What is the history of Zimbabwe

The history of Zimbabwe

We travel back in time to South Africa in the year 50,000 BC. The Khoisan, a hunter people on the continent, settled in southern Africa. They moved around in small family groups and made a living from hunting and gathering. Their rock paintings are evidence of the hunt. They followed the antelopes and killed them with spears. When the Bantu migrated and reached what is now Zimbabwe, what was once paradise changed. The Bantu built settlements and modern cities, specialized in various professions, and began trading. They laid the foundation for modern Zimbabwe.
The realm of the Shona

In the centuries after the birth of Christ, it was rush hour in Zimbabwe. Bantu peoples from the Congo area immigrated and displaced the Khoisan and Bushmen. Among the immigrants were the Shona, who were building artists. They created impressive cities and stone buildings that you can still see in Zimbabwe today. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Shona developed Greater Zimbabwe as the center of their empire. They had access to the ports on the East African coast and traded with China and Europe. When Portugal conquered the ports on the east coast, the Shona's trade collapsed and their empire fell apart. The Ndebele from South Africa invaded their area from the south. They subjugated the Shona and founded their own empire. The map on the right shows southern Africa in the 16th century. Great Zimbabwe was marked as Simbaoe between the Zambezi and Limpopo. The ships indicate the predominance of the Portuguese over the sea route to India.

The colonial era

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Portuguese had established themselves on the east coast because they wanted to dominate world trade. They were not interested in the hinterland. In contrast to the British. The British wanted rule over the colonies in order to exploit the mineral resources of the occupied countries. A notorious land robber was the Briton Cecil Rhodes, an adventurer and clever businessman. He realized that the interior of the country was not only rich in fertile soils but also in valuable mineral resources. From 1893 he appropriated the Ndebeleland. The local peoples resisted this outrageous land grab. There were bloody clashes between the British and the Shona and Ndebele. The British were armed with far more modern weapons than the African peoples. They subjugated the Ndebele and Shona and declared the conquered land their settlement area. After Cecil Rhodes it became Rhodesia called. British farmers immigrated and divided the land among themselves. Ruthlessly they began to exploit the country's treasures.


Their rule lasted until the middle of the last century. On the right of the picture you can see the first government of Southern Rhodesia in 1923, as Zimbabwe was called back then. There was no black representative among the government team at the time. The white government demanded independence from the British crown. In 1965 they declared Southern Rhodesia independent. Great Britain did not agree to this declaration but did not oppose it either. Africa was in a state of upheaval. The black peoples no longer wanted to be exploited by the white minority. They rebelled, founded their own people's parties and fought to help determine the country's politics. Years of guerrilla war followed. The once flourishing economy flagged.

Southern Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe

The persistent struggle of Africans for political participation was ultimately rewarded. In March 1978 a transitional government was created. Free parliamentary elections were held. A former teacher named Robert Mugabe fought for the land to be returned to the indigenous peoples. He gave fiery speeches and became more and more popular. He was elected to office in 1978 with an overwhelming majority. On April 18, 1980, the country was officially given independence. The first act of the African peoples was to obliterate the name of the barbaric land-taker Rhodes. They renamed the country after the former Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe. From then on the country was called Zimbabwe. And only since then do we Europeans know about the Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe.


Here you can find out more about the kingdom of Great Zimbabwe