Bulawayo City Council

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Bulawayo Brief History

This is the first capital established by king Lobengula in 1870 when he emerged as successor to king Mzilikazi his father and founder of the Ndebele state. Initially named "Gibixhegu" the capital was later named "ko Bulawayo" and the king lived there until 1881. Indaba zombuso zazikhulunyelwa "Entenjaneni" or "Enyokeni" which was the "indaba tree".

The national Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe together with the then Minister of home Affairs Dumiso Dabengwa requested for the reconstruction of Old Bulawayo in 1992. After consultations with the chiefs and the Khumalo clan, approval was granted. The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (Western Region), the Khumalo clan together with the chiefs' committee have since facilitated the reconstruction of Old Bulawayo.

The capital is being reconstructed on the exact site and the structures called "amaqhugwana", the bee-hive huts, are as close to the original structures and as historically representative as possible. The conditions and reasons given for the reconstruction of Old Bulawayo were technical, cultural and historical, but, they all underscored the importance of keeping amaKhumalo directly involved to ensure the culture of the place is preserved and also the careful handling of artifacts found at old Bulawayo.

A delegation of three from Zululand came to Bulawayo and together with the Museums technical staff and the chiefs' committee constructed the first "iqhugwana" and museum staff continued from there. This was after a delegation of twelve from Bulawayo which included chiefs, museum staff and a representative of the Khumalo clan in August of 1994 had been to Zululand on a fact finding mission with special focus on the cultural side and physical construction of bee-hive huts; "amaqhugwana".

On the 20th of November 1992, a committee of chiefs and amaKhumalo went to King Mzilikazi's grave to request and report that King Lobengula's palace is to be reconstructed. Two princes were then asked to stay at the site namely Msindo Gideon Joy Khumalo and Ngandela Khumalo to oversee preservation of culture and only after sekutshaywe ihlahla did they start staying there, which was on the 21st of November 1992.

Taking into account "ukuthi umuzi wendoda ubonakala ngesibaya", amaKhumalo have built a cattle kraal and the palisade around the site themselves, to ensure the presence of the amaKhumalo and the Ndebeles remained. A cultural hut has also been built outside the enclosure in concurrence with the museum; and on the 27th of November 1997 the Khumalos handed over the cultural hut to the chiefs.

Other construction done so far at the site is of:

  • The king's wagon shed
  • The king's house
  • The interpretive centre and toilets
  • The parking area

Important cultural events that have since taken place at Old Bulawayo are:

  • 100 years centenary celebrations of Bulawayo were held at old Bulawayo
  • 1st of April 1995, chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi was received traditionally at old Bulawayo in the evening.
  • On the 2nd of April 1995, very early in the morning Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi accompanied by umt.
  • Zwidekalanga Peter Khumalo and umt. Jeki Khumalo ka Sikhonkwane; was taken to King Mzilikazi's burial site at Entumbane and then a function was held in his honour at old Bulawayo.
  • Memorial services are performed at the site every September by the amaKhumalo and that is when the cultural hut is used too.
  • Call Centre Contacts:
  • (09) 71290 - All Networks
  • callcentre@citybyo.co.zw
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  • 993, 994 , (09) 71717
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