Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP) Dynasty

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History is the opium of every society. A well-documented history is the preservation of societal culture and life. This article looks into the values, traditions and customary principles of VaZumba people in present day Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe. Thus, this will help in tracing the clan, chieftainship and genealogy. Their cultural practices, respect of norms and values constructed a sound and efficient group of people. The society is egalitarian and it’s supported by peasant farming including other hand craft activities to earn a living.

Geographical Location and Historical Background of Uzumba Dynasty.

Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP) is geographically located in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe. As per the 2012 census, the population stood at 112,611. It is important to note that, through the government authorities the area was subdivided into Uzumba and Maramba Pfungwe. However, this dynamic change did not affect the roots of the people but only created gap in areas of habitation. Thus, currently the people are occupying Uzumba, Muswe, Nakiwa, Nyadini, Karimbika and Dindi villages. The area receives relatively adequate rainfall sufficient for crop and animal husbandry. Mineral deposits such as gold are also found in the area. History reveals, that the Ndowe people migrated scattering into the whole of Zimbabwe. Their family roots is traced from Seke communal lands. In fact, one of the Ndowe ancestors is believed to have landed in Seke area under the Vhuramavi clan. However, control over resources and clan ownership caused mayhem and anarchy within the Vhuramavi and the Ndowe people. This culminated in migration of the Ndowe people to the present day Uzumba. The area is blessed with rich agricultural soils and this has significantly improved the society through subsistence and commercial agricultural development. Favored by these nature blessings agriculture boomed through the use of cow dung/ ndowe, hence their name was frequently used as the Ndowe people. The Ndowe people were thus also referred to as Eland/ Shava/ Mhofu yemukono people. 

Chief Nyajina Genealogy.

Oral tradition reveals beyond doubt that, the great Sororoziome Nyajina was the founding father of Vazumba clan. The revelations show that, Sororoziome Nyajina landed in Seke communal groups but later migrated to present day Uzumba. He migrated with his family and followers. He managed to secure a rich area where his clan developed tremendously. Sororoziome Nyajina was of the Shava/Mhofu yemukono totem. Upon his arrival in Uzumba, the aged Sororoziome passed the reigning powers to his elder son who became the first chief of the rich land. His name was Nyanhewe.  He regrouped the clan into a more centralised and focused people in transforming their land. He also transformed his security to guard jealously his people since they were new people in the area. His mission was accomplished as he managed to defeat weaker groups and subduing them into Uzumba clan. Chief Nyanhewe was blessed with one son named Nyahuma. However, old age and body exhaustion numbered Chief Nyanhewe’s days on the rich soils of Uzumba. He died and was buried at Marowe Mountain leaving his son Nyahuma the seating Chief. After Chief Nyanhewe’s death, Nyanhewe became the family guardian spirit/ svikiro known as Bvukura or Bvukupfuku. As the name implies he was responsible for the upkeep of his children and clan. His role was also extended in chief selections and dispute management.

Interestingly to note is that, Chief Nyahuma upheld his elder’s cultural belief of having one spouse. His marriage was blessed with four sons namely Kanodzirasa, Mukonde, Kawoko and Chikuwe. It is common cause that, Chief Nyahuma taught his sons their culture and values. Control over their territory was their priority and they promoted unity among the Uzumba people. However, Chief Nyahuma died mysteriously. Ownership of his legacy became disputed amongst his four sons. Oral tradition reveals that, dispute originated between Kanodzirasa and Mukonde. The dispute was over who was the elder son to take control of the rich land of their fore-father. Through the help of svikiro Bvukura or Bvukupfuku, Kanodzisira lost the chieftainship battle to Mukonde. However, Kanodzirasa angered the spirit mediums and his descendants were cursed and were prohibited from retaining chieftainship. Mukonde was regarded as the first son and family legacy was bestowed to him. Being the incumbent chief Nyajina, Mukonde extended his love to his younger brothers. He collectively scraped the leadership wound created by Kanodzirasa and united his Uzumba clan. It is believed that, the three family starting from Mukonde, Kawoko and Chikuwe were the sole responsible chieftainship families respectively and interchangeably exchange the role and reverting it to Mukonde family.

The advent of colonialism did not affect this chronological sequencing hypothesis in the Chief Nyajina family tree. However, oral tradition reveals that, there was a time when Bvukura the guardian spirit would randomly choose the next Chief Nyajina. Chief Mukonde’s son Dyora was handed chieftainship responsibility. He executed his duties within the pretext and values of the clan. It is believed that, Chief Dyora was regarded as one of the best Chief Nyajina. After his death there was a smooth chieftainship transfer of power to Kawoko and Chikuwe families respectively. Around, 1931-1968 Chief Kapita from the house of Chikuwe had the ruling powers. It was then reverted back to the Mukonde family. It is important to note that, this sequencing ideology maintained peace and stability that fostered economic and political cohesion in the Nyajina Uzumba clan.  

Oral tradition reveals that, Chief Dyora’s son David Nyajina and Chief Kapita’s son Joseph Manyika teamed up to cause confusion on the genealogy and linear  accession. Attempts by these two failed dismally as Bvukura, the svikiro barred them from these shadow wrong doings. It is believed that, succession was then passed from Chief Nyahuma to Chief Kawoko. Importantly to pin point is that the reigns by passed Mukonde family. It is believed that, Chief Mukonde eldest son was late. Thus, sequencing principle was disobeyed. However, around the 1971, the Mukonde house retained the chieftainship. This leadership role was handed to Chief Bere. Chief Bere ruled up until Zimbabwe gained independence. Oral tradition revealed that, Chief Bere played a pivotal role in the liberation wars and he fought jealously for land. Around the, 1970s and the late 2000 towards his death Chief Bere maintained the cultural dictates of his Uzumba clan.

The death of Chief Nyajina Bere brewed leadership wrangle. In fact, the wrangle was caused by failure to chronologically sequence the family tree. This created mayhem and despondence with the family of the great Sororoziome Nyanjina. However, substantive Chief Chirinda was given the role until the dispute was resolved. With the advantage of age some elderly people within the family and clan, family roots were traced and exposed. Family testimonies reveals that, Mukonde family was last to have the role hence they was need of passing it sequentially. It is important to note that, both families alluded to the fact that chieftainship was to be transferred to the Kawoko family. Also, substantive Chief Chirinda was a stranger and was only to act whilst the dispute being dissolved.  Chipfuyamiti from Kawoko family was thus granted the role and is the current Chief Nyajina.

Chief Chipfuyamiti being the current chief has transformed the area. His is playing his traditional leadership role in resolving family disputes, maintenance of peace and tranquillity in this part of Mashonaland East, respect of cultural values and norms of the area. The economy of the area has also changed for better through his leadership, albeit the economic challenges.

Conclusively, Uzumba clan was egalitarian. Its traditional leadership was defined by its ability in fostering sound and vibrant respect to cultural values and norms. Chieftainship was thus sequentially transferred and svikiro Bvukura helped where wrangles emerged.  

By Leon Chigwanda  

A close look at Chivi history


African dignity is bestowed from the one’s roots. This is the case of Chivi residents as their society’s roots is traced as the descendants of Mashonaland East Province. Societal values are important and they are collected to construct a resounding and sensible history of a tribe. Chivi chieftainship has transformed and shaped the peoples livelihood. Cattle ranching, gold mining and hand craft activities have been key to the Chivi people.

The leadership has also done exceptionally well in fostering peace, stability and promotion of good quality, respect of cultural values, norms and customs. This policy paper will trace the family roots of Chivi traditional leadership and examine clan development.


Chivi district lies in Masvingo Province. Historical facts reveal that, Chivi dynasty was an offshoot of the fall of the Rozvi Empire. Currently, it is important to note that the area is boarded to the north by people under chief Chivi of the Shumba Murambwi totem- family of their fore father Nehoreka and to the west under headman Kuvhirima and Mspambi of the Dziva totem- family of their fore father Chief Nyaningwe. 

Chivunguvungu son of Nehoreka of the Shumba Murambwi totem migrated from Mutoko to Masvingo residing in the special corner present day Chivi district. Nehoreka family had super natural powers and had the ability to perform mystical deeds. These powers were also vested in his elder son Chivunguvungu which he later used to steal Mutoko residents cattle and other valuable products. In After, embarking on a 350 kilometre walk Chivunguvungu was welcomed by the Dziva-Hove people. Thus the totem meaning a big pool of water. This group was in the leadership of Chief Nyaningwe. It is prudent to acknowledge that Chief Nyaningwe was the sole responsible leader of his clan in present day Chivi district under Masvingo Province. Chivunguvungu was blessed with strong and able bodied sons namely Mudzungairi meaning a wanderer and Mudzore who resided in present day Mashava, known as chief Bere. One of his sons Mudzungairi had the ideology of togetherness and he preserved the cultural beliefs and values of his forefather in Mutoko area. Bearing these attributes, Mudzungairi bestowed these attributes to his family members mainly his sons Tavengegwei and Zumba. Unfortunately, Chivunguvungu died leaving his legacy to his sons.

Moreover, nature pronounced its fate leading the death of Mudzungairi the elder son of Chivunguvungu. Smooth transfer of fatherhood was passed on to Tavengegwei. Family legacy, ideology and values were quick transplanted into Tavengegwei. Interestingly, Tavengengwei had the same attributes of his grandfather’s Nehoreka and Chivunguvungu of performing magical powers. Oral tradition reveals that, Chief Nyaningwe-Dziva was gifted with beautiful daughters namely Chiroodza and Shandurai. Shandurai was believed to have stunned Tavengegwei with her beauty. Shandurai classical beauty confused Tavengegwei forcing him to plan marriage. However, this was not easy as Shandurai was the Chief’s princess. Through his courage and commitment, Tavengegwei approached Chief Nyaningwe family with his matter. With the blessing of his father, Shandurai was allowed to marry Tavengegwei. Oral tradition revels that, Chief Nyaningwe demanded a live warthog and a python as bride price. This mission was made possible by the ability bestowed in Tavengegwei of performing magical powers. Marriage between the two was made possible earning Shandurai the name vaChifeza. Nature blessed the two with five children. His children were Matsveru, Musvuvugwa, Chiwara, Musunda and Chidavarume. It is prudent to note that, Tavengegwei became a polygamist and he was blessed with other son called, Madamombe, Madyanove and Mazarire to mention but a few. However, their father Tavengegwei died leaving Chief Nyaningwe in custody and guidance of the children from vaChifeza family.  

