History of Khumalo
The Khumalo Constituency is in the city of Bulawayo. Bulawayo’s name means “place of killing” or “place of the ill-treated”.
The history of the city begins with Mzilikazi, chief of the Khumalo clan. In 1818, he sought refuge from his enemies with Shaka, the king of the Zulu tribe, in his capital city. His capital city was also called Bulawayo.
Rise of the Ndebele Kingdom
Mzilikazi soon rose to become a strong leader in his region. In 1837, after a defeat against the Voortrekkers, he decided to move northwards and divide his people in two. He gave half to his uncle, Gondwanda, and his son, Nkulumane, and kept half for himself. Gondwanda and Nkulumane settled around the hill of Ntaba ye zinduna, while Mzilikazi and his people wandered the Kalahari desert.
After two years, uncle and son, suspecting Mzilikazi to be dead, decided to proclaim the son, Nkulumane, as king. When Mzilikazi heard, he was not at all pleased. He ordered his uncle, Gondwanda, to meet him at the Ntaba ye zinduna hill. On that site, his uncle and his followers were clubbed to death. This meant that Mzilikazi now had control over the land upon which present-day Bulawayo stands.
After a long reign, Mzilikazi died in 1868. After some wrangling, Mzilikazi’s son Lobengula succeeded him as king. He began the first Bulawayo settlement. This was approximately 20 kms south of the present-day city. In 1881, once he had exhausted all the resources there, he moved northwards and settled in Umhlabatini. This is now the site of the State House in Bulawayo.
The Rudd Concession
At this point, representatives of Cecil Rhodes began to arrive in Bulawayo. They met with Lobengula and formed the Rudd Concession with him. This allowed Rhodes’ Chartered Company to mine for gold in Mashonaland. Lobengula received in return a gun boat on the Zambezi, a salary of £100 per month and a supply of arms.
Rhodes’ forces, led by Jameson, began to urge forward towards Bulawayo. They fought the Matabele army at the Battle of Bembesi on 4th November 1893. After defeating the Matabele army, Jameson entered Bulawayo. Lobengula fled the city. He was followed by Jameson’s troops and on retreat, he took poison and died. Rhodes arrived in Bulawayo a month later.
Bulawayo continued growing as a settlement. The modern city of Bulawayo was laid out in 1894. Many Edwardian buildings were built then. Before the turn of the century, Bulawayo city centre boasted the telegraph, an efficient railway line and electric lights.
Bulawayo was the second city in Africa, after Johannesburg, and one of the first five cities in the world to have electric lighting. Bulawayo was also the second city in Africa to have its own stock exchange. This stock exchange was one of the only two in Africa until the 1970s. .
Interesting facts about Khumalo
- The constituency is named after the royal lineage of the Khumalos.
- Hlabatine, King Lobengula’s second royal city was situated in this constituency. The city was on the banks of the Bulawayo Spruit, not far from its junction with the Matsheumhlope river and the present site of the State House. Unfortunately, it was often infested with ants, so King Lobengula preferred to live at another kraal called Umvutcha.
- One of Zimbabwe’s first hotels was built in the Khumalo Constituency. It boasted acetylene lighting, snooker, skittles, clay pigeon shooting and the coldest beers in the country. Rudyard Kipling broke his arm there one Sunday afternoon after frivolously leaping over the veranda balustrade. The hotel still stands and is now a private home.
- Much of the early gold mining took place in the Khumalo Constituency. Some mining dates back to the Rozvi era (c1100 – 1800 CE). The majority of mining took place between 1900 – 2000 CE and some mines continue working today.
- Zimbabwe’s first automobile came to and resided in Khumalo.
- Zimbabwe’s first aeroplane, the Silver Queen, landed in this constituency during its maiden flight from London to Cape Town. It also crashed on take off in Khumalo.
With thanks to Brian Louth
Sources – with thanks to Val Bell at the Bulawayo Publicity Office.
Dr O.N Ransford (The Bulawayo Shopper)
ZNCC – 100th Anniversary edition
Background to Bulawayo – Paddy Vickery
Mzilikazi: first king of the Matabele – Paddy Vickery