Matabele, noun

Forms:
Matabeli, MatabiliShow more Also Matabeli, Matabili, maTebele, Matebele, Matebeley, Matibili, Tebele.
Plurals:
unchanged, Matebeles, or Amatebele.
Origin:
Sotho, seTswanaShow more Sotho matebele (singular letebele), ‘term applied by the Sotho-Tswana people to invading Zulu sections, so-called because they sank down (teba) behind their large shields when fighting’ (Doke & Vilakazi Zulu-English Dictionary, 1948, p.537); or from Sotho and seTswana thebe shield. For an explanation of forms used, see ma- prefix2.
1.
a. Ndebele sense 1 a. b. A member of an Nguni people who, led at the time by Mzilikazi, were displaced during the Mfecane and eventually settled in the Bulawayo region of present-day Zimbabwe after fleeing north of the Limpopo in 1837; Ilindebele; Ndebele sense 1 b. Also attributive.
Note:
Despite Moffat’s claim of a link between ‘Matabele’ and Mantatee (quotation 1823), no other evidence of this link has been found.
1823 R. Moffat in I. Schapera Apprenticeship at Kuruman (1951) 84The Mantatees had driven the Barolongs from their town,..the Mantatees..name is properly Matabele...Several men from the Barolongs had just passed them on their way to Mahumapeloo to request their assistance..to endeavour to make the Matabeles retreat.
1835 A.G. Bain in A. Steedman Wanderings II. 238When the Matebeley (for that is the name of Masilikatsie’s tribe) were within two hundred yards of us, I perceived the villain Piet Barends.
1835 A. Smith Diary (1940) II. 106The Bechuanas who have from necessity been forced to adopt that portion of dress use much more tails than the regular Matabeli.
1839 W.C. Harris Wild Sports 22Moselekatse, king of the Abaka Zooloos, or Matabili, a powerful and despotic monarch.
1839 W.C. Harris Wild Sports 111Numerous Matabili villages, having all the same form and appearance, though varying considerably in size and extent.
1847 A Bengali Notes on Cape of G.H. 22Their (sc. the Boers’) dealings with the Caffre, Matabili, and other powerful native tribes have always been marked by the greatest want of tact, temper, and judgement.
1857 D. Livingstone Missionary Trav. 10In going north again, a comet blazed on our sight, exciting the wonder of every tribe we visited. That of 1816 had been followed by an irruption of the Matabele, the most cruel enemies the Bechuanas ever knew.
1871 J. Mackenzie Ten Yrs N. of Orange River 2They had indeed some misgivings about returning to a country which they had evacuated through fear of their sworn enemies the Matebele Zulus.
1882 J. Nixon Among Boers 93The Amatebele were part of the Zulu tribe, who had expatriated themselves some ten years before, and had taken refuge in the country across the Vaal.
1900 H.C. Hillegas Oom Paul’s People 49Moselekatse and his Matabele warriors having been driven out of the country by the other ‘trekking’ parties, the extensive region north of the Vaal River was then in undisputed possession of the Boers.
1930 S.T. Plaatje Mhudi (1975) 155It was a hopeful nation that moved forward, and for months afterwards the Bechuanaland forests were alive with swarms of Matabele travelling persistently towards the land of promise.
1951 R. Griffiths Grey about Flame 57The people of Kwenaland..cried...‘See, they hide behind long shields and carry only one spear...We are not afraid of the Ama Te Bele.’ It was thus that Mzilikatze’s people became known as the Amatebele, the people who crouch behind long shields.
1961 T.V. Bulpin White Whirlwind 198They had cut the Sotho tribes of the Transvaal to pieces, and gathered rich booty in cattle, women, slaves, and youths to press into their growing army. They had also received their name of Matabele, given to them by the Sothos, and meaning The Refugees, because they were foreigners in the new land going before the wrath of Shaka.
1974 Drum 8 Apr. 35I am a Matabele guy, aged 23 and I would like to hear from girls who are interested in settling down.
1982 N. Parsons New Hist. of Sn Afr. 74After Mzilikazi’s Khumalo attacked the Phuting in 1822, they passed northwards..to the Steelpoort (Thubatse) river. Here Mzilikazi temporarily..settled among Ndzundza ‘Tebele’ (Transvaal-Nguni)...The size of the Khumalo nation was swollen by the Ndzundza and by other ‘maTebele’, so that the Khumalo nation itself eventually became known as the Tebele or Ndebele.
1990 R. Stengel January Sun 34Mzilikazi, the former lieutenant to Shaka,..led a fierce tribe in the Magaliesberg region of the western Transvaal. They were known as the Matabele: Ma, meaning people, and tebele, referring to the tall, ox-hide shields they carried into battle.
2. combination
Matabele flower [see quotation 1966], the witchweed, Striga asiatica.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 312Matabele flower, Species of Striga is so called.
1917 R. Marloth Dict. of Common Names of Plants 57Matabele flower, Striga lutea. Known under this name in Bechuanaland, because it devastates the mealie fields (= Witch-weed, rooiblom).
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 333Matabele flower, Striga asiatica...The vernacular name is said to be an allusion to the havoc created by this parasite in mealie (maize) lands, suggestive of the destruction wrought by the Matabele impis of the [18]70’s but also said to refer to the appearance of the species in northern Bechuanaland after a Matabele raid during the same period.
Ndebele1 a.
A member of an Nguni people who, led at the time by Mzilikazi, were displaced during the Mfecane and eventually settled in the Bulawayo region of present-day Zimbabwe after fleeing north of the Limpopo in 1837; Ilindebele; Ndebele1 b. Also attributive.

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18231990

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