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Before the Settlers
When the first whites arrived in 1890, the land between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers was populated by the Shona and the Ndebele people, who claimed sovereignty.
It is thought the Shona had been there for about 1,000 years. The Ndebele arrived in the 1830s, having migrated north from Natal after falling out with the Zulu King.
In 1889, the imperialist Cecil Rhodes, who had made a fortune in diamond mining in the Cape, set up the British South Africa Company to explore north of the Limpopo.
He had already obtained exclusive mining rights from the Ndebele king, Lobengula, in return for £100 a month, 1,000 rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and a riverboat. As far as Lobengula was concerned he had not conferred land rights.
The first 200 settlers were each promised a 3,000-acre farm and gold claims in return for carving a path through Mashonaland.
The Shona were too fragmented to resist and the British flag was raised at Fort Salisbury on 13 September 1890. The name Rhodesia was adopted in 1895. It became the British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1923.
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