The Ndebele or Matabele have a military origin, in fact, in 1820, after the conquest of Natal, by the Zulus, a powerful warrior, at first war prisoner and then the Zulu army commander controlled by Shaka, fled from the latter undertaking a long migration followed by his loyal soldiers.
In 1837, under the pressure of the Boers, the Ndebele were forced to cross the Limpopo River and arrived in the territory of the Kalanga, a group belonging to the Shona; here they managed to defeat the Kingdom of Rozwi, taking advantage of the fact that this had been weakened by the attacks suffered by the Zulus, they exterminated the indigenous population and settled in the highlands of today's Zimbabwe, currently still occupied by them.
During their migration, other groups of people joined the initial group to form a real population who became sedentary and gave life to an independent kingdom.
The Ndebele King Lobengula was deceived by Cecil Rhodes, an entrepreneur and, later, British politician who convinced him to sell the rights of exploitation of the mineral resources of his land in exchange for a rifle and a steam ship; this event marked the beginning of the colonial era in Zimbabwe.

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The kingdom of Ndebele and other lands of today's Zimbabwe were annexed to the colony of Southern Rhodesia and were placed under the administration of a British company owned by Cecil Rhodes, the British South Africa Company or BSAC.
The expropriation of land in favor of the white settlers caused, in 1896, a major revolt by the Ndebele and the Shona, that was violently repressed.
During the period of the Republic of Rhodesia, country that was never recognized by the International community, Ian Smith, the prime minister at that time, found in the Ndebele, a moderate interlocutor and identified them as potential allies, unlike the Shona, much more violent, who openly opposed the government.
In more recent times, when the Shona, main ethnicity in Zimbabwe, won the first elections, in 1980, the Ndebele were victims of atrocities to their own damage by Robert Mugabe's government who was guilty of several crimes against 'humanity; the reason for this fury was exactly the fact that they had allowed previously Cecil Rhodes to take possession of lands and mines and, later, of hav ing supported the racist government of Ian Smith.