Chief Nyaningwe of the Dziva totem took good custodianship of his nephews mainly from her daughter Shandurai. However, his nephews decided to dethrone their uncle chief Nyaningwe chieftainship. Tavengegwei children also had abilities of performing magical powers. Oral tradition reveals that, Chief Nyaningwe and his nephews convinced each other to go for a bath and to perform rituals at Runde River. With the idea of dethroning their uncles, Tavengegwei sons lead by Musunda the elder one attacked their uncles while swimming. Unfortunately, the pool coloured red with blood. However, some managed to escape this mystical act and crossed the Runde River shouting ‘CHIVI CHAWA’ a crime has been committed. This shouting earned Chivi district the current name Chivi.  Thus, how the Tavengegwei son managed to dethrone their uncles. Chief Nyaningwe died on the incident and his remaining people were easily subdued in the new chieftainship under the Shumba totem and their uncles became headmen.

Chieftainship was however bestowed in the hands of Tavengegwei sons who then multiplied the dynasty with their born Shumba Murambwi totem. Masunda became Chief Chivi. He was quick to trace his roots thereby preserving his forefather’s cultural values and resonating them being the real Buja people from Mutoko not the Karanga.  Tavengegwei other sons became headman. For instance his son Madamombe became famous and present day the area is still intact. The Chieftainship is thus traced from Nehoreka to present day Chief Donald Chivi of the Shumba Murambwi totem.

By Kudzanai Rushiri, B.A Hons in Economic History

The Njanja people of Buhera

African societies are best traced from their roots and genealogy. The Njanja people are a forgotten group among the Shona.  They became one of the first societies to industrialise in pre-colonial Zimbabwe around 1900. The society was egalitarian and the discovery of iron promoted economic growth that improved and modernised the social and political landscape of such an intelligent group of people.  This article mainly aims to explain the historical background of these people, specifically pin pointing WHO really are the people, WHO was their fore-fathers what was their cultural life. Importantly, we also expose HOW they got their chieftainship and expansion ending up to the Hera dynasty in present day Buhera district. Some of the villages in Buhera include Muchererwa village, Mutara village, Marume village, Makuvise village, Tsotdzo village, Magunda village, Mutsindikwa village, Chibongodze village, Mukucha village, Magaya village, Mutizwa village, Mupungu village, Matsinde village, Makanda village.


The Njanja people are believed to have been the victims of the Bantu migration and the MFECANE. In fact, Mfecane was a violent wars situation that disrupted in Central and Southern African societies around the 1822-1838. They landed in the Rozvi grounds.  Oral tradition reveals that, the Njanja people bore a Portuguese origin in genealogy and expansion. The researcher adopts oral evidence as source of construction such a history of the Njanja dynasty. Being the victims of the Bantu migration, around 1830 the Njanja people settled in Wedza Mountain mainly attracted by iron deposits in the area. Arriving in Wedza Mountain the Njanja people were under the stewardship of Muroro who is believed to be a Portuguese. Oral tradition reveals that Muroro copied the Rozvi totem of Moyo Chirandu and he assimilated the praise name of Sinyoro derived from Portuguese word ‘senhor’. This group of people accrued overwhelming wealth from the rich iron deposits the Wedza Mountain offered. Iron smelting developed tremendously in hoe, axes, iron spears and iron bows and arrows. These tools were used economically, socially and politically.  Iron deposits mainly hoes promoted intermarriage that saw the amalgamation of cultural values and norms of the Muromo, Chirwa and Mbiru families.


Plants have roots the same way as the African people. Muroro a half-baked Portuguese is believed to be the forefather of the Njanja people of present day Buhera district. His genealogy is traced back from 1822 where he migrated and settled in the rich iron deposit area. In fact, history reveals that, there was a brave and courageous man by the name Nemato of the Shiri totem who migrated from Basutoland and got a welcoming home at Bvumbura Hill. Nemato brave son Chirwa became anxious thereby established chieftainship in Bvumbura area and covering the areas of Nyazvidzi River, Magangara and Nharira. It is believed that, a group of people arrived in Chirwa’s dynasty under the custodianship of Mbiru. Mbiru and Chirwa people were connected through inter-marriages hence the group was assimilated. For instance Chief Chirwa married Mungu a beautiful daughter of chief Mbiru. However, Portuguese traders under Kuveya landed in the area under Chief Chirwa. Unfortunately, Kuveya nicknamed Muroro fell sick to the extent that he was no longer able to do trading from point to point exchanging his products. Implanted with a loving and caring heart, Chief Chirwa instructed her daughter Mashawashe to take good care of Kuveya- Muromo. Aroused with Mashawashe beauty, Muroro impregnated the princess of Chief Chirwa. Fearing for her death Mashawashe decided to kill Kuveya-Muroro but unfortunately Chief Chirwa got the news. He demanded bride price from Muroro. Muroro took his trade goods items and paid as lobola to Chief Chirwa. Thus intermarriage inter-grated and amalgamated the Chirwa, Mbiru and kuveya- Muroro families.

Furthermore, Muromo and Mashawashe were blessed with a son called Neshangwe. It is imperative to note that, iron exploitation gave the Njanja people power to create a formidable territory. Their society was self-sufficient and sustaining.  As it has been exposed before, Muromo landed in the Rozvi ground and thus his son became famous to be recognised a chief by the Rozvi chief. Importantly to note is that the relationship of Chief Chirwa and his nephew Neshangwe was close. Chief Chirwa is believed to take his nephew Neshangwe to the Rozvi courts, thereby Neshangwe became popularly known at the courts than the real sons of Chief Chirwa. Upon, Chief Chirwa’s death Neshangwe was quick to be recognised as the new chief. Secondly, Neshangwe was multi-skilled in iron smelting and he earned a lot of wealth. Thus, this culminated in being installed the Njanja Chief. Thus, therefore there was a shift in chieftainship from Chirwa family to his nephew Neshangwe family.

In addition, installation of Chief Neshangwe created leadership wrangle from the sons of the late chief Chirwa. Having the support of the Rozvi rulers, chief Chirwa sons were detained and Neshangwe was given magical medicines to use against possible attack from the Chirwa people. The mission was accomplished and thus the Chirwa people displaced leaving Chief Neshangwe the custodian of the land. Chief Neshangwe retained the Rozvi totem as Moyo Chirandu but later changed his name to Chief Gambiza. Oral tradition reveals that, Chief Neshangwe-Gambiza married nine wives and his roots scattered within the area.  Presumably, succession was managed as it was from first family going down. Chief Neshangwe Gambiza died leaving the legacy in the hands of his sons Makumbe and Chivese. Makumbe became chief and he dominated the area occupying the northern side whilst Chivese became chief occupying the southern side. Both are believed to embark on their expansionist policy wayward their spheres of influence. Chivese died leaving Chitsunge the legacy. Importantly to note that these Chiefs were polygamist and they left many children in the society. Thus this prompted divisions within the Njanja people. Division rocked exposing Chief Makumbe and Chief Chitsunge. However, Chief Makumbe rose to become an independent leader with his group of people leaving Njanja to the south-east of Buhera district. On arrival, Chief Makumbe defeated the Dziva people under chief Nerutanga. Makumbe people thus occupied the Hera dynasty and settled at Gombe Mountain. Chief Makumbe became polygamist and he had fourteen wives and from those houses his children expanded forming their villages.

Chief Makumbe and Chief Chivese became bigger and together they conquered the Hera capital present day Buhera. However, chieftainship wrangle were created by polygamist ideology as the four sons of the pillar Muromo became more vicious and have desires and thirsty to occupy the vast land of their ancestors. Thus, the family of Makumbe present day is the family to consider who to become the chief with the aid of spirit mediums and council of elders.

By Leon Chigwanda

Chief Chinamora of the Shawasha people

Chinamhora Chieftainship falls under Goromonzi district in Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe. The area is surrounded by communal lands of Chiweshe, Murehwa, Mutoko and Marondera. The people in the area are referred to as vaShawasha who are believed to have migrated from Fort Victoria. In Fort Victoria the vaShawasha people are believed to have occupied the Mazhumwi or Mahugi/Mahugwi communal land under Chief Tumbudu. Chief Tumbudu constructed a brave and courageous army that he used to raid weaker groups.  As Chief Tumbudu expansionist policy widened he moved to settle at Wedza Mountain area where there was plenty of iron ore. His army would to take all the treasures such as cattle sheep and goats and women from the people they conquered. The chiefs of other countries were afraid of Tumbudu and his army because the vaShawasha used a Gona when they fought. This Gona was called maGumbatya. It contained their medicine (ndudzo) which they put in the porridge and ate. After eating they went to fight with the people whom they wanted to fight. When these vaShawasha people ate the mixture of porridge even the guns would never shoot them, the bullets would be caught by that medicine and the spear thrown at one of the muShawasha would bend, even the axe could not cut. No other gonas were as powerful. They made a fire and put medicine from the gona into it. Then they asked, Where are we going?” “Are we going to win the battle?” If the smoke did not come out immediately or if it went straight up they did not go, but if it came out quickly and went to the side they went in the direction where the smoke was blowing certain that they would win the battle.

The work of the vaShawasha was making spears, axes, hoes and knives. Discovery of Iron ore promoted the manufacturing of armoury such as spears, axes, knives and stabbing picks that were used to defeat other groups. Chief Tumbudu as the forefather of the Chinamhora clan was ascribed to the Soko (Monkey) totem with Mutinaye as Chidawo. After his death, his sons exchanged the Chieftainship up to present day.  

