is a native fort
or walled compound
. The greatest of these in the Mwanamutapa
Empire is called Great Zimbabwe
, in the magnificent ruins
of which was found the soapstone
bird that features on the Zimbabwean
flag. The name was adopted by independence
movements fighting against the secessionist white-minority regime of Ian Smith
The Gokomere people, a Bantu-speaking group of farmers, inhabited the Great Zimbabwe site from about 500, displacing earlier Khoisan people. From about 1000 the great fortress took shape, reaching its peak by the fifteenth century. In this period it was the pre-eminent state in southern Africa.
These were the ancestors of the Mashona (or Shona) people, who make up about 80% of modern Zimbabwe's population. Later they formed the Rozwi state, which continued until the nineteenth century. British occupation began in the 1890s, under the leadership of Cecil Rhodes, for whom the area was renamed Rhodesia. In fact, the strict Shona name is Zimbabhwe.
The minority Matabele people in the south arrived there in historically recent times (1834), being related to groups such as the Zulus in South Africa.
Between 1953 and 1963 Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and Nyasaland (now Malawi) formed the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This was wound up and the other two became independent under black majority rule in 1964, but Southern Rhodesia, now styling itself Rhodesia, refused to comply.
UDI, as the unilateral period of independence, unrecognized by any other country, is known, lasted from 1965 to 1979, retaining the Queen as head of state until 1970 at which point Rhodesia became a republic. In 1979 they finally caved in to international sanctions and guerrilla war, and a multiracial government was formed under Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the country being renamed Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
But this was still unacceptable to the world community and native liberation groups, and later in 1979 under the Lancaster House agreement, its legal status as the British colony of Southern Rhodesia was restored, in preparation for free elections and independence in 1980, led by Robert Mugabe.
Internet code: .zw.
Flag: horizontal stripes of green - yellow - red - black - red - yellow - green. In the hoist is a white triangle edged in black; in that is a red five-pointed star, with superimposed over it in yellow the famous soapstone Zimbabwe bird, the national emblem. The proportions are 1:2.