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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.
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.
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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