Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2018

Department 1



Rinderpest was a deadly bovine virus that plagued cattle herds across Europe and Asia for centuries. In the late 1880’s-early 1890’s, the virus found its way to the African continent where it wreaked immense havoc among the unimmune herds of African pastoralists and agriculturalists. By February 1896, the virus had crossed the Rhodesian border along the Zambezi River and began killing off cattle owned by ethnic groups like the Matabele and Shona, as well as those owned by white settlers. In an effort to contain the virus, the British South African Company consulted with colonial officials from the Cape Colony, who in turn advised the local police in Rhodesia to practice quarantines of cattle herds and to begin legal mass killings of sick and healthy cattle to create a buffer zone. The harsh practices of legalized killings of cattle, coupled with an already pre-existing tense political situation, convinced the Matabele to take a stand against the colonial state in an act of rebellion.


Written for Hist 371: Modern African Environments.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.