and persuaded the impi to lay down their arms. The extension of the War in Mashonaland continued for another year, however.
War in Mashonaland 
War broke out on 17 June 1896 at Mazowe with an attack by the Hwata dynasty on Alice Mine. This was followed by the medium Nehanda Nyakasikana capturing and executing Mazowe Native Commissioner Pollard.
Other religious figures who led the rebellion included Kaguvi Gumboreshumba, who was active in the Goromonzi area and Mukwati, a priest of the Mwari shrine who was active throughout Mashonaland.
In addition to the mediums, traditional leaders played a major role in the rebellion, notably Chief Mashayamombe, who led resistance in his chieftaincy in Mhondoro, south of Harare. He was amongst the first chiefs to rebel and the last to be defeated. He was supplied by many of the surrounding districts, such as Chikomba (then Charter). Other chiefs who played an important role included Gwabayana, Makoni, Mapondera, Mangwende and Seke 
With the war in Matabeleland ending, Gen. Carrington was able to concentrate his forces on Mashonaland and the rebels retreated into granite kopjes. With no central command to oppose him, Carrington was able to bring Maxim guns against each stronghold in turn, until resistance ended. Nehanda Nyakasikana and Kaguvi Gumboreshumba were captured and executed in 1898, but Mukwati was never captured and died in Mutoko.
The rebellion failed completely and did not result in any major changes in BSAC policy. For example, the hut tax was implemented. The territories of Matabeleland and Mashonaland became Rhodesia, and both the Ndebele and Shona became subjects of the Rhodes administration. However, the legacy of leaders such as Kaguvi, Mapondera and Nehanda was to inspire future generations.
Birthplace of Scouting 
Soon after the outbreak of the war, Baden-Powell was assigned to Matabeleland as Chief of Staff to Gen. Carrington and it was here that he first met and began a lifelong friendship with Frederick Russell Burnham, the American born Chief of Scouts for the British. This would become a formative experience for Baden-Powell not only because he had the time of his life commanding reconnaissance missions into enemy territory, but because many of his later Boy Scout ideas took hold here. Burnham had been a scout practically his entire life in the United States when he went to Africa in 1893 to scout for Cecil Rhodes on the Cape-to-Cairo Railway. As Chief of Scouts under Major Allan Wilson, Burnham became known in Africa as he-who-sees-in-the-dark and he gained fame in the First Matabele War when he survived the British equivalent of Custer's Last Stand, the infamous Shangani Patrol.
During their joint scouting patrols into the Matobo Hills, Burnham began teaching Baden-Powell woodcraft, inspiring him and giving him the plan for both the program and the code of honor of Scouting for Boys. Practiced by frontiersmen of the American Old West and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, woodcraft was generally unknown to the British, but well known to the American scout Burnham. These skills eventually formed the basis of what is now called scoutcraft, the fundamentals of Scouting. Both men recognised that wars in Africa were changing markedly and the British Army needed to adapt; so during their joint scouting missions, Baden-Powell and Burnham discussed the concept of a broad training programme in woodcraft for young men, rich in exploration, tracking, fieldcraft, and self-reliance. It was also during this time in the Matobo Hills that Baden-Powell first started to wear his signature campaign hat like the one worn by Burnham, and it was here that Baden-Powell acquired his Kudu horn, the Ndebele war instrument he later used every morning at Brownsea Island to wake the first boy scouts and to call them together in training courses.
1901 Mapondera Rebellion 
In 1901, Chief Kadungure Mapondera, who had in 1894 proclaimed his independence of company rule, led a rebellion in the Guruve and Mount Darwin areas of Mashonaland Central. He led a force of initially under 100 men, but had over 600 under his command by mid-1901. He was captured in 1903 and died in jail in 1904 after a hunger strike.
In his will, Rhodes directed that he be buried in the Matobo Hills; when he died in the Cape in 1902 his body was brought to Bulawayo by train and wagon. His burial was attended by Ndebele chiefs, who asked that the firing party not discharge their rifles, as this would disturb the spirits. Then, for the first and probably the only time, they gave the white man the Ndebele royal salute "Bayete". Rhodes is buried alongside Jameson and the 34 settler soldiers killed in the Shangani Patrol.
