The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
The Matabele Organisation
The Matabele Organisation.
The Matabele nation, which is more a military organisation than a tribe, though Zulu in origin, language, customs, and methods of warfare, has greatly degenerated from the original Zulu stock by the incorporation of the inferior tribes they have raided and conquered from time to time. They live under a military despotism presided over by the King, who is absolute master of everything. There are no industries, the tribesmen living mainly by the assegai and the cattle captured on raids. On these expeditions or forays the men and old women are massacred, the children and young women being carried away, and marked, as Matabele, by a hole made with an assegai in the lobe of the ear. The lads grow up Matabele, and in time become soldiers, the girls being taken as wives by their captors. The result has been a race originally Zulu, intermixed with Bechuanas, Mashonas, Makalakas, &c., held together only by a military bondage and organisation. Thus degenerated, they are living largely upon the prestige and power of their progenitors, the famous Umziligazi (Lo Bengula's father) and his warrior-followers. The number of fighting men is estimated at fifteen to twenty thousand. The whole fabric may be easily shaken or broken.1
1 Recent events have fully confirmed this view.