Africa, Zimbabwe, Matobo National Park, Tomb of Cecil Rhodes

Rhodes Grave, Matobo National Park

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The national park is the oldest in Zimbabwe, established in 1926[1] as Rhodes Matopos National Park, a bequest from Cecil Rhodes. The original park borders extended well to the south and east of the current park. These areas were redesignated for settlement as part of a compromise between the colonial authorities and the local people, creating the Khumalo and Matobo Communal Lands.[3] The park area then increased with the acquisition of World’s View and Hazelside farms to the north.

The current name Matobo reflects the correct vernacular pronunciation of the area.

The Matobo Hills were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The area “exhibits a profusion of distinctive rock landforms rising above the granite shield that covers much of Zimbabwe”.[4]

The hills were the scene of the famous indaba between white settlers and Ndebele leaders in 1896—the Second Matabele War, known in Zimbabwe as the First Chimurenga—which ended with the assassination of the Mlimo by Frederick Russell Burnham, the American scout, in one of the Matobo caves.[24] Upon learning of the death of the Mlimo, Cecil Rhodes boldly walked alone and unarmed into this Ndebele stronghold and persuaded the impi to lay down their arms.[25] During the indaba it was also in these hills that Robert Baden-Powell, the Founder of Scouting, first learned woodcraft, the fundamentals of scouting, from Burnham.[26][27] Today much of the pottery and artifacts found on cave floors and most of the clay grain bins in the hills are remnants from the 1896 rebellion era. There are other reminders too – bronze plaques dotting the area mark the sites of armed forts or brief skirmishes.

Shangani Patrol memorial at World’s View
Cecil Rhodes, Leander Starr Jameson, and several other leading early white settlers, including Allan Wilson and all the members of the Shangani Patrol killed in the First Matabele War, are buried on the summit of Malindidzimu, the ‘hill of the spirits’ — this is a great source of controversy in modern Zimbabwe as this is considered a sacred place by nationalists and indigenous groups.[28][29] This mount is also referred to as the World’s View. (Not to be confused with the World’s View, Nyanga).

A memorial shrine, erected by the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH), an organization that seeks to commemorate the sacrifice of Rhodesian servicemen and women during World War One and World War Two, can be accessed in the Park.