Tracing Mberengwa tribes roots

Mberengwa district was previously known as Belingwe and it is located in Midlands province of Zimbabwe. The district is now split into : Mberengwa North, East, West and South. Its boundaries stretch to Gwanda in Mberengwa West, Zvishavane on the northern side, with Neshuro and Chikombedzi on the southern part and then Manyuchi dam. Some of the chiefs and headmen in the district(s) include; Negobe, Mataga, Ngungumbane, Chingoma, Mketi, Mposi, Mapirabana, Bankwe, Chizungu, Mazwiwofa, Mataruse, Bvute, Nyamondo, Mudavanhu, Mtubayedzi and Mahlebadza. Below the chiefs are headmen or Vachinda who assist the chiefs in governance.


These are VaRozvi by tribe, of Moyo totem and Zariro as chidau. Some of the villages in the chiefdom include; Zibulawa, Mbizo, Lazaro, Mahole, Sosake, Zamase and Matiku among others. Other subdivisions include; Chavengwa, Madoba I, Gweru, Mashavakure (Madoba II), Makado, and Zibulawa (chief’s dunhu). All the vachindas in Negobe chiefdom are related to the chief except Madoba II .

Boundaries – On the northern side, they are bound by Mataruse on the Mwero river, and along the hills, Mahombe and Mafute, to the confluence of the Mwero and Chingwezi rivers; to the west and south the boundary is the Chingwezi river; to the east is Pioneer road from Chingwezi river to Lundi river; then along the Lundi river to its confluence with Mwero river.

Chavengwa (Chiwara) Community – Muchinda under Negobe. They are also of Moyo totem and Zariro as their chidau with Karanga as their language. It is said that Chiwara was the elder brother of Chikovo, the first chief to be recognised by the Government. Chikovo gave his brother the position of Muchinda which has endured to this day. Some of the movements into the area include; Musiwo kraal from Chibi, Juta from Gwanda and Mudayeli from Zimuto. Chiwara was the first followed by Pasipanodya, then Madube to Chavengwa as the fourth to assume to reigns. Some of the kraals in the area include(d); Mashereni, Chabengwa, Madayire Mahada, Musiiwa, Dzibakwi, Tizirai, Birima, Kwangware, Muvumbwa, Mahachi, Chiwuta, Gwaendepi, Chemhere, Juta and Gwenhamo among others. Chavengwa lost four kraals to Mlingo and these were; Matungira, Shonhiwa, Njobo and Bandirayi.

Madobi I – The area is known as Zvovushe. These are also of the Moyo Zariro clan and the first Muchinda was appointed in 1940 by Chief Negobe (Chimanyiwa). Zvovushe was the first muchinda and he took over a portion of Makado’s area. Some of the kraals in the area include; Madopa, Mutata, Chinoda, Hotito, Shangwa, Muwendo, Matanda, Sikwabu, Mbwende, Hlupayi, Mhlambi, Milila, Msindo, Fani, Mativenga, Takawira, Mugwangu, Haurovi, Tapera, Zimunhu, Ranganai, Nduba, Doka and Mabulala.

Gweru (Mhlahleri) community – They are also Moyos of the Zariro chidau. Gweru was appointed muchinda in 1947 when Ziburawa, his brother became chief. A number of Mataruse kraals moved into Gweru area and settled on the boundary. Some of the kraals in the community include(d); Jaya, Chipunge, Dzviti, Tachiwona, Mgweru, Nirirayi, Joni Nyoni, Vurayayi, Sifakubi, Deli, Mapolisa and Hlayise. Other kraals in the boundary but ruled by other community jurisdiction included; Mudara, Masaga, Munenga, Gezani, Mandebele and Gwabuya.

Makado Community – Also appointed by Chief Negobe and are of the same Moyo Zariro totem. Makado was the first and was succeeded by Mike and then Kwashirayi as the third. Makado was the younger brother (cousin) of Chikovo, the first Government recognised chief. Chikovo was living at Nenga hill and he appointed Makado to rule this area.  The area once included Madoba I, who later was appointed and took almost half of the area. Some of the kraals in the community include; Ndoro, Vengesai, Makaranga, Mafika, Tachiona, Maburawa, Mhlauli, Vunganayi, Tito, Chitambire, Matongo and Magodi (Chiungwane). Magodi went to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and the kraalhead is now Chiungwane.

Mlingo (Mushobe) Community – Are also VaRozvi of the Moyo Zariro totem. This headman was abolished when Madidi was at the helm. When Zibulawa was appointed chief, he re-appointed Mlingo the son and four kraals from Chavengwa were added to this dunhu. Some of the kraals in the community were: Matungira, Shereni, Chikomo, Mbulawa, Njobo, Benganayi, Pararayi, Shonhiwa, Bandira, Mlingo and Matule.

Mashavakure community – These are VaRemba by tribe with Zhou as totem and Matebere chidau. These settled in this area during the reign of Chikovo (Negobe III), they are relatively a small group with Mapiyi and Nikisi being some of the kraals.


These are VaRozvi of the Moyo Sayi/Zariro totem with ChiKaranga as their main lingua. This was initially a chief but was later demoted to headman in 1952. They first chief was appointed around 1934. The succession matrix included the following: Nemakaso, Chitumbo, Chiparara, Mtsungiri, Muwariri (Nyamondo), Singarambwe, Zidhla Mtsungiri, , Chapungu, Dambisi, Chingurumbwe and Mpinga among others.

The tribe claims to have come from Mavondo which is thought to be beyond Enkeldoorn (Chivhu). There were no people in the area though they do not claim to be the first occupants of the district. They say Negobe came after them and they gave him settling rights. They also claim they are not related even though they share the same totem. Some movements included Chief Ngungumbane and his people were moved into this area.

Villages in Nyamondo’s area include; Mpinga, Majoni, Damori, Taruvinga, Mtedi, Makurutsu, Mabude, Bawu, Matoro, Hlomayi, Matshobana, Mataba, Nyika, Juta and Sipono among others. Some of the Machindas under Nyamondo include; Magenga of Moyo Sayi totem, Chiramiwa also of Moyo Sayi totem, Ronderayi (Moyo, Zariro), Shopera (Moyo Sayi), Mazvigadza (Moyo, Sayi), Garinyama and Gore, all of Moyo Sayi totem.


These are Batonga by tribe of the Gomo totem with Kurebwa as chidau. They use ChiKaranga language and their area is called Mataga or Gorongwe. Basis of succession is collateral, they do not have a Svikiro that assists them in the selection, neither do they have a mugadza. It is said that Mataga 1 (One) was also known as Tibenge. Maodzeka the elder brother of Gwatimba succeeded Machivenyika, and not Mukuru who they maintain only ruled on an acting basis. Succession is shared by the two main houses of Mabojeka and Machivenyika.  The actual origins of the tribe is not clear and whether there is a link with northern or eastern Zimbabwe Tongas.

Some of the villages in the chiefdom include; Mataga (Chief’s dunhu), Mwisayi, Msiyaga, Chipedza, Ofana, Hlangu, Msariri, Mahembe, Mangaba, Mazo, Mgibisa, Mandiyeredza, Mlahleki, Tagwireyi, Tapasi, Songe, Chigwisa, Mdhliwa and Fani among others. As for the boundaries; they are bound by Makonese and Mataruse along the Gwehange and Sihande rivers; to the east with Nyamondo on the Matedzi river and along the Mwezha range of hills. To the south and west with chief Chingoma on the Munde river.

All his Vachinda are of the same clan and totem. These include; Mwisayi (Gomo, Kurebwa) and Msiyago. Villages in Mwisayi area include; Masvimbo, Mapfumo, Mapiye, Hlabano, Dangaiso, Mwisayi, Tengereyi, Bafana, Malomo, Vengayi, Sidumo, Manondo and Tarubona. In Msiyago’s area, some of the kraals are; Msiyago, Tarubona, Zhira, Majoni, Office, Ruriza, Chikabura, Silaseni, Fumo, Diba, Zizondo, Madubeko, Mbayago, Chinga, Nomba, Magama, Ndabakuwa, Gwanyanya, Runesu, Majoni II, Bulanda, Tafireyi, Majalimani, Jacob, Hlotshana, Nxoli,  Runoza and Vushe.


These are Ndebele by tribe, with Mkwananzi as totem and Gagiza praise name. Chief Ngungubane and his people were moved from Willoughby’s Ranch in the Essexvale (Esigodini) district in 1929. They were moved into chief Nyamondo’s area after the necessary formalities of paying tribute were complied with . These payments to Nyamondo now gave Ngungubane owenership to his present land in terms of native custom. The history of Ngungubane and his Mlisa Mzambezi is so interwoven, and can be handled as one.

Hlalani was the headman before Mzambezi, but he was not of the same family. It is evident that Hlalani was a mlisa in Esigodini and it is believed that he had his own area. When Ngungubane’s father died, he, the heir was still very young and Hlalani was asked to assist him and be his right hand man. The father of Mzambezi was very old and lame and he could not hold the office . Mzambezi was also very young when his father died so Hlalani assumed leadership till his death and then Mzambezi took over. The house of Hlalani today are mlisas together with Tele and Hlukano.

Some of the kraals under Mzambezi include; Mzambezi, Kuipa, Nyama, Vala and Yobe. Under Tele, there are; Tele, Ngutshela, Taruberekera, Mangara and under Sikaale were; Lugege (Sikali), Munyamana, Bonjenge, (Mdhilwa), Mzanyana Obedi and Mchiyuwa. Finally under Lukano, the kraals include; Hlungwana, Marufu, Mvudhla, Madoyi and Mbayimbayi.


These are Varomwe by tribe with Dziva totem and Mabire as chidau. They use Chikaranga as their lingua. The tribe traces their origin back to Romwe, a hill near Triangle Sugar Estate. They were associated with the Shangana of Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). Masarirefu was the first official chief.

The chief’s area is subdivided into matunhu with each being headed by muchinda or headman who directly reports to the chief with the exception of Mapolisa. Some of the villages under the chief include; Muzondiwa, Navana, Tube, Tagwireyi, Sipika, Noyi, Mazhambe, Kondombera, Mnyenkera, Mabayi and Sibangwa among others.

Boundaries – To the east they are bound by Chief Mataga and Nyamondo along the Munde river; to the south with Mwenezi on the Mwenezi river. To the north with chief Mposi and there has been some dispute over this country – Chingoma claims that his traditional territory includes the Mwezha range of hills and that he used to reach as far north as the Korokwe river. The official boundary is recognised as the main Mwezha range, including Masocha kraal.

Headmen/Machinda under Chingoma include; Makwerere (Mamhutse), Dunda, Mapolisa (Moyo Sayi), Rapwi (Dziva Mabire), Magwaza (Dziva, Mabire), Mutonga (Dziva, Mabire), Taruvinga (Dziva, Ziroro), Togara (Dziva, Mabire) and Chivundu (Dziva, Mabire).


These are Vapfumbi by tribe, with Ngwenya totem and praise name Ruvimbi. Their main language is ChiKaranga. His subjects call him Vashe. Their succession is collateral and they have no svikiro (spirit medium), neither do they have mugadza to assist them in selection. The tribe claims to have come from Maranda area (Mwenezi district) where they lived well before Mzilikazi came. Between the period of European occupation and World War I, “Mapalala” was Native Commissioner at Belingwe (Mberengwa) and Macheto was the chief of Bapfumbi people in Maranda. Mketi’s people were then moved out of Maranda across the Nuanetsi (Mwenezi) river, and into their present area in Mberengwa. The reason for the move was not clear, those who remained paid tax at Chief Chibi and Mketi’s people settled under Belingwe (Mberengwa). A new chief (Mketi) was selected for these Belingwe people.

Their tribal ancestor, Matibi had many sons. The two main houses of Machetu and Mketi were moved into the Mberengwa district and given chieftainship bearing the hereditary name of Mketi (who was the chief of the whole tribe then). Maranda , a junior son of Matibi, was the leader of the section who remained in Mwenezi and he became their chief under that name. The chieftainship of Matibi still exists in Beitbridge district, and the clan are also descendants of the same Matibi. Chieftainship alternates between the two houses of Muchetu and Mketi.

Some of the kraals in the area include; Makomba, Gwenyama, Makala (split from Taruvinga), Rangutani, Mbayago, Taruvinga, Ndoro and Muzondiwa. In Muchetu area, some of the kraals included; Mberengwa, Msindo, Plazi, Makusha, Tshikanda, Vurayayi, Filimon, Marieka, Bveku, Gwazisayi, Butete, Mabungu and Maradze.


These are VaRemba or Vamwenye by tribe, with Zhou totem and praise name Sadiki. They use ChiKaranga as their language. They used to prefer Vamwenye as they claim that Varemba was a derogatory name by the Ndebeles. The tribe claims they originated from north-east Africa , but settled for some time in Sena, Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). They left Sena under the leadership of Chamakova in search of new settling grounds and they finally arrived in the country of the Mambo (Rozvi) and offered him ivory in return for settling rights and friendship.  The tribe were also skilled iron smelters who forged iron holes and axes and other metallic products for which the Rozvi were quite grateful. Chamakova is said to have married the daughter of Mambo.

The name Mposi was a nickname acquired by Chamakova for his skill in throwing a spear. The name was inherited by his eldest son and it became their traditional name. Life changed for the worst by the arrival of the hostile Swazis, who killed the Mambo and Chamakova. Their first reaction was to flee back to Sena but when they reached Gokomere near Fort Victoria (Masvingo) they were advised by a relative named Chihora not to return to Sena as there was much trouble there. The tribe then fled southwards and finally took refuge with the Venda tribe in the Transvaal (South Africa). Later they received news that their uncle , Mparuri, also of the Remba tribe, had taken control of their former territory. They then went back to claim their land, Mparuri was defeated and killed near Dumbwi while his sons made off in the direction of Makonese. Mposi and his followers then re-occupied their land and have lived there ever since. Mposi claim they arrived in this area before Mabirabana and Chingoma. The Bangowa were to the east of the Mundi river. Some of the kraals included; Bopi, Taruvinga, Tasaranago, Dabula (Chief), Dambuza, Gwabangani, Majoni, Mbayago and Taru. There were also some kraals which were sort of independent and these included; Mashuro, Nangirayi, Matonga-Bushe, Mapete, Tazviona, Mupangeri, Geza and Matandu.

Boundaries – To the east is Headman/Chief Makonese on the Munde river; this boundary was initially further east, that is along the Matendera and Nyajira streams. This area was taken over by Makonese and Mposi’s people had to move west of the Munde, which became the new boundary. To the south is Chief Chingoma along the Mwezhe range of hills – there has been a lot of dispute between Mposi and Chingoma over this boundary. However, the administration fixed the boundary on the Mwezha, which appears to be fair and realistic.

Some of the headmen/vachinda (some now chiefs) under Chief Mposi include; Matongo (Mavurama), Matsiba (Bushe), Magodori (Mashuru), Chikobvu (Mapete community), Zimi (Geza), Mpangeri community, Muzeziwa (Langeni community), Matandu community and Nangirayi.


These are Vazumba by tribe, with Shoko totem and Mayedza as praise name. The chief is normally addressed as Mayedza and they refer to him as Ishe or Mambo. Vazumba are believed to have migrated from Basutoland or Swaziland (eSwatini) many generations ago, well before Mzilikazi moved north. This narrative however conflicts with his brother, Mudavanhu who trace their roots in Uzumba in Murehwa, possibly they tribe first lived in Uzumba when they arrived from Swaziland. They moved to an area called Sarima Mkuti , thought to be in Gutu district where the Zumba tribe split as a result of internal strife. The tribe was led to Shamba in the Selukwe (Shurugwi) district where they lived for a while and that’s where Ruzengwe died. After a dispute with an uncle, Madzibisa, they left Shamba under the leadership of Sikudzo (son of Mapirabana) and Mafusire (son of Ruzengwe). They settled for a while with the Bangowa of Shabani then at Chasakuwa before finally arriving in their present area.

Their younger brother, Mudavanhu, had been sent on to find a suitable place , and to obtain the necessary authority from the Mambo of the country. When they arrived they found the country unoccupied ; however, the Mposi people were on the southern side but they had left for Vendaland. Sikudzo is believed to have died at Zenda in the Bankwe area where he was following Mposi for some reasons. Matare was the first Chief Mapirabana to be recognised, he was however not of the ruling houses of Mapirabana.

Chenda moved into the area of Mapirabana and became related by marriage and he was allocated an area and is one of the senior headman/vachinda. Bvute was moved by the administration onto a portion of Chief Mapirabana’s area and is not subservient to Mapirabana. The eldest son of Mapirabana, Ruzengwe held the position of leader but his sons declined to take part in the succession as they claimed to be the magadzas, and their function was to deal with spiritual matters. Excluding this house, chieftainship alternates between the houses of Makonese, Manonose and Wadawareva. Some of the villages in the chiefdom include; Sikomba, Chigwadara, Ndaba, Gufa, Konzapi, Bushe, Bangu, Sikumba and Wani.

Boundaries – There is Mposi to the eastern side along the Chingwe river from Langeni school to Sikova dam. To the south is also chief Mposi along the Chingwe river. To the west they share boundary with Mudavanhu along the Wanezi river and to the north they bound with Chief Mposi and Headman Bvute; with Mposi from Sikova dam to Kaswiswi river to Gwezipula river and up the later to the reserve fence; with Bvute along the Biri, through Rupange dam up the stream passing Zvamagwiro hill then following on a small stream to the Chingezi.

Some of the headmen/Vachinda under Mapirabana include; Gwandiwa (VaZumba of Shoko Mayedza), Manonose (VaZumba of Shoko Mayedza). Chikopero (VaZumba of Shoko Mayedza), Tafa/Chenda (Moyo Murimigwa/Murimirwa), Mabuto/Chenda (Moyo Murimigwa) and Chizungu (Gwayi/Chuma).


These are Varozvi of Gwai Chuma totem. The area is called Chizungu but some well known areas include Marirazhombe and Shumagange. His subjects regard him as Ishe. Succession is collateral based though they claim to be progenitor. In terms of origins, the tribe does not remember coming from another area, as far as they know, they have always lived in the Mambo’s territory which stretched from there to Ntabazinduna where the Mambo once lived.

There are two other groups of Varozvi living in the same area but not of the same totem and Chidau. Chizungu claim that they were once one people, but because they wanted to inter-marry, one section changed its totem. Beads were placed on an opposite bank of an unknown river and the two sections made a bid to retrieve the beads, the successful group were then given Chuma totem. The Moyos of this area claim to be descendants of Mutinhima, a son of the Mambo, and considered to be of a senior house. They consider the Moyos of Mtubayenze to be of their people but of a junior house. The Murozvi who lived at Matabo was of the Dhlembeu family and Mtubayenzi was of that house.  Chizungu claims that he and Mtubayenzi were given their areas at the same time. Mudavanhu was the next to arrive, followed by Mapirabana; then Mahlebadza followed by Bankwe who was given his area by Mtubayenzi. The Bangowa were in this area before Mapirabasa, Mposi and others.

Boundaries – The western side is bound by Doro range of hills; to the east by Mapirabana along the Chingezi river, and with Mudavanhu along the Nhande river which flows into the Wanezi. To the south is Mahlebadza and Bankwe. Some prominent points where these boundaries cut are: Nhande river, Mwanamurefu hill, Kungwe and Rambotengwa (clump of bushes).  Some of the vachindas under Chizungu include; Wani (Baleni community of Moyo Sayi), Mbongolani (Moyo Wamareva) and Fanyana community (Gwai Chuma).


