Bulawayo, the heart of a tremendous wide sweep of the western parts of Zimbabwe, is the second largest city in Zimbabwe with a population of about 1, 5 million fully integrated people of different races, tribal groupings and cultural backgrounds. The City of Bulawayo was originally the home of Lobengula, the last of the Matebele Kings. It is the centre of the three Matabeleland provinces – North and South, and Bulawayo. Bulawayo attained town status on 1st June 1894 and had its first Municipal Council of 9 elected members in November 1897. By 1943, due largely to its rapid growth, Bulawayo had attained city status under Proclamation 21 of 1943.
Bulawayo's location is interesting from the geological as well as from a geographical point of view. The City stands on some of the most ancient rock ever laid down on earth and is strategically placed on the apex of the great Zimbabwean plateau and commands access to it from the south. Located at a vantage point in the Sub-Saharan Region, Bulawayo forms the axis of a well-planned road and rail network to the north, south, east and west of Zimbabwe. It thus has the dual role of being the regional capital for Southern Zimbabwe and also a link to the interior of Southern Africa. With its proximity to South Africa, it was natural for Bulawayo to develop as the industrial hub of Zimbabwe. It is located as a link between South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and the rest of the country. The first train arrived in Bulawayo in 1897. Early colonial settlers using the region's immense natural wealth turned Bulawayo into a boom town, and the City grew to become an important industrial hub of Southern Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe). The arrival of railways in 1897 made it the country's major centre for mining, ranching and industrial activity. Many heavy industrials were located in the town, which was the gateway to Southern Africa - linking the north and south through a rail and road network. For a long time Bulawayo was to remain the country's commercial capital while Harare was the seat of Government.
Today, Bulawayo is one of the country's most attractive cities, with a pleasing mixture of Victorian and modern architecture which gives it a unique character. From a tourist point of view, Bulawayo has a lot to offer, either from within itself or the surrounds. The City is located near Hwange National Park, the Victoria Falls, Khami Ruins, the Matobo Hills (where Cecil John Rhodes as well as King Mzilikazi are buried) and Matobo National Park.
In the city there is the National Art Gallery, an attraction of great interest, housed in a Victorian era building. The complex also houses a crafts shop, restaurant and several artists' studios. There is also the Zimbabwe's International Trade Fair (ZITF), Old Bulawayo, and many other attractions.
It is hard to have any discussion about the City of Bulawayo without acknowledging its deep seated roots to the history of the Ndebele people. The City is located on a site selected by King Lobengula, for his personal Kraal and became the capital 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. The name originally called ko Bulawayo is generally interpreted as the “place of slaughter or the place of killing”. Government House now stands on the actual site. During his reign national issues were discussed at "Entenjaneni" or "Enyokeni" which was the "Indaba tree”. Bulawayo was occupied by the Pioneer Column on the 4th November 1893 and was declared a Town by Dr Jameson of the 1st June 1894. Bulawayo then became a City under Proclamation 41 on the 4th November 1943. Each year in November the City of Bulawayo celebrates the declaration of the City during the Month of November.
To recognize the role of the past on the history of the City of Bulawayo, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe together with the Ministry of Home Affairs requested for the construction of Bulawayo in 1992. After consultations with the chiefs and the Khumalo clan, approval was granted.
The capital was 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 for the reconstruction of Old Bulawayo underscored the importance of keeping amaKhumalo directly involved to ensure the culture of the place is preserved, including the careful handling of artifacts found at Old Bulawayo.