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MATABELE ("vanishing" or "hidden" people, so called from their appearance in battle, hidden behind enormous oxhide shields), a people of Zulu origin who began national life under the chief Mosilikatze. Driven out of the Transvaal by the Boers in 1837, Mosilikatze crossed the Limpopo with a military host which had been recruited from every tribe conquered by him during his ten years' predominance in the Transvaal. In their new territories the Matabele absorbed into their ranks many members of the conquered Mashona tribes and established a military despotism. Their sole occupation was war, for which their laws and organization were designed to fit them. This system of constant warfare is, since the conquest of Matabeleland by the British in 1893, a thing of the past. The Matabele are now herdsmen and agriculturists. (See RHODESIA.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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