See also 
- First Matabele War
- Pioneer Column
- British South Africa Company Medal
- Nehanda Nyakasikana
- Kadungure Mapondera
- Mario, Prince (2009). Zimbabwe, Land and the Dictator.
- Burnham, Frederick Russell (1926). Scouting on Two Continents. New York: Doubleday, Page & company. ISBN 0-86920-126-3. OCLC 407686.
- "Killed the Matabele God: Burnham, the American scout, may end uprising" (PDF). New York Times. June 25, 1896. ISSN 0093-1179. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
- Farwell, Byron (2001). The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Land Warfare: An Illustrated World View. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 539. ISBN 0-393-04770-9.
- Pena, L. 2000. The Revolt of the Zimbabwean Masses: Part 1: How Did it Begin? 
- M. Sibanda, H. Moyana et al. 1992. The African Heritage. History for Junior Secondary Schools. Book 1. Zimbabwe Publishing House. ISBN 978-0-908300-00-6
- Keppel-Jones, A. 1983. Rhodes and Rhodesia: The White Conquest of Zimbabwe, 1884–1902. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-0534-6
- Beach, D.N. 1970. Afrikaner and Shona Settlement in the Enkeldoorn Area, 1890–1900. Zambezia, 1, 5–34. 
- Adu Boahen, A. 1990. Africa Under Colonial Domination, 1880–1935. James Currey. ISBN 978-0-85255-097-7
- Maritz, J. 1989. Towards a Zimbabwean Aeneid: a pedagogical exercise. Zambezia, 16, 151–157 .
- Lott, Jack (1981). "Chapter 8. The Making of a Hero: Burnham in the Tonto Basin". In Boddington, Craig. America – The Men and Their Guns That Made Her Great. Petersen Publishing Co. p. 90. ISBN 0-8227-3022-7.
- Proctor, Tammy M. (July 2000). "A Separate Path: Scouting and Guiding in Interwar South Africa". Comparative Studies in Society and History 42 (3). ISSN 3548-1356.
- West, James E.; Peter O. Lamb; illustrated by Lord Baden-Powell (1932). He-who-sees-in-the-dark; the boys' story of Frederick Burnham, the American scout. Brewer, Warren and Putnam. Unknown parameter
- DeGroot, E.B. (July 1944). "Veteran Scout". Boys' Life (Boy Scouts of America): 6–7. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
- Baden-Powell, Robert (1908). Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship. London: H. Cox. xxiv. ISBN 0-486-45719-2.
- van Wyk, Peter (2003). Burnham: King of Scouts. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-4122-0028-8.
- Jeal, Tim (1989). Baden-Powell. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-170670-X.
- Orans, Lewis P. "The Kudu Horn and Scouting". PineTree Web. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
- Forster, Reverend Dr. Michael. "The Origins of the Scouting Movement" (DOC). Netpages. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- Beach, D.N. 1989. Mapondera: heroism and history in Northern Zimbabwe, 1840–1904. Mambo Press, Gweru, ISBN 978-0-86922-445-8
- Maylam, Paul (2005). The cult of Rhodes: remembering an imperialist in Africa. Claremont, South Africa: David Philip Publishers. ISBN 0-86486-684-4.
- Norman, Andrew (2004). Robert Mugabe and the Betrayal of Zimbabwe. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1686-6.
Further reading 
- History of Rhodesia, by Howard Hensman (1900) PDF
- The Story of Baden-Powell, by Harold Begbie (1900)
- Scouting on Two Continents, by Major Frederick Russell Burnham, D.S.O., Autobiography. LC call number: DT775 .B8 1926. (1926)
- Taking Chances, by Major Frederick Russell Burnham, D.S.O., LC call number: DT29 .B8. (1944)
- The Matabele campaign, 1896; being a narrative of the campaign in suppressing the native rising in Matabeleland and Mashonaland, by Col. Robert Baden-Powell, ISBN 0-8371-3566-4
- "Map of the Second Matabele War". Retrieved 2006-10-29.