75th Anniversary - 1968



75th ANNIVERSARY OF THE OCCUPATION OF MATABLELAND Postage stamp issued 4th November, 1968

The stamp issue was released to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the capture and occupation of the Matabeleland capital of Bulawayo on the 4th November, 1893.

The Rhodes’ Pioneer Column of 1890 was based on the Rudd concession for the purported right to occupy the area to the north of the Ndebele kingdom and resulted in the occupation of Mashonaland. Lobengula, the chief of the Ndebele, however believed that he still had the right to raid the Mashona tribes as he and his father, Mkilikazi, had done since the 1860’s. However this brought the Ndebele people into conflict with the white settlers. Following raids by the Ndebele on the Mashona people around Fort Victoria, the Administrator of Mashonaland, Leander Starr Jameson, put together and expeditionary force of 400 settlers and invaded Matabeleland.

After the significant battles at Bembezi and Shangani, Lobengula set fire to his capital city and fled towards the Zambezi River. A column of 200 men under Major Patrick Forbes set off in Lobengula’s pursuit. A small detachment of 34 men under Major Allan Wilson was sent across the Shangani River, but were cut off from the main force due to heavy rains causing the river to flood. The Ndebele warriors subsequently attacked this small force and wiped it out, and so was born one of the legends of Rhodesia.

Meanwhile Jameson occupied what was left of Bulawayo and raised the flag of the British South Africa Company on 4th November, 1893. The modern city of Bulawayo was built on the site of Lobengula’s kraal and has consequently become the provincial capital of Matabeleland province and Zimbabwe’s second city.

This stamp issue is the second to have been released to commemorate the occupation of Matabeleland. The first issue was released on 4th November, 1943, to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Due to the Second World War the stamp that was released had to be printed in South Africa and remains the only stamp printed there.
The three stamps issued for the 75th anniversary is described from the printed stiffener included in the Post Office’s first day cover, and reads:

3d. This stamp depicts the raising of the British South Africa Company flag on the 4th November, 1893, near the deserted kraal of Lobengula, the last of the Matabele kings. The kraal was called Gu'Bulawayo, from which the present City of Bulawayo derives its name.

9d. The main motif is the coat of arms of the City of Bulawayo superimposed over a view of modern Bulawayo. The City has lived up to its motto "Si Ye Pambile", Let us go forward, as steady progress since 1893 has led to it becoming the thriving industrial and commercial heart of Matabeleland.

1s6d. This denomination depicts the equestrian figure of Allan Wilson. The illustration is taken from the frieze of the memorial to the Shangani Patrol and its leader Allan Wilson, all of whom were annihilated in an heroic engagement during the Matabele War of 1893. The memorial is situated in the Matopos Hills close by the grave of Cecil John Rhodes in a setting of stark granite hills, at a place known as the "View of the World".
The Royal Philatelic Society of Rhodesia held an international philatelic exhibition from 4th to 6th November, 1968, called MATAPEX 75, for which a special postmark was produced by the Post Office.