They are VaZumba of the Shoko Mayedza totem  and their area is commonly known as Chiwuwa or Mudavanhu. Some common names in the chiefdom include; Chingechuru, Rubabvu and Mavidza. The tribe is said to have come from Uzumba area in Murehwa district. The brother (Mapirabana)’s narrative however traces their origins in Basotholand/Swaziland where they could have possibly come from before arriving in Uzumba. The area became crowded so Mudavanhu broke away (he was a cousin of Mambo) and with members of the tribe moved to the area of Shamba hill in the present Shurugwi district – this was before the arrival of Ndebeles. They then moved to the current area, Chiwuwa hill in Mberengwa, then unoccupied. Mposi was in an area to the east. Mapirabana, an elder brother of Mudavanhu also followed him and settled to the north at Ngonye Hill.

Some of the communities under Mudavanhu are; Sibaro (Shoko Mayedza), Kago community (Zvonda of Shoko Mayedza), Muranda community (Musukume of Shoko Mayedza totem), Pelile (Mabidza community).


These are Kalanga by tribe from Plumtree, with Sibanda totem and praise name Hasan Katogwe. The tribe traces its origins in Plumtree where they came from before Ndebeles arrived. After leaving the Manzimnyama river, they settled for a period in the Makongaweni before finally moving to Matabo ( a large hill near the chief’s home). They migrated in this direction in order to be close to their maternal uncle, Mbavu, who was of the Rozvi clan and also a member of the royal house of Mambo.  On the death of Mbavu, his group was assimilated into the Bankwe clan as did other minor groups in the vicinity. When Bankwe arrived, he found; Mtubayenzi, Mahlebadza and Chizungu already settled in their respective areas. These tribes have always lived peacefully without notable incidences. The Ndebele do not seem to have troubled them except asking for their men into their army.

Some of the common villages include(d); Lumbi, Sonile, Ndumela, Mabona, Godi, Magumbu, Magacha, Fiti, Geti, Nyamazana, Majokwe, Ndukwana, Sivande, Dume, Sikupuri, Sikino, Mapfumo, Mushanyuki, Bafo, Mahobe, Jekiseni, Fani, Jiya, Mnxalelwa, Mawone, Kitanana, Mbobola, Sitiki, Maqabu, Madiba, Hlomane, Yakobe, Madubeko, Kenabi, Mazinyani, Yaya and Mlaka(taken over by Mushanyuki).

Some of the headmen/vachinda (some now chiefs) under Chief Bankwe include(d); Mtumayenzi (Moyo Sayi or Dewa Vhumavaranda), Mahlebadza (Gumbo Madyirapanze from Ndanga Gutu), Matanga/Bulalani (also Gumbo Madyirapanze from Ndanga, Gutu), Musinahanya community (Gumbo Mdyira of Ndanga tribe), Musinagura community (Gumbo Madyira, Ndanga tribe) and Gijimayi (Moyo, formerly Zhou Mushavi of the Remba tribe).


Headman under Chief Mazwiwa and lived just close to Shabani mine. These are VaNgowa by tribe, with Hove totem and Musaigwa as chidau. Their common language is Karanga. Their area is commonly known as Makonese or Mazwiwofa but was also called Madindiri before occupation. Their ancestor, Mazwiwofa was a brother to Mazwiwa of Shabani and these two quarrelled leading to Mazwiwofa leaving and settling in this country. They have since distanced themselves from Mazwiwa and established their own tribe and have virtually nothing to do with the brother, Mazwiwa. Mazviwofa had no dunhu of his own, he lived under Kwata and other villages include; Mayere, Mgobo, Mahachi, Bodo and Koke.

The basis of succession is collateral and it follows four main houses; Mozorodze, Maseya, Makonese and Mapembure. The eldest house of Maseya never assumed chieftainship/headmanship. Mazorodze’s house has the strongest claim, followed by Mapembure and Makonese. Makonese was the first leader to be recognised by the government who awarded him chieftainship under his name. The name Makonese barred the descendants of Maseya, Mapembure and Mazorodze from succeeding to the chieftainship as it meant inheriting the name as well. This is why the tribe has been agitating to drop the name since 1946 and replace it with Mazwiwofa and this would allow not only the other houses to rise to the throne, but also their cousins like Maroveke and Chirewamawi.

Bodo Community

They are VaNgowa of Hove totem with Kuvirimara as their chidau. Their area is commonly known as Rengwe. Bodo was a muchinda of Mazwiwofa, was selected by elders and appointed by Makonese (Magodi). Succession is collateral and they have a svikiro (spirit medium) which assists them in the selection. Musifari is the ancestor of the group, and was elder brother of Mazwiwofa and was granted settling right by the latter. The two brothers combined forces to ward off attacks by the Dumbuseya people who wanted to steal their land and they have therefore been allowed to rule themselves for many years. Some of the villages in the community include; Mbarara, Dada, Timire, Tagwireyi, Ruben, Juta, Tumbudzuku, Girazi, Pisira, Makiwa, Fayabo, Tasara, Tonora, Kohli, Tababarigwa, Magomana Bodo, Nkengana, Mapenzi Tabarigwa and Nyaku.

Kwata Community

Was muchinda under Mazwiwofa and Mazorodze is their commonly used name. They are VaNgowa by tribe, of Hove totem and Musayigwa as chidau. Their area is commonly known as Mawani. Just like Mazwiwofa who appointed them, succession is collateral, the first to assume the position was Moswa, son of  Mazorodze (eldest son of Madindiri), followed by Monde and Kwata. The area of Mawani is highly mountainous and not that big. Some of the villages in the area include;  Vuma, Kotoki, Levi Mhloro, Mudingwa, Jalimana, Mbiromo, Mabiza, Dzingirayi, Magoti, Hlahleni, Ndiga, Fayabo Dani, Daniel, Njobo, Msindo Tenda, Fayabo, Zingwe, Gwenamo, Gwabuya, Manyaya Guburiro and Homerayi.

Mgobo Community

Was muchinda under Mazwiwofa and Mgobo is their commonly used name. They are VaNgowa by tribe, of Hove totem and Musayigwa as chidau. They are also VaNgowa by tribe with Karanga as their language. Their area is commonly known as Mgobo. Just like Mazwiwofa who appointed them, succession is collateral. Mgobo was grandson of Mazwiwofa and was given this area to rule. His area is relatively smaller and some of his land was taken by Kwata. There was insufficient land in Mawane and a number of kraals had to be moved to Rusinge during centralisation in 1942. Some of Chief Mposi’s people who were living east of the Munde were moved out to make way for these people.  Some of the kraals include; Chiwenga, Mayoko, Gozho, Joni, Ndaba, Nekwana, Koti Mariba, Makiye, Macala, Ndamambi, (Felani), Matshado, Neso, Subu Nabo, Mabayago, Chinana Kanana, Makina Makeyo, Zondi, Nginginya and Togara among others. Some of the communities in Mazwiwofa area include; Mahachi (Zvirunguhwe area), Mayere (Mpandashango area),


Headman under Chief Mazwiwa and lived just close to Shabani mine. These are VaNgowa by tribe, with Hove totem and Musaigwa as chidau. Their common language is Karanga. Their area is commonly known as Mataruse. James Chijena was the first appointed headman in 1957. Chijena claimed he was named by Chief Musariri as his successor. Musariri died in 1953 and Zijena acted for him till his official appointment. James Zijena was favored by Chief Mazwiwa and the reason being that the chieftainship was not suppose to remain in one house. A couple of meeting were help to try and come to an agreement.

It is claimed that Muchembere was chief of this area before the arrival of the Europeans. He was afraid to review his identity, so he sent a cousin, Mataruse, who became the first official chief of the area. Since then, the house of Muchembere has never shared the chieftainship, they remained one of the vachindas.

Some of the villages under Mataruse include; Mbirashava (Zijena), William Mbizvo and his subdivision Masocha, Mabika, Mhloro, Mangwiro, Mahebe, Muchembere, Dubayi, Mariba and his subdivision, Masaga, Mangenge and Dickson among others.

Kraals that fall under Mbirashava community include; Msindo, Mziki, James Zijena, Butao, Birimai, Gopoza, Shamisa, Rubuki, Makala, Tachi,Tavengwa, Gwatara, Harani, Mutagati and Hofisi. Then under Mangwiro, kraals include; Mangwiro, Dayi Jubani, Huchu, Ramunyenyiwa, Mugwagwa, Zivavose, Goromondo, Msindo, Gwadambuka, Goromondo II, Mpepu, Zibegwa and Tabuya. Under Dubayi, kraals included; Njikwa, Mchado Vomo, Dubayi, Lisayi, Madambi, Tichagwa, Kwirirayi, Zvovushe, Mayere, Dzingayi, Birima, Sunda, Msindo, Dzingisayi, Muchemwa, Tsungirirayi, Chikanya and Tizirai. Under Mhloro, son of Mataruse, kraals included; Stereki, Taruvinga, Madubeko, Chekayi, Mapiriviri Mike, Bodo, Mariva, Muzondiwa, Chihota, Mhlauri, Mubayiwa, Machovha. Then under Mariba, some common kraal names are; Kuse, Dzanza, Mulingwa, Sibangwa, Tichagwa, Nzuma, Jeremiah, Mudhara, Gezani, Musebe, Mudzingwa, Hlamba, Freddy, Tayitayi (Ndaba), Ndlela Damu, Zvidza and Masaga. Under William Mbizvi, kraal heads were as follows; Munindwa, Ziyambi, Makala, Nhlangani, Hlalingo, Zwidzai, Makiye, Dzatiringana, Musiiwa, Masocha, Sikomo, Office, Nkambeni, Zivengwa, Maketo, Maidza, Gwapedza, Muganda, Mfitshani, Manye, Hopo and Gwanyanya among others. Under Machembere, you find kraals like; Zingirayi, Zvaitwa, Makwanya, Madiba, Maparicha, Chibandire, Maronga, Majoni, Madiba (2), Makala, Chinda and Taruvinga.


Headman under Chief Mazwiwa and lived just close to Shabani mine. These are VaNgowa by tribe, with Hove totem and Musaigwa as chidau. Their common languages are Shona and Ndebele. Their area is commonly known as Rupange. Bvute was the son of Mazwiwa and was given the area between Mberengwa, Filabusi and Fort Rixon. He was recognised as chief by early administration but was reduced to a headman under chief Mazwiwa in 1951. He lost his entire area to European farms when reserves were first delineated and he had to move into chief Mapirabana’s area. Some of his followers had to join chief Ngungubane because of insufficient land in Mapirabana.

Compiled by: Misheck Samanyanga

Source: Mainly National Archives S2929

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Tracing Chimanimani tribes

Chimanimani district was previously known as Melsetter. The district is in Manicaland province of eastern Zimbabwe and is popular for its mountainous terrain. The highest peak is Monte Binga at 2,436m. In the terms of the boundaries, the Chimanimani mountains extend through the eastern part of the district forming the border with Mozambique. Then to the north and north-west by Mutare district, to the west by Buhera district and Chipinge on the southern side. The district has about five main chiefs and these include; Chief Ndima, Chief Ngorima, Chief Chikukwa, Chief Mutambara and Chief Muusha.


These are Vanyaushe by tribe of the Dziva/Mvuu totem and Muyambo as their chidawo. They associate themselves with mvuu (hippo) of the water (Dziva). The first chief to settle in the area was Chinyosi and succession is primogeniture-based, the first-born son (dangwe) takes over when the chief dies, but should there be no son to the deceased, the chieftainship goes to the next brother . Some of the chiefs who have assumed the throne include; Chinyosi, Mukungangedati, Nzimbiro Muyambo, Mafusi Muyambo, Zwiurayi, Ndima, Makwayidume and Mahaki.

Th first chief, Chinyosi, came from Mbire and he settled in the area now known as Mafusi (Mozambique). When the Europeans arrived in this part of Africa and divided the tribe into two by delineating the Portuguese East Africa(Mozambique) and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) border. Ndima became chief of the Zimbabwean side.

There are no special burial grounds for the chiefs, they are usually buried close to their homes. When they need rains they usually go to the spirit medium by the name Mbonyeya. This spirit is directly connected to chief Musikavanhu. There are two hills which people are not allowed to climb for pleasure – Kwenene and Deneni. Right from the beginning if anyone went up and misbehaved they would normally come across dreadful animals/creatures. After harvesting their crops, people normally take beer to the hills as an offering to appease the spirits for them to dwell in the hills. Maize is also taken to the hills as a thank you to the spirits for protecting their crops from drought. These offerings are taken by the chief’s advisers.

Some of the villages comprising the community include; Chishiri, Munendivunye, Mugiyo, Foroma, Ndima, Mutsvangwa. As for bounderies, the area under Ndima is on the eastern part of the Chipita river. On the judiciary, cases are received from all kraalheads, the courts sit on Saturdays and Sundays, handling a couple of cases per month. Cases on appeal used to go to Mafusi on the Mozambiquan side, but now to District Commissioer (DA). The people of Ndima used to fall under Chipinge but some years later the boundary was changed to include them in Melsetter (Chimanimani). They however preferred to see themselves back in Chipinge as there is a traditional tie with Chief Musikavanhu of Chipinge.


These are Vahode by tribe with Chindau as their language. They are of Moyo Ngombe totem with Sithole as chidau. They are vaRozvi from Mbire/Hwedza. They split from the people of Musikavanhu on arrival in the area. Succession is primogeniture based, where the first born son of the deceased chief takes over. A list of people who assumed chieftainship is as follows:

  1. Sahode – The first chief, who brought the people from Charter/Hwedza district.
  2. Nyatsanga – The first born of Sahode.
  3. Maningi – First child of Nyatsanga
  4. Marumauta – First born of Maningi
  5. Tsangire – First born of Marumauta
  6. Mwataira – First child of Tsangire`
  7. Kufakwenyika – First child of Mwataira (The Ndebele raids started during his time)
  8. Mushayinembeu – First child of Kufakwenyika (The Europeans arrived during his reign, the name of the chief was changed to Ngorima)
  9. Mwandiyambira – First child of Mushayinembeu
  10. Shangwa – First child of Mushayinembeu
  11. Garayi – First child of Shangwa

Nothing much is known about Sahode’s background , he was appointed leader of a group of people. These people, then in Charter district, were ruled by a spirit, which gave orders to the people by speaking from a tree or grass. This spirit was invisible and never replied to questions – it only gave orders about twice a year. A time came when people were dissatisfied with the spirit and decided to have a new beginning. Sahode and others decided to choose one of themselves as “Maambo” (the beginning). This word is now Mambo. It was decided to crown this new chief with the moon and the new chief was to have nothing to do with the old spirit. To get the moon, people decided to build a tower ad after building it for sometime the people began to speak different languages with Sahode speaking Chindau and other non Rozvi languages. As a result people dispersed due to misunderstanding and fighting that broke out as a result of the misunderstandings and the tower was destroyed. It is said the old spirit then asked leaders of the people to take them to different parts of the country. Sahode was instructed to go to a country that was going to be called Hode and Ngorima’s people are still being called as such.

Some of the villages include; Ngorima, Pireni, Hlabiso, Muchadziya, Tambaneshangu, Matsuro, Chiumba, Mutirasha, Matyukira, Paraara, Taakanye, Ndipeyi, Tsikiye, Majoka, MutingwendeMwandihamba, Mutiho. In terms of the boundaries, to the north is the Zhungure river, to the east the Harowe river, to the south the Rusitu river and to the west the Nyahode river.


These are Waungweme by tribe of the Ishwa totem and Beta as their chidawo. Succession is primogeniture-based, the first-born son (dangwe) takes over when the chief dies, but should there be no son to the deceased, the chieftainship goes to the next brother . Some of the chiefs who have assumed the throne include; Dzwinzwi, Utengamui, Mungirwa, Muwani, Ndima, Sakurauwone, Takura, Mafuwa, Saungweme (Taanacho), Chikukwa and Taedzwa just to mention but a few

This tribe came from Mbire (Hwedza) as an offshoot of the Rozvi empire. They are originally Varozvi who came from the area called Njanja in Charter/Hwedza district. Chief Ndzindwi brought the people to the Melsetter/Chimanimani district. He was led by a spirit which also mark the boundaries of his present area. This area was, and is still known as Ungweme and the people are still known as the Ungweme tribe. The tribe was raided by the Matebele/Shangana during the reign of Saungweme. The raiders were led by Gungunyana. Saungweme and his people fled to Makoni area and lived there for a number of years. On his way back to Ungweme, Saungweme stayed with Chief Mutasa. It was here where he was given the name Saungweme, previously known as Taanacho. When asked the name of his country by Chief Mutasa, Taanacho said, “Ungweme” and the Manica added the respectful prefix “Sa” to Saungweme. It was during his stay that war (Hondo Huru yePamanda) started between Mutasa and Makoni. Mutasa asked for Saungweme’s help. The Ungweme people were reputed to be good fighters. Saungweme sent his son Chikukwa, back to Melsetter while he remained and died in Mutasa.

The first European, Tom Moodie arrived during the reign of Chikukwa. Then another European, called by the Africans as Dabuiezizwi – “the one who makes the way” – arrived about the same time. Others to arrive later were; the Martins, Moolmans, Humans and Princes. Mr English, who farmed on the present Tilbury Estate, also settled here. There was no trouble between the newcomers and the tribesmen, who worked on the roads. Mr Meredith was the first Native Commissioner and the Africans called him Makuwire. Mr Longden was the first Magistrate.

Some of the villages in Chief Chikukwa include; Chikukwa, Mukweye, Muzangepi, Hukuimwe, Mutembedzi, Gube, Matsekete, Chirawo, Mawoneke. Regarding boundaries; to the north is Junction Ruwedza and Nyanyadzi rivers; to the east Sawerombi, Melsetter village, Musimbi stream, Shunguni stream; to the south the boundary is down Haroni towards Chimani, up the Bundi river, Skeleton Pass, towards Martin Falls, Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), to boundary of Mahati’s country, Sangadzi river, beyond Msapa’s Gap, Dziro river, to source, then down Ruwaka river to Msapa source, through Nyamiti hill and back to the starting point.


These are VaGarwe by tribe of the Bonga totem and Mueraimbwa as their chidawo and Ndau as their language. Succession is collateral-based, the spirit medium (svikiro) assists in the selection of the chiefs. Some of the chiefs who have assumed the throne include; Barambabvu, Muchara, Gahadza, Mukonawanhu, Fuhwa, Chikomo, Mavame, Charima, Mukuze, Mutambara, Nyisa, Tumwani and Dindikwa among others. The line of chieftainship succession is from father to all his sons, the first one first, and from the last son to his first born, and so on. There is therefore, only one chieftainship family. The system started at Chief Barambabvu for no particular reason.

According to the District Commissioner’s report; the Mutambara people were originally VaRozvi living in the Gutu district. Chief Barambabvu was told by paramount Chief Murozvi of the Varozvi tribe to go and settle in the country called Garwe, his present area in Chimanimani district. The reason for this was due to the increased number of families close to Mambo and to prevent conflict these families were sent away to occupy another country/territory. There was a person sent by Mambo to guide Barambabvu and set boundaries on arrival.

On arrival in the new country, they found people who lived without any order. They belonged to no tribe and had no name and these were absorbed by the newcomers. People in Mutambara area are still known as vaGarwe. Fortunately the tribe has never been troubled by anyone outside their area. The Shangana were a threat at one stage but were appeased and left. It was during the reign of Mutambara that the Europeans arrived. Captain Nesbitt was the first Europeans in the area. The chief was given a bag of sugar by a solder called  Mr Mack, and thinking it was poison it was thrown in the Umvumvumvu river.

