Definition of Ndebele in English:



  • 1A member of a people of Zimbabwe and north-eastern South Africa.

    See also Matabele
    • ‘The Ndebeles consider themselves part of the Zulu nation and would ideally like to break away and form a new country with the Zulus in South Africa.’
    • ‘It is also generally accepted that the president should be a Shona, rather than a Ndebele, a much smaller group.’
    • ‘In this sense there are important links between urban and homestead murals, most notably with regard to the Ndebele's incorporation of icons of Western culture.’
    • ‘The anger of the Ndebeles - who make up roughly 20% of Zimbabwe's 12.7 million people - has reached crisis level.’
    • ‘Party officials say Karangas and Ndebeles - who form what has been termed ‘the southern axis ‘- feel it is time one of their own came into power.’’
    • ‘The Ndebele in the nineteenth century were the first to use the name ‘Shona’ to refer to the peoples they conquered; although the exact meaning of the term is unclear, it was probably derogatory.’
    • ‘Even more obviously inspired by their immediate surroundings are the architectural murals of the Ndebele.’
    • ‘Zimbabwe is generally portrayed as made up of two major tribes, the Shona and the Ndebele.’
    • ‘Her influence was so great that she inspired the Shona and the Ndebele, the largest tribes of Zimbabwe, to unite against their common foe.’
    • ‘He was an Ndebele; his forefathers came to this part of the continent in 1820 as refugees fleeing the might and wrath of Shaka Zulu and the Mfecane in South Africa.’
    • ‘Over the years thousands of Ndebele were violently removed from their actual heartland to be dumped in a virtual wilderness.’
    • ‘He's united the country - white, black, Indian, coloured, Shona, Ndebele.’
    • ‘Now we are whites, blacks, coloureds, Asians, Shonas, Ndebeles…’
    • ‘If they really have finished with the whites - and I don't believe for a moment they have - they'll immediately start again on the Ndebeles.’
    • ‘To stake their claim to the land, settlers fought and eventually pushed the Shona and Ndebele onto small barren tracts called tribal trust lands.’
  • 2mass noun The Bantu language of the Ndebele, with over 1 million speakers. It is one of the official languages of South Africa.

    Also called Sindebele
    • ‘The official language is English, and there are four indigenous languages - Shona, Ndebele, Venda, and Tonga.’
    • ‘The least spoken languages were Venda and Ndebele at two percent each.’
    • ‘The BBC World Service does not broadcast in Shona and Ndebele and we have no plans to do so; either on our own or in partnership with any other organisation.’
    • ‘Many of Dorothy's most celebrated songs are in Ndebele, a language much closer to Kwazulu than to Zimbabwe's majority tongue, Shona.’
    • ‘Black Umfolosi sing in both Ndebele and English, and their songs address themes of love, family and God, as well as the contemporary issues of war, apartheid and the environment.’
    • ‘I was lucky that I learnt English and Ndebele pretty much simultaneously.’
    • ‘It is a Bantu language closely related to Zulu, Swazi, and Ndebele.’
    • ‘As a further mark of its ethnic diversity, South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, and Sotho.’


  • Relating to the Ndebele or their language.

    • ‘Smart guides in black tunics and trousers with Ndebele trim, offer assistance with a friendly smile the moment anyone looks lost.’
    • ‘A key argument is that modern Ndebele identity was not ethnically exclusive or fundamentalist.’
    • ‘Figurative imagery in Ndebele murals is highly stylized, with areas of color delineated by heavy black outlines.’
    • ‘It would be interesting to have had the Ndebele viewpoint as well… interesting stuff.’
    • ‘A more modern African scene makes up the third display - jars, pebbles, plants and bright Ndebele colours.’
    • ‘The triangular arch at the entrance is painted with the geometric patterns typical of Ndebele art.’
    • ‘This marked the birth of the unique musical style and ethos which Mapfumo dubbed chimurenga after the Shona and Ndebele uprisings of 1893 and 1896-97.’
    • ‘Of real concern is the potential for tribal war between the majority Shona people and the Ndebele tribe.’
    • ‘The Ndebele people, recognized for their skill as military strategists before the arrival of the British, make up about 20 percent of the population.’
    • ‘She combines her knowledge of Ndebele tradition with the choice of hues and types of colour readily available to her today.’
    • ‘Its attractions now included an idealized Ndebele village, complete with ‘tribesmen’ dressed as they did ‘before the advent of the white man.’’
    • ‘It even appears that urban artists on occasion deliberately adopt the flat, outlined Ndebele style to achieve a more ‘African’ look.’
    • ‘The Ndebele women traditionally wore copper and brass rings around their necks arms and legs as a symbol of their status in society and after marriage as a symbol of her bond and faithfulness to her husband.’
    • ‘In the alcove of the dormer, we painted, freehand, a pattern inspired by designs that adorn many homes of the South African Ndebele tribe.’
    • ‘Here again, one can draw parallels with South African homestead murals, most obviously with Ndebele examples.’
    • ‘The murals became a highly visible assertion of Ndebele identity.’
    • ‘For example, the Ndebele images of objects such as airplanes, electric pylons, lamp posts, telephones, and Western homes are highly geometricized.’
    • ‘Our rallying cry is ‘Sokwanele’ in the Ndebele language and ‘Zvakwana’ in Shona, meaning quite simply ‘Enough is enough’.’
    • ‘Mat making and related arts and crafts are popular among the Ndebele, Kalanga, and Nambya people.’
    • ‘Toward the end of the first half of the twentieth century, their identity being threatened, Ndebele women began to paint walls of their houses and yards in colored geometric motifs.’


The name in the Nguni languages.