Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Matopo Hills and a View of the World

By: C. K. COOKE, F.S.A., F.R.A.I. Director, Historical Monuments Commission
© C. K. Cooke.

First Published 1965
Recompiled by Eddy Norris from documents made available by Diarmid Smith


1. Introduction.
2. A View of the World.
3. The Names of the Hills.
4. The Caves and Paintings.
5 The Rock Formations.
6 Motor Routes.
7. The History of the Hills.
8. Acknowledgments.

Chapter 1


Sir Robert Tredgold, former Chief Justice of Southern Rhodesia, in his book, The Matopos, says under the heading. The Hills: —

"The Matopos have an attraction that is all their own. There are other great masses of granite in Rhodesia, but there is something about the Matopos that is quite distinctive, something that claims the special devotion of those that love them. Oddly enough, one of the most impressive aspects of the hills is seen by relatively few. The ordinary approaches are all from the north, but it is from the south that the noble massif appears, rising like a bastion from the great sea of the low veld. Only from certain points m the mopane can the full extent and grandeur of the hills be realised.

"But in every part of the hills, scene succeeds scene of unbelievable beauty and wildness. From the lichens upwards the colours seem rare and strangely lovely. The lights of the morning and evening are beyond description. Moreover, an account of nearly every incident of historical importance in Matabeleland seems to lead back to the Matopos.

"But beyond all these there is something more subtle that defies definition and that makes the hills unique. We may talk of one place the Switzerland of Rhodesia, whilst others suggest some other comparison. But the Matopos are just the Matopos; our very own, and very near to the heart of our country.

"As the attraction was felt by Rhodes himself, so the older peoples felt their mystery and wonder. The hills are associated with the hoary traditions of the Africans. Many of the kopjes are venerated by them and are the scene of annual feasts and ritual gatherings. The oracle of their religion is there. Even the least imaginative must feel something of this strange fascination. To some of us the Matopos will always be a place apart, a place that speaks of all that is deepest and best in our love of our native land."

In a few words Sir Robert Tredgold has summed up the feelings of Rhodesians and supplied the author with a far better introduction to this booklet than he could have hoped to have written.



Cecil Rhodes did not spend a great deal of time in Rhodesia, but was greatly impressed by the rugged grandeur of the country of the Matopo. He owned the farm on which stands the Agricultural Experimental Farm and the Rhodes Estate Preparatory School. Here, Mr. Rhodes maintained a few rondavels as a residence. He often dined in the summer-house on hot summer nights, a replica of which is preserved as National Monument No. 78. Adjacent to the Preparatory School is another National Monument, a magnificent example of a Victorian Stable (National Monument No. 79), which Mr. Rhodes had built to house his animals and transport. This well built brick and stone stable could be transplanted on to any piece of land in England and look perfectly at home. But close to the colonial Dutch style buildings of the school it looks perfectly at ease and has mellowed well in its unexpected surroundings.

From his simple rondavels Rhodes was wont to ride into the hills accompanied by his farm manager, Mr. Hull, or one or more of his guests. It was from one of these jaunts into the hills with Lord Grey, the country's Administrator, that Rhodes returned in very high spirit saying, "Grey and I have made a wonderful discovery. We have found a hill from the top of which a marvellous view is to be seen, and the ascent is so easy that an old lady of eighty could walk up without assistance."

That afternoon Rhodes took his party to see the hill he had discovered. As the men gathered at the top of the hill, Rhodes said suddenly, "I shall be buried here, looking in that direction"—he pointed to the north — and the remains of Allan Wilson and his party must be brought here from Fort Victoria and placed inside the memorial I shall put up to their memory. Now don't forget that, the remains of Allan Wilson and his men are to be put there."

Rhodes sat down under the shade of the great boulders and said: "The peacefulness of it all; the chaotic grandeur of it. It creates a feeling of awe and brings home to one how very small we all are." Then he turned to Grey and said: "I call this one of the views of the world."

This choice was perhaps a fortunate one because the hill was called Malindidzimu by the local inhabitants, the dwelling place of benevolent spirits, and a place which was held in veneration.
It was only six years after this that Rhodes died, in his little cottage next to the sea at Muizenberg on the 26th March, 1902.

Rhodes had made many Wills in his lifetime, but he expressed the following in his last:

" I admire the grandeur and loneliness of the Matopos in Rhodesia and therefore I desire to be buried in the Matopos on the hill which I used to visit and which I called a 'View of the World,' in a square to be cut in the rock on the top of the hill, covered with a plain brass plate with the words thereon: 'Here lie the remains of Cecil John Rhodes.'"

On April 9th, 1902, the funeral cortege left Bulawayo on its way to the final resting place. The journey was a long one in those days of animal-drawn transport, so the gun carriage rested overnight in the summer-house on the Westacre Estate. This was the same shelter in which the great man had often sat and pondered during a hot summer evening.