All late Mutambara chiefs are buried at Kuhune, which is a mountain . In the Mutambara country there were usually people possessed by a spirit to guide the people. Anyone can be possessed by a spirit and there is no system of inheritance. Just before the rains are due, the spirit tells the people to have feasts throughout the area to have good rains. These feasts are also called when there is an outbreak of disease. Occasionally, the spirit medium also predicts Districted Commissioner orders and tell people to carry them out. There has never been any trouble between the spirit and the people. The spirit came with the people from Gutu.

Some of the villages in the area include; Mutambara, Nemutenzi, Chikona, Mudzinwa, Chipinda, Munyebvu, Nemaramba, Neshiri, Mawunzi, Chiyeza, Shati, Mkono, Gonoyi, Tagarihwa, Tayirenyi, Mukotsori, Muchakagara, Nyore, Tiritese, Mushambi, Nedahwa, Namire, Chibuwe, Chizemo, Mundiroki, Chioryo, Nomakonde, Nenohwe, Nezandunye, Mwarutsa, Musukutwa, Tambarari, Maguta, Kwanaka, Rekerwi, Mahama, Patyiwi, Mafoteni, Bvumbura, Manyandi and Mudoro among others.


These are VaNyamwazha by tribe of the Ngombe totem and Sithole as their chidawo and Ndau as their language. Succession is collateral-based. The tribe claims Rozvi connection and say they migrated from Mbire/Wedza and Charter districts. Apart from Masango (a wild man) they found the area empty. They lived in peace until the Shangana conquered the area during Mupakata’s time. However, the VaNyamwazha agreed to pay tribute and were allowed to live in peace. Shortly after, the Europeans came. According to the District Commissioner’s report, the tribes originally came from Mbiri (Enkedoorn/Chivhu district). They came under the leadership of Chief Noushoma and were led by a spirit. They were told to go and occupy by the Paramount chief of Mbiri. They first settled in an area later called Cyclope Farm. On arrival they found a wild man called Masango living alone in the area. He lived on wild fruits and belonged to no one.

Below is a link to part of Muusha Family tree

However, it is highly probable that certain information was withheld by the primary source of this information. It is more likely connected to the house of Gariadza. Gariadza Haareki disappeared shortly after being sworn in. One reason given is that he was moved from his ancestral home (Cyclope) and rather than live in his now site (near Nyanyadzi) he “disappeared”. Some deep mystery surrounds the Muusha chieftainship and may have accounted for the reluctancy of the chief or his son to reveal the names of the lineage. Further research would be invaluable. Muusha chiefs are buried at Totororo, near  Biriwiri business centre

Boundaries – Down the Biriwiri river to the Nyanyadzi and then to the Hodi, then to Sabi and over to Dewure, then down the Dewure to Sabi and up to Changadzi and then up to Changadzi to its source. From there to Rusitu river and then through Cyclops farm to Biriwiri.

Villages – Some of the villages in the area include; Gariyadza, Muwusha, Chinyai, Chirinda, Dirikwe, Pfumo, Kutseza, Makwari, Zimunda, Manzowu/Manzou, Matiashe, Matsamwa, Mutizhe/Mutize, Nyanhanda, Mukowangedai, Sabumba, Saziya, Dzitiro, Dzingire, Ruchiyo, Muziziyi, Manjengwa, Nyeredzawanda, Pedzana, Changimara, Chikutukutu, Chipiro, Duri, Mutsereketa, Guriyanga, Magura, Mandidzidze, Manzowo, Masasi, Mumera, Muchada, Nechiwora, Nyaruwa, Rupakwe, Satiya, Tonhorayi, Chishakwe, Nyamadzawo, Zimunda, Ndiyembodzeni, Mutendadzamera, Zayawo, Muchadzinesa, Mwandiyambira, Saurombe and Musiyandaaka.  


Was initially muchinda under Chief Muushu. They are Vanyamwazha with Ngombe totem and Sithole as chidau. According to Dzawanda, Dzingiri was the first jinda (headman) who was appointed by Nyanzou who either held chieftainship or was regent. Succession order included the following; Noushoma, Chipusha, Chirongera, Manzou, Dzingiri, Ndanyasara, Godzevu, Dzawanda, in this order. Some of the villages include; Dzingiri, Kutseza, Manjengwa, Manzou, Pfumo and Zayawo.


They are Vanyamwazha with Ngombe totem and Sithole as chidau. In 1955, selected by elders and chief Muushu. Succession is collateral based. The order of succession from inception has been like; Murinirwa, Nesanga, Mutsikwa, Bandara, Maswinu, Garamanuwa, Piresu, Mwanditope, Chomusatita and Maswinu.

The origin is said to have stemmed from Noushoma’s brother Murinirwa (Others say they were not related). Upon their arrival in the district, Noushoma settled on the highlands and Murinirwa went to the lowlands (Gowa), where he became a proficient salt-maker, a commodity he supplied to the chief, carrying it in a gumbu (soft beaten bark container). He was given control of the area below the escarpment between the Changadzi and Nyanyadzi rivers and over the Sabi, Chomutsa and Nhemadziwa which now fall under chief Nyashanu. Some of the villages include; Dzitiro, Chipiro, Muziziyi, Ndirikwe, Tonhorayi and Guriyanga

Compiled by: Misheck Samanyanga

Source: Mainly National Archives S2929/1/6

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.

Chikomba District history

Chikomba district in Zimbabwe was previously part of Midlands Province but was delineated to fall under Mashonaland East Province in the 1990s. It is located 142km from Masvingo and 144km from Harare along the Harare highway. The district borders with Seke district to the North, Wedza District to the North-East, Gutu district to the South, Buhera district to the South-East, Chirumhanzu District to the South West and Mhondoro-Ngezi District to the West. Economic activities in the district range from cattle ranching, piggery, poultry and small livestock farming.

They also adopted the Zunde raMambo food security concept which is implemented by traditional leaders. Traditional leaders are an extension of Local Government, who are also the custodians of our culture, traditions, history and heritage. The district had nine councils functioning in the 1960’s due to splitting of councils and introduction of Native Purchase Areas. In 1993 four councils were amalgamated to form Chikomba Rural District Council, these include: Chikomba District Council, Chivhu Rural Council, Charter Rural Council and Furtherstone Rural council. Chikomba District is served by seven chiefs namely: Chief Mutekedza, Chief Musarurwa, Chief Chivese, Chief Neshangwe, Chief Nyoka, Chief Kareya and Chief Marommo; and some of the headmen included: Mhurushomana, Chandiwana, Munyimi, Tambaoga, Hokonya, Mukandatsama and Kwenda.

Zunde raMambo concept

Zunde raMambo is a traditional social community entrepreneurship system in Zimbabwe. A traditional copying mechanism intended to cater for the disadvantaged people in the community for instance, widows, people with disabilities, orphans, strangers, or people in need. The chief is expected to look after the welfare, and ensure that a given community have adequate food reserves that can be used in times of food shortages, whilst promoting self-reliance among communities.  The chief assigns a piece of land for the purpose of the Zunde raMambo and community members volunteer in the production process from cultivating, sowing, weeding and harvesting crops such as rapoko, maize, round nuts and groundnuts. Chief Makoni of Makoni District revived this concept so that food crops were grown for the purpose of redistributing them to the needy. The beauty of this system include: reduced malnutrition and food theft. Chiefs Neshangwe and Mutekedza as well as other chiefs in Chikomba district adopted this concept so as to reduce poverty in their areas. Historically, the Zunde raMambo concept existed at three levels: the household level, village level, and the chief. At household level prior to Christianity in Chikomba District, polygamy was a common practice and each wife had a separate field with their individual granaries and the husband had his own field that was cultivated by his wives on certain days. This was to ensure food security at household level. At village level, the village had a field and all households in the village provided labor and the produce was used to feed the less privileged. At chiefs’ level, a piece of land was set aside for the chiefs Zunde the produce was used to feed the guests and less privileged. 


Nharira Council Area broke away from Sabi North Nharira council consisting of three tribes known as the VaNjanja, VaRozvi and the Maromo or Guzho. The VaNjanja and VaRozvi each have their own chief while the Maromo had a headman under the Rozvi.

Chief Chivese

The traditional leader of the VaNjanja is chief Chivese of the Moyo totem and his chidau being Sinyoro. Chivese had at least thirteen sons. His ninth son Gunguwo became chief and controlled the area in Lancashire but his chieftainship was later abolished. Chief Chivese is the oldest minor chieftainship under Chief Gambiza. Mamvura Chivese was chief Gambiza the third and his descendants have ruled under Chief Chivese. The first to succeed Chivese was Muwawarirwa who was succeeded by Diza his eldest son becoming Chief Chivese the 2nd. The following chiefs were from the Diza lineage namely: Matangira and Masama. By the time the Europeans arrived Matangira was in power and he became the first recognized Chief Chivese in 1897 and was succeeded by Masama in 1905. Masama was succeeded by Chivombo of Matewere lineage who was succeeded by Munamba who died in 1960 and his son Chinembiri succeeded him as acting. Thereafter was: Mbundire, Taruvinga and Musekiwa Mutongesi in 1982. The current Chief Chivese is Makambe Thomas Mashoko. Communities that were under Chief Chivese include Madamombe, Mudavanhu and Murowore which had official headmen, whilst the Chivese dunhu was the chiefs personal dunhu.

Chief Musarurwa

Chief Musarurwa of the VaRozvi tribe oversees the area called Musarurwa which was divided into Hokonya, Mupawose and Musarurwa under the Moyo totem and chidau Moyondizvo. Musarurwa’s children were: Mukundwa, Madziwiri, Mfururirwa, Chikumbiriki, Masoka and Zimutu. In their history they migrated from Matopo under the leadership of Gwangwava who is believed to have been the son of the Rozvi Mambo. Gwangwava was succeeded by: Kareya; Mupawose (son of Kareya); Mupamigwa (son of kareya); Musarurwa (son of Kareya); Mizhanema (son of Mupawose); Mushonje (son of Mupambwa); and Mkundwa (son of Musarurwa). The following leaders after Mkundwa were: Madziwiri (son of Musarurwa), then Ruzungunde (son of Mkundwa). In 1925 Banwa led a revolt against Njanja and several of the Rozvi were sent to prison and as a result. Rozvi was granteed indepenndant chieftainship and Mushunje (son of Mufururirirwa) was the first official chief Musarurwa. He was then succeeded by Jiri (son of Chikumbiriki); and Zwawarerwi (son of Madziwiri). Gwangwava and Kareya were both buried at Nharira. Masakwa refused to take leadership twice leaving the seat for Ruzungunde (son of Mkundwa) to take, Zimutu died before Madziwiri. Enos Masakwa is the current Chief Musarurwa and was the Mashonaland East Provincial chairman for chiefs.

Below is an extract of Chief Musarurwa’s family tree:

Chief Kareya

The Kareya chieftaincy was upgraded in 2016 and Onias Munetsi was appointed as chief of the Rozvi tribe. Kareya is Headman Muchenje who was upgraded to a chief. Chief Kareya Onias Munetsi succumbed to Covid-19 in 2021.

Chief Maromo

Chief Maromo of the Guzho, Chikonamombe Tribe was the leader of the Maromo people until 1951 when the chieftaincy was downgraded to headman under chief Musarurwa as he had few supporters according to the delineations report. They were under the headman Hokonya. They migrated from Dzete in Sipolilo and they arrived under the leadership of Muperekwa and settled in Zihota. Muperekwa had two sons Koroka and Nyakuvambwa. Koroka took Maromo’s name and when he died, Nyakuvambwa became Maromo the 3rd followed by Haenda whose descendants were Kutama and Manuka. Chimenga who was the last Chief Maromo and Chief Musarurwa was in control of the tribe after the death of Chimenga Bokisi from the house of Kutama. In 2015 Augustine Mombeshora was appointed as Chief Maromo.

Chief Neshangwe

Chief Neshangwe is the paramount chief of the Njanja area spanning from present day Chivhu, part Chikomba district and part Wedza. Chief Neshangwe area is found in the eastern side of Chivhu about 80km from the town and adjacent to Buhera District. The VaNjanja men are addressed as Sinyoro while their wives are addressed as Gambiza. The Njanja are believed to have been sons of Muroro who had no real mutupo and the tribe addressed themselves as the VaNjanja meaning from the sea or great lakes. In their history, Chirwa son of Nemato of the shiri tribe from Basutoland settling at Bvumbura a hill in Lancashire made himself chief. He married Mungu and they had a daughter Mashawashe. In the following years some traders under the leadership of Gouveira arrived and one of the traders fell ill and was left behind. He was nicknamed Muroro and he was taken to Chirwa to be tended to while ill. Whilst there Muroro took a liking to Mashawashe and he paid damages and a bride price for her and their first child was Neshangwe then Gotovi and Masama. It is reported that Neshangwe would accompany Chirwa on his journeys to Great Zimbabwe and when Chirwa died and his sons rushed to Zimbabwe to report his death, the Rozvi refused to recognize them and asked for the man who would accompany Chirwa, who was Neshangwe. Neshangwe was summoned by the Mambo and appointed chief with the hereditary name of Gambiza.  Neshangwe took the mutupo Moyo from the Rozvi and Sinyoro Chidau. He became chief Gambiza the first and was succeeded by nine members of his lineage ending at Ngwene Makumbe who died the 10th Gambiza and also the first and last chief Gambiza to be appointed by the administration and last to hold the name. The chiefs were approved as:

  1. Munyimi
  2. Swinurayi
  3. Ranga
  4. Kwenda
  5. Marara
  6. Mutengwa

They were all descendent of Gambiza the 1st and were reduced to headmen in 1951 and chief Neshangwe took over the whole area of Sabi North. The paramount chief of the VaNjanja was from members of the three senior houses i.e. Chikono, Charwe and Donde. The house of Chikono has produced two leaders who still exist now Makumbe in buhera and Chivese in Nharira. Dangwa Elisha Marufu was chief Neshangwe around 2014. The current Chief Neshangwe is Conellius Dhangwa.

Chief Mutekedza

The inhabitants of this area are considered the Hera. Their mutupo is Shava or Mhofu which means Eland, and Chidau Museyamwa. Mutekedza and his followers occupied Wiltshire Estate previously and moved in the early 1920’s to make way for European farming land and they moved to Sabi North which was then Njanja territory. These two tribes were related by marriage. The ancestors of the Hera Mutekwatekwa and Dukutira are believed to have settled near fort Victoria. Dukutira fathered Mbiru who led his followers through Gutu to Gombe a hill in Buhera. The name Mutekedza is not ancestral but a nickname or praise name given to Chingono who excelled in a fight against Gutu warriors which means one who stands strong while the enemy withdraws. His father Musonza was impressed with the name and used it for himself. Their traditional name is Musarirambi-Mutekedza.

In their history Mbiru had four sons: Nyashanu, Musarirambi, Chiweshe, and Hwata. The brothers separated when they killed an eland (their totem) and ate the meat. They were afraid of their elders and they fled. Chiweshe became Chief Chiweshe in the Chiweshe Reserve.  On Mbiru’s death Nyashanu and Musarirambi fought to lead the group and the tribe separated into two groups. Nyashanu moved eastwards to Hamayavahera a hill in Nyashanu area, and Masarirambi moved westwards to Bvumbura where they met Chirwa of the Shiri tribe. The other two brothers Chiweshe and Hwata moved north to areas around Harare. Musarirambi died in Nharira and was succeeded by Chingwere who settled in an area under Chandiwana. Musonga succeeded Chingwere and settled in Manyane. Musonza, the youngest son of Dete had four brothers named Wasungezumbu, Marimira, Marishomana and Mutambirwa. Musonza had at least eleven sons and among the sons of Musonza three houses are stronger namely: Chiso, Nyoka and Matemayi. From these houses the Mutekedza chiefs are chosen. During the rebellion Muchecheterwa grandson of Chingwere was the eighth chief Musarirambi. The VaHera rebelled against the pioneers under the leadership of Muchecheterwa and were defeated near Fort Charter so they again fled to Gona into hiding. Muchecheterwa was captured and later executed. As a result, the house of Chingwere was disqualified from the succession, making Sungendaba of the house of Chiso the next chief and the first to be recognized by government and the Manyene and Mutekedza were moved to separate areas. The first Mutekedza were: Musarirambi, Chingwere, Msonza, Chiso, Mandizadza, Tswiri, Mtiti, Muchecheterwa. Next chief Mutekedza was Sungedawa and Masama was acting chief after. That is when Nyoka was appointed as Chief Mutekedza Matizha in 1914 followed by Masoka, Dzevu, Mungoni, Mugwagwa, Dzebvu, Mandishona Agrippa, Phannuel then Matienga Mutswiri in 1982. Chief Mutekedza (Andrew Zhakata) celebrated his 20th anniversary as chief on the 17th of October in 2016.

Chief Nyoka

The majority of people occupying the Manyene Council were the Hera under the leadership of Chief Nyoka between 1925 and 1951. Prior to 1925 it was led by a Muchinda from the house of Nyoka. It was led by Chief Mutekedza who lived in Sabi North. The Hera of Manyene are of the same branch as the Hera in Sabi North. The traditional headman was appointed chief Mutekedza Matizha in 1914 and died in 1920. Chief Nyoka Tsipindu was appointed in 1926, followed by Kushora, Chiwayi and Dzungai who died in 1951 and the chieftaincy was downgraded to headman Wadesango Chigawazira under Chief Mutekedza who was deposed. Since 1951 there was one headmen who had been chosen from the house of Chigonero Manjonjo (young brother of Nyoka).

The Nyoka house refused to take part in the headmanship as they were aiming their claim in the main Mutekedza chieftainship and negotiations followed to appoint chief of Manyene reserve with the hereditary title of Musonza so as to allow the junior houses of Chigonero and Chingono to participate in succession. Mutiti and Matizha held the position of chief Mutekedza; Kashora and Dzungayi held the position of Chief Nyoka; and Manjonjo was headman chigonero; Fibiyoni was the acting headman. Mangwiro Sami was chief Nyoka in 1968 and died in 1985 was succeeded by Fanuel Bwanya. Cyprian Tazvivinga Muringa as chief Nyoka in Chikomba district was installed in June 2005. There was also Muringani, Cyprian Tazvivinga around 2014. In 2014 Chief Nyoka John Savanhu was installed following the deaths of three other chiefs. Musafare Newton Matizha is the current chief Nyoka, a Museyamwa, Mhofu yeMukono.

Beow is Chief Nyoka’s family tree extract:

Chief Mushava

Mushava is a name given to one of the ancestors of the Mushava clan whose traditional home was the Chikapakapa mountain in Kadoma, Mashonaland West Province. The name has sexual connotation implying that the Chikapakapa was a mountain of creation and the spirit of Mushava resided close to the mountain and also rain making ceremonies also took place at the mountain. The Manhize river split the mountain into two.  Sacred places are pilgrimage centres where people visit for spiritual and human inspiration. Chief Ernest Mushava in 2022 was hopeful of infrastructure developments as well as, employment creation that were to be received by the people of Chikomba from the mining project at Manhize-Chikapakapa escarpment. Manhize escarpment forms the border between Mashonaland West province stretching into Chirumhanzu district, which is in the Midlands Province but also attached to Chikomba district which is in Mashonaland East. The area is also border of many chieftainships.