One of his sons, Tingini became a polygamist. It is believed that, Tingini became famous in Wedza in iron smelting which compelled him to return to Zululand to sell the iron products. In Zululand he is believed to have left a dynasty with the totem Tsvubve. On his return to Wedza area, Tingini returned with his seven sons namely Derere, Chidyausiku, and Rusere to mention but a few. Unfortunately, on his return Tingini learnt of his father’s death and the Chieftainship was in wrangle. With the help of his sons and other relatives they managed to retain their Chieftainship in Wedza. He became chief, however Chief Tingini died and chieftainship was passed on to his son. Interesting, chieftainship up to present day is in Chief Tumbudu family. From the time of his death, it was Chief Nemango, Tingini, Derere, Chaitezvi, Nyamare, Chihunga, Chidziva, Chinamaringa, Nzvere, Chingoma, Kuvhimadzama, Chigodora, Muchenje Kurima and Kahari who exchanged the Chieftainship of Chinamhora. Currently, Chief Mhaka is the legitimate Chief being the son of the late chief Kahari. Installation of these traditional leaders was done by the whole family clan in agreement. The process was graced by the drinking of beer, music and dancing. People were well fed with sadza and meat as they grace the installation of their leaders. Thus it is prudent to assert that, Chief installation was an open ceremony witnessed by the whole clan.

Oral evidence suggest that, the word Chinamhora was derived from what one does when he wants honey. In Shona it’s called Kumora huchi. Interestingly, chief Chinamhora is believed to have fought with the bees/ Nyuchi to extract honey thereby he was given the name Chinamhora meaning the honey monger. In 1961, Chief Chinamhora, under a gathering in Seke Village was elected a member of Chiefs Council of Southern Rhodesia present day Zimbabwe. Thus, Chief Chinamhora played a central role in government. Being elected as Chief Council he had the role of overseeing other chiefs, monitoring and evaluating their roles. 

Cultural Values of vaSHAWASHA people.

Every society is governed by its culture. Culture is the opium of every society. As this is the case of Soko people under Chief Chinamhora. Firstly, the society ascribed themselves to Soko/ monkey totem. This was the first stance in preserving their culture. Thus this animal specie is regarded holy and endangering this spice is a serious offence under Chief Chinamhora. Respect to totems was also spread to other tribes who were subdued through raiding and present day globalisation. Thus, every totem in Chief Chinamhora communal land is respected. Intermarriage within the people of vaShawasha was respected and allowed. Payment of lobola was done with iron tools such as hoes and present day people are paying cattle and money. However, women in the society had no land ownership. Land was men’s property. Thus, this culture still stands in Goromonzi area.

Furthermore, cultural practise of rainmaking is done by the vaShawasha people. Rain making ceremony was a process of appeasing the spirit mediums with beer so that they will provide people with sufficient rainfall for agriculture and drinking. Rainmaking ceremony was graced by Chiefs as it was their role. Also Kurova makuva, a process of bringing back the dead home is done in Chinamhora community. It is a Shona practice done by family of the deceased of retaining the spirit of the dead home and the process was also graced by the traditional leadership in Chinamhora community. Beer brewing, music and dancing and eating are witnessed on these occasions. Thus, Chief Chinamhora respected people diverse culture and norms.

The people were religious. Historically, the people respected spirit mediums as their god. They believed in spirit mediums as they do their sacrificial offering annually. Cattle blood was used for the sacrifice. However, with the advent of Christianity the people were diluted and they to a larger extent drifted away from spirit mediums to believe in the highest God, through Jesus Christ. This is evident with the number of Churches in Goromonzi such as Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Mapositori to mention but a few. Thus, Chief Chinamhora’s jurisdiction is diverse in nature.

Socially, the chief plays an indispensable role in solving societal conflicts. Through his counsel of wise and brave men, the Chief is helped to solve family, village and communal issues and disputes. He normally arbitrates and solves the matters without favour. They charge fines that are fair but deterrent so as to discourage people from repeating the same offences or misdemeanour. They behave in a manner that is professional and transparent.

Chinamora chieftainship is rotated from the family roots. Currently, Chief Mhaka is in reigning and is doing its best in turning the economic fortunes of the land by promoting agriculture, mainly horticulture. Socially, the chief upholds the practice of maintaining the moral fabric and values of their society.

By Leon Chigwanda – Researcher with Great Zimbabwe University

The history and truth behind Harurwa

While a lot of people have heard of the Harurwa insects of Norumedzo Village, Bikita District, Masvingo Province of Zimbabwe, and while lots more have enjoyed the delicacy that Harurwa insects are, very few people realise that there is a very elaborate management system that goes with the tradition of Harurwa.

There is a whole systematic management system that goes into Harurwa which in itself is proof of the efficacy of indigenous knowledge systems, in this case, as far as management goes.

So lets look at the Harurwa traditional practices used to manage Harurwa so as to demystify the rumour, gossip, innuendo and half truths that a lot of people, out of ignorance tell each other about Harurwa and the traditional practices thereof as practiced by the people of Norumedzo village.

 We hope that by now most people know that the Harurwa insects came naturally from God to cushion Nemeso, the founding father of Norumedzo village who was born with four eyes and was rejected by his father for this abnormality of having four eyes.

He was given his inheritance in advance by his father in the form of the piece of land now called Norumedzo village so that he could be far away from the rest of his people because of this abnormality of having four eyes.

He therefore didn’t have anything to eat and God through the ancestors then gave him these insects, not just for momentary hunger satisfaction but as a perpetual source of food and trade.

The detailed story of Nemeso is found in the book Harurwa written by this same author. What we can with authority reveal is that Nemeso is the first born son of Fupajena – today represented by Chief Mazungunye- and Mhepo, the rain maker daughter of Chief Musikavanhu of Chipinge.

Fupajena is the brother to Mutindini, popularly known as Mutindi today represented by Chief Mukanganwi. Both Chief Mukanganwi and Chief Mazungunye are Moyo Chirandu Duma and in fact form the nucleus or centre pivot or fulcrum of the vast Moyo Chirandu Duma people who are the majority sub tribe of the generality of the Karanga tribe of Zimbabwe. 

What we want to document now is the actual practice of the Harurwa tradition as it is done by the Moyo Chirandu – Duma – people of Norumedzo village, Bikita District, Masvingo Province Zimbabwe because there have been many distortions regarding the Harurwa insects and we want to clear the air and clarify matters so that those distortions  are cleared and Zimbabweans and the rest of the world begin to clearly understand the Harurwa practice as carried out by the Moyo Chirandu – Duma- people of Norumedzo.

‘Do you know the Harurwa insects of Norumedzo village in Bikita district Masvingo Province, right here in Zimbabwe?’

‘Oh you mean those stinking green beetles that are eaten when one is crying?’

This is the answer that one gets when such a question is posed in places far away from Norumedzo village where people don’t quite understand the whole harurwa practice.

Now, the insect Harurwa has an acidic juice inside its belly. This juice is its defensive mechanism. If you try to catch it, it squirts this acidic juice out of itself and if the juice gets into your eye, it is very irritating and you will spend a minute or two with this sharp irritation which goes away anyway without damaging your eye at all. Consequently your eyes will naturally produce tears as tears are also the human’s natural eye protection from any foreign bodies entering the eye.

But the tears people are referring to are not the ones caused by the insect squirting its defensive acidic juice into a person’s eye.

Because this acidic juice is sour, before you fry the insects for consumption you must ensure that this juice is squeezed out of the insects otherwise the insect will be horribly sour in the mouth if you eat it with the juice inside it.

But it always happens that when you kill the insects for frying and eating, there will always be some of the insects which will retain their juice. In fact it is actually a skill which gets acquired through practice and experience that one gets to kill the insects in such a manner that you end up with very few or none at all which retain the acidic juice.

To achieve the highest level of the skill, one has to master the art of pouring very little amounts of hot water on the insects which will be in a container and as the insects try and fight this hot water, they do so by squirting the acidic juice out of themselves. The longer one takes pouring these small amounts of hot water on the insects while stirring them means that almost all of them will die after having tried to defend themselves thus ridding themselves of this acidic juice resulting in very few retaining this juice.

The belly of a harurwa insect which hasn’t squirted all the acidic juice out of itself turns a very distinctly dark brown colour after it is fried and this colour is much deeper just on the insect’s belly as opposed to the rest of the insect’s body which will be a benign and appetising light brown.

If you then go on to eat this insect with a dark brown belly due to the acidic juice still inside it, your mouth is sharply incensed by this sour tangy taste which makes you want to spit the insect out of your mouth. The sensation this sour taste causes in your mouth conjures tears from your eyes in the same way you feel tears when you eat say a sour fruit like a lemon.

These are the tears people in Harare and other parts of Zimbabwe not privy to Harurwa refer to.

But the way they say it, one would think that these insects are eaten when one is howling! In fact people far from Norumedzo actually believe that indeed harurwa are eaten when one is crying. That is not correct. Far from the truth. The explanation lies in this insect which may have retained its acid. And this doesn’t happen all the time at all.

So it is absolutely incorrect to say that Harurwa insects are eaten while one is crying.

They merely cause a teary sensation similar to the one you get when you are eating a lemon and this only happens if you have met with a Harurwa whose acidic juice has not been removed before frying the insect for consumption. It doesn’t happen all the time as people are erroneously meant to believe.

Such a sour harurwa insect is called a FUVE in the Karanga vernacular language (pronounced as spelt) of the area and it is identified by its distinctly more darker brown belly than the rest of the harurwa insect which will be a light crispy brown.

In fact when eating the harurwa insects, you are actually warned to be careful of these FUVES, so you can select those harurwas with the dark brown belly and you throw them away as they are the fuves and you only eat the ones without the dark brown belly to avoid the sour taste. We hope this puts an end to the incorrect debate particularly in Harare and other places far from Bikita and the Harurwa insects as it is in these far flung places where some people who know nothing about Harurwa have gone on to mislead people into believing that harurwa are insects that are eaten whilst people are crying.

Dr.Claude Maredza is an author and film writer, producer and director.

