Matabele Order of Battle

Dennis Bishop has catalogued the Ndbele (Matabele) Order of Battle at Matabele Order of Battle


It is summarised below:

The Ndebele army was traditionally organized, although not always on a strict regimental basis according to some accounts. Induna Mtini's impi was probably the exception to this, making it the main striking force. The Ndebele iviyo (companies) may have retrieved their hidden shields and weapons, and rallied to the izinduna in their vicinity. Many of the warriors wore adopted European clothing, although some may have retained some of their former regalia. Although the uniforms and shields may have been haphazard, the warriors were much better armed with firearms than they had been in 1893. Most of the rebel izinduna had fought in 1893, supported Lobengula's heirs and the Ndebele traditional way of life, and believed in the prophet, Mlimo. The tactics of the impis would rely upon the use of firepower and numerical strength in the belief that the "White man's bullets would turn to water." These factors would make them a formidable foe.

The seven impis were organized upon recapturing the heart of Matabeleland, Buluwayo as follows:

Induna Mtini (4000 "elite" warriors based on the Umgusa River).
Second Induna: Somabulana:

Ibutho:
Ngnoba
Nyamandhlovu
Jingen
Elibeni
Imbezu
Umvuchwe
Enxna
Zinyangwe
Insukameni
Mareni

Induna Sikombo (2000 warriors based 25 miles southeast of Buluwayo blocking the Tuli Road).
Second Induna: Umlugulu

Babyaan (800 warriors based 14 miles south of Buluwayo on the Khama River).
Second Induna: Dhliss

Induna Nkonkobela (2000 warriors in the Inyoka District).
Second Induna: Hole

Induna Matisa (2000 warriors in the Shangani District).
Second Induna: Godhlo

Induna Umsolo (1200 warriors in the Gwande District).

Induna Fezela (2000 warriors in the Filabusi District).
Second Induna: Mahlehleni

The total number of 14,000 estimated warriors is consistent with the elimination of the "negligible" amabutho, losses from 1893 and individual izinduna refusing to join the rebellion.


Notes:

Ndbele were known as Matabele to the British as this is how they first heard it spoken.
Induna (InDuna) in Zulu is the advisor, great leader, ambassador, headman or commander of a group of warriors
izinduna plural of induna
Impi is Zulu for any armed body of men. In English it is often used to refer to a Zulu regiment, which is called an ibutho in Zulu.
1893 The first Matabele War was in 1893. The War of 1896 is more correctly called the Matabele Rebellion or The First Chmurenga as it was renamed after Zimbabwe Independence.