Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe and is situated in the province of Matabeleland. Bulawayo is also known as “City of Kings”, “Skies”, “Bluez”or “Ntuthu ziyathunga” which is an Ndebele phrase for “smoke arising”. The name came from the city’s historically large industrial base and specifically draws from the large cooling tower powered electricity generating plant situated in the city centre. The majority of Bulawayo’s population belong to the Ndebele ethnic group.
The city was founded by the Ndebele king, Lobhengula, son of King Mzilikazi who was born of Matshobana and settled in modern-day Zimbabwe around the 1840’s after the Ndebele people’s great trek from Nguniland. The name Bulawayo comes from the Ndebele word KoBulawayo, meaning “a place where he is being killed”.
Bulawayo sits on a plain that marks the Highveld of Zimbabwe and is on the watershed between the Zambezi and Limpopo drainage basins. The city has a tropical climate but as with much of southern and eastern Zimbabwe is cooled by a prevailing south-easterly airflow most of the year and has three broad seasons – a dry, cool winter from May to August, a hot dry period from late August to early November and a warm wet period for the rest of summer, November to April. The hottest month is October which can see temperatures in excess of 40°C.
Bulawayo has good quality water which meets International standards. The city does not recycle waste water and therefore the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Treated waste water is used for irrigation only and areas are well sign-posted, “not for drinking”.
Bulawayo experiences water shortages in drought seasons and the community is urged to conserve water at all times.