Some Pre 1900 dynasties

Starting in the far north of the region, in the angle of the Mazoe and Mubvinzi known as Satwa, was a minor ruler known as Tambi, a ‘Rozvi’. He was supplanted by the Musana gumbo dynasty which came from the Mutapa state. The dating is however vague: the Musana gyneology goes back to the 18th century, or perhaps earlier  as there have been civil wars in the dynasty, but a gumbo offshoot under Mudzimu had already reached middle Zambezi by the 1690s, so it may be that the conquest of Tambi was in the 17th century. On the other hand the Musana-Mudzimu linkage may be suspect. Just to the south of Satwa between the Mubvinzi and Nyaguwe was the Gora gwai dynasty which was supplanted by the Chikwaka mbano dynasty from the Mutapa state. The main Gora dynasty moved to Matanha on the edges of Chivero’s country, while others moved to the modern Murehwa area. Neither the Chikwaka nor the Gora gyneology go far back into the 18th century. To the south-west of Gora was the ‘Rozvi’ soko/murehwa dynasty of Ditoti, conquered by Chinamhora’s Shawasha in the 1st part of the 18th century. On the Mhanyame was a Shava dynasty under NeHarava, conquered at about the same time or a little earlier by the Seke shava dynasty. On the site of the modern city of Harare was Mbare shumba/gurundoro, conquered in the late 18th century by Hwata and Chiweshe shava from Buhera, and west of him on the Gwivi flats was the Nyavira shava/nyakurivuka dynasty. The small Nyavira group survived until the 20th century, but it lost all of its land to farmer and all of its people scattered so that no history has been available. Another Shava dynasty, that of Zumba, occupied the upper Mazoe and Tateguru valleys before it too was conquered by Hwata and Chiweshe’s Hera. We also have the Nyamweda moyo/ziruvi dynasty, which apparently originated in the Jeta Hills east of the upper Mazoe.

To the east it was bounded the large territory of Maungwe under the Makoni Shonga dynasty and by the western limits of the Nyanga archaeological culture which is still little known to us from traditions. To the north-east lay the territory of Budya , dominated by the dynasties of the shumba totem. To the north lay the Mutapa state of Mukaranga, dominated upto to about 1700 by the nzou-samanyanga Mutapa dynasty but containing many subject groups of different totems. To the west lay the Zvimba and Chirau dynasties , part of a greater number claiming ‘Guruuswa’ origins, and with vague links with the Mutapa dynasty. To the south lay the shava belt , the nearest dynasties of which were those of Chivero, Rwizi and Mbiru. Non of these frontiers were entirely rigid in political terms: groups crossed it in both directions, and on north bank of the upper Save territory held by shava groups under Mbiru and Masarirambi-Mutekedza was lost to dynasties from farther north.

More on Gora Gwai dynasty

Devera is one of the Gwai dynasties though little known when compared to Gora. The Gora, gwai/mukuruvambwa was another gwai dynasty. There were links between Gora and a group  that accompanied Nyamhunga, a dynasty that reached Zambezi-Sanyati confluence area. Both of these had come from the territory between the Mubvinzi and Nyaguwe where a ruler named Kanyoka had a daughter who married the ancestor of the Chikwaka mbano/matemayi dynastry. Conflict between the mbano and gwai groups, with Rozvi involvement, led to the former dynasty coming to rule the disputed area, while Kanyoka’s grandson moved to Chivero’s country. There he was given land in the Matanha area, east of Nyundo tributary, and founded the Gora dynasty. This would have been before 1800, and the exact circumstances under which  the Gora dynasty established itself are not clear. This was because Gora was put under Nherera shortly after colonial rule began, and by the 1960s it was claimed that Nherera usurped Gora’s rights when the latter fled in fear from the guns and foreworks at Edward V11’s coronation celebrations in Salisbury. Thus it was claimed that the Rozvi gave Gora land and he in turn allowed Nherera to settle. The more prosaic truth is that in the late 1890s, the NC Hartley found several different groups in Matanha and put Nherera over them for convenience sake.

Turning to the eastern half of this region, the early dynasties are even thinner on the ground. A Gunguwo Rozvi dynasty figures prominently in the history of the upper Mupfure. In what was to become the territory of Nhowe there was nyamhunga or Nyamunda who preceded the Mangwende dynasty. Some sources make him the moyo ancestor  of the Tandi dynasty of Maungwe , while others make him Barwe or even Shangwe, though it is agreed that he was under the Rozvi before Mangwende arrived. Finally one of the groups that figure as immigrants , Samuriwo moyo/wakapiwa, apparently came from Uzumba on the northern border of the north-central plateau.

Dynasties that by documentary evidence or traditions can be shown to have been, or to have very probably been, established before 1700: Mutapa, Makoni, probably Marange, Mbiru, Ngezi, Chivero, Zvimba, Chirau and possibly Rwizi

Extract taken from D.N. Beach

Mutasa kingdom (district)

Historical Background of Mutasa Chieftainship.

Mutasa District is one of seven districts in the Manicaland province of Zimbabwe. Mutasa district is located 30 km from Mutare and stretches up to the Honde Valley, which is about 100 km northeast of Mutare along a tarred road that branches off the Nyanga road. The area extends from the eastern border of Zimbabwe into Mozambique. The area receives annual rainfall of about 850 mm to 1000mm annually and a relative average mean temperature of 2 -30˚C. Mutasa area covers areas such as Honde Valley, Hauna, Erin Forest, Zindi, Penhalonga to mention but a few.  Founder of this society is believed to be Tendayi from the house of Chikanga. Tendayi from the house of Chikanga was banished from the clan by his brother Vumbe and went into hiding becoming known as Chifambausiku.  Tendayi was astonished by Vumbe conduct. This culminated in return of Tendayi to overthrow Vumbe and reign as Mutasa Chief. The Mutasa people are Shona speaking whose territory stretch into now Mozambique. They were originally known as the Chikanga. However, wars over succession and factionalism within Manyika dynastic politics led to groups splitting from one another.  This then led the Mutasa people to recall their lineage to have rooted from the house of Chikanga. In the early days of the Mutasa dynasty, the clan came into contact with Portuguese textile traders and entered into business with them. This conduct resulted in trade which resulted in Tendayi acquiring armoury to protect his kingdom. His people obtained jewels and other precious materials in return of gold and ivory. Mutasa chiefdom adopted the custom of being carried in hammocks or chairs by their subjects as way of superiority and authority. During their migration from the north of Zimbabwe to the east the Mutasa clan passed through the north-western region of Mozambique, an area known as Sena. Various ancestors of the clan are buried along the route they took.  They passed through Gorongoza a place in the heart of Mozambique. Southwards, the area is bordered by the Jindwi dialect also known as Chibocha. Mutasa clan is thus believed to have emanated from Mozambique.

Mutasa totem is the lion/ Shumba Murambwi. Oral tradition thus exposes out that, clan praise is of the Tembo-Shumba, the Zebra-Lion a mythical totem animal that serves as the emblem of the Mutasa people. Interestingly, by integrating together the attributes of Lion and Zebra into one creature, the Mutasa clan creates a scared totem.  Shumba Murambwi praise totem glorifies the Lion’s courage, braveness and fear it inspires in other animals. The male zebra is known for being well-endowed and its member resembles a green maize stalk when aroused. This line is a subtle boast of the attributes of the men of the clan. The totem also celebrates the marvel, beauty, sophistication and virility of Zebra. By fusing the two animals, Chief Mutasa was regarded as the well-dressed one.

Due to colonialism and resettlement coupled with globalisation the society is mixed with different tribes with different totems. However, with good leadership qualities Chief Mutasa and his headman have maintained and crafted values to respect both men and the environment. 

Richness of Mutasa Kingdom

Agriculture dominates the Mutasa dynasty due to ubundant land, availability of water, sound and vibrant human resources which have transformed Mutasa area into a self-sustaining society. Mutasa is a society that is egalitarian and its people respect its core values, norms and tradition. Royalty and respect of traditional chief Mutasa had paid dividend in economic and social development in Mutasa dynasty. Traditional leaders that is chief Mutasa, headmen and cowboys have played a central role in mapping societal development in Mutasa district. The economy under Chief Mutasa has boomed in agriculture, forestry, and mining, tourism and electricity generation. It is prudent to credit traditional leadership in Mutasa district in working flat out to unveil and utilise resource in Mutasa for community development hence national development. It is also critical to finger out that economic development in Mutasa area has improved and advanced social lives of ordinary people as we witness the traditional leaders are in a position to provide basic human needs to the people, creating opportunities for youths hence community prosperity. It is therefore prudent to credit the roles of traditional leadership in community and national development.

Abundant land for cash crop cultivation has earned Mutasa area the status of being a rich belt in Manicaland. Fair fertile land distribution by traditional leaders have born positive fruits as everyone in Mutasa area is a custodian of adequate farming land. Honde Valley became famous for Banana, sugarcane, avocadoes and yams growing. The area annual rainfall is high and possibly the factor behind the growing of these cash water demanding crops. Products from Honde valley have dominated the Mbare (Harare), Sakubva (Mutare) markets places and all major supermarkets such as OK, Spar and Pick n Pay Zimbabwe. Exports are also done as bananas and yams are exported to Mozambique and South Africa respectively. Growing of fruits such as peaches, apples, peas, and mangoes is being done commercially in the area. Cash crop farming has transformed people’s lives and the community at large. Ordinary people in Mutasa society are able to buy food, build permanent shelter and access to cheap health cares and fund for education. Thus the profits return from selling of cash crop enormously transformed Mutasa community and its people. It is therefore, prudent to credit the role of land distribution by Chief Mutsa. Chief Mutasa is playing his roles and duties to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment in Mutasa area.

Forestry development has transformed the lives of Mutasa people. With the ability and good leadership qualities in Mutasa traditional leaders, they have managed to distribute land for the growing and processing of timber. Areas such as Erin Forest Nyakupinga, Penhalonga and Sakarombe are famous timber hubs. Establishment of Wattle Company and Allied Timbers in Mutasa district is a clear indicator that the area is developing economically. Timber production is done commercially and the product is being processed into finished product in Mutasa area. Much credit is given to traditional leadership who by authority vested in them managed to fairly distribute land and other resources to people to erect community development. Social progress has also been witnessed as the area leaders are creating building blocks for employment creation. Wattle Company and Allied timbers are employing a sizeable number in the Mutasa community. Creation of employment improved living standards of ordinary people. People live healthy and have access to better primary health care, quality education and infrastructural development. The community is also benefiting from the establishment of these timber processing companies as witnessed by infrastructural development established by the companies. Road construction, construction of schools, hospitals and shops are indicators of economic and social development in Mutasa area. Timber production tremendously developed Mutasa area as the area inhabitants enjoy formidable and commendable good quality living standards. Thus traditional leaders are playing their roles and duties of community development.

