- Zimbabwe Ndebele people, and their use of the word "Hole"  -
Origins of the Hole name of the Ndebele Tribe 
Conflicting views exist as to why this larger group of Ndebele was called the Hole. One view is that the term referred to slaves; captives who had been brought home to perform manual labour for Mzilikazi. It is thought that the use of this word gained popularity during the colonial era. However Nkani Sibanda, one Hole differed from this view, arguing that, “the Makalanga" used to cover themselves with blankets and when the Matabele asked why they wore blankets in the hot sun, they replied: we are used to dragging our blankets about with us - sihol’ ingubo. That is when the Ndebele started referring to them as the Hole.

However latter research has affirmed that Hole was in current usage prior to 1893 and the word was not used in a derogatory manner. In fact, although the Hole were of a lower class, some being slaves, they were well taken care of. When the soldiers brought and paraded the captives before the king, the females who were old enough for marriage were given to the captors especially the chiefs, while any soldier who wanted a male or female captive was granted permission to have one on condition that he had the resources to keep the captive well. It was always borne in mind that the Hole were the king’s people, and if the king suspected any ill treatment of a Hole, that Hole would be immediately placed under the king’s custody. As if to show the apparent good social conditions of the Hole, the Shona strove to identify themselves with their Ndebele masters. Some even translated their names to Ndebele, for example, Shumba to Sibanda, Nyanga to Nkomo, Gumpo to Msipa, Shiri to Nyoni, Dziva to Siziba, Moyo to Nhliziyo and Shoko to Ncube.

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The Hole may however been forced to change their surnames by social pressures that caused discrimination against them. Captives were discriminated against socially until they were fully assimilated into Ndebele society, a sign that was shown through piercing of their ears (ukuklekla - a Ndebele earmark).

Even though the Hole were kept well, there is no doubt that they suffered initial shocks of separation from their parents and relatives, and they were probably reminded now and again of their second class citizenship by some of the Ndebele laws. For instance if a Hole was to kill a member of the Zansi or Enhla class, he or she would be punished by death, but if the same crime was to be committed by a member of the upper classes, a fine of a number of cattle to the King would have sufficed. However these situations were generally limited in the total life of a Hole and they lived peacefully in the society.

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