Matapo Hills Locations Facts History Zimbabwe Africa

Matapo Hills Locations Facts History Zimbabwe Africa

Like building blocks piled up by some gigantic infant, granite boulders perch perilously on top of another. Giant granite marbles poise on smooth granite domes as if a gentle push would set them in motion.

This astonishing boulder land is the skeleton of a landscape born more than 3300 million years ago before the earth had developed an atmosphere. Seas of molten rock cooled and solidified, cracking as they did so to create joints to form the extraordinary granite landforms of Zimbabwe’s Matopo Hills.

Here, black eagles, guardians of the ancestral spirits of the place, soar high above their last stronghold in Africa.


The ‘chaotic grandeur of these ancient hills so awed diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes that he chose them as his final resting place. Rhodes gave his name to Rhodesia, the vast tract of Africa administered by the company he set up. What was Rhodesia is now the republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe?

Granite Tomb

On April 10, 1902, deep in the heart of Matapo Hills, 12 blacks oxen drew the gun carriage containing Rhodes’s coffin up the slope of a great granite dome, which he had called View of the World, but which was known to the Matabele people as Malindidzimu, ‘Place of the Ancient Spirits’.

There, in a tomb hewn out of solid granite and covered with a 3-ton granite seal, he was interred overlooking a panorama of fertile plains and distant hills. As his casket was lowered in place, the royal salute of the Matabele warriors standing at his graveside reverberated through the surrounding hills.’Bayete! Bayete! Bayete!’

Just 9 miles (15km) away from the grave the tomb of Mzilikazi, the first paramount chief between the rocks. In the mid19th century, Mzilikazi – in a moment of levity – named these hills ama Tobo, meaning ‘bald heads’, because they reminded him of his senior advisers.

Art Galleries


The mystical atmosphere of the Matapos influenced the San (or Bushmen) people who occupied caves in the hills between 20,000 and 2000 years ago. Rock walls and caves are now natural galleries of primitive art. In the late stone Age, the San used the clays mixed with animal fat and the latex of the euphorbia plant to paint animals, landscapes, spiritual forms and geometric puzzles on their granite canvases. In reds, browns, and yellows, they show hunters with bows and arrows, rhinos, elephants, impalas, lions and zebras. One painting depicts the veined wings of a flying termite.

The Matopos National Park, just south of Bulawayo, was Cecil Rhodes’s gift to the people of the town. He granted it to them so that they could ‘enjoy the glory of the Matopos ‘from Saturday to Monday’.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

fifteen − five =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!