The First Chimurenga in the Chikomba District

Europeans had been in the Chikomba area since the 1850s when the area was occupied by the Njanja, Hera, Rozvi and Maromo people. Chiwashira known as Musarirambi occupied the land near Featherstone and owned a lot of cattle and land which English and Boers had been angling, but he defended his land against invaders. Traditional leaders played a huge role in the rebellion and these include: Chiefs Chinengundu, Mashayamombe (of Mhondoro district), Chingaira, Makoni and Mangwende’s son Muchemwa. These chiefs inspired other chiefs like Mutekedza and Maromo in Chikomba District, Gwabayana, Mapondera and Seke. The First Chimurenga around Chikomba District is centered around Bhonda (a Mwari priest- son of Gwangwava of the Musarurwa line), Maromo (a chief and cousin of Mashayamombe), Chiwashira Masarirambi (a chief of the VaHera) and Sango (a headman and spiritual figure who arrived in Chikomba from Somabula bringing with him news about the Ndebele Uprising) are popular names when it comes to the First Chimurenga in Chikomba District. Another popular name from outside the district was Chief Mashayamombe from Mhondoro. Chiwashira died a violent death. He was tied to a horse like a trailor and dragged by the galloping stallion to the colonial prison at Fort Charter, where he arrived dead and was beheaded along with other iconic leaders of resistance such as: Mapondera, Chingaira, Mashayamombe and Mashonganyika. The heads were taken as trophies to Britain and put on display as relics of settler victory. Around the same period blacks imprisoned at the Fort Charter prison were burnt in stakes and the remains buried in a mass grave known as Dhorongo. The First Chimurenga heroes of Chikomba should be remembered as they first kindled the fire of resistance in the history of Zimbabwe and their history should be preserved and passed down from generation to generation.

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for She is a strong consulting professional passionate about safeguarding intangible heritage and the history of Zimbabwe. She possesses exceptional communication skills and experience working with people of different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.


Agere, H. (2022) US1bn project plants seed of hope. Available on:

Gwakwa, M. (2017) Harnessing African wisdom through community entrepreneurship: the adoption of the Zunde raMambo concept in Zimbabwe: A case of Mambo (chief) Neshangwe in Chikomba District-Chivhu area. The international Journal of Business and Management. Vol. 5/1 pp147-153.

Matholeni, N. P., Boateng, G. K. and Manyonganisa, m. (2020) Mother earth, Mother Africa & African indigenous Religions. Stellenbosch African Sun Media.

Mushava, S. (2015) The story of Mutekedza Chiwashira. Available on:

Stathers, T., Sibanda, T. and Chigariro, J. (2000) The Zunde Scheme, Chikomba District, Zimbabwe. Crop Post-Harvest Programme.

The Patriot (2015) Tormenting whites from a British Museum: The legacy of Chiwashira. Available on:

Shurugwi tribes and their origins

Shurugwi District (formerly Selukwe) is one of the eight districts of the Midlands Province in Southern Zimbabwe. It is an old district that was settled before colonization of Zimbabwe. It is located about 350km south of Harare and 37km south-east of Gweru. The town was established in 1899 on the Selukwe Goldfield which was discovered in the early 1890s after the annexation of Rhodesia by the Pioneer Column. On a clear day it is possible to see the hills around Masvingo and Great Zimbabwe over 145 km away. The district remains an important centre for gold, chrome, nickel and platinum mining. The Largest employers are ZIMASCO, Unki mine, Angloplats and the government. The town is located on Wolfshall Pass popularly known as Boterekwa due to its winding of the narrow road, negotiating its way up the mountains, steep slopes and sharp curves constructed by an Italian firm. In terms of traditional administration there are three chiefs namely: Chief Nhema, guarding the north, Chief Banga and Chief Ndanga in the south. These chiefs are supported by twelve headmen.


History of chieftaincies in Shurugwi

There are controversies about who settled first in the area, but it is generally accepted that the Mavedzenge were the first to settle when they migrated from Chivi in the 18th century. Mavedzenge then invited his uncle Nhema to settle in the area. Nhema then established supremacy over Mavengedze. The Land Apportionment Act of 1930 and the Native Land Husbandry Act of 1951 altered the boundaries of chiefdoms resulting to the creation of new chieftaincies. As the government appropriated land on racial basis in 1930, the Native Land Husbandry Act specified a limited number of beasts to be owned and introduced scientific farming methods that included: soil conservation mechanism such as digging of contour ridges, crop rotation, as well as, destocking of livestock. Following this Act fifty-four small scale farms were established to the east and south-east of the district in the Jobolinko-Rockford area and in the Gamwa area. Due to this establishment Chief Nhema’s subjects under headmen Mudzengi and Tinhira were relocated into areas formerly reserved for grazing. Other members relocated on their own accord to less densely populated areas such as Gokwe and Silobela for instance, Headman Mavedzenge who moved to Gokwe in the 1960’s and returned to Shurugwi in 1996 in Mavhumasha area.  Chiefs were expected to play a pivotal role in mobilizing their people to adopt these new policies in Tribal Trust Lands. Chief Nhema did not cooperate on the basis that the Native Reserves to accommodate his people and that more territory was required. Non-cooperation usually had consequences that included eviction from office, but however, Chief Nhema was not evicted after he demonstrated his understanding of these new policies.

Chief Nhema

Chief Nhema belongs to the Vamari tribe, his totem being Shumba and chidau Murambwi but have now adopted Masimira. Nhema was previously a headman under his own name. He was a direct descendant of the Nhema royal house before he was appointed as Chief in 1962 by the district commissioner and the people. After he was appointed he split the area of his dunhu (covering the west of Guinea Fowl known as Chikwingwishi, to the north the boundary went through Shayamavudzi Hill to the Tokwe River in the east) and kept a small portion for himself giving the majority to Nyahwa. Succession of the Nhema chiefs is listed below:


Headmen under Chief Nhema include: Chiborise, Mhloro, Nyahwa, Tinira, Mudzengi, Mpangayi, Mazivisa and Mavedzenge (Chikato division). The headman is appointed with the assistance of a svikiro who places his hand on the future headman head. This signifies that the spirit of the former chiefs and the tribes have settled upon the new headman.


The official name is Chiborise. Their totem is Shumba, chidau Masinire of the Mhari tribe. Chiborise used to be a chief, he became chief on the death of Ziyambe. The original boundary was quite big, it stretched past Diva to Lalapanzi, from Lalaphanzi to Guinea fowl, past Wanderer Mine to Chikopa then up to Senangwe and back to Lalapanzi. The area was then reduced during Ziyambes time of rule and most of the area was given to European farms around 1923 and he was reduced to headman. It is also claimed that in 1954 a part of this area was given to Mhloro by the District Commissioner. Rainmaking ceremonies also take place in the area. Offerings in the form of rapoko are taken to Chiborise who takes them to the svikiro who prepare beer which is then offered to the spirits through the Svikiro with people from different matunhu in attendance. There were also harvest ceremonies whereby the new crop “Donera” offerings are taken to the spot where the rain was asked for under a Chakata tree. Food from the offerings is cooked over a fire and thanks are offered and when the food is done the Svikiro is the first to taste. After this the Sadunhu spreads the word that the crops may be reaped and eaten. The list of headmen includes: Ziyambi, Navati Mapfumo, Maporisa, Tami Mugobogoro, Muchairi.


The official name is Mavedzenge. Their totem in Nzou and chidau Makawu of the Lemba tribe. The list of headmen includes: Mavedzenge, Mugumba, Marongwe, Mawere, tafirenyika Ndafana, Zambezi, Burombo, Dokotera Joniseni, Mhindu, James, Jonas, Matambo Gilbert Poshayi, Hebert Marongwe, Wilshire Nyoka. Mavedzenge a senior sadunhu under Nhema. He divided his dunhu between his older son Mugumba and his younger son Chino. Mugumba ruled over the area now known as Kwati and Chino’s dunhu passed into Burombo’s hands. Burombo was appointed in 1962 by the administration and by Chief Nhema as his father Chinho had been headman before him. Burombo succeeded his elder brother Kombayi who also succeeded their father Chinho. Zambezi the son of Kombayi who also was a kraalhead who also acted as sadunhu on the death of his father.


Their traditional name is Mazivisa and their totem is Shoko and chidau Jinda of the Mbire tribe. Their totem is as follows:

Maita Shoko,

WeJinda Marambire

Mhokore, Mutsoruga,

Vambire, Vazumba

Shoko dzangu Mbereka


VaChatokwe chine Gombana

Vashamba, vakutedza  kutedza

Moti kutedza kutedza mumbuzhe

Mukagohokwira wani.

 The Mazivisa clan is linked to the Nhema clan. The Mazivisa headmen include: Mazivisa, Makandire, Chikuni, Mandiyenga, Muzondo, Nyika, Ganyana Muzondo, John Kumbira, Essau Kumbira, Simon Musindo, Mashiri.


The official name is Mhloro he is known as the sadunhu of the Mhloro dunhu. His chidau is Masinire this is explained as being the chidau of children of Nhema. Mhloro’s dunhu is sometimes refered to as Mapani due to its rolling treeless fields. Mhloro was appointed on the basis that he was the eldest son of Makonese, son of chief Nhema and that Makonese was previous sadunhu of Mhloro’s dunhu he was selected by succession and because of his direct relationship to Chief Nhema. When Bushman Mhloro was appointed he was sent to Domboshava with various other Chiefs to learn about being a chief.


The Mudzengi clan are of the Shumba totem, Masinire chidau and are of the Mhari tribe. Mudzengi was of royal kin, he was the son of Chief Nhema, and was appointed in 1918 gore refruwenza appointed by the Native commissioner at the time who he called Manyatera. Gumira and Takawira were of the original house of Nhema. Nhema (father), Mudzengi (son of Nhema), Takawira and Gumira (sons of Mudzengi). In 2011 there was one headwoman. In most cases women are denied the headmen positions as they are deemed patriarchal positions by many. Headmen of the Mudzengi clan include: Mudzengi, Takawira, Gumira, Mbono Paul, Chingobo Lawrence, Zakaria Rambo, Jacob.


The Mpangayi clan are of the Tembo totem and Mbaiwa chidau of the Manyika descent. Mupangayi and family members came from the Bromley area looking for land and his uncle Chibururu whom he found living under chief Ndanga. Upon payment of gifts and cattle to Mambo, Mupangayi was given an area around the Wida hills. The dunhu is called Vungwi, Humbani claimed he was the grandson of Mpangayi, he was brother of the last Mupangayi (Furusa). His basis of succession was that of collateral succession. According to Hambani he succeeded Chidende who succeeded his elder brother Changunduma, the son of Mpangayi. Hambani succeded furusa his elder brother and furusa succeded chidende.   


The traditional name is Nyahwa of the Shumba totem, chidau Masinire and Mhari tribe. Tasara was appointed in 1962 by the District commissioner on the bases that he was the third cousin of the chief, he was chief’s main councillor. The dunhu is divided into two areas known as: Swika area and Nyahwa area.


The Tinhira clan of the totem Gumbo, Madhlira chidau and Sena tribe. Tinhira’s dunhu is known as Chipwidza after a local hill of that name. The arable portion is known as Jakata after the Muchakata trees which are predominant. Tinhira was appointed in 1927 by Chief Nhema Chiwira and by the Native Commissioner. Mtheliso succeeded Mashunye in 1917, Mashunye was Mtheliso’s fathers elder brother. He was first sadunhu of the Tinira area which is part of the old Mudzengi area by Chief Nhema Mudzengi for services rendered to the chiefdom. He was a famous blacksmith who manufactured hoes and spears which were also offered to chief Lobengula of the AmaNdebele as tributes he also paid lobola for one of Nhema’s wives.   Homera’s brother, Mtheliso was his predecessor, he became crippled in 1927 and could no longer perform the duties of sadunhu. Homera was then appointed as headman.

Chief Ndanga

The traditional name is Ndanga of the Shiri totem, Neva chidau formerly Mawokomavi of the Bonda tribe. In their early history there was a group pf people from the north who first settled at Mugoneratsinzi in Gazaland. Some of its people under Nemato moved to Buhera after a short stay there another set of people broke away under Nemato’s son Bara and settled in Gutu district. Bara died in Gutu and also his successor Sakunara. Sakunara’s son Chasura became chief. Later a fight occurred with a cousin in which Chasura was defeated, leading to him and his followers fleeing and found refuge in the Gorombe hills in Chibi district. They were prepared to fight for land but chief Chibi was too powerful and they proceeded to Shabani where they defeated the local tribe under Nyagowa. Chasura then obtained permission from the Varozwi King to be recognized. Chasura was involved in another fight with his younger brother Ndanga and the King decided to give Ndanga a piece of land further north. However, by giving a daughter to the King, Ndanga was made chief. At the time of the European occupation Ndanga’s area was centered around mount Bougai and encompassed the present western part of Selukwe (Shurugwi) district. Chief Ndanga was appointed in 1948 by his people and the Native Commissioner. Chacha was appointed by Chief Ndanga after an election at the chief’s dare as that was custom of the Ndanga people. He was related to Chief Ndanga both having a common great-grand father in the first Chief Ndanga. This dunhu starts at Wida Hill to Nyamakupfu stream then downstream to its confluence with Msavezi river to the Reserve boundary then up the river to its confluence with Gwemvurachena river or Gwenedziva river.

Ndanga Family tree is as follows:

Headmen in the area under Chief Ndanga include: Mupanduki, Mapendere.


Shiri totem, chidau Madhlira and Bonda tribe. The traditional name is Mpanduki. Kutsi was appointed in 1962 by chief Ndanga and his dare and also by the district commissioner Mr. Gumprich. He was selected on the basis of collateral succession. The area fell under chief Mambo of the Varozvi and chief Ndanga before Mpanduki. List of headmen: Mpanduki, Tavagwisa, Shurukuru, Chikozho, Mbengo, Kutse, Magura Shurugwi, Hlupeko, Musindo.


Headman Mapendere (Mhlambi) appointed in 1971 followed by acting headman Sidakwa in 1973, followed by Ndaraza in 1975.

Chief Banga/Banka

The rise in population followed the settling of Chief Banga and his 2000 subjects in the south-west part of the district after their displacement from the Tokwe ranch in the Mashava area in 1924. The Banga clan is of the Shumba totem, Bangure chidau and Mhari tribe. The area comprised the country between the Ngezi River in the east and the Tokwe river in the West. The southern boundary of the area was the confluence of these two rivers. The northern boundary was the line running east to west just south of the present Lalapanzi Mine Hill.

Below is a link of the Family tree extract for the Banga/Banka chieftaincy:

The area was reduced by encroachment by the Europeans. In 1936 the whole area was declared European area and the Banga people were moved and resettled in the Gamwa , Limerick and Guruguru divisions. Chief Banga had two masadunhu namely: Mangame (situated in the Guruguru division) and Pisirayi (the greater part is situated in Guruguru and some kraals in Limerick division).  Gamwa falls under Mashaba and Guruguru and Limerick fall under Selukwe (Shurugwi) district. Chief Tachiwona Banka was appointed in 1956 prior he was headman holding the title since 1946. He was selected due to the fact that he was direct descent from the first house of Banka. Mutiswa Banka died in 1953 after ruling for less than a year The area of the Banka community fell under the main Chibi chieftaincy from which all three groups have sprung.


The traditional name is Mangame. They are of the Mbizi totem, Mashandudze chidau and are of the Manyika tribe. He was called Nduna by his AmaNdebele followers and Ishe by his Chikaranga speaking people in his dunhu. He was appointed by chief Banka. Umvikwa was selected on the bases that his father was headman Mangame as well as his brother too.


The traditional name is Pisirayi of the Shumba totem, Murambwi chidau and Mhari tribe. The name was Pisirayi a respectful form of Pisira. Pisirayi was the headman’s name but he was also referred to by his father’s name Maganyani, the son of Gwachua, who was son of the first Banga. The house never succeeded to the chieftaincy owing to the early death of Gwachua. He was appointed in 1962 by Chief Banga and the District Commissioner on the bases that he was the great grandson of the first Chief Banka. Headmen include: Pisirayi, Musindo, Magama Chiwara.

Cultural attractions in Shurugwi

Scenic views around Shurugwi with cultural and aesthetic significance include: The Impali rock art site in Shurugwi is next to the Impali Dam and in the vicinity of the Unki mine; Bonsa ruins is a stone and iron smelting site in the district there is need for preservation of the monument and protection from human interference;  Boterekwa Wolfshall Pass a winding road that passes through the mountains constructed around 1945 during the Second World War by the prisoner of war; Boterekwa Dunraven falls are used by various religious sects for spiritual ceremonies; Boterekwa Valley which is famous for freshwater streams, various plants; Ferny creek botanical gardens which includes a natural spring and was home to Zimbabwe’s national flower the Flame Lily or Kajongwe in Shona; and also the Ndawo National Heritage Centre which is Shurugwi’s major heritage centre near Chachacha (Donga) Growth point.

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for She is a strong consulting professional passionate about safeguarding intangible heritage and the history of Zimbabwe. She possesses exceptional communication skills and experience working with people of different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.

Buhera tribes explored, who are they!

Buhera is one of the seven districts that make up Manicaland Province. It is located in eastern part of Zimbabwe, about 170 kilometers by road south-west of Mutare and 82 kilometers south-east of Chivhu. Livelihoods are primarily subsistence agriculture and mining. In the past, due to low rainfall, crop production alone was an unreliable source of food and income. Buhera is one of the driest districts (Region 4) in the nation with average annual rainfall of 450-650mm which left communities relying on boreholes or small holes where rivers used to flow (mafuku) to access water for either livestock or household purposes. Hence, irrigation is required for a successful harvest. In the colonial period the Buhera District was designated an African Reserve as white settlers had little interest in its dry and sandy soils.  As a result of this lack of interest, historical sources on the area are limited to reports made by colonial officials. Mwerihari is the biggest river in Buhera. Developments in the district such as the Marovanyati Dam have helped to keep the water flow in Mwerihari River. Marovanyati is named after one of the three mountains surrounding the dam, namely, Marovanyati Mountain North West of the dam. The other two being Dukutira Mountain to the north and Bwenje Mountain to the south. The Dam does not only have economic value as it will improve productivity in terms of agriculture and industries and livelihoods in the district, but it has a huge cultural and social significance to the communities. Problems faced in the district include veld fires, deforestation, land degradation and drought.

History of Buhera District

Buhera District formerly called Charter District comprised the whole area stretching between Save River in the north and Nyazvidzi River in the south. It was established in 1895 as part of the Sabi District and became part of the Charter District in 1899 under Chief Mutekedza. The southern part became an independent district known as Buhera in 1945. The name is a version of VuHera which meant territory of the Hera and a reference of the Hera group that lived there. The Vahera are of the Museyamwa totem under Chief Nyashanu. The area was home to the Hera, Njanja, Rozvi and Dziva communities. The most important chieftainships were Gambiza, Nyashanu, Mutekedza, Nerutanga, Chitsunge, Ranga, Mombeyarara and Hokonya. During the pre-colonial period people in the area were agriculturalists which was an important economic activity. Other activities included hunting, gathering, fishing, manufacturing (making bark clothes, bark blankets, leather clothes and blankets, fish and game nets, pottery, basketry), building (huts, cattle pens, fencing), iron smelting, salt processing, and trade (with the Portuguese and locally). Trading cattle for grain was a common business in the district. During the 1916 drought, Buhera stock owners bartered away some 2480 cattle to European traders, receiving 5000-6000 bags of grain in return. The failure in crop production could have been a result of the relocations of local people and segregationist policies such as the Land Appropriation Act (1930), Natural Resources Act (1941) Native Land Husbandry Act (1951) that concentrated the local people in African Reserves. These policies undermined African farmers and during the periods of 1940s to 1960s was the height of modernization and rural-urban divide. These policies considered Buhera to be a farming area for people with farming and grazing rights. In the 1950s these policies faced resistance, especially destocking.  In Chief Chitsunge’s area opposition in the area was so strong such that government officials carried weapons when visiting the area as they refused to destock. This resulted in some stock owners distributing their stock among relatives to circumvent the impact of the Act. This issue together with that of policies limiting arable land among the white settlers created more hostility by the local people. . Prominent chiefs in Buhera include Nyashanu, Chamutsa Shava mhofu, Makumbe, Chitsunge Moyo Sinyoro Njanja, Nerutanga Save Dziva, Chimombe Moyo Dhehwa Rozvi, and the Ndebele Gwebu-Fishu.