The next day, Cecil John Rhodes was buried at his beloved View of the World. The assembled Matabele Chiefs, for the first and probably the only time ever to a European, spontaneously gave him the Matabele salute "Hayete," after asking that the firing party should not discharge their rifles as it would disturb the spirits in the vicinity, a request which was agreed to.

Three weeks later Colonel Frank Rhodes said to the assembled Chiefs: " Now I leave my brother's grave in your hands as a proof that I know the White men and the Matabele will be friends and brothers forever. I charge you to hand down this sacred trust to your sons that come after you and from generation to generation, and I know if you do this my brother will be pleased."

It was at the burial ceremony that the Bishop of Mashonaland read for the first time the verses written by Rudyard Kipling which ended with the words so well known to all Rhodesians.

"The immense and brooding spirit still
Shall quicken and control
Living he was the land, and dead
His soul shall be her soul."

Ever since the day of Mr. Rhodes' funeral many thousands of visitors have visited this place of pilgrimage, and year by year the number seeking this hallowed spot increases.

On December 3rd, 1893, during the Matabele War, 84 miles from the old mission at Shiloh a small party of the Victoria Rangers and the Salisbury Horse under Major Allan Wilson crossed the Shangani River in pursuit of Lobengula. Because the river came down in sudden spate they were cut off from the main body under Major Forbes. The small party were attacked by the Matabele bodyguard of Lobengula and after severe fighting for several hours were completely overwhelmed. Not one was left alive. The Matabele were so impressed by the party's bravery that no mutilation of the dead was allowed; this mutilation was a normal custom for those whom the Matabele defeated. Later the remains were collected and a cross was carved by Dawson on a tree nearby with the words: "To Brave Men." Part of this tree bearing the inscription may be seen in the National Museum, Bulawayo. The remains were interred at Zimbabwe until they were exhumed and transferred to the Matopos in March, 1904, in deference to Rhodes' wishes.

One hundred and fifty yards from Rhodes' Grave is a huge granite monument raised by Mr. Rhodes' direction as a memorial to Major Allan Wilson and his little band. On this memorial are four bronze panels depicting in high relief the members of the famous patrol. Each panel is seven feet high and fifteen feet long, and all is the work of John Tweed.

The main inscription reads: " Erected to the enduring memory of Allan Wilson and his men who fell in fight against the Matabele on the Shangani River, December 4th, 1893. There was no survivor."

The story of the life of Leander Starr Jameson is bound up with that of Rhodes whom he first met in Kimberley. They formed a lifelong friendship and eventually Jameson became his greatest lieutenant. He was one of the Pioneer Column, first Administrator of Southern Rhodesia and President of the British South Africa Company. He was the first to be granted the honour devised by the founder of Rhodesia for "those who deserve well of their country" and is fittingly buried near to the man with whom, in life, he was so closely connected.

His remains were buried in a chamber cut into the solid granite just outside the ring of boulders a few yards to the north and east of Rhodes' Grave.

Leander Starr Jameson died on 26th November, 1917, but the coffin was not brought from England until May, 1920, because of the hostilities of the First World War. The ceremony at World's View took place on 10th May, 1920.

Only one other person has been buried at the View of the World — Charles Patrick John Coghlan, the first Premier of the Colony. He was buried on the 14th August, 1930. His grave is some distance from the others on the southern face of the hill, at a spot which was consecrated in recognition of his Roman Catholic faith.

He was an attorney and entered practice in Bulawayo after the end of the Boer War.

From the outset of his public life in 1908, his mind was set upon obtaining some other form of government for the territory. By 1919 he was determined that responsible government should be achieved. He and his colleagues threw themselves into the struggle, but it was not until 1923 that Southern Rhodesia received its new constitution.

In the first elections the Responsible Government Party, led by Coghlan, achieved an overwhelming victory and he became the first Premier of the Colony.

Rhodes Grave


The Names of the Hills

The names of the hills are mainly in languages no longer spoken in the area, namely, archaic Karanga and Silozwi. They are therefore difficult to translate into English.

