Around the year A.D. 900, the Shona people built a wealthy and powerful kingdom in what is now Zimbabwe and Mozambique. By the 1300s, it had become a great commercial center, collecting gold mined nearby and trading it to Arabs at ports on the Indian Ocean.
Great Zimbabwe was abandoned in the 1400s, possibly because its growing population exhausted its water and food resources.
In the late 1600s, Mutapa kings allied with the nearby Rozwi kingdom to drive out the Portuguese. Instead, the Rozwi conquered the Mutapa’s territory and ruled it until the early 1800s, when it became part of the Zulu Empire.
The Portuguese arrived and took over the coastal trade in the 1500s.
In the late 1400s, the Shona conquered the region between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers from Zimbabwe to the coast of Mozambique.
Shaka was killed in 1828, but his empire survived until the British destroyed it in the Zulu War of 1879.
The Zulu leader Shaka united his people in the early 1800s to form the Zulu Empire in what is now South Africa.
In the 1830s, thousands of Boers left the Cape Colony in a migration, and they settled in the Orange River. In the 1860s, the Boers discovered diamonds in their territory. Then, in 1886, they found the world’s largest gold deposits.
British efforts to gain these resources led to the Boer War in 1899. The Boers were defeated and again came under British control. In 1910 Britain allowed the Boer colonies to join the Cape Colony in forming an independent country—the Union of South Africa.
In 1884 representatives of these countries met in Berlin, Germany, to divide the continent among themselves. European control in Southern Africa continued for about the next 80 years. Not until the 1960s did the region’s colonies begin to gain independence and self-rule.
By 1975 all of what was Southern Africa was independent. And later Zimbabwe was born.
Slowly, all of the countries gained their rights, and are now Southern Africa.