Ndebele Early 20th Cen Child's Modesty Skirt. Origin: Zimbabwe & South Africa. Specifications: 25 x 35 cm Medium: Glass Beadwork on Textile.
The Ndebele tribe or amaNdebele, one of the smaller ones of the Nguni speaking tribes that migrated to South Africa, were the first Nguni speaking people to move into the interior of the country instead of the coastal areas. Once a single nation calling themselves the amaNdebele under the leadership of their last monarch King Musi, they moved away from the Nguni speaking population who had settled themselves in the KwaZulu coastal regions.
This happened within the first half of the 1600s, well before the Mfecane (Zulu) or Difaqane (Sotho). It was a time of wide-ranging pandemonium and warfare amongst the tribes in South Africa, especially during the period between 1815 and 1840. The amaNdebele settled themselves in a wide region around the towns known today as Polokwane (previously Pietersburg) and Mokopane (previously Potgietersrus). Because of a serious internal conflict the Tribe divided into two groups, known today as the Northern Ndebele and the Southern Ndebele. The Northern Ndebele stayed in the region where they already had established themselves, while the Southern Ndebele moved southward and settled in the Highveld region in the Mpumalanga province.
Trained in the new Zulu warfare tactics and being a formidable warrior, he took control of the Southern Ndebele. He used his know how to great effect in campaigns across the Highveld region, overpowering the Sotho and Tswana clans that were living there. Their numbers grew rapidly by the absorption of these clans and by 1835 they embarked on assaults as far away as Swaziland and the Limpopo province.In 1836 the Boer voortrekkers began to arrive in the same area where Mzilikazi and his people were living. To them the Ndebele were a major threat and so they went to war against them. Mzilikazi and his Ndebele were no match for the Boers however, and they suffered a massive defeat.
In the end Mzilikazi and his Ndebele were forced to flee from the region. They migrated across the Limpopo river into present-day Zimbabwe. There they settled in the region between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. Today they are known as the Matabele and the region they live in as Matabeleland.Although the majority of the Ndebele moved into Zimbabwe following Mzilikazi, a number of them did stay behind in South Africa in the area that became known as the Kwandebele homeland during the apartheid years. You will find their descendants still living there today.