Amongst these for which approximate translations can be made are the following:—

IFIFI: A European Roller (Coracias gattulus).
IFIFI ENCINYINE: A small European Roller.
SHOLOLENEMA: The head of a Rhinoceros.
IMADZI: Near to the water.
SHUMBA SHABE: Yellow Lion.
HAMBA SHABE: Yellow Tortorise
KALANYONI: The crying of the birds
GOWAMBISA: A Zebra watering place
DULA: A grainbin
POMONGWE: A small melon
INUGU: The Porcupine
SILOZWI: Of the Lozwi
SILOZWANA: Little Silozwi
IWABAYI: The white necked raved (Corvus albilcollis)
NSWATUGI: A place of the jumping
NKANTOLO: Office (kantoor - Afrikaans)
NTOLOWOSE: A shady place
NTUMBANE: A burial place
SABAFU: Who died, or were killed here
SHOTSHE (Isotja): A corruption of the English Soldier or possible a grain-bin
TSHENTSELE: To have wisdom
GALI: A beer pot
ALALI: Pleasant sleep
DHLA DHLA: Possible a headring (Dhlo Dhlo.)
KOZI: A balck eagel (A verranuaxii)
MWANAPAKATI: A chile inside
NTABAMHLOPE: A black hill
DWALALIBOMVU: A white hill
NTUNJA: A red rock
WAWA: Beer
MKUWA: A warning
MALINDIDZIMU (World's View: The dwelling place of spirits
NGOME (Ngomo): A drum.
SWISHA: A wooden bowl.
GULABAGHWE: A large cave.
AMADZIMBA: The Hunters.
QUILEMBEKWE: The place of the Rock Pigeons

Every hill in the Matopos has a name, but many names are so corrupted or altered by the speakers of languages different from that used to name them originally that the meaning is now entirely lost. The names listed above are but a few of those which could be translated; a study of others could provide a most interesting task for anyone with a working knowledge of a local dialect.

From the View of the World many of the hills can be seen. The African Custodians, who are always on duty at the Grave will, if asked to do so, indicate the various features. Some hills have a magical significance and may not be pointed at with the forefinger. Africans, however, will usually point the thumb at those hills if it is essential.


The Caves and Paintings

The Cave paintings of the Matopos are worthy of careful study by artists and prehistorians.

These paintings hare been described in many scientific publications and in lesser detail in the "Rock Art of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland", published on behalf of the National Publications Trust by Chatto and Windus.

Although painted long ago by people who were uncivilised nomadic hunters, the paintings are far less "primitive" than many drawings by the "modern". The animals are strictly representational and they are drawn so anatomically correct that there is no doubt whatsoever to the observer as to the species depicted. Trees, reptiles, birds, fishes, insects, baskets, gourds and fruits are also accurately portrayed. On the other hand, few human figures are anything but simple designs aimed at portraying a man or a woman rather than any particular person. There are also strange shapes which have variously been called, tectiform compositions, formlings, or cryptographs. Whatever these strange abstract compositions are called by modern observers, they most certainly meant a great deal to the painters and the contemporary observer.

The paintings have been divided into a number of styles although most workers agree that in reality the art is a continuous development. However, the divisions have been based on changes in technique or artistic ability and definitely fit in with the sequence which has been established by the study of super-imposition, that is the painting of one picture on top of another. The classification is: -

Style 1. Silhouettes of men and animals in all colours, but lacking movement. Humans mainly, if not entirely, stylised. No polychromes.

Style 2, Animals showing movement. Humans entirely stylised. A glossy finish to paintings is characteristic. All in silhouette. No polychromes.

Style 3. Outline drawings of animals and strange humans in detail. No polychromes.

Style 4. An experimental stage using all the previous styles. Polychrome animals, clothed humans, landscapes and complicated cryptographs. This group contains the finest of Rhodesian Rock Art.

Nswatugi Cave Paintings

Style 5. Stylistic drawings of men and animals mainly in black or white, also geometric and other patterns. All very crudely drawn, probably with the fingers.

Style 6. Large white animals, apparently etched on the granite surface, or large figures plastered with Kaolin clay. Still being executed in parts of Mashonaland. The etched effect is caused by the cleaning of the granite by the acids in the clay.

The question of the exact age of the paintings is difficult because no direct method of dating the pigment has yet been developed, so until something is forthcoming dating can only be an estimate based on sound archaeological evidence and argument.

Style 6. Is very modern and in all probability was still being carried out up to a few years ago.

Style 5. Also almost contemporary, herd boys make similar finger drawings today. White is one of the most fugitive of colours and soon disappears, so 100 years is a likely age for this style.

Style 4. Is certainly pre-historic, but some subjects show Iron Age influences and activities because the artists portrayed shields, gourds, grain grinding stones, weapons, probably made of iron and very occasionally domesticated animals. This phase must therefore be assigned to the protohistoric period after iron had been introduced into the Matopos 1,500-2,000 years ago.

Style 3 A short-lived style of paintings, but one showing the mastery of the artists over the difficulties of painting on rough granite with primitive materials. Because figures of strangers appear in this series it is thought that this style may only just predate Style 4.

Style 2. No strangers appear in these paintings, therefore it is presumed that they were painted over 2,000 years ago.

Style 1. On artistic grounds as well as superposition, this series is earlier than Style 2 and like that style must belong to the Later Stone Age of which the earliest date established by the radio carbon method is over 7,000 years ago.

