The Conquest of Matabeleland

In 1893, the opportunity for an open military confrontation presented itself. In June of that year, a Mashona Chibi Bere stole some Matabele cattle. Lobengula sent an impi of seventy warriors to punish Chibi Bere's people and return the cattle. The impi accomplished this objective, but returning were routed by a small force of five Europeans led by Captain Charles Lendy, Resident Magistrate at Victoria. The impi induna stopped and revealed to Lendy that the impi had been sent only to reclaim the Matabele cattle and punish the Mashona, but had been instructed not to touch European property or to fight with the white men.

The imminent confrontation culminated in July between the Ndebele and Europeans. A Mashona Chibi, Makoombi,relying upon the European settlers' protection, refused to pay a traditional tribute to the Ndebele in June. Lobengula dispatched an impi of 2500 warriors under on a punitive expedition to restore Matabele prestige in July. This impi killed 400 Mashona whenever they found them, often in front of the Mashona's white employers to whom the Mashona had fled for protection. Significantly, no Europeans were killed or injured which points to the discipline of the impis. However, Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, Rhodes' agent in Mashonaland, collected a small party of European volunteers to confront the Ndele impi. There were only eighty horses in the Victoria Magistrate and only fifty of these were considered fit for cavalry use. Further, European volunteers were slow in responding so that by the end of the first week, only about forty-six volunteers and policemen constituted Lendy's force. By July 15th, Captain Lendy's aggressive use of this small force allowed more volunteers to arrive at Victoria.


Extract from:

"The 1893 Conquest of Matabeleland" by Dennis Bishop

Background to Lendy Memorial