Chiefs in Buhera also contributed in the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe in one way or the other. Of the seven chiefs, only Chief Makiwa Nyashanu openly collaborated with the guerrillas and chief Fish Gwebu was the opposite, termed by other scholars as a colonial chief. The other five chiefs Makumbe, Chimombe, Chitsunge, Chamutsa, and Nerutanga did not openly support or oppose guerillas. Chief Chitsunge was always present to assist the guerillas. He had rejected protected villages in his area and also to be protected by District Security Assistants.

Chieftainships in Buhera

The process of large political groups splitting into smaller groups was a result of land abundance, making the process of chieftainships and headmenships sub-divisions a possibility. Village heads (vanasabhuku) also called kraal heads have the authority to allocate land which usually involve small amounts of money. Land disputes are settled within the village community where cases are brought before the Court (Dare) of headman (Ishe) and his committee. When these groups do not agree, the dare of appeal is the Chief (Mambo), for instance, like in the case of people under Headman Murambinda the dare is taken up by Chief Nyashanu, the principal chief of the Vahera clan. In Buhera District, the kraal heads, headmen and chiefs dominate land issues and litigations of land disputes. The establishment of the Native Affairs Department in 1894 ensured the Native Commissioner’s (NC) authority extended over the whole economic and political life of the local people. Eventually all important powers of the chiefs and their headmen were transferred to Native Commissioners. In 1910, these Native Commissioners received both criminal and civil jurisdiction over the local people and the powers of the chiefs and headmen were trimmed to those of police constables in their areas. In the 1960s and 1970s, chiefs, headmen and kraal heads were given back their powers over land in an attempt to assuage nationalism in rural areas. In 1967 they were officially given authority to supervise cultivation. In 1965 there were only three chieftainships in the district namely the Nyashanu chieftainship, Makumbe chieftainship and the Gwebu chieftainship.

Nyashanu chieftainship

The chief’s traditional name is Nyashanu of the Nyashanu area of the Vahera tribe and Shava totem, whose chidau is Museyamwa of the Sabi Tribal Trust Lands. Before the arrival of the Europeans the Hera were living around the Gombe Mountain. This tribe stems from one, Mbiru known as Nyashanu who had five sons (Mutekwatekwa, Hwata, Masarirambi, Chiweshe and Mapanzure) split up as a result of a hunting incident. It is believed that the four sons killed and ate an eland which was their totem near Wedza Mountain at Makonwe hills. They then became scared of their elders and the consequences and they fled the country and changed their totem. Chief Nyashanu (Makiwa) claimed that his branch of the family do not eat the eland while others do with the exception of the hump, which is taboo. The meaning of Hera and Museyamwa is explained as: kuyera which means to have sinned or to have done wrong, they became known as people who had wronged and became popularly known as Vahera. The term Museyamwa could have come from “masiyahama”, eventually becoming Museyamwa because relatives had parted. Hwata is now chief in Mount Darwin, Chiweshe in Chiweshe, Mapanzure in Masvingo, Masarirambi gave rise to the Mutekedza chieftainship in Buhera district, and Mutekwatekwa fathered the Vahera in Buhera. When the Rozvi arrived in the area and taught the Hera how to make fire.

Chiefs under Nyashanu included: Mutekwatekwa, Dirikwi, Matema, Makuwa, Muradzikwa, Ndandi, Murwira, Mafuruse, Gotora Mvura, Mabvuregudo, Pasi Chingombe, Gona Chiguwa, Makiwa who was deposed in 1981. Headmen under chief Nyashanu included: Ndandi, Chimombe, Mushumba, Chirozwa, Mawire, Murwira Makuwise Gudo, Betera, Mbvuregudo, Nemare, Neshava, Murambinda, Mudinzwa, Nechawava, Muzokomba. The chiefs’ dunhu is known as Chikuwa. Mitoro ceremonies were held annually throughout the area, the first normal procedure is for the ceremony to be called by the chief and led by a svikiro.

Nyashanu’s Family tree is as per the link below:

Communities under chief Nyashanu

Murwira community

This community was under headman Murwira of the Murwira area. Mbiru came from Gutu and settled at Gombe where he had two sons Dirikwi and Matekwakwa. Dirikwi had nine children and died at Bedza. Matema went to Marabada hills, Musadzikwa stayed at Bedza, Mudahose went to Mpeza hill. Matema died at Marabada hills, Murwira moved from Marabada hills to Pfumbe hills which is near the Nyamunga River because of the many people.  Murwira later moved from Pfumbe to Madzinanike and his people settled around him.

Mabvure Gudo community

This community was under headman Mabvure Gudo. Mabvure Gudo was son of Mawire who came from Chirawi hill. Mawire had many children, his first wife (Vahosi) had Mufuratidze and Muchuchu and they lived is the same dunhu though Mufuratidze was appointed sadunhu by Mawire. From the second wife he had Chingombe and Mufudza, Chingombe was appointed sadunhu by Mawire and his son Pasi later ruled as chief Nyashanu. His third wife had Mafuruse, Matsayi and Wechuma. Mafuruse was sadunhu and later chief Nyashanu. Matsayi was appointed sadunhu by Mawire and Wechuma was appointed sadunhu by Mabvure Gudo as Chief Nyashanu. People would go to the kraal heads to be allocated land and when problems rose the matter was finalized by Mabvure Gudo. Rainmaking ceremonies were held separately across each sub division. Other communities which were subdivisions of headman Mabvure Gudo include: Wechuma community, Viriri community, Mutauto community and Mbijo community. Headman Veregudo was noted in 1912 as chief Nyashanu (Mabvuregudo) followed by Tokotori and the first headman was Chari in 1970 followed by Andrew Handuru in 1983.

Chirozva community

This community was under headman Mudahose Chirozwa. Chirimuguru was the only son of Mudahose and he was given a piece of land by Matema. The Chirozwa people are therefore a community divorced from the house of Matema and Muradzikwa. Chirozwa was noted as Chief Cheroso in 1897 and headman Tshirozwa in 1912. In their succession line is Chiroswa, Machira, Ziteya, Kurwaisimba, and Petisayi. The first official headman was Ambayi in 1967, then Karedi Karenga in 1984.

Neshava community

This community was under headman Neshava. Wararanika was a hunter who came from Zimuto. He was accompanied by his brothers: Nemahunga, Gwishiri, Munuvi, Usikuvi and Gwiramavamba. Wararanika is claimed to have given his daughter to Chief Nyashanu as a payment for this area. Chief Makumbe lays strong claims to this area on the grounds that Chipwanyira ruled this area for a long time and that he moved to Shava from Gombe. However, Chipwanyira was not the first sadunhu he had been called to fill a vacancy.

Chingombe community

Chingombe received this dunhu because his house once held the Nyashanu chieftainship. Houses of the name Chingombe include: Pasi, Ngundu, Mavurume, Chiraramire/se and Chanyuka. The first official headman was Nyika in 1968 followed by Mureriwa in 1975. Chikohore Chingombe was noted as chief in 1896 till he died in 1899. In 1951 chief Chingombe was downgraded to headman under chief Nyashanu. Tabvemire was headman Chingombe, then Mujeya, Chamere and Newu Munyanyi.

Nemari-Chiweshe community

The community is under headman Nemari-Chiweshe. Nemari was the first leader and ruled under that name. Zwemari was the leader of the group under the name Nemari but he was persuaded by officials to take his father’s name Chiweshe making their traditional name Nemari-Chiweshe. He first lived in Gombe and later moved to Masasa where he became chief. The area was split and Nyashanu gave him his portion which was North-East of the Mwerihari river. Mawire was Chief Nyashanu at the time. Zinanga is the second incumbent to hold an official appointment.

Mafuratidze-Mawire community

The community was under headman Mafuratidze-Mawire.  

Makuvisi Gudo community

The community is under Makuvisi Gudo. This area became theirs as a result of movements that happened after the death of Mbiru. On the death of Mbiru his children Matekwakwa and Dukuta moved to Bedzi; another son moved to Salisbury; Shabani and Munyaradzi moved to Gutu looking for new lands. Dukutu’s son Matema moved to Marabada Hills on his father’s death. After Matema died his children also moved and spread around these hills. That is how this area became available                                                                                                                                                                                                              as Makuvisi Gudo community. Mawire remained on the Marabada hills. Gudo people settled at Chiurwi.

Betera community

The Betera community was placed under headman Makuvisi in 1951 by chief Nyashanu but they didn’t recognize him and refused to be subservient to him. The Betera and Makuvisi are both Vahera but of completely different lineage. Makuvisi was son of Nyashanu.

Nechawava community

 Nehonde was given the name Nechawava and area by Chikuwa.

Murambinda community

The community was under headman Murambinda. Dzwetera who was then Murambinda was given the area by Makuwa who was then chief Nyashanu and considered Dzwetera as his younger brother. When Gamanya died Chadya was then made Murambinda but he was not recognized then the area split into five groups with the Gowo group coming into prominence. Gowo was a Rozvi and the original Gowo was claimed to have been the younger brother of Chingombe (Mambo). There was no Murambinda after the death of Gamanya.

Murairwa community

This community was under headman Murairwa in the area of Murambinda. They arrived in the area during the time when Dukuta was chief. Murambinda contested the chieftainship with a boundary at Chadziri.

Mudinzwa community

Mudinzwa led his people along the southern bank of the Mwerihari River. They settled in the area bounded by the Mwerihari, Sabi, Chadzire, Nyamakute, Nyazvidzi rivers.

Mushumba community

It is claimed that their ancestor Sahwenje/Sangwenje must have been a brother of Mtekwatekwa and next successor. When the Rozvi refused to appoint Sahwenje as a result of him sending his nephew Dirikwi (son of Mtekwatekwa) to report the next successor to them. They instead appointed Dirikwi as new Chief Nyashanu. Sahwenje then assumed the name Mushumba a nickname from ku-shumba meaning he failed to obey etiquette. Thus resulted to division in the area. The Masadunhu that took cases to Mushumba include: Newumambi, Nechiwewe, Muzokomba, Chinganga, Chikumbiriki, Mushongwi.  The other masadungu deal with Nyashanu directly. After Sanhwenje there was Gumbemarara, Wadziyembere, Mukunyairi, Mushongwe, Mudziwedare, Ndarega, Muzokomba. Kurimwe was the first officially appointed headman in 1957 followed by Urayayi Mushongwe in 1980.

Chamutsa community

Chamutsa was a chieftaincy before. Under the Chamutsa chieftainship, there were the following chiefs: Zvimvuu, Nechakoda, Chirundu, Gakache, Gumete, Makwenzi, Pomuri, Ndasekwa and Muchimwi. The chieftaincy was demoted to headmanship in 1955 and the headman of the area was known as Chamutsa. Pfupi was instated by chiefs Nyashanu and Muwusha. After Pfupi there was Kufeni kufatenzi from 1973 to 1983. There are two main houses of succession and these are Makwenzi and Kufakwatenzi. The Chamutsa tribe is an offshoot of the Muwusha tribe who lived on the opposite bank of the Save River. Nechakonde of the totem Moyo carried the name Chamutsa with him and led them across the river and won himself the area but remained subservient to Chief Muwusha.  The area wasn’t considered to be the territory of Nyashanu as Nyashanu was far to the North. When district boundaries were set it was found impossible for Chamutsa to have been subservient to Muwusha because of the Save River thus Chamutsa was then put under Nyashanu. Intermarriages have always existed between this tribe and the Vahera. Villages comprising the community are: Devuli Furrow, Fira, Chishava, Kufakwatenzi, Mukuku, Nechishanyi, Nendanga, Nemadziva and Chabata.

Below is the Family Tree for Chief Chamutsa:

Chingombe community

The headman of the community was Chingombe. Mike the then Chingombe was appointed sarapavana in May 1965. Years ago, Tumbare and Chiwundura lived in Zvirambadura then went to Bikita (Jiri) to fetch their Mambo Chingombe settling at Chinanzwa hill while Tumbare moved back to Zwirambadura. As the Rozvi were the owners of the country, no one gave Chingombe his area, he merely took it. Chingombe was appointed Mambo before leaving Jiri. He died in the present Chingombe dunhu. His eldest son Mudavanhu became Chingombe the second but ruled for a short time. He was succeeded by his brother Chandafira. The chieftainship ended when it was replaced by a headmanship and the first headman was Tabvamiri.

Makumbe chieftainship

The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Makumbe of the Vanjanja tribe and Moyo totem and chidau Sinyoro. The area known as Makumbe has the following well known sub-names: Ngombeyarara, Chitsunge, Mudzamire, Chapwanya, Nerutanga and Maburutse. This chieftainship includes 14 houses in their order of seniority: Ngombeyarara, Mugweni, Chapwanya, Marume-Gurumwira-Chatindo-Munyira (sons of Chigurwa),- Matsweru, Zanhu (sons of Dzarobva), Chikaka-Chikwezero-Ruzengwe-Chikomo (sons of Harapi), Wata-Machingura (sons of Zwohuno), Manjengwa (son of Manduratsiri), Mabobo (son of Hare), Ngundu (son of Vatombwe), Diki (son of Maviri), Mbundiri (son of Chatindi), Mutirwara (son of Chikasho) and Chinotavaya-Mberi Kunamunda (son of Chikanyiwa).

Please refer to the link below for Makumbe Family tree extract:

A long time ago there was a man from Basutuland called Nemato who settled at Bvumbura, a hill in Lancashire Native Purchase Area. His son Chirwa made himself chief of the surrounding area including the following regions: Rambamuru (Nharira), Magangara (south of Kwenda store around St. Pauls school), and Ziwhito (in Lancashire south of the Nyazvidzi river).  The Chirwa family were of the Shiri tribe. The Vahera arrived in the area during the leadership of Masarirambi also known as Mbiru and settled in Chirwa’s country and became related by marriage. Chirwa married Mungu a daughter of Mbiru who produced Mushawashe. A few years later some traders arrived from Sena (Portuguese East Africa – Mozambique) under the leadership of Gouveira trading muzzle-loaders, cloth, beads and bracelets, for ivory and gold. While at Chirwa’s home, one of the traders fell ill that his companions left him behind and his name is said to have been Muroro a nickname given to him because he wasn’t able to speak the local dialect and used “ro ro” to try make himself understood. During this period a group of the VaRozvi had also arrived from the South under the leadership of Gwangwava who also claimed to have been a son of the Mambo and settled in Chirwa territory along the Mwerihari River later known as Nharira Tribal Trust Lands.

Muroro was noticed by a Rozvi member who instructed Chirwa to care for him until he was well. The task fell on Mushawashe the daughter of Chirwa who was later seduced by the man. The man then paid damages and later bride wealth out of his trade goods and the product of this union was Neshangwe. There are other versions about the becoming of Neshangwe, another is that Gotovi and Masama were sons of Muroro and Neshangwe was the son of latter. Another version is that Gotovi and Masama were sons of Muroro, Masoka and Chidembu were the sons of Masama and Neshangwe was son of Masoka. Most sources claim that Muroro begat Neshangwe that his mother was Mushawashe.

It is reported that Neshangwe used to accompany Chirwa to visit the Rozvi leaders at Dzimbahwe and when Chirwa died his sons ran to Zimbabwe to notify the Rozvi about their father’s death and to claim the throne and they asked for Neshangwe whom they knew. Neshangwe was summoned to appear before Mambo and was appointed chief with the hereditary name of Gambiza. Neshangwe feared for his life he was advised on some medicine to use against the Chirwas. When they returned home they found that their followers suffered from dysentery from which many died. The Chirwa’s were disgusted and they moved to Charter district and some in Buhera.   The name Gambiza was the Chidau for the Chirwas. However, Neshangwe became chief Gambiza and took the Moyo totem, using Sinyoro as his chidau which is a corruption of senor (the Portuguese form of mister). The Nanja men are addressed as Sinyoro whilst the women as Gambiza.

Gambiza I (Neshangwe) married many wives and the law of succession was from house to house namely: Chinanga, Chikono, Charwe, Donde and Marudya. Neshangwe’s first wife is believed to have been Chinanga with a son, Gwekerere who is said to have commited adultery with his father’s last wife and predecessed his father. This is why the house of Gwekwerere has never ruled the Njanja. Chikono is reported to be the second wife of Neshangwe and mother of Madangombe and Chivese, Mudavanhu and Makumbe. Charwe is believed to have been a third wife and her sons were Munyimi and Nzuwa. Munyini was to have succeeded Chirwa but being too old, Nzuwa became Gambiza IV. Neshangwe’s fourth wife Donde gave birth to a large family by being mother of the following: Zhakata, Tambawoga, Mutengwa, Hukutu, Podzingamuke, and Chitsunge. Svinurayi the son of Tambawoga became Gambiza IX and it was during his rule that the Europeans arrived. Gambiza VIII was held by Chikwari son of Zhakata and Gambiza VII was held by Kawondera a son of Munyimi. Kawondera was murdered and it said that it was by members of the Donde house. The tenth and last Gambiza was held by Mugweni, the son of Makumbe. When Mugweni died there was no agreement on the succession and all negotiations failed, this led to the chieftainship resolving itself into six chieftaincies in the Charter district (Munyimi, Swinurayi, Ranga, Kwenda, Marara, Mutengwa, and Makumbe) and two in Buhera district (Chitsunge-belonging to the house of Donde, and Makumbe-belonging to the house of Chikono). The six chieftainships endured until 1951 when there was a general reduction of chieftainships and headmanships.

All these chiefs are descendants of Neshangwe first. On October 2, 1953, the Native Commisioner Remmer noted that “when a chief was appointed for the Sabi north Vanjanja a few years ago the hereditary name of the Neshangwe was taken and not Gambiza. Doubtless the hereditary drums of the Vanjanja will remain in the National Museum of Bulawayo for all time.”    The main body of the Njanja tribe live in the Charter (Buhera) district. To the north Makumbe bounds with Buhera district on the Tribal Trust boundary; to the east he bounds with Rusape on the Sabi river: to the west with Gutu district on the Nyazvidzi river: to the south with Chief Nyashanu and headman Chingombe. Chief Makumbe had the following headmen: Chitsunge, Nyerutanga, Maburutse, Mudzimiri, Chapwanya (son of Makumbe) and Ngombeyarara (son of Makumbe).

Communities under Chief Makumbe:

Mbundiri community

The traditional name for the headman of this community was Mbundiri of the Vanjanja tribe of the Moyo totem and Sinyoro chidau. Makumbe’s sons Mbundiri, Ngombeyarara, Mugweni, Marume etc. all arrived at Gombe at the same time from the Range. Mbundiri first went to Mbamburi and then his present place of residence. Mbamburi was within his area. The Vambire people were already occupying the area and intermarried. These people then returned to Wedza. Ngombeyarara was the Makumbe at the time and Mbundiri was deputy chief.

Maburutse community

The traditional name for the headman of this community is Maburutse of the Dziva totem and Pakuru chidau and Munobvu tribe. These people are the descendants of Nenobvu who was their forefather. He lived on top of a kopje called Nenobvu and they moved to this area from the Range. Mbizo a white man who loved the Ndebele culture hence, given the name Mbizo gave them the assistance of a wagon and they were considered as chiefs until the time of Gava when they received the headmanship.

Garamwera community

The traditional name of the headmen of this community was Garamwera of the VaNjanja tribe of the Moyo Mutupo and Chidau Sinyoro. Their dunhu was given to them by Makumbe. Marume, Chatindo, Garamwera and Munyira all belong to the same house meaning they all had the same mother. Garamwera was given his own dunhu because he had a large family and many supporters. His stay was meant to have been temporary and was to move to Mavangwe where the rest of his people where, but he liked the place and obtained permission to stay on.