Power generation in Mutasa area is an economic indicator of community and national development. Abundant rainfall received by Mutasa area have transformed the area to be a power generation society. Hauna electricity scheme was built from May to December 2016 and commissioned in 2017 with the beginning of rains. The station has a capacity of producing 2.3MW of electricity and a transmission of 33kv into the national grid. The brains behind this idea is a clear highlighter that Mutasa area is developing under the stewardship of Chief Mutasa. Power generation for domestic and national use significantly helped the operations at Wattle and Allied Timbers. These companies require adequate electricity for operations. Operation that need electricity such as schools, hospitals are not much affected by national load shedding hence executing their jobs diligently. It is therefore prudent to credit roles being played by Chief Mutasa and his team to develop Mutasa Kingdom.

Culture and the traditional leadership

Culture is the opium of every society. It is the role of tradition leaders to guard jealously its cultural norms and values. Like other Shona communities Chief Mutasa practises the rain making ceremony, kurova guva, and masvikoro among others. Rain making is a traditional ritual for the rains. This is done at every start of the raining season. Brewing of tradition beer is done to perform the rain making ceremony. It is believed that by performing such ritual acts the Mutasa area annually receives adequate rainfall. Kurova guva is a Shona traditional way of bringing the dead spirit in the family and society at large. Respect of totems in Mutasa area is also practised. As the area is inhabited by different people with different totems, the Chief thus crafted preservative measures to guard these species. People in Mutasa are ascribed to different totems such as Lion/Shumba, Soko/Monkey, Nyati/Bufallo, Humba/Pigs, Nhewa/Leopard, and Moyo. Thus killing of these animal spicies is a punishable offense in Mutasa kingdom. Cutting down of traditional fruit trees is also a punishable offense. These trees include, muhute, mutamba, musekesa, munzviru, and mutohwe. Such trees provide the Mutasa people with delicious juicy that is healthy.

The traditional leadership has managed to erect sound and vibrant systems to map economic and social progress of both community and national development. Preservation of culture is being done as a way of integrating people. Therefore, Chief Mutasa has developed Mutasa district.

By Leon Chigwanda – Researcher with Great Zimbabwe University

Chirumhanzu – Chirimuhanzu

Chirumhanzu area is located in Midlands province between Mvuma and Masvingo in Zimbabwe. Chirumhanzu District is a Second-order Administrative Sub-division of Midlands between Mvuma and Masvingo. Its center is about 46 km south of Mvuma but the administrative centre has moved to Mvuma a small mining town just off the Harare-Beitbridge Highway near Gweru Turn-off. It occupies 496 square kilometres of area with an estimate of 80 thousand people according to 2016 national census. Annually, the area receives 650mm of rainfall and an average mean temperature of 10-29˚C. Chirumhanzu refers to the traditional home land of the Shumba-Tembo yekwaChirumhanzu people. History of Chirumhanzu people is traced back to colonialism where how Goveranyika who died in Mutasa district in Manicaland in 1795 was the first chief of Vagovera people.  Interestingly,  his brother Mhepo, after a family dispute delivered the group of Vagovera passing Enkeldon  present day Chivhu where he made a marvellous and beautiful dress (hanzu) hence, the name Chirimuhanzu. Unfortunately, Chief Mhepo died in 1820.  Nherera son of Chief Mhepo became adventurous and built his new kingdom called Guta raNherera or city of Nherera present day Driefontein.  As Nherera was on the expansionist expedition some of his lieutenants went to settle in some parts beyond Nyautonge, Mavhaire and Ngezi rivers now in Chirumhanzu area.  Therefore, since 1820 the area known as Chirumhanzu was occupied by the group of Manyika people of the Shumba-Tembo yokwaChirumhanzu and the Karanga people. At this juncture it is imperative to expose the Chirumhanzu chieftainship from the death of Chief Nherera in 1820. Chief Zinyoro ruled from 1973 to 1992, Chief Masendeke was acting in 1992 to 1994, Chief Hunyenyiwa from 1994 to 2004 and Chief Mudzengi from 2004 to current. It is also important to note that, Chieftainship in Chirumhanzu district is assisted to administer the community by headman or Sadunhu and cowboys or masabhuku. This history is important in exposing the birth, rise and growth of Chirumhanzu dynasty.

The role of Chiefs

Traditional chiefs have a role in shaping, moulding and developing communities in independent Zimbabwe. Traditional chief in Zimbabwe as a whole are the custodian of our values, norms and tradition. Traditional leader’s play a leading role in developing every society economically, politically and socially. Interestingly, the traditional chiefs advance the social progress index as a model in community development. By social progress they make sure basic human needs are met, foundation of wellbeing and opportunities are created in their societies.  They work with government organisations, non-governmental organisations and private organisation in fostering community and national development.  In fact, Chief Chirumhanzu is preserving the sustainable development goals by allocating land, preserving the environment, promoting gender equality, peace and justice, good health and quality education.  Thus, by doing so Chief Chirumhanzu’s ideology of advancing human social progress in Chirumhanzu district is a stepping stone towards community prosperity

It is the role of the traditional Chiefs to provide for its people most essential needs.  Provision of good quality food for human growth is essential in driving towards community development. Growing of food stuffs such as maize and drought resistance crops is evident in Chirumhanzu in areas of Hama, Chaka, Mavise and Mvuma.  Able bodied people are responsible for erecting development in every societies. It is the main thrust of Chirumhanzu chieftainship to feed everyone. Chief Chirumhanzu is also mandated to provide water and sanitation, air, shelter and personal safety to his people. Provision of water and sanitation defines human beings. Thus, Chief Chirumhanzu and all stakeholders are compelled to drill boreholes, harvest water through building dams and wells a way to meet people’s needs. When water needs are met, people will be liberated from water related diseases such as cholera and diarrhea. Furthermore, provision of basic medical care is being done in Chirumhanzu area. Construction of clinics and hospital in communities is to be initiated as a way of meeting human needs. Health care liberates the mind of human beings. A society without clinics and hospital is a death trap. It is therefore prudent to applaud Chief Chirumhanzu by availing land for the construction of Mwoyomusande Mission, Holy Cross Mission, Hama Mission, Driefontein Hospital and Muonde Hospital. It is prudent to argue that, when human needs are provided the citizenry is free to participate in economic, social and political spheres of life. Therefore, by advancing social progress of people in Chirumhanzu district, traditional leaders are playing a central role in mapping community development.  

Chief Chirumhanzu is mandated to create opportunities for all individuals to reach their full potentials. Creating opportunities through access to higher education is a step towards community development. Primary and Secondary education should be provided to everyone in Chirumhanzu with the respect to gender. Evidence of schools such as Hama High School, Taringa primary and secondary, Takwira High, Shashe and Hwata primary schools is good in measuring community development. Such evidence is necessary in exposing the roles and initiatives being done by chiefs in erecting community and national development. Advancement in tertiary education should be promoted. Individuals will have the full potentials to explore, excavate and initiate new ideas for community development. By doing so the Chief Chirumhanzu is also mandated to create employment opportunities and good policies to boast private sector development in Midlands province.

Culture, Value and Norms in Chief Chirumhanzu Dynasty

Society is measured by its ability to preserve its culture, norms and values. This ability has been witnessed in Chirumhanzu community where the traditional leaders are upholding this ideology.  Culture of Kurova guva or Kuchenura/ Kudzosa a ceremony of officially inviting home the spirit of the deceased is being done in the community. Rainmaking or Maganzo ceremony is done in the society as a way of sourcing sufficient rainfall for agricultural development. All these process are being done by brewing of beer and community gathering. Moreover, the ideology of totem is preserved in the society. Killing and eating totem of community members is a fineable offence.  Drafting of offences are done by the chief’s council and everyone will be advised of these fines and penalties.  This will help in protecting the environment hence national development. Therefore, Chief Chirumhanzu is developing his society through preservation of culture, values and norms.

Conclusively, Chief Chirumhanzu is fostering community development in Midlands province. By advancing social progress to everyone the community has developed. Access to basic human needs and creation of opportunities has transformed the area. Land has brew positive fruits in providing food and security to the people, provision of good quality education and primary and secondary health care. Preservation of cultural norms and values are also being done to foster community development.

By Kudzanai Rushiri

B.A Hons in Economic History

Tonga Tribes

There are many different Tonga people, including the ones in the Pacific (though not related to Bantu Tonga). In southern Africa, Tonga people were groups of people (some related to the Karanga/Shona) who were initially not under the direct rule of the Mwene-Mutapa. The greatest numbers being in Zambia and Zimbabwe with some also found in Namibia and Botswana (Subia). Zambia has the highest number of the Tonga population averaging more than 15% of the country’s total population. Like many other tribes in Zambia, the name of the tribe is also name of the language, which is the case for the Tonga. The Tonga form part of what is known as the ‘Bantu botatwe’ languages which are spoken by the Tonga, Ila, Lenje and smaller dialects like the Leya, Sala, Subia and Totela and these cover the greater part of southern province, including the Solis around Lusaka and Lenjes in Central province. In Zimbabwe, they are found mainly in Binga District of the Matebeland North province and parts of Kariba and Gokwe districts, though Kariba and Gokwe is highly mixed with Shona tribes. The name ‘Tonga’ means independent’, which refers to the fact that before colonization, the Tonga tribe did not have chiefs (traditional leaders) as other tribes did. According to anthropologist Elizabeth Colson, “Until the beginnings of the colonial period, approximately seventy years ago the largest named territorial unit among the Tonga was the small neighbourhood community.

There are also different types of Tongas of the Lower Zambezi Tonga (among them are the Barwe-Tongas/Sena-Tongas and Samungazi-Tongas) who have a history with the Karanga/Shona people. There are even Tongas in the south of Mozambique who have mixed with the Karanga/Shona under Ishe Gambe/Gamba to form the Chopi people. There is apparently interesting link between the Manyika’s Shona dialect and Tonga when calling names -In Manyika they use prefix ‘Sa’ and in Tonga they use ‘Sia’ or ‘Ha’ (for plateau Tonga) and these mean the “owner”, e.g Samukange in Manyika is Siamukange or Hamukange in Tonga, similarly Sachitema in Manyika is Siachitema/Hachitema in Tonga. However, the greatest number of Shona dialects related to the Tonga are Korekore of Hurungwe and Mashonaland Central and the Shangwe of Kariba and Gokwe. These tribes lived together for decades if not centuries along the Zambezi valley before the construction of Kariba dam thereby giving rise to a generation of hybrid tribe that is both Tonga and Shona and these are still found on both sides of the Zambezi river.

