Zimbabwe From the Nineteenth Century: A Timeline


1820s: British missionary Robert Moffat befriends Ndebele King Mzilikazi Khumalo in present-day South Africa.

1830s: The Ndebele flee South Africa and arrive in southwestern Zimbabwe; overthrow many Shona chieftaincies; establish the Matabeleland state.

1859: Robert Moffat and the London Missionary Society (non-denominational Protestants) establish the first permanent white settlement in Zimbabwe, the Inyati Mission.

1860: King Mzilikazi’s son, Lobengula, becomes king of Matabeleland.

1879: First Jesuit mission in Zimbabwe is established.

1888: Lobengula signs Moffat Treaty, which prevents him from dealing with foreign powers other than England, and the Rudd Concession, which gives Cecil John Rhodes of the British South Africa Company (BSAC), ―complete and exclusive charge of all metal and mineral rights,‖ as well as commercial and legal powers in exchange for British protection, a monthly payment, and weapons.

1889: Queen Victoria gives royal charter to Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company, effectively granting them complete imperial and colonial power.

Sept. 1890: Union Jack raised in Salisbury (present- day Harare, the setting of The Convert). Members of the British South African Company’s paramilitary Pioneer Column occupy Mashonaland. In the scramble for Africa, Zimbabwe is now in the British sphere.

1893: First Anglo- Ndebele War breaks out when execution of treaties does not meet Lobengula’s expectations. Ndebele lose and Lobengula flees north.

1894: Hut tax introduced. Most Africans in the region had previously held their wealth largely in cattle. The introduction of this tax forces many to work for colonists for currency so that they can pay taxes.

May 1895: British South African Company officially adopts the name Southern Rhodesia for the region.

1896: Rinderpest epidemic devastates cattle. African religious leaders and mediums include this as a sign of anger of the ancestors over the presence of the settlers. White forces kill off cattle to limit spread of disease, further enraging native people.

March 1896: Ndebele uprising against the settlers begins. Beginning of siege of Bulawayo. Mlimo, the Ndebele spiritual leader, is one of the instigators of the rebellion.

June 1896: Related Shona uprising begins. Shona traditional spiritual leaders, including spirit mediums of Kaguvi, Nehanda and Mwari, inspire rebels. Bernard Mzeki, African Episcopal catechist, killed by rebels.

Sept. 1897: Shona Chief Makoni executed after surrendering.

1922: British South African Company rule ends. Rhodesia is formally annexed by British Government.

1930s – 1960s: Opposition to colonial rule increases; nationalist groups emerge.

1965: The white-minority government, led by Ian Smith, unilaterally declares Rhodesia independent from British rule.

1972 – 1979: Guerrilla war against white rule ensues.

1979: British-brokered peace talks lead to peace agreement and new constitution.

1980: Pro-independence leader Robert Mugabe wins independent elections; Zimbabwe is internationally recognized.

1998: Economic crisis, strikes and riots.

2000: Seizure of white- owned farms and accompanying violence.

2002: Mugabe re-elected in elections criticized by foreign observers.

2003: Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrested and charged with treason. (He is later acquitted.)

2006: Inflation exceeds 1000%.

2008: After charges of intimidation lead the opposition to pull out of the election, Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sign power-sharing agreement.Implementation is slow and problematic.

Sources: Becoming Zimbabwe Edited by Brian Raftopoulos and Alois Mlambo; www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14113618; Zimbabwe Epic compiled by P.C. Mazikana and I.J. Johnstone.

Originally published by McCarter Theatre accompanying the world premiere production of The Convert in January 2012. Used with permission.