Ngombeyarara community

The traditional name of the headmen of this community was Ngombeyarara of the Njanja tribe and Moyo mutupo and chidau Sinyoro. Ngombeyarara was the first son to succeed the original Makumbe. He ruled from his father’s home near Gombe. Ngombeyarara’s sons crossed the Mwerihari River and settled in the lower portion, while the sons of Mugweni settled in the same area to the north and towards Mari Hill.

Mugweni community

They were under the headmanship of Ngombeyarara and their traditional name is Mugweni of the Vanjanja tribe, mutupo Moyo and chidau Sinyoro. Mugweni was appointed Chief Gambiza, Charter with effect from the 1st of October 1928.

Diki community

The traditional name of the headmanship was Diki of the Vanjanja tribe, Mutupo Moyo and Sinyoro chidau. When Makumbe died his many sons had to look for land. Diki chose the land in which he lived. The Njanja being renowned warriors chased the Vahera people away although no fight took place. Diki’s mother was of the Vahera and Diki, the father actually settled between Matsweru and Marume.

Ruzengwe community

The Ruzengwe community was under the headmanship of Diki. Their traditional name being Ruzengwe of the Njanja tribe, Moyo totem and Sinyoro chidau. From Gombe they moved to Rutungagore, from there to Chinyadeni, from there to Chamakava hill and then moved to Dombatomba and then to Chipandara.  They moved often due to the quality of soil.

Mutasa community

The Mutasa community was under headman Diki of Sabi Tribal Trust Lands, of the Manyika tribe, speaking Chimanyika and of the Tembo totem and Samaita chidau. In the history of the community, Mudyiwa came from Manicaland from a place called Mutasa, after which the group of people have called themselves. He was a musician who played the mbira and was welcomed at Bvumbura and settled with the Vanjanja. He was then given a wife then he returned home and came back with his brothers and they settled with the Vanjanja. Madyiwa begat Tavengwa, the first Mutasa. With the Vanjanja they left Bvumbura with Mudzamiri who gave them land at Rutowa in his area and then left for Gombe Mountain and lived at Marunje and then accompanied Muchidza a Munjanja to Madzivanyika kopje and Wata followed and settled at Matomboshatu kopje. Diki and Matsweru came at about the same time and Munyira followed later. During the time of Mbizo when Ngombeyarara was chief, they moved again and they lived with a European who lived on the rock called Rupeni.

Marume community

The community was under headman Marume of the Vanjanja tribe and Moyo totem and Sinyoro chidau. In their history, Mugeya and Muroro came from Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). Chirwa a Muerashiri sent his daughter to look after him because he was sick. He gave her parents beads and seduced her and she bore Neshangwe. Neshangwe had many wives. Makumbe was one of his houses, when he died, his son Masume came to Nyedziwa near Neruchaya where he fought the Ndebele and fortified himself in the Jerehanga hills. He conquered Chisoma of the Mazi family of Chirumanzi. Chisema settled at Bedza hill where he obtained the assistance of the Ndebele. Marume besieged the hill at Bedza and again Chisema fled to Manicaland. Marume fought the Ndebele again at Sadahiri hill at Murambinda. During this period, Diki and Matsweru were already in the areas. Manjingwa, Wata, Tsodzo, Makuvise, Chatindo, Garamwera and Munyira have always lived under Marume.

Chatindo community

This community was a subdivision of Marume, with sadunhu Chatindo of the Vanjanja tribe, Moyo totem and Sinyoro chidau. In their history Muroro chased away the vayera Shiri and claimed chieftainship himself, he had many children including Neshangwe, who had Makumbe. When Chatindo, Garamwera, Marume and others went to Mambwenge on the Mwerihari River. Garamwera and Chatindo stayed at Marabwe hill and Marume went to Terehanga kopje. Garamwera then went to his present place and Chatindo remained at Marabwe Mountain.

Manjengwe community

The traditional name is Manjengwe of the Vanjanja tribe, Sinyoro chidau and Moyo totem. When Chief Makumbe died they left Bvumbura because of the Ndebele. They moved to Gombe hills being led by Makumbe’s sons. Mbundiri went to Gwandi, Marume to Jecha behind Maragwe Mountain, Mugweni to Usanzunye, Ngombeyarara to Mumbavari where he found Murambinda the vaHera. Manjengwe went to Chinakumbatarira near Maragwe Mountain and later returned to Gombe where Manjengwa died then moved to Chikaka where they lived for a very long time. Manjengwas brothers settled at Chinadendi.

Makuvisi community

This community is a subdivision of Marume. In their history they left Nerutanga’s area and lived under Makuvisi when he was Gambiza.   

Munyira community

This community is a subdivision of Marume. On the death of Makumbe the Vanjanja left Bvumbura and went to Gombe Mountain. Ngombeyarara married at the Jecha (Mbundiri) and used Gombe to hide from the Ndebele and their cave was called Minga. Munyira’s people followed the Vahera taking their lands. Ngombeyarara and Mugweni crossed the Mwerahari River and settled in the North. Then Munyira went to Chishayambudzi near Nzombe river.

Ngundu community

The community’s traditional name is Ngundu of the Vanjanja tribe, Moyo totem and Sinyoro Chidau. Ngundu is one the sons of Makumbe, he moved at the same time as the other sons of Bvumbura to Gombe hills and it is claimed that he was allocated his dunhu by Makumbe.

Chapwanya community

This community’s traditional name is Chapwanya of the VaHera tribe. The first incumbent in the Chipwanya headmanship is Shonhiwa. His predecessors ruled as masadunhu of chief Makumbe and he was given his own dunhu by Matsweru who was chief Makumbe at the time. He was then later removed from Lancashire estate.

Mudzamiri community

This community’s traditional name was Mudzamiri of the Vanjanja tribe. There were four houses: Munyaka which includes Munyimi and Buchu, Ngwena including Kanenhoni, Magwara, and Dapi. Mutizira was the first to get government recognition.

Nerutenga community

The community’s traditional name is Nerutanga of the Dziva totem and Pakuru chidau and Zezuru tribe. Hadzinemuru, Makona and Masasa were hunters and they left the Bota area of Chipinge district in a quest for game. They went to Hamayavahera where the VaHera people were living. The VaNjanja then came and pushed the VaHera south. Chief Nyashanu of the VaHera then ordered that the Vanjanja should not cross the Dzarova River and should they cross it the Vahera were to fight the Vanjanja. The Vanjanja fought and defeated the Vahera and Nerutanga’s people. Nerutanga appealed to Chief Gutu to assist him and gave Gutu one of his daughters, again a fight occurred and they were defeated and it was decided to pay court to the Vanjanja and with the assistance of a daughter his people were given the area of Katsoma hill near the Nerutanga School. When the people of Chisema arrived and fought Nerutanga’s people and defeated them. This was when Mavimira fled and went to Chivi and became very successful having a number of wives, he gave a daughter to chief Gutu and he got assistance of the Gutu army and the Vanjanja fought back Chisema and won back their home in Nekutanga area of Buhera. Chisema’s people fled. Chief Rutanga was appointed in 1897 (Nyandoro) and chief Rutanga was noted in 1899. The following chiefs were: Nemakomo, Bowora, Mawiri, Mavimira, Chamisa, Madziwanyika, Mtasa, Magedza, Mawire, Gombe, Gwatidzo, Menzetera. Their Family Tree extract is as per the link below:

Matsweru community

This community was headed by sadunhu Matsweru of the Vanjanja tribe. They moved to this place from Gombe. Diki remained at Benzi hill. The Wata split as a result of them being chased away by Mbundiri and the Nyanzira people of Machamaya tribe remained with the Matsweru after Chiwundura left the Range.

Wata community

This community was a subdivision of Matsweru under sadunhu Wata of the Vanjanja tribe. Wata was the son of Makumbe and was born at Mvumbura. During the Ndebele raids he moved to Chikwira kopje with his young brother, they then moved in quest of land to Matomboshato with Rusipambi, Machingura and Mutasa. They moved again to Mapere where Wata died. In 1949 they moved again to the area of Diki and Matsweru.

Zenda community

This community was under the sadunhu Zenda of the Vanjanja tribe. Zenda was the son of Mugweni and fourth incumbent to hold the name Mugweni. The original Mugweni was Chief Makumbe the second. His sons ruled a large dunhu after his death. After Zenda became sadunhu the chief changed, Ngombeyarara became chief Makumbe and all kraals east of the rivers were placed under Ngombeyarara, thus Zenda ruled half his Dunhu.  When Zenda died the name Mugweni went to Zvaipa who was living on the east of Mwerihari River, Mabgwe, the son continued to rule the area but under the name Zenda. There was a definite split in the old dunhu and they are now two separate communities. Land Husbandry Act zoning also contributed to the division of the area.

Chitsunge community

This community was under the headman Chitsunge of the Vanjanja tribe, Moyo totem, and Sinyoro chidau. Chitsunge was the youngest son in the house of Donde, which was the largest house of Gambiza chieftainship. It gave rise to three individual chieftaincies namely: Mutengwa, Swinurayi and Chitsunge. All these were reduced to headmanship in 1951. Donde was the name of their mother who was the fourth wife of Neshangwe the first. Chitsunga was Muchinda of Gambiza and they were given their dunhu by him Denya was the first to be appointed chief Chitsunge and was succeeded by Gunguwo who was succeded by Matida/Mabara, where the chieftainship then ended. The Chitsunge house could not succeed to the Makumbe chieftainship because they belong to the house of Donde and they also cannot succeed to the Neshangwe chieftainship because of the district boundary. They have in the past pressed their claim of the Chitsunge chieftainship but they were not prepared to accept Madzvimbo as their chief causing a deadlock. Chief Chitsunge also referred to as chief Tshesunge was Rambanapasi, Denya, Gunguvo, Mabara, Mukanganise, Madzwimbo. Headmen under chief Chitsunge were: Gungubu, Samatibe and Denya.

Matide community

This community is under the headmanship of Chitsunge with their muchinda being Matide of the Vanjanja tribe. Matide lived near Chirasauta and succeeded to the name Chitsunge. Mabara, son of Matide succeeded to the Chitsunge chieftainship after Gunguwo. The chieftainship ended at Mabara. The next to succeed was appointed a headman that is Madzimbo. Chitsunge the first allocated the matunhu to his sons.

Rambanapasi community

This community was under the headmanship of Chitsunge and the sadunhu was Rambanapasi of the Vanjanja tribe. Rambanapasi was given his dunhu by Chitsunge. Their first village was at Chitope then they shifted to Maninga, then Chingoma. They went with Machacha (Hera), Chiranga (Mujindwe) and Chanugundu (Zhou) and Chikoto (Gumbo) and Muzavazi (Rozwi).

Chirinda community

This community is under the headman Chitsunge and their muchinda was Chirinda of the Vanjanja tribe. There were only three houses in the Chirinda machinda-ship: Chinhoro, Mazangwa and Mukanganise. Their dunhu was given to them by Chitsunge the first and all the sons were given their matunhu at the same time. Chirinda moved from Chirasauta and Muzavazi came with them. Muzavazi was the Tezvara of Chirinda.

Gunguwo community

This community was under the headmanship of Chitsunga and the sandunhu’s traditional name is Gunguwo of the Vanjanja tribe. In their history, Muroro came from the Sena and begat Neshangwe he had 3 wives and the mother of Chitsunga was Madondi. Chakata, Tambaoga, Mukwayamatenga, Padzingamuke, Hukutu, Chitsunge. They split and Chitsunge came to this area. Chitsunge gave Gunguwo his area in the time of Kuvagauga which was ruled by Gambira a Muyera shiri was called Chirwa. Chitsunge’s people came from Navira at Rambamhuru. They stayed for a while at Manwenji and then moved to Gunguwo area in Buhera.    

Gwebu Chieftainship

Chief Gwebu was of the Mgabi totem and of the Ndebele tribe. In their succession history there was Ntabeni, Mbumbuli, Matsotshana, Hewa, Mandege, Fish (appointed as chief fish), and Isiah. The Gwebu chieftaincy is one of the oldest chieftainships within the Ndebele state. The Gwebu were forced to relocate to Buhera from Fort Rixon, Esigodini in Matabeleland in 1927 South where they were located and were allocated well-watered lands of the northestern part of Buhera. They were invited to Buhera by Mbizo, a Native Commissioner for the area who came Gwebu had met in South Africa. Gwebu sent people to assess the land and they confirmed that the area had similar climatic conditions with Esigodini. The first group arrived in Buhera in 1923 and the second group arrived between 1924 and 1925. The last group moved whilst grazing their livestock in 1926 and arrived in 1927. Chief Daniel Fish Gwebu and his followers then cooperated with the colonial administration and enjoyed the support of the Rhodesian government. The villages falling under chief Gwebu are: Gwibila, Sojini, Mthimkhulu. Dlamini, Mlandeli, and Mutava. The Late Fish Gwebu lived in Buhera for 51 years dying in 1978 at the age of 90. He studied at Robben Island in South Africa before it was made a prison. He was fluent in English and Afrikaans and was one of the paramount chiefs to be invited to Buckingham Palace by the British Queen in 1964. The people under chief Gwebu can speak Zezuru and practice Zezuru customs although they maintained their Ndebele surnames.

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for She is a strong consulting professional passionate about safeguarding intangible heritage and the history of Zimbabwe. She possesses exceptional communication skills and experience working with people of different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.


Andersson, J. A. (2002). Going places, staying home: rural-urban connections and the significance of land in Buhera district, Zimbabwe. Wageningen University.

Mafuta , W., & Kamuzhanje, J. (2020). Transitioning from relief to development: challenges and opportunities: the case of GOAL Zimbabwe in Buhera District. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 1-10.

Mugodzwa, D. M. (2013). Labour Appropriation in Buhera District, South-Eastern Zimbabwe 1890-1930: the Accidental Proletarianization of an African Peasantry by a Foreign Capitalist Oligarchic Enterprise. European Journal of Sustainable Development , 69-86.

NAZ. (1959). NC Buhera Annual District Report . NAZ S2827/2/2/7 Vol 1.

NAZ. (1964). NAZ S2929/1/1 Buhera District Delineation Report.

Ndawana, E., & Hove, M. (2018). Traditional Leaders and Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle in Buhera District, 1976-1980. Journal of African Millitary History , 119-160.

Zinyuke, R. (2021, August 2). Marovanyati Dam changes Buhera lives. Retrieved from The Herald:

Marondera fascinating history explored

Marondera is a district in Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe and is located about 72km east of Harare. The name Marondera was mispronounced and became known as Marandellas. On the 21st of April 1982 the name was changed back to Marondera. In the history of the district, it was first known as Marondera s Kraal who was chief of the VaRozvi people living in the area. It constituted a village in 1913, a town in 1943, and a city in 1982. Marondera was located in the Kopje area along the banks of the Ruzawi River four miles to the south of the present location. In 1890 it was used by British colonialists as a resting camp than a town as it was a small settlement of mud and wattle dwellings around the Ruzawi outspan, which was a stopover station for transport-wagon riders on the Harare (Salisbury)-Mutare (Umtali) highway. Other buildings included a police station, a store and an office for the Native Commissioner. When the rail line was established the Native Commissioners office and the police station moved closer to the line and the outspan was abandoned becoming old Marandellas. The present day Marondera grew around the Marandellas Hotel and railway station. During the South African Boer war it was used by the British as a staging point for military operations into the Transvaal, and in World War II it was used as a refuge for displaced Poles (from Poland).

Marondera is surrounded by commercial farms where residents go for seasonal employment. It used to service a large forestry, markets timber, tobacco, beef, maize and dairy products until the redistribution of land in 2000. The district is made up of four constituencies namely: Marondera East, Marondera West, Marondera Central and a small northern portion of Wedza North, most of which is the Wedza District. The district is made up twenty three administrative wards whose councilors make up a full council. The council is also split into committees who work on different areas that provide services to the district. For instance, under Chiota Communal Reserve other members of the council included four headman and fifteen elected councilors including four from Chiota, four from Nenguwo, three from Nyandoro and two from Samuriwo and another two from Mudzimerema.

Early History

In the history of the Vambire (a tribe under the rule of chief Svosve) when chief Svosve died his son Mukanganise desired to be installed as chief after his father. This led to his (Mukanganise’s) sister Chikombo to visit Mambo’s residence at Dzimbahwe to secure her brothers approval to be the next chief. When Chikombo had been away from home for too long, her brother Msora followed her at Mambo’s residence. As a result, Mambo bestowed on him the name Marondera which meant to follow. When Mukanganise died, he was succeeded by Marondera (Msora) and Chikombo was appointed “headman” by her father and she married Nechiwari of the Tembo totem but her children assumed her totem which was Soko. Marondera lived at Ziwande hills which was popularly known as Carruthersville Estate in the district. Marondera was killed by an army of warriors sent by Mukanyadze, a chief from the west bank of the Savi River after he murdered his two step mothers who were also his father’s widows. This act was supported by his two brothers Nyahuye and Gahadza but the name Marondera had become hereditary. Nyahuye was appointed as chief Svosve and the house of Marondera was degraded. Therefore, chief Svosve appointed Marondera as headman and directed him to settle at Nyameni. During the 1896 rebellion, Marondera made common cause with the rest of the tribe, with his people taking part in the Shona rebellion, attacking Europeans, then concentrated on Ruzawi Inn. Marondera lived in the Chiota reserve.

The Shona rebellion 1896

When the Shona rebellion broke out, Marondera area was highly affected. Since it was a white settlement and ammunition depot it was a major stopover station for troops and supplies from Beira en-route to the west. It was an important center of communication situated at the junction between Harare (Salisbury) and Mutare (Umtali) and Chivhu (Fort Charter). It served as the administration Centre in the district with a small population of white people. On the 23rd of March 1896 the Matabele war broke out but it wasn’t expected by the white people that the Shona would follow suit until attacks on random white settlers began, including the Norton family in June. Even the Rev John White was taken by surprise. The death of Bernard Mzeki shows an interesting angle of the driving factors for the uprising. It was a general national revolt about the seizure of land, rights and spiritual beliefs among the local Shona people and the attempts to convert them to Christianity. What incensed Muchemwa (Chief Mangwende’s son) and others was the commitment that Bernard had in the white man’s church such that he was believed to be a white man in disguise under black skin. The same impression was held on Molimile Molele the Methodist catechist at Nenguwo mission (Masingo) now known as Waddilove Methodist Mission established in 1892 and he too lost his life during the rebellion on account of his attachment to the white man when he was trying to escape with James White a farmer who was wounded on his arm by a shot from a firearm.

The acceptance of the missionaries and the mission station at Nenguwo by Chief Nenguwo prompted the people of Chizengeni and Chiriseri to murder Molele and other whites such as Captain Bremner who was at James White’s farmstead at Mendamu. However, Chief Nenguwo merely made land available for the missionaries but did not become a Christian himself. Chief Gatsi and Muchemwa were not willing to give themselves up without a fight. During the course of the rebellion, the Shona people at Gatsi’s and Svosve’s fled into caves, dynamites were used on them and the district was being slowly cleared. Some chiefs refused to give up unlike Chief Makoni who surrendered but was eventually killed. Many began to move away from their homes following what Mangwende had done. Others travelled north to Murehwa district or east to Chiota under Chief Sadza or south to Wedza just like Svosve’s people had done. Chief Svosve remained with some of his followers in the rocky plateau where the Svosve Reserve is currently located although he was later captured. By the end of July the uprising was slowly coming to an end, with herdmen surrendering to the Native Commissioner including Chief Mangwende of Murehwa although he lived for centuries in Mahopo (Marondera). However, the 1896 rebellion had lasting effects on the history of the Marondera and the chieftainships that exist today. It was not until May 1897 when the rebellion ended in the District and that the community was rebuilt. The early administration feared that there may be another uprising after the first Chimurenga/Umvukela in Mashonaland and Matabeleland. The settlers believed that spirits of Mbuya Nehanda (Charwe) of the Hwata lineage and Sekuru Kaguvi (Gumboreshumba) of the Rozvi people were the epicenter of the uprising.

