History Monday: The History of Zimbabwe -Chronology (1000AD to 1900AD)

The Chronology of Key Events:

1000-1200AD: Earliest trading centre of Mapungubwe established on the banks of Limpopo. First example of zimbabwe (house of stones) in the area.

1300-1500AD: Great Zimbabwe Empire succeeds the Mapungubweas dominant Shona Empire. The empire is not close to the gold seam but controls the trade in gold. Great Zimbabwe ruins are evidence of the hardworking ethic of its people.

1500-1600AD: This empire replaced by two nations; the Khami (modern Bulawayo) and another in the north near Mount Darwin, Munhumutapa. First European traveller, (Portuguese), reaches this empire in 1511.

1800AD: Portuguese traders occasionally wander inland, they do not have any effect on the African tribes. In 1837, the Boers and the Zulus drive the Ndebele people across the Limpopo. Mzilikazi establishes a powerful Ndebele kingdom. As warriors and cattle breeders, the Ndebele people quickly subdue the agricultural Shona people.

1871-1884AD: Cecil John Rhodes and a number of European hunters, traders and missionaries explore the region from the south. Cecil John Rhodes is the driving force arriving at Kimberley at the age of 18 in 1871. He makes his career as an enterpreneur buying claims from prospectors in the region. 1871 is the smae year that rich diamond bearing lodes are discovered in Kimberley.

Cecil moves up to the Transvaaal in the late 1880s when the gold fields are discovered there. By the 1889, Cecil has two companies, De Beers Consolidated Mines and Gold Fields of South Africa. Rhodes is now a rich young man beyond the imagination. He has one vision : ‘a continuous strip of British Empire from the Cape to the mouth of the Nile.’

1885-1891AD: In 1885, the British Empire under Cecil’s persuasion secures Bechuanaland, (modern day Botswana). In 1888 Lobengula grants Cecil a concession; mining rights within his territory.Lobengula the Son of Mzilikazi, grants mining rights to Cecil and in return receives 1000 rifles, an armed steamship for use on the Zambezi and a monthly rent of £100. Cecil founds the British South Africa Company in 1889 and sends the first party of colonists north of Bechuanaland in 1890.

In September 1890, the colonists settle in what is now known as Harare. They begin prospecting for gold. In 1891, in accordance with Cecil’s dream; they declare the area a British Protectorate.

1891-1895AD:  The population of settlers rapidly increases and by 1892 there are 1500 Europeans in the area. The Railway from Cape has reached Kimberley in 1885 and by 1896, trains reach Bulawayo. By 1904, Victoria Falls is a northern terminus.

In 1895, the region up to the Zambezi is named in honour of its colonial founder;  Rhodesia.

1893-1897AD: Lobengula tries to maintain peace with the settlers but many within his tribe would like to remove the settlers from the region. Leander Jameson finds a pretext that ‘legally’ allows the settlers to pursue war against Lobengula.  With only 5 Maxim machine guns, he fights his way to Lobengula’s kraal. Lobengula flees bringing an end to the Ndebele Empire.

In 1896-1897, the Shona and Ndebele try to orchestrate a tribal uprising but this is soon crushed by the British settlers. The region up to the Zambezi is now fully under full control of Cecil’s Company.


Now two sentences do not do the first Chimurenga justice. Next History Monday I shall go into as much detail as i can find over the First Chimurenga ( The First War of Independence).

Till next time




  1. BBC, 31/06/2011. “Zimbabwe Profile: Timeline.”
  2. History World, 2008. “History of Zimbabwe.”

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