Bound up with the paintings is the life of prehistoric man, for after all it is the man that matters not the tool or the brush, but to go into this in any detail would make tedious reading. The visitor to the Matopos should pay a visit to Pomongwe Cave where a permanent exhibition of man's early tools found there is on view.


The Rock Formations

The study of scenery must begin in this area with the study of the rocks themselves; in the Matopos Hills this is comparatively simple because the whole area is essentially granite. Granite is a rock which originated deep within the earth's crust and is completely crystalline. Geologists state that the granite was never forced up to the surface nor did it ever flow like a lava. That it now forms the surface implies that other rocks have been removed by erosion over the period of two thousand million years since the granite was formed.

Before entering the hills on the route from Bulawayo, the rocks which originally covered, and still in this area cover the granites, may be seen; they are greenish rocks known as chlorite schists. Outcrops of this schist may be observed adjacent to the crossing of the Khami River. These schists give rise to the fertile red clayey soils which can be seen in the ploughed lands near to the roadway.

Once inside the granite hills there is a sharp contrast in soil vegetation and scenery. The rock is now mainly granite with only a few intrusions of diabase rocks and veins of quartz. An interesting formation of dolerite is the so-called "Iron Wall" (called Shentende-budzi) which is at its most spectacular size on Gladstone Farm, 5 miles from the Matobo Police Camp. It has been traced, however, for 27 miles through the hills. Dolerite also gives rise to a red soil which is very different from the pale sandy soil derived from the granite.

The grotesque and extraordinary forms of the kopjes always intrigues the visitor, who usually thinks that they were caused by the violence of nature, by volcanic eruption or primordial floods.

The hills fall into two main categories: the great smooth whale-backs or dwalas, and piles of square or rounded boulders forming the smaller "castle kopjes."

The castle kopjes are formed by natural fracture along the lines of weakness, called joints. In the Matopo granites these lines of fracture run very consistently north and south, and east and west, but they are very irregularly spaced. Weathering of the whole landscape and the splitting of the joint structures gives rise to rectangular blocks of every shape and size, often left perched one on top of the other.

The whalebacks are formed by a similar set of circumstances, but the joint pattern giving rise to the rectangular blocks is over shadowed by the effect of large radius curved joints parallel to the surface of the dome Exfoliation takes place along these curved joints peeling the surface off the kopje, this form of destruction has been called positive spheroidal weathering, but is more simply called "onion skin peeling " The resultant blocks which are of reasonably even thickness m any one peeling were used in the building of the now ruined structures such as Khami and Zimbabwe The large smooth caves such as Pomongwe and Silozwane have been formed because of the same circular joint structure, but by " negative spheroidal weathering," a collapse of the internal structure — the reverse of the outward peeling


The landscape, as we see it at present, has been slowly carved by wind and water from an almost flat surface The land surface is still being altered slowly and relentlessly and gradually over millions of years the present visible granites will be weathered away and once more a featureless plain will take the place of what is now one of the most dramatic pieces of landscape m Rhodesia


Motor Routes

All the routes have Bulawayo as the starting point, but can equally well be used from any chosen camp site, rest camp or hotel.

Route 1:

Bulawayo can be left by any one of the sign-posted streets leading to the Matopos Road. Once this tarred road is reached the motorist passes through the suburb of Pamona, named after one of Lobengula's queens. A drive of 16 miles through pleasant country brings one to the Matopo Hotel overlooking the waters impounded by the earth bank dam built at the expense of Cecil John Rhodes and now used to irrigate farms nearby. Leaving this point, continue along the road until the road divides in two, either branch will lead the motorist into the hills, but for the sake of convenience we will take the left-hand fork. The road narrows here, therefore the motorist is advised to drive slowly, not only for safety, but because the beauties of the Matopos will be lost if one drives too fast.

The fenced area on the left hand side of the road is Rowallan Park, an area set aside for the use of the Girl Guide movement. The first massive hills can now be seen, the bald kopje in front is Imadzi in which is the shrine erected by the Memorable Order of Tin Hats in memory of fallen comrades. Please see clipart (image) at the end of the article.

The road now winds through pleasant country of granite hills interspersed with grassland on which herds of sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) may be seen. Baboon {Papio ursinus) and monkeys {Ceropithecus aethiops) will be seen playing in the trees or crossing the road in troops. The majestic black eagle {Aquila verrauxii) with a white "v" on its back may often be seen gliding high over the kopjes looking for its favourite food, the ubiquitous dassie, or rock rabbit {Dendrohyrax sp.).

A long gentle slope leads down to a low-level crossing of a large swamp area filled with reeds — in the right season alive with weavers and other birds which nest in this habitat. The beautiful cardinal bishop bird {Euplectes orix) with its black and red coat, and his cousin, the yellow bishop bird {Euplectes capensis), make splashes of bright colour as they perch on the topmost point of a bullrush or on the swinging seed head of a reed. On the other side of the crossing can be seen the gates of Gordon Park which has been set aside for the Boy Scouts. This is a tribute to Col. Gordon, an early settler who did much to foster the movement which Baden-Powell started after his scouting experiences in the Matopo Hills during the Matabele Rebellion.