Tonga are believed to be the very first Bantu group to cross the Zambezi river coming from the North East (between 300 – 400AD) i.e. from Nubia and the Kingdom of Kemet which comprises areas around present day Ethiopia/Sudan and Egypt and their original totem(mutupo) was the lion (Tau or Dau) though many changed thereafter. Iron Age settlements from as early as the 7th century have been found in various parts of the Southern Province of Zambia, with the most popular being Ingombe Ilede which is translated as ‘the sleeping cow’ due to the large fallen baobab tree in the vicinity of the site. It is believed that the Mbara people who settled at the site were ancestors of the Tonga due to the similarity of their pottery to that of the existing Tonga. Therefore, this proves the assertion that the Tonga’s were some of the earliest Bantu settlers in Zambia, as they were already present in Zambia before the other tribes that migrated into Zambia as part of the Bantu Migration of the 15th – 17th centuries.

Though some Tongas voluntarily joined the Mutapa empire and its great council, serving as the Mukomohashas for Mutapa’s province of Barwe, some Tonga resisted. The Tongas who were the Mukomohashas/Generals were ‘royal Tongas of the Tembo totem’ (and it is said the Tonga dynasties came from Mbire). Many of the Tonga who were independent were led by the Samungazi (who was known by the Portuguese as the Mongaz or Siamungazi in Tonga). When Mwene-Mutapa Negomo Mupunzagutu killed a Portuguese priest who attempted to convert him, the Portuguese sent an invasion force led by Francisco Barreto from Lisbon to port Sofala in modern day Central Mozambique where it marched up river to Sena. In July 1572 Barreto proceeded inland from Sena with 650 Portuguese gunmen, and around 2,200 African slaves/marauders. A Tonga fraction led by the Samungazi (Siamungazi) had rebelled from the Mwene-Mutapa in the 1550s, and was attacking the Portuguese at Tete. It is quite interesting to note that Kamharapasi Mukombwe (1663 – 1692) was one of the Mutapa kings and Munkombwe surname is a very common surname among Tongas, so is Mwene (Mweene).

As Barreto marched from Sena in July 1572, the Tonga attacked his force, and it was recorded that they attacked in ‘traditional crescent formation’. Barreto perished and only 180 Portuguese members of Barreto’s army survived and they retreated to Sena. The Samungazi Tonga, however, were weakened, thus the Mutapa forces reconquered them. The Lower Zambezi Tonga were an important part of Mutapa, they supported leaders who were anti-Portuguese, and such as the rival Mwene-Mutapas Matuzvianye, Kapararidze, and the brave Tonga chief, chief Chombe. Chombe was the brave Barwe-Tonga chief who cut the trade routes from the Indian Ocean to Mukaranga and fought the Portuguese warlord Diogo Simoes Madeira to a draw. Chombe fought the Portuguese with Tonga warriors from the Samungazi. He would retreat north of the Zambezi.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the Lower Zambezi Tongas would unite with Mwene-Mutapa Chioko Dambamupute’s liberation force, along with the Chikunda (former slave marauders of the Portuguese), the Barwe (under the Makombe), and Mapondera’s warriors in ‘the last great African struggle for independence’, the Barwe Rebellion.


The Tonga are divided into exogamous matrilineal clans (several families who claim descent from a common ancestor) called mikowa, each of which have a totem. Most clan totems are animals such as hare (rabbit), cow etc. A Tongan has two clans, one from the father’s side called kumausyi and another on the mother’s side called kumanyina or kumukowa.


Like other Zambian and Zimbabwean tribes, naming is a very important part of Tonga culture. A child is typically named under the circumstances it was born. For instance, a child called Miyoba which means ‘rain’ could have been born during a time of heavy rains. A child named Mutinta which means ‘different’ was the first child born of a different gender in relation to its older siblings. Banji is a name given to the first twin and means ‘we are many’, while Mpimpa is the youngest twin. Like the Bemba and Shona tribes, Tonga names are unisex.

By Misheck Samanyanga

The Mutapa state 2-detailed version

The Mutapa, or Mwene-Mutapa empire – also known as the Great Zimbabwe empire – was a great empire which covered both Zimbabwe, central Mozambique, Zambia and other parts of neighboring countries. The Mwene-Mutapa empire was named after its leader, the Mwene-Mutapa, and the name means “Lord of the Realm” or “Owner of the Mines”. Mwene means “Lord” or “Owner”, and Mutapa means ” Realm” or “Mines”. The Mwene Mutapa empire existed from about 900CE to 1902CE (CE = Common Era), and was about 1002 years old. In the 1400s, the capital now known as Great Zimbabwe, was abandoned by the main leaders of the empire. The two princes would take many people with them; one would go north and the other west. Although the main leader of the empire moved north, the ruling dynasty was still the same bloodline, and the empire continued to thrive and expand, gaining new trading routes and partners. The people of Mutapa were mainly from the Shona, (previously called the Karanga, or Nyai group). Other groups such as the Tonga of modern-day Zambia and Mozambique- who would join the empire voluntarily- also served in great council of Mwene-Mutapa.

Mutapa map


The Shona/Karanga people have no idols, but believe in one supreme God named Mwari. According to the Shona, Mabweadziva or Matonjeni, is where the first man was created by Mwari. Mwari, the Supreme Being, made the first man, Musikavanhu, in the heavens. He put the man to sleep and dropped him down to earth. As Musikavanhu was falling he awakened and saw a stone falling near him. Mwari told him to step onto the stone. Water gushed from the place the stone landed with Musikavanhu and it became a sacred place for the Shona. Musikavanhu had dreams and visions of birds and animals. When he awakened, his dreams and visions had come true. Birds flew through the skies and animals roamed the earth. A woman appeared and when Musikavanhu touched her, she came to life and became his wife. Musikavanhu instructed their children in the ways they were to live and then he and his wife went to the heavens to dwell with Mwari. Musikavanhu exists within the shadow of Mwari, and the earth exists within the shadow of Musikavanhu.

The Shona believe their dead ancestors go to Nyikadzimu (Ancestral Spirit World), and refer to them as Mudzimu. They call upon them in times of need, as others do to saints. The spirits of their kings return as lions called Mhondoro, and the word Mhondoro is also used to refer to the founding father of the Dynasty. The Mhondoro ancestral creed, and the Mwari Creed, were the largest and most extensive creeds in Southern Africa. The Tonga of Barwe (Mozambique) also believe in the Mhondoro. In the hierarchy of spirits, Mwari is the Supreme Being and Lord of all spirits. Under Mwari is the Gombwe spirit. It is second in the hierarchy of spirits, these being spirits which were never human beings. The worship of Mwari is done through ancestral spirits known as Mhondoro. There is a hierarchy of ancestral spirits. On the top being the mhondoro, and on the bottom being the mudzimu. A mhondoro is an ancestral spirit of a king who started a dynasty. A mudzimu is a family ancestral spirit.

The Pre 1450CE Mwene-Mutapa Empire

The Mwene-Mutapa empire was an expansion of another Shona civilization which dates back a century or so from the year 1000CE. This civilization is known as Mapungubwe, and its first king was called Tovera (Thovhele) Nemapungubwe. To know who the Shona, and their close relatives are, we must know their sacred ancestors. The earliest “Mhondoro”, or royal ancestor of the Shona, and their close relatives such as the Venda, and Lobedu is Tovera. He is also known as Thobela or Thovhele (Nemapungubwe) by the Venda, and he was the first recorded legendary king. There is a song which recognizes Tovera as the royal ancestor of the Shona, it includes the following lyrics: “Tovera mudzimu dzoka! Vana vanorwara. Mudzimu dzoka! Kwaziwai Tovera!” There is also a road in Zimbabwe named after Tovera. The son of Tovera was Mambire. He was the father of the legendary Murenga Pfumojena Sororenzou, also known as Thohoyandou. Murenga Sororenzou was the founder architect of Zimbabwe, and is also the legendary ‘Murenga’ after whom all the liberation wars of Zimbabwe are named. He is revered as the great ancestral spirit of war. It was recorded that during the Chimurenga war, Shona warriors would shout the war-cry “Murenga wamuka” meaning “The God of War has awakened.” When hunting, Shona hunters would shout “Komborera, Murenga” meaning “Bless, oh God” and the animal would instantly fall or die. Murenga was the father of the original Runji, Chaminuka, Nehanda, and Mushavatu. Today there is a city in South Africa named after him. Murenga was a manifestation of Mwari who aided the Shona/Karanga people in great wars.

Mapungubwe was one of the first major cities of the Shona ancestors in Madzimbahwe, or Southern Africa. They later moved to Zimbabwe and built their capital at Wedza in Marondera. The original Chaminuka’s son, Kutamadzoka, became Mwene-Mutapa I. After Kutamadzoka his brother, Chingwangu, became Mwene-Mutapa II. He moved the capital to Great Zimbabwe and he became known as Rusvingo, which means “Stone Mason” or “Builder of Stone Walls”.

Great Zimbabwe is actually the largest of many zimbabwes, or stone cities, built without mortar in Southern Africa. Mwene Mutapa Chingwangu Rusvingo instructed through his council, that every visitor to the city of Great Zimbabwe had to bring five stones. This was to build the walls of Great Zimbabwe. On every valuable thing exported from the empire of Mwene-Mutapa, the leaders of Great Zimbabwe took a 50% cut. If Swahili merchants extracted ivory from an elephant, the emperor would keep one tusk. Great Zimbabwe is located in the Masvingo province of the modern-day country of Zimbabwe. The city was built almost 1000 years ago by the ancestors of the Shona people. After the era when Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Mwene-Mutapa empire, the sub kingdoms, or provinces, in the east or in modern day Mozambique included the sub-kingdom of Gambe and zimbabwes which were called Manyikeni and Chibuene.

