GEOGRAPHY

Mthwakazi is a traditional nation-state made up of modern-day Matabeleland and parts of the modern-day Midlands regions within the modern-day state of Zimbabwe. The region is occupied by different multiple African ethnic groups who are often collectively called the Ndebele people. Matabeleland is also home to population groups of European and Asian descent.

Modern-day Matabeleland is divided into three provinces: Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo, the capital of the region. Image result for matabelelandThe three provinces are located in the west and south-west of modern-day Zimbabwe, between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers.

The region is named after its inhabitants who are collectively referred to as the Ndebele people. Other demographic groups who inhabit parts of Matabeleland include the Tonga, Sotho, Kalanga, Venda among others. As pointed out in the introduction, it has to be noted too that Mthwakazi is also home to non-Black citizens who include those of European and Asian descent, among others.

Below are the proposed provinces of an autonomous Mthwakazi

Map of the Mthwakazi traditional state

It is not to MTHWAKAZI INDEPENDENT‘s interest to critique the objectivity and motivation of the proposed boundaries.

The Matabeleland region makes just over 17 percent of the human population of Zimbabwe. As of August 2012, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency or ZIMSTAT, the region had a combined population size of 2,086,247 in a surface of area of just over 130,000 km² (described as just over the size of England, 130,279 km²).

Matabeleland South had 683 893 people, of whom 326 697 were males and 356 926 were females; Matabeleland North province had a total population of 749 017 people out of the population of Zimbabwe of 13 061 239. The sex ratio (proportion of male and female population) was 48 and 52 percent, respectively, within an area of just over 75,017 km². Last but not least, in the same census, Bulawayo province had a population of 653,337 in an area of 1,706.8 km².

The major city is Bulawayo, founded in 1894 by the British arch-imperialist Cecil John Rhodes; other towns of note in the region are Beitbridge, Gwanda, Lupane, Plumtree, Victoria Falls and Hwange.

Bulawayo

Bulawayo City Centre

Bulawayo City Centre                  The Bulawayo City Centre street view

Bulawayo Central

An aerial view of the Bulawayo City Centre

The Matabeleland region is characterised by a generally harsh, hot and dry climate and suffers from frequent droughts leading to food and water scarcity. Although the land is particularly fertile, the dry climate makes large-scale crop production less viable for traditional farmers. In recognition to this, the colonial government formed large numbers of cattle ranches, and cattle ranching has proven to be more successful than growing crops in the province.

The mighty Zambezi River provides perhaps the best hope for a long-term solution to water problems in Matabeleland. Image result for zambezi riverHowever, Zimbabwe government plans to draw water from the Zambezi River to the region via the conveniently named project  Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project have yet to materialise meaning crop farming and industrial growth have continued to falter since the 1980 ‘independence’.

Drought impacts crop harvest

Drought impacting crop harvest in Matabeleland

Matabeleland perennial water problems: a woman fetches drinking water from a well along a dry riverbed

However, Matabeleland North is also home to significant reserves of economically viable resources like gold, limestone, methane gas, coal, and timber. As evidenced in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve, the region is also known for its substantial wildlife population. The most famous geographic feature of Matabeleland North is undoubtedly the Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfalls, located on the Zambezi river on the northern border of the province.

The Victoria Falls, to the west of Bulawayo (the capital of Matabeleland) is a major tourist resort that forms a common border between Mthwakazi and Zambia

victoriafalls
Aerial view of the mighty Victoria Falls
Matobo Hills, Matabeleland South

Matobo Hills, Matabeleland South

Declared a World Heritage Site in 2003, lies south of Bulawayo, the Matobo Hills or Matopos consist of a broken and ancient, rocky landscape with a unique natural and social heritage. The Matobo Hills area has one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric rock paintings in Southern Africa, while the hills are still a focus for local community shrines and sacred places. It is the home of the regional oracular cult of the High God, uMlimu (isiNdebele) or Mwari (chiShona), whose voice is said to be heard from the rocks.

It is worth pointing out that the Matobo Hills is critical feature in the history of Zimbabwe; it is central to many fundamental historical events that are immensely critical to the modern nation of Zimbabwe. There are battle sites, graves, ruins and relics that date back thousands of years through to recent events.

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