Just over the top of the corresponding hill over the drift will be seen a notice pointing to the White Rhino Shelter (National Monument No. 29), a parking area is nearby. A short walk over stepping stones in a vlei and then up a pleasant path will bring the visitor to a small fenced shelter. This little gallery contains some of the finest Style 3 paintings in Rhodesia; it is remarkable for the fact that both the White Rhinoceros and the Black Rhinoceros are depicted, both these animals being locally extinct for many years. Perhaps the finest group is that of wildbeeste drawn in the top left hand corner — there is linear art at its best.

The next stop will be at the entrance road to the View of the World. An enclosure has been built here for the convenience of the curio sellers and the public. It would be appreciated if travellers would only buy their requirements from these licensed sellers. A pilgrimage to World's View will take about three quarters of an hour and entail a walk of about twenty minutes. (See Chapter 2).

The return journey may be by a different route if the motorist wishes to be back in Bulawayo after only a few hours' visit. This is via the circular route: after leaving the outspan near to the consecrated area, return to the main road and turn right immediately on reaching it. The route is through pleasantly watered country with large fantastic masses of granite skirting the side of World's View Hill, passing the original outspan from which the coffin containing the remains of Cecil John Rhodes was manhandled to the place of burial. Further along this road will be seen a rock formation which looks extraordinarily like a man sitting in an armchair, others look like elephants; so fantastic are the shapes that an imaginative mind can conjure all manner of animals and things out of the bare granite rocks. After passing through the gates of the Park, the motorist will soon be on the full width tar; a right turn at the junction will take him back on the original road to Bulawayo.

Route 2:

If the visitor is not in a hurry, the sign-posted gravel road, which may be seen on the left after taking the right-hand road from the World's View turn-off, should be taken. Care should be exercised along the first few miles of this section because it has been necessary to construct open ditch drains across the road to take away the water which drains out of the large marshy areas of grassland.

After a few miles, a sign-posted fork in the road will be seen: the left-hand fork leads to Silozwane (National Monument No. 19) (Route 7), whilst the right one is the start of another circular


route back to Bulawayo. At a point approximately eight miles from the tar is the turn-off to Pomongwe Cave. A mile along this road brings the visitor to a shady amphitheater, an ideal place to picnic; a walk of 100 yards from this point brings the traveller into the largest of the subspheroid caves in the hills. The paintings were unfortunately ruined many years ago by an
over-zealous curator endeavouring to preserve them. However, an outline elephant, and a few humans and antelope are worth examining.

This cave was the scene of extensive excavation carried out by Mr. C. K. Cooke on behalf of the Historical Monuments Commission. A display case showing the cultural sequence, sections and plans of the excavation is permanently mounted in the cave.

Two miles from this point is the beautiful Rest Camp maintained by the Department of National Parks and Wild Life Conservation, for the boundary of the Rhodes Estate was crossed soon after leaving Pomongwe. A show case containing Stone Age and Iron Age relics arranged by the Historical Monuments Commission can be seen in the vestibule of the Park's office.

Down a very steep hill is the concrete wall which impounds the waters of the Maleme River, a lovely spot and one of the many areas of water stocked with fish. No fishing is allowed, however, without a permit.

From this point the visitor will want to return to Bulawayo if he has not arranged to stay overnight at Maleme.

Route 3:

The same route from Bulawayo may be taken to Maleme, but without the stops en route, but it is presumed that the motorist is starting this route from Maleme. The large hill under which the motorist travels after crossing over the concrete wall is Kalanyoni. Many klipspringers live on this hill and in the early morning they may be seen grazing near the edge of the water.

This little antelope when disturbed runs back to the shelter of the rocks climbing up precipitous slopes with consummate ease.

The area between here and the turn-off to Nswatugi Cave (National Monument No. 8) is remarkable for the grotesque rock formations. Right at the top of the unclimable finger rock may be seen the nest of a black eagle (Aquilla verrauxii).

Nswatugi Cave has some of the finest paintings in Africa, the most remarkable of which are probably the single galloping giraffe, the two walking giraffe and the frieze of kudu. This cave was excavated by the late Dr. Neville Jones and is the type site of the Southern Rhodesian Wilton. From this point the road winds through a valley bounded on one side by a range of very jagged granite hills, but there are pleasant areas of impounded water, shady trees and stream crossings before the main

Bulawayo to Antelope Mine road is reached. From this point a direct route to Bulawayo may be taken to the right or alternatively take the turn-off to Bambata Cave (National Monument No. 7) which will be seen approximately 4 miles from the junction with the Antelope road. To visit this cave, follow the signposts until the outspan is reached. A gentle walk, sometimes over fairly steep granite kopjes, will enable the visitor to reach the cave in about 30 minutes. The paintings are very fine, but even without this gallery of prehistoric art at the end, the walk is well worthwhile for the breathtaking views of the hills which may be seen in every direction.