There were nine Greater Mwene-Mutapas at Great Zimbabwe:

1 Kutamadzoka Chaminuka

2 Mwenemutapa Chingwangu Rusvingo,

3 Mwenemutapa Chidyamatamba,

4 Mwenemutapa Chimedzamabwe,

5 Mwenemutapa Kangambeu-Kurima-Kwakona (Dyambeu),

6 Mwenemutapa Mombemuriwo,

7 Mwenemutapa Mavhudzi (Chibatamtosi),

8 Mwenemutapa Nyatsimba Mutota (He would later move to Dande)

9 Mwenemutapa Munembire Mudadi

According to oral history, Great Zimbabwe also served as a sanctuary for Murenga Sororenzou, and his spirit was against blood being shed amongst his children. It was said that during the fight for the throne there was bloodshed. Murenga’s spirit was appalled and then it moved away from the site, moving west to Mabweadziva or Matopos. Nyatsimba Mutota, a feuding prince, moved north perhaps to find resources, and new convenient trading routes, and Mukwati/Torwa (a rival feuding prince) moved west; following Murenga’s spirit to Mabweadziva. According to some historians that is when the city of Great Zimbabwe started to decline: however, there were Portuguese manufactured shells which were discovered at the ruins. There were also people living at Great Zimbabwe in the 1890s, who were removed by the British South African Company

Historians say that the Mwenemutapa empire was an offshoot of the Great Zimbabwe Empire. The decline of the Great Zimbabwe Empire led to the rise of the Mwenemutapa empire. However, new evidence suggests that the Mwenemutapa empire and the Great Zimbabwe empire were one and the same. The bloodlines of the dynasties were the same, sharing common ancestry. Nyatsimba Mutota’s movement northwards was to lead the expansion of the same empire, and to find easier, more convenient, trading routes as well as new partners.

Much of the Shona royalty left the city of Great Zimbabwe and went to surrounding countries in the region to expand the Mutapa empire and perhaps gain new trading routes and partners. Princess Dzugudini of Great Zimbabwe returned to modern day South Africa and became the Lobedu and Venda. They built zimbabwes or cities, and among some of their zimbabwes was the stone city of Thulamela. Other Shona/Karanga people went east to modern day Mozambique. Those following Mukwati or Torwa went west to expand and secure the spiritually significant and mineral rich sub-kingdom of Guruhuswa. Their zimbabwe was Khami. It was thought that there was rivalry between Nyatsimba Mutota and Mukwati/Torwa, however in the future, Torwa’s people paid tribute to the Mwenemutapa in the north. They even kept the northern Mwenemutapa’s cattle. Those under Nyatsimba Mutota, as stated, went north to find new resources/trade routes, and expand the Mwenemutapa empire, though some of the Mwenemutapa’s wives stayed at Great Zimbabwe. Their zimbabwes were Zvongombe, Tuuyu Tusere, and Mount Pfura. Pfura means Rhino in ChiShona/Chikaranga, and there was a golden rhino found at Mapungubwe.

An account says that Nyatsimba Mutota, before the decline of Great Zimbabwe, was just a prince sent to find salt in the north. According to oral history emperor Mavhudzi (Chibatamtosi), Nyatsimba Mutota’s father, sent Nyakatondo the messenger to the area north of Great Zimbabwe to look for salt deposits. The messenger brought back salt samples which pleased the Emperor. His son Nyatsimba Mutota decided to move to the Dande area. Prince Mutota then went to the Zambezi area where he reconquered the local tribes such as the Tavara and the Tonga. As a result, Nyatsimba Mutota took control of the salt deposits, and gold mines becoming the Mwene-Mutapa, or the “Emperor”.

Another account says that before he left Great Zimbabwe for Dande, incidentally there was a fight for the throne. The story states that when it was Nyatsimba Mutota’s turn to rule, prince Mukwati (who was also called Torwa) said “Bva torwa” or “Bva togwa”, meaning “Then let’s fight”, thus Mukwati was given the praise name Torwa, and a war of succession broke out at the stone city. Prince Mukwati/Torwa fought with prince Nyatsimba Mutota, but nobody won the war. Murenga’s spirit moved to Mabweadziva or Matopos as a result of the bloodshed, and Torwa followed it. Meanwhile Mutota stayed at Great Zimbabwe for a while before moving to northern Dande where there was fertile soil, and wild game Mutota. Murenga’s departure was also a factor. They would leave behind Great Zimbabwe under the leadership of their relative, Mwene Munembire Mudadi. Nyatsimba Mutota would arrive at the Zambezi where he built the Zimbabwes called Zvongombe and Tuuyu Tusere, and where he protected the Tavara since he had a strong relationship with them. Prince Mukwati/Torwa was forced to move away from Great Zimbabwe to the province of Guruhuswa, because of Murenga’s departure. He ended up moving west where he built the famous zimbabwe or stone city of Khami, which was near Murenga’s great spirit. The dynasty he left behind was the Torwa/Togwa dynasty of the kingdom of Guruhuswa or Butua. Nyatsimba Mutota established another new capital, Zvongombe, by the Zambezi. Mutota achieved total control of the area through conquests, intermarriage, and economic intercourse with the northern people. Under Mutota, political control extended to the South, and the North to include the Mbire province. Nyatsimba Mutota was said to have had many wives.

The Post 1450CE Mwene-Mutapa Empire

Nyatsimba Mutota ruled from 1430 – 1450. Nyatsimba Mutota’s successor, Mwenemutapa Matope Nyanhehwe Nebedza, extended the Mwenemutapa empire to encompass most of the lands between Tavara and the Indian Ocean, securing new trade routes, and provinces. Matope was the most powerful African leader south of the Equator in the latter half of the 15th century. His regal costume included an exquisitely decorated small hoe as part of the belt. The hoe had an ivory handle and suggested peace through the ability to gain wealth from the earth. Other symbols of the kingship included granaries, animal horns, and spears or weapons. The Mwenemutapa or Emperor was believed to be the “lord of the sun, and the moon, king of the land and the rivers and conqueror of enemies.”

The Mutapa empire had achieved uniting a number of different peoples in Southern Africa by encouraging states to join voluntarily, offering membership in the Great council of the Empire to any whom joined without resistance. The Mukomohasha/General of Mutapa’s army as well as its sub-kingdom of Barwe, was said to be always a royal Tonga of the Tembo totem. The Mwenemutapa became very wealthy by exploiting copper from Chidzurgwe and ivory from the middle Zambezi. Matope’s armies secured the kingdom of the Manyika as well as the coastal kingdoms of Barwe, Uteve and Madanda. By the time the Portuguese arrived on the coast of Mozambique, the Mwenemutapa Empire was still the premier Shona polity in the region.

The Mwenemutapa Empire had a social welfare system for the blind, and the maimed who were known as the “King’s poor”. The empire had expanded to its full extent by the year 1480 a mere 50 years after Nyatsimba Mutota left Great Zimbabwe. The Portuguese made contact with South East Africa by around 1515. Their main goal was to dominate the trade with India; however, they unwittingly became mere carriers for luxury goods between Mutapa’s sub-kingdoms/provinces and India. As the Portuguese settled along the coast, they made their way into the hinterland as sertanejos (backwoodsmen). These sertanejos lived alongside Swahili traders and even took up service among Shona sub-kings as interpreters. One such sertanejo, António Fernandes, managed to travel through almost all the Shona/Karanga sub kingdoms and provinces, including Mutapa’s metropolitan district, between 1512 and 1516. Antonio Fernandes also witnessed a smaller Zimbabwe being built by the Shona in 1511. The Portuguese finally entered into direct relations with the Mwenemutapa in the 1560s.

The Economy of the Mwene-Mutapa empire

Later in 1648 Antonio Gomes observed that the Karanga produced a surplus that lasted until the following year; further ‘they never see the bottom of their grain bin’. In 1696 Antonio da Conciecao observed that in the Mutapa empire people ‘do their own farms and the king has one cultivated by his cafres which stretches where the eye cannot see and sometimes see personally but in a grave manner. He eventually collects so much food that he lives in plenty and even luxury, not only he but also his women’. We also learn from Jesuit Father Julio Cesar, who visited the Mutapa court in 1620, that this reigning Mutapa paid so much attention to agriculture. Julio Cesar reported that the Mutapa did not despise or hate the title of farmer; on the contrary, this priest says that he was quickly dispatched because the Emperor wanted ‘to go and see to his farming activities because it was time to sow the fields’.

Cloth was a very well-established import in the Zimbabwean plateau by about 1500, and had been imported far earlier. The actual techniques of spinning and weaving were imported along with the cloth. By the 14th century spinning was going on at several sites on and near cities like Great Zimbabwe, Khami, and Nyanga, and by the 16th century the growth of cotton and the weaving of cotton were well established. Moreover, before long the technique of weaving had been applied to the fibers that came from the bark of certain trees like the mupfuti tree. A Portuguese traveler who visited South East Africa in the 16th century described meeting the emperors of Mwenemutapa, the Karanga empire. He reported that; “They were black men who got naked save that they cover themselves with cotton cloth from the waist down. Some clad in the skins of wild beasts, and some, the most noble, wear capes of these skins with tails… as a token of state and dignity. They leap as they go, and sway their bodies so as to make these tails fly from one side to the other. They carry swords thrust into wooden sheaths bound with much gold and other metals… These are warlike men, and some too are great traders.” It is clear that there was an old, and powerful Shona empire in Southern Africa.

According to foreigners who observed, ‘The months are divided into three weeks of ten days each, and have several festivals. The first day of each month is the festival of the new moon (Chisi); and the fourth and fifth day of every week are kept as festivals. On these days all the natives dress in their best apparel, and the king gives public audience to all who present themselves, on which occasion he holds a truncheon about three quarters of a yard long in each hand, to leap upon. On the day of the new moon, the king runs about the palace with two javelins in his hand, as if fighting, all the great men being present at this pastime. When this is ended, a pot full of maize, boiled whole, is brought in, which the king scatters about, desiring the nobles to eat, and every one strives to gather most to please him, and eat it greedily as if it were the most savory dainty. ’The account goes on to say, ‘Their greatest festival is held on the new moon in May, which they call Chuavo. On this day all the great men of the empire, who are very numerous, resort to court, where they run about with javelins in their hand, as in a mock fight. This sport lasts the whole day, at the end of which the king withdraws, and is not seen for eight days afterwards, during all which time drums beat incessantly. He reappears on the ninth day.’

