Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Mashonaland, that part of East Africa S. of the Zambesi and containing many affluents of the Zambesi and Limpopo. It is a plateau of 4,000 feet high, extending to the Umvukwee Mountains, and enjoys a healthy climate; while there is good soil, plenty of grass and water, and other elements of making a successful colony. The people, who are fairly well civilised for Africans, were driven to the mountains and much harassed by the Matabili (q.v.). They are good husbandmen, and before the arrival of the Matabili possessed great herds. They are good iron-workers, and they cultivate rice, maize, corn, cotton and tobacco. Iron, copper, and gold are found, and traces of gold-mines have given rise to the idea that the Ophir of antiquity was here. The region was taken under British protection in 1888, and by an arrangement with Lobengula, the chief of the Matabili, Colonel Pennefather made an expedition in 1889 and founded the town of Salisbury. The British South Africa Company undertook to administer the region in 1890; in 1896 a revolt against the Company took place, but after some months quiet was restored. The Beira railway is now open, and a good road affords communication with Salisbury. The Mashonas, a large but feeble Bantu nation representing the aboriginal element in the region between the Limpopo and the Zambesi, but during the present century driven by the intruding Matabilis to the hilly northern plateau, which from them takes the name of Mashonaland, and which is now being occupied by British settlers under the Chartered South Africa Company. The Mashonas have eagerly accepted the British protectorate as their best defence against the plundering Matabili hordes; but, being regarded by the Matabilis as their legitimate prey, the standing feud between the two peoples has already brought the white settlers into collision with the Matabili, and the settlement will continue to be threatened by these fierce Zulu warriors until their military organisation is broken. The Mashonas are themselves an inoffensive, industrious people, who till their lands with great care, raise cotton crops, with which they spin and weave coarse textiles, show much skill in basket-work and in the manufacture of iron implements. They have also long worked in a primitive way at the rich alluvial and quartz gold diggings of the plateau; but they have been greatly reduced by the periodical raids of the Matabili, their number having fallen from about 400,000 to 100,000 during the last few decades. The most comprehensive accounts of the Mashonas are those of Montagu Kerr and F. C. Selous.