Some of the most spectacular Middle Stone Age material ever found in Southern Rhodesia was excavated from this cave. It may be seen in the National Museum, Bulawayo.

From this point the motorist should return to Bulawayo.

Maleme Rest Camp


Route 4:

Instead of turning right when you reach the Antelope Road, turn left; a well sign-posted road leads you to the entrance to the Game Park in which may be seen a variety of animals, including the recently re-introduced White Rhinoceros. A quiet drive through this area will not only show the visitor many of Africa's wild animals, but he will also be intrigued by the balancing rocks enhanced by the red, green and yellow of the lichens growing on them. Kudu, eland, ostrich, impala, wildebeeste. zebra, giraffe and black rhinoceros may also be encountered amongst these lovelv surroundings. It is wonderful to see the animals which the nomadic hunters painted and hunted so long ago, once more in their habitat. But how sad to think that we no longer can see the vanished race of yellow Bushmen who once roamed here at will.

Animals in Game Park

Once through the exit gate of the Game Park the visitor may picnic or fish with permission at one of the lovely dams returning eventually replete with sight-seeing, to the main road via the turn-off from Bambata to Bulawayo.

There is, however, a Guest Farm between here and Bulawayo which also makes an ideal place for setting forth on daily tours within the hills.


Route 5:

The route map covers much of the ground previously covered but includes only historical items for those tourists who have only a short time to spend. If Route 1 is followed to World's View without any intermediate stops, it is a distance of 28 miles The return Journey around the circular route will bring the motorist to the road leading to the Rhodes Estate Preparatory School, and this route should be taken. Just outside the school grounds in the area at the Government Experimental Farm is a fine example of a Victorian stable (National Monument No. 79) built for Mr. Rhodes. Not far away may be seen the Summer House (National Monument No. 78 in which the gun-carriage bearing the remains of Cecil John Rhodes rested overnight on the way to the final resting place at World s View. The total mileage for this route is 76


Route 6:

Leaving Bulawayo by the same route as far as the signpost directing to the Old Gwanda road, take this road to the left. Although tar for a few miles, it soon becomes a well-maintained gravel road passing through open grassland in places covered with re-growth acacia thorn. Soon the headquarters of the Bulawayo Gliding Club will be passed.

Twelve miles from Bulawayo the memorial (National Monument No. 39) erected by European subscription to Mziligazi, king of the Matabele, is on the right-hand side of the road, behind which still stands an old tree under which the king is said to have held indabas. A circular route may be taken from here via the Fort Usher turn-off to Bulawayo, but if the visitor has time a trip of another 29 miles past the Matobo Mission to Gulubahwe can be undertaken. This is a beautiful drive, part of which is through Tribal Trust lands. Lovely groves of mountain acacia trees cast their shade over parts of this route, especially after passing the Matobo Mission. During September the veld is dotted with the scarlet Kafiirboom, whilst the kopjes are ablaze with the flowers of Aloe excelsa and Aloe chabaudii, but every month of the year has some extra beauty to offer the keen observer.

Gulubahwe Cave (National Monument No. 20) is under 50 yards from the road, it contains many interesting paintings all of which are over-shadowed by an immense painting of a snake, with a short curly tail, toothed jaws, and carrying animals and humans on its back. The hill which contains this cave is a favourite nesting place for the cape raven {Corvus ablicolis), pairs of which may often be seen performing aerial acrobatics high over the valley.

A walk to the top of this hill is well worthwhile because magnificent views may be had over the hills into the misty blue distance towards Gwanda and back towards Silozwi.

This route could be used by visitors returning to the Republic, for eventually it rejoins the Beit Bridge road at Gwanda.

Route 7:

The route map for this journey combines most of the information included in the other maps, but takes the motorist by other routes and to other places. Route 1 went past the road to Silozwane Cave. It is now intended that the motorist takes the left-hand fork at the notice; after 6 miles of narrow winding road another fork will be encountered. Proceed along the right-hand fork for 5 miles towards the large pink granite mass which is Silozwi, when an outspan will be reached; a short but steep sign-posted route will lead you to the cave of Silozwane. There is a longer and slightly less steep route which is also indicated by notices. The cave is a magnificent one, apsical in form, which contains many of the paintings thought to represent strangers to the painters, of a race differing in physical type as well as birds, snakes tectiform compositions, lizards and insects. A most remarkable painting is one of a flying ant; this painting, only life-size, is hard to find, but the search for it affords an opportunity to cool down after the walk up the hillside.

