Settlement History

Rock paintings which were done in caves and on rock surfaces have helped in learning the history of Zimbabwe. These paintings are believed to be more than three thousand (3 000) years old. People who lived in this era are known as the Khoisan people. They are said to belong to the stone age because they made weapons and tools out of stone (spears, axe heads etc).

About two thousand  (2 000) years ago it is believed that over a period of time a number of groups of people came into the country from the north, north west and north east (through Mozambique).

These people (known as the Bantu people) are said to have been from the Iron Age period as they settled in the plateau area where they gradually displaced the Stone Age people. Their primary means of survival were agriculture and livestock, notably cattle, goats and sheep. They were mostly subsistence farmers relying on shifting cultivation. Their principal requirements were cultivatable land, woodland for housing and firewood, sufficient rain and iron for agricultural tools and weapons.

The Bantu people later developed trade routes with muslim traders who had entered the country in search for ivory and gold which they exchanged with Indian cloth and beads.  After a few hundred years there is evidence of movement in areas of settlement which is said to be due to an increase in the size of the herds and families. Four different states are said to have later emerged in Zimbabwe.  The Zimbabwe State, the Mutapa State, the Torwa state and the Changamire state. The Zimbabwe State was succeeded by the Torwa, Mutapa and Changamire states that survived well into the nineteenth century.

Each of these states had a distinct character of its own and absorbed the strengths of the one before it.  The Changamire state emerged the strongest and saw the coming of the Portuguese and other groups from neighbouring countries like the Yao from Malawi.  After this stage comes the emergence of the Nguni States which were notably the Ndebele people, the Zulu people the Ngoni people and the Shangana/Gaza people. These fought endless battles with the Bantu people.  About fifty years later came the white man from Britain who at first wanted trade then cattle and land. This marked the beginning of the colonial era and ultimately led to the first and second chimurenga wars.