The Mwenemutapa empire was weakened and reduced in size when the Portuguese expanded their influence in the land, forcing the once loyal provincial rulers to disobey the emperor. The Portuguese also supported, and influenced Gatsi Rusere’s converted son, Mavhura Felipe Mhande, to fight against his brother for the throne. They made Mavhura sign a treaty replacing the Tonga Mukomohasha/General with a Portuguese captain. This angered the Tonga population of the empire who then blocked the trading routes to the Indian Ocean, and proceeded to fight against the Portuguese without the Mwene-Mutapa’s permission. Mavhura was said to have died from accidental gunshot wounds. Many of the Shona/Karanga were also not happy with Mavhura and his successors’, decisions, and so they fought for their land. Civil war raged in the empire of Mutapa until a man related to the Mwene-Mutapa named Changamire Dombo appeared and quelled these wars with his fierce army known as the Rozvi. This event is said to be the actual very first Chimurenga, and it resulted with the Rozvi bringing peace to Madzimbahwe, or Southern Africa. Although the dynasty survived, the Mwene-Mutapa empire now had to share its territory with the Rozvi empire.

The rise of Changamire Dombo, and the Rozvi Empire

Due to increased violence, local Shona leaders with cattle developed their own armies. Young men offered several years of military service in exchange for cattle. Beginning as one of these local Shona leaders, Dombo gained the title Changamire (lord) and developed an effective army known as the Rozvi, that, by the 1670s, became a major force in the northeast of the Zimbabwean plateau. During the early 1680s, Dombo led his army to the southwest, where he defeated and conquered the Torwa. He then challenged the Portuguese of the Zambezi valley.

Dombo’s first military encounter with the Portuguese and their African mercenary armies took place just before June 1684 at the Battle of Maungwe. Rozvi bows and arrows vs Portuguese firearms, the engagement lasted an entire day. Although Changamire Dombo managed to rout the Portuguese four or five times, his army took heavy casualties from gunfire. Both armies camped on the battlefield and intended to resume fighting the next day. At 1 am the Portuguese awoke to see that they were surrounded by fires made by Rozvi women on Dombo’s order. Believing they were surrounded, the Portuguese and their African allies ran off into the night, and when the sun came up, Changamire Dombo’s army looted their abandoned camp. Changamire Dombo did not pursue the Portuguese because of the heavy casualties his army had suffered and because he had to content with a Mutapa force, including some Portuguese invading Butua that he eventually defeated, killing 5000.

From around 1685 to 1692, Changamire Dombo consolidated his hold on Butua. In 1693, a new Mwene-Mutapa called Nyakunembire, who wanted to establish his independence, invited Dombo’s Rozvi to assist him against the Portuguese. In November that year, a Rozvi army attacked Portuguese settlements, destroyed everything, and dug up graves to use the remains as war medicine. Many Portuguese fled to Tete. Changamire Dombo’s Rozvi invaded Manyika, where they replaced the ruler and destroyed Portuguese presence. Further Rozvi campaigns to the northeast were delayed by Changamire Dombo’s death in 1696, which allowed the Portuguese to flee the plateau. Changamire Dombo defeated the military superpower of that era which had conquered both India and China.

Records say the Rozvi used the so called “cow horn formation” long before the Zulus. They called this battle formation “Muromo/Mulomo Acumba”. Before going into battle the Rozvi armies of Zimbabwe were always doctored. Traditions abound claiming that the Rozvi used supernatural powers against their enemies. It is said that the Rozvi could change the color of cattle, summon bees to fight for them if need be, and send their enemies to sleep by magic. They could make their warriors brave by supposedly immunizing them against bullets or spears. Even Portuguese sources remark on this reputation of the Rozvi. In 1698 the viceroy of India wrote that the Portuguese soldiers in the Rivers of Sena believed that the then Rozvi Mambo had magic oil with which he could kill anyone simply by touching the person with it. The viceroy implored the Portuguese king to send a new lot of soldiers from metropolitan Portugal who would not believe in such superstition.

The Portuguese in the Rivers of Sena had reason to fear the Rozvi magic because in 1693 after the great Rozvi Mambo, Changamire Dombo 1, had slaughtered all the Portuguese at Dambarare, he had two Dominican priests flayed and their heads cut off and carried in front of his army. On that occasion, it is reported that Dombo also disinterred the bones of some of the Portuguese and had them crushed in order to prepare a powerful medicine for his soldiers. This association of the Rozvi with the supernatural clearly gave their armies a vast psychological advantage over their potential enemies.

The credit for the last stand of the mighty Rozvi goes to emperor Tohwechipi, or ‘Chibhamubhamu’, who took over as Changamire and whose use of firearms allowed him to defeat the Nguni on many occasions until he was subdued in 1866; even then, he continued to win clients in the traditional fashion of parcelling out land. He had the praise name ‘Chibhamu-bhamu’, meaning ‘the gun’, because he used firearms to defeat his enemies.

The list of Mambo-Changamires are:

1 Mambo Changamire Dombo (Dombodzvuku / Domboraikonachingwangu / Chirisamhuru I)

2 Mambo Changamire Negomo

3 Mambo Changamire Rupengo Rupandamanhanga

4 Mambo Changamire Mutanda Ngabate (Empress / Mambokadzi)

5 Mambo Changamire Nechasike

6 Mambo Changamire Gumboremvura

7 Mambo Changamire Chirisamhuru II

8 Mambo Changamire Tohwechipi Chibhamubhamu

The dynasty of Mwene-Mutapa was last based in Chidima, in the Tete province of Mozambique. The Mwene-Mutapas there used the title Mambo a Chidima and ruled independently of Portugal until 1902 when Mambo-Mutapa Chioko Dambamupute, the last king of the dynasty, died in battle against the Portuguese and their Gaza allies in the Barwe Rebellions (Barwe Chimurenga). This happened after Mwenemutapa Chioko Dambamupute had united and led the traditional leaders in Mozambique to rise against and resist colonization. Today there is a town named after him in his honor in Mozambique.

The Mwenemutapas who reigned from the North:

8 Nyatsimba Mutota (c. 1430–c. 1450)

9 Matope Nyanhehwe Nebedza (c. 1450–c. 1480)

10 Mavura Maobwe (1480)

11 Mukombero Nyahuma (1480–c. 1490)

12 Changamire (1490–1494)

13 Kakuyo Komunyaka (Chikuyo Chisamurengu) (1494–c. 1530)

14 Neshangwe Munembire (c. 1530–c. 1550)

15 Chivere Nyasoro (c. 1550–1560)

16 Chirisamhuru Negomo Mupunzagutu (1560–1589)

17 Gatsi Rusere (1589–1623)

18 Nyambo Kapararidze (1623–1629)

19 Mavura Mhande Felipe (1629 – 1652)

20 Siti Kazurukamusapa (1652 – 1663)

21 Kamharapasi Mukombwe (1663 – 1692)

22 Nyakunembire / Nyamubvambire(1692 – 1694)

23 Nyamaende Mhande (1694 – 1707)

24 Nyenyedzi Zenda (1707 – 1711)

25 Baroma Dangwarangwa (1711 – 1712)

26 Samatambira Nyamhandu I (1712 – 1723)

26 Samatambira Nyamhandu I (1723 – 1735)

27 Nyatsusu (1735 – 1740)

28 Dehwe Mapunzagutu (1740 – 1759)

29 Cangara II (1803 – 1804)

30 Mutiwapangome (1804 – 1806)

31 Mutiwaora (1806)

32 Cipfumba (1806 – 1807)

33 Nyasoro (1807 – 1828)

34 Chimininyambo ou Kandeya II (1828 – 1830)

35 Dzeka (1830 – 1849)

36 Kataruza (1849 – 1868)

37 Kandeya III (1868-1870)

38 Dzuda (1870-1887)

39 Chioko Dambamupute (1887-1902)

The 1800s Clashes

In 1835, the Nyai forces of Mutapa defeated the Nguni led by Nxaba and Maseko, who invaded the eastern part of the kingdom near Tete. In the end, the Nyai forces of Mutapa forced the Nguni to retreat. Later, Nxaba’s Ngoni and Mzilikazi’s Ndebele moved close to Zumbo on the Zambezi, but the Mutapa kingdom held off these Nguni offensives into the 1860s. Mutapa survived as a kingdom.

According to Joshua Chidziva, during the Mfecane at that time in the country of Chief Mangwende of vaNhohwe, they were troubled by a group of maZwangendaba who were killing many people. They took women, cattle, sheep and goats. Mangwende was troubled very much and he sent men to Chief Chinamora, of the Vashawasha group, to ask for help to fight against maZwangendaba. Chinamora agreed and he sent men among whom were Chingoma, Samukange, Mazuru, Nyava, Gutu, Gwindi, Mafusire, Madzima and Chikaka. When they arrived at Mangwende’s home Mhotani, he explained to the people of vaShawasha saying, ‘In this country we are in trouble. Many people are being killed by the maZwangendaba and some have been captured. Even my own sons, Katerere and Mukarakate have been captured and other people too have been taken to Nyasaland by maZwangendaba.’ When the vaShawasha heard this story, they asked where the maZwangendaba were.

Once more the vaShawasha leader consulted maGumbatya and the signs were favorable, the smoke pointing to where the maZwangendaba were. Then they mixed some of the medicine with the porridge. The warriors having eaten, went forward and defeated the enemy, killing many of them. For thanks, Mangwende gave them the usual presents. He was sad about the capture of his two sons. On their return to Chinamora they gave him the news and asked him to send a witch doctor (N’anga) to find Mangwende’s sons. He sent two witchdoctors Murerekwa and Gadaga. He told them to go to the villages in Nyasaland and heat the people with their medicine. Eventually they arrived at the village where Mukarakate and Katerere were living and persuaded them to leave with them one dark night. The n’angas were suitably rewarded for their services and settled down in Chinamora’s country. Mukarakate and Katerere presented cattle to Chinamora and later Mukarakate married Hwedza the daughter of Chiyanika, one of the Chinamora family.

Later on Chinamora fought the Matabele at the Mapfeni river near Goromonzi and defeated them. The leaders were Chingoma, Samukange, Mazuru, Mafusire, Madzima, Nyava, Mazarura, Guzha, Chikowore Gutu, Chizema, Gwindi and others. From that time the Matabele did not come near Chishawasha

Final Comments

There was no slavery in the Mwenemutapa, or the Rozvi empire. Slavery was forbidden according to the tradition (Chivanhu/ChiKaranga) of the Shona. They believed that one must be payed or compensated for his/her labor, or “kuripwa”, failure to do so would result in Ngozi, or misfortune for the employer. Their anti-slavery culture is different from the caste systems of their neighbors, such as the Ndebele and the Gaza.

By Mhare