In October 1897 Gumboreshumba was taken into custody after some chiefs such as Kunzwi-Nyandoro and Mashayamombe surrendered. In December 1897 the medium of Nehanda was captured. They were both sentenced to death and were hanged by the neck on 27 April 1898. Nehanda went to the scaffold refusing baptism but Gumboreshumba agreed to be baptized into Catholic Faith but he was still hanged. Therefore, to guard against any recurrence of the uprising, in 1904 the government studied the composition of the Rozvi people in each district and the Hwata chieftainship in Mazoe was abolished after the uprising and was relocated to the Muzarabani District to avoid any resurgence of the uprising.      

Even after the rebellion there was no sudden turn to Christianity not until the 1930’s when education became popular and was available in missions. In 1902 when population was boosted to 50 John Finch reopened the hostel at old Marandellas and named it Ruzawi Inn as a health resort and weekend hotel until 1927. That year saw the beginning of the present Ruzawi School which started as a preparatory school for boys on leased buildings. In 1931 Ruzawi Schools Ltd. bought the property and the little community. The town also had the first coffee production factory in 1950 started by Kayteyn John and K became the brand name for K’s coffee occasionally referred to as Marandellas coffee. The district has since laid its foundations for the farming community which the prosperity of the district depends.

Chieftainships in the district

The district comprised of Svosve tribal trust lands, Chiota tribal trust lands and the Chimbwanda African purchase area. In the current setting Marondera West constituency consists of Chihota communal area and includes business centres at Mahusekwa, Chiwanzamarara and Manyaira. Marondera East constituency consists of the Swosve communal lands and the Rhodesclarke, Chitangazuva, Waddilove, Musi and Mukute, Surrey and Dambi Estates areas.

Chiota tribal trust land

The Chiota tribal trust land/Chiota Communal Land/Shiota Reserve has farming as the major economic activity in the area with crops such as tobacco, maize and vegetables as major products. The area consisted of five chiefs: Nenguwo, Samuriwo, Chiota, Nyandoro, Mudzimerema. The duties of the headmen are the same among the Tribal Trust Lands. He holds a court at which local disputes are tried. He is also responsible for conveying important messages from the chief to his people and he also collects personal taxes and includes record of them in his book. He is also responsible in the distribution of land. In Nenguwo there were two communities one centered on the chief and the other centered on Sadunhu Sadza.

Chiota comprises of the following communities:

  1. Marondera: he believes he is separate from Chiota and chiota felt the same
  2. Goremucheche: this community has more kinship ties with Seke than Chiota
  3. Chiota’s: this area is centered around the chief
  4. Nyandoro and Madzimurema:

Chiota chieftaincy

The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Chihota and spelt as Chiota in official records. The name was derived from an edible tuber called hota or popularly known as tsenza or coleus esculentus in English. The hota tuber was the only vegetable that the founding ancestors consumed when they first settled in the area as they did not cultivate. The founder was then given the name Chiota by his neighbors. The chieftainship is of the Mbizi totem (Tembo) and his chidau was Mazvimbakupa; Samaita Binga of the Manyika tribe. Chihota’s dunhu is big and is very close knot.

Goremucheche’s dunhu was a loose community and this could have been the facto pain against community development. The definition of district boundaries resulted in Goremucheche falling in Marandellas district where he now owes allegiance to Chief Chiota. Under one of the early Chief Sekes, Goremucheche was Seke’s mupurisa and guarded areas between Nyarushezhi and Nyatsime.  

Mudzimurema chieftainship

The traditional name of the chieftainship is Mudzimurema, their mutupo is Soko and chidau is Kumene of the Vambire tribe. The tribe moved to this area from the farm areas taken up by the Europeans around Wedza and Marondera district. The tribe’s old area was bounded by the Save and Mbowo rivers in the east and by Chiefs Nyandoro, Nenguwo and Mutekedza in the south and west. The area was known as Samuriwo country. The chief was appointed by the people and accepted by the government on the bases of succession from the deceased younger brother of his father (Babamnini) i.e. collateral succession.

From the tree Muchechese was in power from 1928 till 1978 when he died and Parawora was his deputy. Mubaiwa Chipfakachira acted as chief from 1979 till 1985 and Patrick Muchenje took over from 1985. During the period of 1998 to 2008 he was a member of the Mashonaland East Provincial Chiefs Council. He died in the year 2021 at his farm in Seke after battling diabetes and stroke and was buried at Mudzimurema village in Marondera. The headman was Chimbaira and his mutupo is Soko and chidau Kumene of the Mbire tribe. The traditional headman was Matimba installed in 1926 followed by Mungwari Chimbaira from 1943 and died in 1968 followed by headman Marufu appointed in 1975 and was killed in 1979.

Below is a link to chief Mudzimurema Family tree:

Nyandoro chieftaincy

The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Nyandoro. The mutupo is Nhari and chidau is UneNdoro. A warrior called Nyandoro seemed to be the origin of the Nyandoro clan name (a round shell worn by a mambo to signify authority).The tribe originated from the descendants of Batorwa and Chiunde. Zhanje was son of Chivinde according to genealogy by the district commissioner. In another record Zhanje was the son of “Baturwa” and there was no mention of Chivinde. Early history according to informants has it that the tribe originated from Charter (Chivhu) district during Chakavarika’s lifetime they fled the Madzviti raids towards Svosve area and settled at Matswitswi and then Mangondo near Marandellas followed by Ruswinga near Soswe and then in Mangwende. As the tribe increased, they were forced to occupy territory at Rusike, Goromomzi District. After their defeat to the Matabele the tribe retraced their steps to Charter. It was discovered the Europeans had occupied Enkeldoorn (Chivhu) and they were forced to settle in their present area and at this time only chief Samuriwo and Chihota occupied this area early.

Below is the linkj to Nyandoro Family tree:

According to District Commissioner in 1964 the tribe originated from Enkeldoorn. A svikiro said “let us leave this hot tired country and go to the high country where salt is in the rocks” the person of note who came with this party was Chimbwanda. They stopped at Tsunga in Zvimba area, covering Chinhoyi, Chegutu and Norton) and the country was unoccupied, their burial place was traditionally Tsunga, but now it is Dikitira in the Marandellas district. The Ndebele arrived when the Nyandoro’s were settled in the present Zvimba area and they fled to Chiota in Marondera. Chiota allocated them some land where Kunzvi Dam is extending to St Pauls Musami. The Shona Uprising coincided with Chief Kunzvi being recognized to be a leader of the Northern Shona which included the Zezuru, Korekore and Manyika. The influence of the chief to the Southern Shona which is the Karanga was in dispute as a result of the influence of Mzilikazi and Lobengula in those areas.  Due to colonialism some Nyandoros were forcibly moved to Mvuma and Chivhu areas. A prominent Nyandoro is Makura, a chihoro who was Chaminuka’s wife.

Chief Kunzwi was installed and died in 1911. Mzeketwa was headman Nyandoro under chief Samuriwo from 1912 and was deposed in 1926, Shambambeva was also headman under chief Samuriwo from 1927. Mazhazha was chief in succession to late chief Samuriwo from 1937 and deposed in 1950. Followed by Munemo from 1953 till he died in 1976. Then Paradzyi who was acting chief from 1977 till he died in 1985. Headman Chirenje was under chief Nyandoro of the mutupo shumba, Nyamuziwa of the Buja tribe he was first officially appointed in 1972 and his name was Tasariranhamo. There were various headmen under chief Kunzvi and these included; Gongombi, Matarutsi, Msarururigwa, Mutshikanda and Shambambera.   

Svosve tribal trust land

The tribe came from a place called Chikwidziro in the area of the Makorekore and the chief of the area was called Dendenyore. He settled in the west bank of Winimbi River, whilst his sister Wachikombo lived on the east bank. After the death of Dendenyore, his son Mkanganise became chief and moved into the Masikana hills where his aunt (the sister of Dendenyore) lived. When his aunt died he appointed his daughter in her place and gave her the land between the Ruzawi and Karembige Rivers. When Mkanganise died, his son Nyahuye succeeded him. During Nyahuye’s reign war broke out between his tribe and that of Mtekedza and Mtekedza was defeated which resulted to Mount Wedza being added to Svosve’s district. When Nyahuye died Mutsahuni was appointed, he lived to a great age and was succeeded by his nephew Govha who was son of Nyahuye and he was succeeded by Nyakunengwa who was the son of Mutsahuni. When Mutsahuni died, Mgurwa, the son of Govha became the chief. A famine was in the country during the reign of Mgurwa and Mgurwa’s headman Chigodora joined forces with Sungandaba a Matebele induna and drove Mgurwa out of the country, leading him to settle in the Chirumanzi area and while there, a Shangan induna named Mchochenyani came to the district and attacked Sungandaba near Wedza who fled north of the Zambezi to form the Angori tribe. Mchochenyani then sent Mgurwa to back on the throne.

When Mgurwa died he was succeeded by Nemini, the son of Nyakunengwa and when he died, Chikunguru, the son of Mgurwa became chief. During his reign the area got attacked and raided by the Portuguese led by Rea and they were later attacked by Makoni, and after that by Nyamande the father of Gungunyani, leading to the death of Chikunguru. Chikosha who was the son of Nemini became the chief and during his reign, a year before the pioneers occupied the country,   Goveira and Piva (Portuguese) visited the district giving the paramounts guns and powder. Chikosha was captured during the rebellion and he died a few months after the rebellion was put down and Shibonoli, a son of Mrugwa was appointed by government.

Sosve/ Sosve Tribal Trust Lands/ Soshwe Reserve/ Svosve Communal Lands was originally designated as Sosve Mission Reserve in 1900. The British expropriated a huge part of the Svosve territory for farming and the local people split between Svosve, Chiota and Wedza. They were under chief Gahadza-wa-Svosve of the Soko totem and chidau Moyondizwo of the Rozvi tribe. There was chief Chibonore appointed in 1898, followed by Choto Mututa who was Chief Svosve in 1905 till 1927, followed by Gambiza from 1928 and died in 1939, followed by Choto Chibonore from 1943 and died in 1962, followed by deputy chief Guveya from 1961 to 1962 and he also acted from 1962 till he died in 1971, leaving Nowea Nyahuye acting as chief from 1972 till 1974. In 1972 that is when the Gahadza-wa-Svosve chieftainship was established and Nowea Nyahuye was appointed chief from 1974 till he died in 1977/1978. Tapfuma Timothy acted as chief from 1978 till 1984 when Enock Muvirimi was appointed chief.

There was a split among the Svosve to form Gahadza-wa-Svosve chieftainship. Muzanenamo David was acting chief in Wedza under chief Nyahuye-wa-svosve from 1972 till Chitau was appointed as chief in 1972 till his death in 1983 and left chinembiri choto acting as chief. With headmans Makwarimba, Mubaiwa, Goto, Chigodora, Musanu and Murwira (who was once under chief Chiota). This area is controlled by a headman Chapendama who is the leader of the community. Headman chikosha (Chaitwa) under chief Svosve was appointed in 1951 and died in 1957, followed by headman Chapendama (Nyahuye) appointed in 1961 and the headmanship was terminated in 1972 as he was appointed as acting chief Gahadza-wa-Soswe and headmanship lapsed. The Chikumbiri headmanship under Chief Svosve was deposed in 1949 when Chikwepa was headman after succeeding Chikumbiriki in 1943. As well as Gambiza headmanship which also lapsed. The sadunhu (headman) traditional name was Chapendama of Svosve and mutupo Soko, chidau Vudzijena of the Vambire tribe.

There were kraal heads (masabhuku) who were literally the keepers of the books, tax register. Some kraals such as Gwasira, Chawenga, Manyengavana and Nemkuyu left Svosve for Murewa on account of shortage of land, other kraals left Wedza for Svosve and are now Svosve’s subjects and these include Zenda, Gambiza, Makusha, Mudzimukunze, Ruswa, Mapfanya and Zigumbu. Villages in Svosve area at the time included: Chapendama, Zinatsa-Munyuki, Mutenga, Chakudunga, Chikwana, Gonye, Badza, Chibanda, Wenjere, Muchemwa, Mubvumi, Munyukwi Jiri, Shoniwa-Neshamba, Choto, Gore, Magorimbo, Kundishora, Gwatidza, Kwaramba- Masangomayi, Gomo, Nyahuye, Chiwewete – Mpazwiriwo.

In 2005 there were sixty six masabhuku of which two were women in Svosve. In Wedza the Svosve chieftaincy consists of communities like the: Mbaiwa, Goto, Makwarimba, Chigodora and Musanhu. It is believed that Nembire moved from Mt Darwin which is under headman Nembire today and they are believed to have come from Svosve they came to settle in Marandellas district. His father Mukanganise was the first Svosve. The 1896 uprising may have contributed to the splitting of the group, therefore the tribe is divided into three: 1. Svosve lands known as VaZomba 2. The Wedza known as Mbiranhunge 3. The Marandellas group known as the Marondera under their headman. They live in Chiota area and they are bidding on being recognized as a chieftaincy. Some believe there is a fourth which is Mudzimurema in Chiota although Mudzimurema claims Rozvi ancestry.  

Svosve went through a full range of modernizing interventions from the 1940’s as a means to improve African farming.  These included the introduction of mechanical works to control soil erosion through contours and drainage strips, destocking of cattle, and the reorganization of farming into designated zones under the Native Land Husbandry Act in 1952-6 such as residential, arable and grazing zones. As a result, In Svosve the adult male population was reduced by fifty percent as they were moved to other reserves in 1947 and cattle reduced from 4077 in 1943 to 1616 in 1956. However, the rapid increase of population in Svosve after independence in 1981 means that those who previously were in control of land since the colonial era were no longer the majority.

List of chiefs in Svosve


Mkanganise                            son of Dendenyore

Nyahuye                                  son of Mkanganise

Mutsahuni                               son of Mkanganise

Govha                                     son of Nyahuye

Nyakunengwa                         son of Mutsahuni

Mgurwa                                  son of Govha

Nemini                                                son of Nyakunengwa

Chikunguru                             son of Mgurwa

Chikosha                                 son of Nemini

Shibonolo                               son of Mgurwa

Chimbwanda African purchase area.

Native Purchase areas were established as a result of the Land Apportionent Act of 1930 following recommendations by Morris Carter Commision in 1925. These areas were designed as compensation for Africans who could not purchase land elsewhere. These were mostly of poor quality and in remote areas. Chimbwanda African purchase area was to the south of Chiota area. The area was opened around 1952 and settlement was based on the basis of agricultural preferences. This setup allowed for Africans to be able to buy small farms. There was a committee responsible for the conservation of the area and for advising farmers on better techniques. The farmers’ association was a platform for people to share and learn from each other. Changes in land governance – powers over land allocation were vested in traditional chiefs during the precolonial and colonial period to a certain extent, following the transition of these reserves as Tribal Trust Lands in 1969. The District Councils Act of 1982 section 8[2] required RDC to have land allocation responsibility. This was contested by the Chiefs and they won. The Traditional Leaders Act of 1999 formally restored customary chiefs’ land allocation roles in communal areas.  In the post 2000 era several claims were made on land after the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Chiefs utilized this opportunity to reassert their authority whilst the government committed itself to addressing the land shortages. For instance, Chief Svosve who made attempts to re-establish his control over lands, traditional authority and power.


Marondera carries a strong history of Zimbabwe and the Shona uprising 1896-7. During this uprising the spirit mediums coordinated various Shona chiefdoms predominantly Zezuru in an attempt to get rid of white settlers. The Kaguvi and Nehanda mediums played an important role in the coordination of the uprising and as leaders of the revolutionary rebellion.The tribal structure of the chiefs, sub chiefs, and village headmen represent the continuity of pre-colonial structures and these have been incorporated into the administrative and political structures of the nation at large.

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for She is a strong consulting professional passionate about safeguarding intangible heritage and the history of Zimbabwe. She possesses exceptional communication skills and experience working with people of different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.


Bishi, G. (2015). The colonial archive and contemporary chieftainship claims: the case of Zimbabwe 1935-2014. The University of the Free State.

Chimhowu, A. & Woodhouse, P. (2008) Communal Tenure and Rural Poverty: Land Transactions in Svoswe Communal Area, Zimbabwe. In Development and Change. Blackwell Publishing. 39(2) 285-308.

Morris, E. W. (1977) History of Native Tribes and Chiefs. Information supplied for the South African Native Affairs Commission, 1903. NADA

Posselt, N. C. (1927) Marondera. NADA.

Rennie, J. K. (1975) From Zimbabwe to a colonial chieftaincy; four transformations of the Musikavanhu territorial cult in Rhodesia.

General report on the Delineation of communities: Wedza Tribal Trust Land: Wedza District S2929/3/3 (1964)

General report on the Delineation of communitise: Marandellas Tribal Trust Land: Marandellas District S2929/3/8 Marandellas (1964)

Gwanda and its amazing history

Gwanda district is located in Matabeleland South province of Zimbabwe along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road. It is 123km south of Bulawayo and has boarders with Umzingwane district in the west, Insiza district in the east and Beitbridge in the south. Gwanda is the biggest town in the province. Its name is derived from a nearby hill known as Jahunda and stone age implements have been in the Gwalingemba Hills about 2 km south of Gwanda. The people living in the district are known as amaJahunda and the popular language is isiJahunda. The language has similarities with Shona, Kalanga and Venda languages largely popular in Switja, Gwaranyemba (Shibwenyema-a stone which looked like a soya bean), Mawana, Nsimbi, Dobhoda, Nkulungugwe, Makobana, Zhukwi, Bedza, Shabenyama and Paye.

The district falls within the arid regions of the country receiving minimal rainfall each year. The harvesting of Mopane worms (a caterpillar phase of the emperor moth) locally referred to as amacimbi in isiNdebele is common in the district and other southern rural communities of Zimbabwe. The name mopane worm comes from them (the worms) feeding on the leaves of the mopane tree. They are an important source of food and economic livelihood in the communities. The amacimbi are harvested through traditional means, wild harvesting, which was traditionally practiced by women and children, and involves hand picking the worms from the tree, degutting, boiling or roasting followed by sun drying them. 

The Gwanda district lies in the greenstone belt which is rich in gold deposits hence a proliferation of both formal and informal gold mining, hosting large mines such as Farvic, Freda Rebecca and Jessie mines. The district has both rural and urban wards, which are administrative areas within the district comprising of villages. In every ward there is a development committee comprising a councillor and kraal heads and committee representatives under the chief. At village level there are headmen. During the colonial period land was divided into tribal trusts lands. The Tribal Trust Lands were developed with the following objectives by the Government:

  1. To provide land for settlement to cope with the increasing demand for land by tribesmen and to provide a livelihood for a growing African population which cannot be absorbed in industry and elsewhere;
  2. To provide employment on the Tribal Trust Lands for those who are without land or who have to supplement their agricultural earnings in order to subsist in times of drought or crop failure;
  3. To assist by means of settlement, in the control and eradication of tsetse fly thereby opening up production and at the same time protecting areas which are being with proper panning.

The district was divided into 5 tribal trust lands namely: Matshetshe, Gwaranyemba, Wenloc, Dibilashaba and Gwanda tribal trust lands.