From the outspan drive back the 5 miles to the fork in the road and turn right. The next 3i miles takes the motorist through an area of well-wooded hills and valleys unlike most of the areas so far traversed to Mtseleli Dam, a lovely stretch of water, on the banks of which are rocks and shady trees which afford delightful picnic spots. Another 5 miles of good road lead to Toghwana Dam, another beauty spot at which to spend a pleasant afternoon of leisure.

A journey of 101 miles from Toghwana brings the traveller back on to the Fort Usher road from where a left-hand turn will


lead to the Matopo road or the right-hand turn back to Bulawayo on the Old Gwanda road (Route 6).

The routes mapped will take the motorist over much of the Matopos, but only to places which can be reached by ordinary motor car. Undoubtedly the best way to see the Matopos is on foot. It is hoped that a walker's guide to the hills will be published at some future date. If this is done and footpaths are marked by simple means, wonderful areas almost unknown except to a few enthusiasts will be open to the younger or more energetic visitor to the Matopos.


The History of the Hills

Much of what is history in other countries of the world comes into a period which has been called proto-historic, because it happened whilst there was written history elsewhere. There was nothing recorded except by oral tradition here.

The information is fragmentary and much has to be deduced by applying archaeological techniques to sites only a few hundred years old.

The first humans to occupy the hills were probably living in the First Intermediate Stone Age, brute like but nevertheless having great dexterity, for they could fashion well balanced stone implements of many types. They lived in the hills over 40,000 years ago. The descendants of these men lived on for many years, improving in ability and by the evidence of the implements left behind them, showing that they had refined their hunting methods and generally improved their way of life.

About 9,000 years ago people of another branch of the human race appear to have taken over; these people were the ancestors of the painters and possibly the forebears of the little yellow Bushmen who occupied the hills until relatively recently. After a period of peaceful co-existence they were ousted from the hills by the iron-using agriculturalists and animal herders who, by tree cutting and usage of pasture, forced them to follow the ever-decreasing supply of wild meat to other areas. The clearing of lands of trees for agriculture also reduced the crop of wild fruits so important to a food-gathering community.

Who these earliest Iron Age people were is not known. They probably first arrived between 1,500-2,000 years ago.

The Makaranga are probably the oldest race extant in Rhodesia, having been here before the Barozwi invaded the country. The majority of people recently living amongst the hills are of Karanga origin, because although they were enslaved by the Matabele, they lived on in the hills. The Matabele only took refuge in them during the wars of 1893 and 1896. However, to make sure of the tributes, the Matabele maintained a full regiment near Nkantolo (Fort Usher). This was one of the crack impis and was named Imbezu.

The exact division between the Makaranga and the Barozwi is a difficult one because the later subjugated the Makaranga about 300 years ago and ruled over the country until the Nguni people (Swazi and Matabele) finally overran the area.

The Banyubi who, under the Mambo dynasty lived under a headman named Tumbane on the fringes of the hills and possibly some way amongst them, were enslaved by Mziligazi.

The Portuguese Missionaries were probably the first Europeans to penetrate into Rhodesia, but although they reached Dhlo Dhlo and possibly Khami, there is no evidence to suggest that they ever penetrated the fortresses of the Matopo Hills.

The Afrikaners often raided into the territory after cattle. Some raids were successful, others were driven back by the Matabele. The last of these raids was the Ndaleka raid. Ndaleka was the Matabele corruption of the second name of Andries Hendrik Potgieter.

The last raid led by Potgieter is said to have been undertaken in an endeavour to locate two white girls who, it was suspected, had been captured sometime earlier by the Matabele. The fact that cattle might be captured and taken back would be an added incentive.

Potgieter was over fifty years of age when he led his party which included seventy native levies of various tribes. The party reached the Shashani River not far from Kezi and laagered under the shelter of Ntabazamanyoni; not far away was the furthest outpost of the Matabele, a kraal held by Mncwazini Regiment. This was a hole regiment made up mainly of Makaranga.

Potgieter and his men attacked the regimental kraal at dawn the next morning. Men, women and children were all killed in the confusion, and in the half light the Mncwazini fled closely followed by the native levies who completed the work of destruction. Very few of this outpost survived. The hill near to this kraal has been known as Mfabantu — the place where the people died.

The victorious raiding party sent captured cattle back to the laager at Ntabazamanyoni and pushed on through a gap in the hills known today as Hendrik's Pass. Following the Tendele River they reached the high veld to the north of the hills without encountering any resistance. Near to the headwaters of the Gwaai River the raiders captured cattle from the Isizinda Regiment and then fell back towards Ntabanyama where they camped for the night.

The Matabele by this time were incensed by the raiding. During the night Mbiko and his Zwankendaba Regiment attacked the levies who were sleeping at the foot of the hill and decimated them; all the cattle captured in the high veld were re-captured.

At dawn the burghers reformed and fell back steadily before the constant attacks of the Zwankendaba, finally breaking westwards through the hills to their original laager, then crossing back into the Transvaal with the cattle they captured from Mncwazini.

No evidence was ever forthcoming about the fate of the captured white children, but it was assumed from reports of captured Matabele that they no longer lived.

The last fight between the Voortrekkers and the Matabele had been fought, for a Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed between them on 8th January, 1853.

Mziligazi, who had brought the Matabele from the south, was a tyrant, but he had suffered defeat at the hands of the Voortrekkers on his long and bloody march northwards. His last kraal was at Mhlahlandhela on the old Gwanda Road. Mziligazi, king of the Matabele nation, died at a kraal near to the present B.S.A. Police post at Matobo on September 5th, 1868. His body was removed to the Royal Kraal at night and in secret. It was kept under guard of some of his wives until on November 2nd, his body and his personal effects were removed to Ntumbane. The grave and wagon cave are National Monument No. 41. This place is sacred to the Matabele nation and therefore picnics and camping are not allowed within 300 yards of the burial place. The public are requested to remember that this area is protected for the Matabele people.

Lobengula, son of Mziligazi, was born in the Marico district of the Transvaal prior to 1837. Lobengula lived at Tshotsho on Tshabalala Farm which is crossed on the route from Bulawayo to the Matopos. After his succession his first capital was at Old Bulawayo not far from Hope Fountain Mission on the Criterion Road, not far from which is the ruined Jesuit Mission (National Monu¬ment No. 47), where Lobengula often took tea with the Fathers. He sometimes lived at Nkantolo where he had brick buildings, the bricks of which were used in the construction of the Fort Usher police camp. His last capital was built on the site of the present Government House at Bulawayo.

The story of the downfall of Lobengula does not belong to the Matopo Hills, but the results profoundly affected the whole area.

During the rebellion of 1896 mainly away from the area of the Matopo Estate and National Park. considerable military operations were conducted within the hills, but

Four forts known as Usher No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 were near the perimeter of the hills. No. 3 being the site of the old Fort Usher Police camp.

On July 20th, 1896, Captain Laing with the Belingwe Field Force marching from Figtree, camped near to Inungu overnight; at dawn the Matabele, under Mabiza and Hole, attacked the laager whilst the force was at breakfast, the losses were heavy, 31 being killed and a number wounded.

On July 25th another engagement took place near Inungu, the Matabele again having the best of the argument. The other battles were in the eastern end of the Matopos, except for some fighting in the Umtshabezi Valley during which Mayanda's stronghold was captured.

There is no need to go into the arrangements made for the peace talks which ended the Rebellion except to mention the outstanding courage of J. P. Richardson, who daily penetrated the hills to look for a signal indicating that the Matabele were prepared to discuss an armistice.

The first Indaba was held near Umlugulu at the eastern end of the Matopos. The second at Ushers Kop, the third near Three Sister kopje which may be seen on the left-hand side of the road after passing the turn-off to Rhodes Estate Preparatory School. The fourth and final one was held in the open ground about 200 yards in front of the buildings of the present B.S.A. Police Camp.

The Matabele honoured the verbal agreements, surrendering their arms and returning to their peaceful farming operations around the hills.

It was after these indabas that Rhodes was named by the Matabele "Lamula Mkunzi" — "Separator of the Fighting Bulls." By sheer force of personality and by complete disregard for his own safety he accomplished in a few weeks what would otherwise have taken months of costly campaigning to achieve.


The route maps included are published with the permission of the Sunday News, where they first appeared.

In writing this short Guide to the Matopos, reference has been made to many books. The list below may be of interest to those who wish to read further on this subject: —

Cooke, C. K, (ed. R. Summers): Chap IV. The Rock Art of Matabeleland. The Rock Art of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Chatto and Windus.

Cooke, C. K. 1964: The Sequence in Southern Rhodesian Rock Art. South Afr. Arch. Bull.

Fothergill, A.: The Monuments of S. Rhodesia. Maclehose, Edin. Gale, W. D.: One Man's Vision. Hutchison.

Jones, Neville: Rhodesian Genesis. Private publication of the Pioneer Society.

Nobbs, E. A.: Guide to the Matopos. Maskew Miller. Tredgold, R. C:

The Matopos.

Government Printer, Salisbury


The original booklet was purchased for 2/6d.

My thanks to Diarmid Smith for making the booklet available to me.
Thanks also t the author, the printers and all who were involved in producing this booklet.

I hope you enjoyed the article and little trip around one of our famous landmarks

Eddy Norris
Napier - South Africa.
April 2010

Image of the MOTH Shrine as mentioned in Chapter 6 above.