Matshetshe tribal trust land (Chief Mzimuni/Masuku)

Chief Mzimuni, isibongo Masuku, isitemo Nhlane was the chief of eMatshetsheni and was appointed in 1934. His ancestors were the Nguni warriors of the Matshetshe regiment. Their first chief was Sifo Masuku who was appointed by Mzilikazi when they were based near Bulawayo. Sifo was succeeded by Manyakavula and the tribe moved to Mzingwane area of Essexvale district. In 1910 the tribe moved to Matshetshe. In 1936 the Kalanga and Lozi joined the area as a result of movements from alienated farms. Chief Mzimuni was a very powerful figure in the district and this is evidenced by the institutions developed near his place. The area was much better in terms of developments compared to other neighboring communities. There were five headmen in the area. Headman under chief Ngundu were: Gwapela 1914-1921, Mazelo 1921, Mabate, Malungisa, Siswean, Vumane, Zijula.

History of the tribal trust says Hlomuza was born in Zululand and accompanied Mzilikazi to Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), he was a warrior in the Qazeni regiment, his son Sifo was promoted to chief and commander to the Matshetshe regiment near Sikoveni hill in the area between Mtshabezi and Mzingwane rivers. Manyakavula succeeded him and him succeeded by Ngundu. Kupu community was headed by the headman Kupu, isibongo Moyo, isitemo Sai, who was the eldest son of the great house, appointed in the year 1955. The tribe sprung from the Sidli headmanship which was originally in Essexvale district. When they moved to Gwanda Simcwada, Ndlovu was selected as the headman over the area and was later removed after being involved in theft. As a result, Mchiwa Moyo was selected and ruled until his death in 1953, leaving Kupu as headman. 

Below is the link of the chieftainship family tree:

The Mcatshwa community was headed by Mcatshwa, isibongo Ndlovu who was appointed in 1959 and died on the 16th of October 1966. He was the eldest son of the senior house of the previous headman Mazhelo Moyo, who resigned the headmanship and it was taken over by Guswane Ndlovu who was succeeded by Mcatshwa. Movement to this area from Essexvale district was around 1910 and the people of this headmanship were members of the Matshetsheni regiment. The Tebele community’s first known headman of this area was Kubi he was appointed because his elder brother was assumed too old for the responsibility, when he died Tshebe Luzwidzo, the son of Zhuge was offered the headmanship but he too was too old and the position was then passed to the eldest son of Tebele. They were headed by Tebele with isibongo Moyo, isitemo Sai between 1934-1935. This group is a traditional part of Matshetshe chieftainship, some members of the tribe moved to Wenlock tribal trust lands whilst others moved to Sidli community and the majority settled in Tebele community. In Sidli and tiwi community there were two headmen (Sidli and Tiwi) occupying this area situated in the southern half of the chief’s area. Initially, the Sidli occupied the area on their own and were later joined by headmen Tiwi and his followers coming from Essexvale district. Headman Sidli was appointed in 1950 and the line of succession had been Hlabano-Bozani-Sidli. The people are mainly of the Lozi and Kalanga tribes with one very large Nguni family of Khumalo’s, third generation descendants of Mzilikazi. Headman Tiwi was appointed in 1945, succeeding his father in Essexvale district and the majority of his people are Lozi.

Gwaranyemba tribal trust land (Chief Nhlamba)

In 1960 Chief of Gwaranyemba was Ben Mubi isibongo Ndlovu and isangelo Edulula Makonta. The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Nhlamba. The name of the area /ilizwe is Gwaranyemba, named after a hill in the north. The old ilizwe was known as Jahunda near present Gwanda town, comprising of the present day ilizwe and much of the surrounding European owned farmland to the north and east which became alienated, which is now Gwanda town. The language that is popular in the area is isiJahunda, although it is not taught in schools. The language came with Lewanika Cenondo son of the Jahunda from Mozambique and was at some point spoken by thousands native Jahunda speaking people before the white settlers arrived in the 1880s. School going children learn isiNdebele at school, the population of Jahunda speaking people is large covering wards 13, 15, 18 and few more though diluted with isiNdebele. However, these indigenous languages should be preserved and taught in schools so that they are not forgotten as language is a carrier of a people’s culture and culture is a carrier of people’s values.     

The family tree of Chief Nhlamba is as follows:

The tribe is predominantly Kalanga and the chief himself was a Sena. Nkani is said to have been the first chief Cenendo, who is today known as chief Nhlamba. He was an elephant hunter of the Sena tribe who was given permission to hunt by Mambo upon payment of tusks, he then married one of Mambo’s daughters and was appointed chief. It is not clear if he or his son first settled in Jahunda area. The latter settled near Singugwe, that is where he died as did his successor and son Buswana. Buswana was succeeded upon his death by Nhlamba who passed it to Mubi Ben. No tree is necessary as primogeniture had taken place. In the recent past there was Chief Denis Ndlovu Nhlamba who was installed on July 16 2010 and died on 30 June 2022 at the age of 75 after a long illness. The current chief is Jeffrey Ndlovu, the brother to the late Chief Denis Ndlovu, he was appointed as interim chief until a substantive chief is appointed. The area had three headmen namely: Taweni, appointed in 1951 and was influential and popular; Mlahlwa, whose area was in a close proximity to the chief and was sometimes overridden the authority of the headman and lastly, Jonathan who was appointed in 1964 and was popular during his time.

Wenloc tribal trust (Chief Mathema)

Chief Mathema was first appointed in 1950 his Isitemo is Jama Sotekeli and he is of the Nguni tribe. The population in the area consisted of Nguni, Suthu and Kalanga tribes who are now considerably mixed. They were descendants of the Nqama regiment under Chief Dliso Mathema. Previous headmen were: Damu-he was convicted of perjury and served prison sentence; Magumpo-a senior headman and has acted as chief on occasion. He succeeded his father Mandlela on his death. He became seriously ill and was succeeded by Magomazi Albina in 1968 until he died in 1980; Masole- he was previously headman under chief Ngundu of the Matshetshe chieftaincy and was removed for stirring trouble and later accepted the Sigombe group as headmen with a small following; Mayembe – he was headman who was originally Mhlamhlandlela section came under chief Mathema in 1968.  The history of the chieftaincy includes Usumhlolo’s great wife Lomahou who was barren and Mzilikazi gave his Niece Nala to have children on behalf of Lomahou. Nalas’ children Macebu and after Usumhlolos death to Sigombe, fathered by a cousin (Simizela) of Usumhlolo who was deputed to raise seed for Usumhlolo. After chief Sigombe was deposed in 1964, chief Zachariah was appointed in 1967 and died in 1975, leaving headman Magomazi acting until 1977 when chief Smart Mathema was appointed. The current Chief Khulumani Mathema is advocate for unity and traditional leadership. Below is an extract of the chieftainship family tree:

Dibilashaba tribal trust (Chief Marupi)

Chief Marupi was known as Marapela, with Isibongo Nare and his Isangelo Makure and is referred to as chief Marupi and this was the name of his predecessor. The chieftainship is Makure, name derived from the earliest chiefs in the tribe it is important to note that chief Mate and ex-chiefs Rantas and Magaya are descendants of this man. The name of the area means pool of red water from a well-known pool which was a land mark on the old pioneer road. Marapela acted as chief since 1943 after his predecessor died and was appointed as chief in 1957. Below is an extract of the chief Marupi family:

The tribe moved across Shashi (Shayashe) River consisting of Babirwa. Main language spoken was isiNdebele and siSuthu. It is believed that the original Babirwa come from Tswapone in Botswana, they settled in the Dibilashaba area and were accepted by the Mambo. The Marupi chieftainship dates back to Daueatswala of the Babirwa tribe, he was succeeded by Makure whose eldest son Makale succeded him and the tribe moved to Gubadu area near Shashani and Shashe rivers in Botswana. Under the rule of Silike son of Makale the tribe crossed the Shashi and settled in Neha ka makure (Dibilashaba). Silike was murdered by the Ndebele warriors and this was condemned by Lobengula and Mbulutsi was summoned to Bulawayo and was personally installed by the Ndebele monarch and the tribe at this time had been incorporated into the Nqama regiment under Nduna Somholo Mathema. When Mbulutsi died he was succeeded by Marupi. When Marupi died in 1943 his sons were too young and Mlandu (headman Manyunyu’s eldest son acted as chief for a year before he died too. Marapela Nyathi the younger brother of Marupi took over until he died in 1974, leaving headman Maphala acting chief until 1976 when Mtateho was appointed chief Marupi.

The headmen in the area were: Magaya-The majority of Magaya’s people were the Madida Apostolic Sect who’s leader was Madida Moyo a Kalanga who came from chief Nhlambas area. These people refused to accept any form of medical treatment and also didn’t smoke nor drink alcohol.  The sect was a unifying sector. The hierarchy of the Magaya headmanship first had chief Magaya Tsulwana Mrimeri appointed by Lobengula from 1897 and died in 1934 and was succeeded by Muluko Nyathi from 1935-1951 when the chieftainship was downgraded to headman status and he died in 1973. Libangi was the next headman from 1974; Manyunyu-the group was incorporated into the tribe. The older brother of the headmen Manyunyu once acted as chief before he died. The hierarchy of the Manyunyu headmanship had Guluza, Mbulawa, Mlandu Manyunyu, Lucas Dube(1951), Isaka (1970), Frank Dube (1974) and Jabulani Dube (1983); Pepishe- the headmanship was created upon demotion of the the Rantasa headmanship in 1951. Rantasa refused to accept this deflation of status under Chief Murupi and chose to move with his followers to Shashi under Chief Mate. Pepishe remained and became headman. In 2008 chief Marupi Lawrence Nare died and Oaheng his son succeeded him as a minor and was to officially take over in 2014 when he turned 18 and was surrounded by four substantive chiefs in Gwanda district to assist. His uncle Molisa Samuel Nare was acting chief. 

Gwanda tribal trust land (Chief Mathe)

The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Mathe. The name of the first known chief was Mbulutsi appointed in 1939 and his area named Gwanda tribal trust lands. It is interesting that chief Marupi, ex chief’s Magaya and Rantas and Hwadalala with their former headmen claim common ancestry in Makure. These Babirwa settlers absorbed the amaKalanga and amaNdebele people who were in their tribal area both before their arrival or who arrived later in the area. Hwadalala community under Chief Mate had Moyigwatayi as their subsidized chief in 1989. Chief Hwatalala also known as Mulaukhosi was reduced to headman status under chief Mathe from 1951 until death in 1974 when Habulunkwani was appointed as acting headman Hwadalala. The next headman Hwadalala was Udirille Clarkson until 1983 when he died. Headman Rantasa is a common ancestor of chiefs Marupi and Mike who moved into the area in the 19th century. Rantasa Nyathi was chief and when he went away he left headman Tabanana in charge from 1925-1929. Rantasa was reinstated in 1930 and was demoted to headman status and moved to Shahi under Chief Mathe who was responsible for the followers of ex Chief Mike Sinanguwe from 1951. There was also headman Mhorosi, Dengu, Mlupi and Mnyaliwa under Chief Mate. In the current system there is the Mathe chieftainship with headman Mogorosi having authority over Bolamba area whose inhabitants are mostly the Babirwa.

Below is an extract of the chieftainship family tree:

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for She is a strong consulting professional passionate about safeguarding intangible heritage and the history of Zimbabwe. She possesses exceptional communication skills and experience working with people of different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.


Dube-Matatu (2022) IsiJahunda: Death of a language, people. The Chronicle.

NAZ, ORAL Matabeleland South Province, Gwanda District, Freddy Dubane interviewed in 2021

NAZ, ORAL Matabeleland South Province, Gwanda District, Joseph Chomurenga interviewed in 2021

NAZ S2929/6/2 Matabeleland South Province, Gwanda District 1963-1964

Wrathall, J. J. (1968). Developing The Tribal Trust Lands. RJE, 54-65.

Mt. Darwin tribes and their origins

Mount Darwin, named after the British naturalist Charles Darwin, is one of seven districts in Mashonaland Central Province of Zimbabwe. The mountain is known as Pfura meaning large Rhino. Mt. Darwin district is the largest district in the province with forty wards and six chieftainships. It is in the north-eastern part of Zimbabwe and located about 156 kilometers from Harare. The district borders with Mozambique to the north, with neighbouring districts like Shamva to the south, Rushinga to the east and Muzarabani on the west. It once served as the headquarters of the Tribal Trust Lands areas set aside for black occupation. The district is home to the Korekore people who have a number of different clans, which have their own totems (mitupo). The language spoken in the district is ChiKorekore.

The area is believed to have been the first to be worked by missionaries in the region of southern Africa by the Portuguese named Father Goncalo da Silveira in 1560. Darwin originally belonged to the Mazoe district, which was divided into north and south districts in 1899. In September 1909 it was formally changed to Darwin district.

Early history

The original inhabitants of the area are believed to have been hunters and marauders who traded with the Arab (Mahommedan) ivory and slave traders. During the first half of the 17th century the area under discussion was a well-defined geographic unit and formed a province of the Monomutapa Kingdom known as Chirunya. Its boundaries were the Mazowe river up-stream to the Ruya River. Oral history in the area is strong and the people believe that they descended from Koswa, their female founding ancestor. The Mutapa state occupied the land between the Zambezi River in the north, the Hunyani River and Umvukwe range on the southwest and the Mazowe and Ruya River on the southeast. Monomutapa Kazurukumupasa Siti was the ruling king until his death in 1666. Mukombwe Kamharapasu, son of Mavhura became Monomutapa (1663-1692). After marrying the widow of Kazurukumupasa Siti, Mukombwe fathered a son called Nhemuru Siti circa 1670 and as per tradition, the child was regarded as the son of Kazurukumupasa, his elder half-sister and daughter of Kazurukumupusa was named Koswa. It was custom of the Monomutapas to place princesses in authority, probably due to the fact that some of the tribes they found, like Tonga were a matrilineal society and women were preferred for inheritance, including leadership. Three of the daughters were sent out to be princesses by Mukombwe. Koswa was to be princess over Chirudya, whilst Nyahuwi and Anadondo were allocated other areas/matunhu. They set off from the royal Guta and Koswa and Nyahuwi settled at Usirisiri. They had been accompanied by their brothers Nemhuru and Dombo. Historians date Koswa’s migration with Nyahuwi at circa 1680. Mukombwe was Christian by name only but lived as a true African who followed traditional rites and never going to church. He reunited the Sena, Barwe/ Lower Zambezi Tonga people under the Mutapa Empire. He successfully drove back the Portuguese from lands in Mutapa and managed to resettle various Mutapa families in the lands he had freed. When he died in 1692, his younger brother Monomotapa Nyakunembire. Mukombwe’s ancestral spirit (mhondoro) is great in Mt Darwin (Pfura), Chipuriro/Guruve, Mutoko, Shamva, Mazoe and Bindura. It is important to note that, the name “Mukombwe/Munkombwe” is widely used in Zambia, among people of the Tonga tribe and these are likely to be offshoots of the Mutapa state as they also claim to have been under Mambo rulership in the present day Zimbabwe.

History of chieftaincy in the Tribal Trust Lands of Mt Darwin

The Tribal Trust Lands were developed with the following objectives by the Government:

  1. To provide land for settlement in line with the increasing demand for land by tribesmen and to provide a livelihood for a growing African population which could not be absorbed in industry and elsewhere;
  2. To provide employment on the Tribal Trust Lands for those who were without land or who had to supplement their agricultural earnings in order to subsist in times of drought or crop failure;
  3. To assist by means of settlement, in the control and eradication of tsetse fly thereby opening up production and at the same time protecting areas which are being formed properly.

Chimanda and Masoso Tribal Trust Lands

  1. Chief Nyakusengwa (Mukosa)

The traditional name is Nyakusengwa prior to the chief’s appointment the chieftaincy was called Mukosa during the period when the chief was out of the area and had left someone else in charge. His chidau is Nzou and praise names are Samanyanga, some now use Chirandu although it is believed that it is not their true chidau but was a result of mixing with other people from the Chimhanda reserve and most likely the long association with the Mutapa whose founder, Nyatsimba Mutota himself was of the Moyo totem but changed to Nzou, Samanyanga. He is of Korekore-Tavara tribe. Records are not clear as to when exactly he was appointed but it was between 1945-1953. Chief Nyakusengwa was the authority of this area. People from outside the district would be refused the right to settle in the district without further thought. Preference was somehow accorded to people from within the district but living outside chief Nyakusengwa area though the chances of them gaining access to the area were very slim. This area was not affected by the land husbandry pattern and the Land Husbandry      Act was not applied in the chieftaincy.

Below is a link to Nyakusengwa family tree:

Spiritual function:

Chief Nyakusengwa was installed into office by the Mhondoro Koswa the female ancestor of the tribe. Rainmaking and harvest ceremonies are done. This chief plays no significant role in these ceremonies but to call on to the public in order for the beer and other offerings to be prepared. The actual spiritual function’s is in the hands of the Svikiro.

Chief Rusambo

The traditional name is Rusambo of the Soko totem. The Rusambo community migrated from Shawasha as a result of Ruwambwe’s exploits and he had to flee and was allocated land by Mutota. Administratively the area is known as Chimanda tribal trust land. The land that he had authority over was devided into;

Rusambo –Mahutwe

Gwangwava- Dumbwe

Katevera – Tsombe

Chimanda – Chibonga

Magaranhewe – Romba

Below is a link to Rusambo family tree:

History of the Chimanda community

Manetsera hunted into the area from the east, he crossed Ruya river and cleared the country setting fire to the bush. He later brought his father Zarezare into the area as their first chief. They claim to have been vaRozvi of the Moyo (Chirandu) totem. He was betrayed by Madyirapanze (his son in law) and founder of the Gwangwava chieftainship leading to Manetsera’s disappearance.

Chief Gwangwava

Their traditional name is Gwangwava of the Nyoni kasirisiri totem and Korekore tribe of the Dumbwe dunhu. He was appointed between 1951/2 by the tribal Mhondoro Nyambisi

History of the Gwangwava community

They moved from an area called Chipadze near Bindura during the reign of Mudyirapanze owing to ill feeling among the people. Madyirapanze was the son in law to Manetsera, the founder of the Chimanda dynasty. Manetsera was rebellious towards Mutota and went into a long unsuccessful battle with him. Madyirapanze was granted the dunhu of Dumbwe for the part he played in subduing Manetsera. Madyirapanze had five sons and they all succeeded him although the order is not quite clear. Three of the sons grew up in Dumbwe and two in Choma. Nyambisi, Makatyi and Kamombe were the Dumbwe sons and Nyaromo and Nyamapako were the Chomo sons. From Nyamapako’s death the successions are believed to be as follows:

Chipara – Kazhou- Chimhapa-Gwangava-Kanwambvura-Museka-Nyajina-Nyambisi 

Below is a link to Gwangwava family tree:

Some villages which form part of Gwangwava community but are outside the traditional boundary are: Mukotyo, Kachidza, Barangiro, Mukombwe (in the Katevera area) and Maropa, Mukutyu, Chaswera andMutyoromungo (in the Chimanda area).  

Chief Mukuni

His traditional name is Mukuni

History of the chieftaincy

Dombo Makuni who was brother to Nyahuwi and Koswa, daughters of Monomotapa Mukombwe was appointed to rule as chief in a village at a place called Sirisiri on the Ruya River, not far from Ganganyama hill. He became the founder of this dynasty. 

Nyahuwi daughter of Monomotapa Mukombwe is the founder of the Mukuni people. Koswa and Nyahuwi came through Choma and crossed the Ruya river near Gungwa hill thus entering Diwa. They built a large village at a place called Sirisiri adjacent to the Ruya river not far from Ganganyama hill. Dombo Makuni, the brother was appointed to rule as chief and he became the founder of this dynasty.

It is not clear if there is a relationship between this chief and Chief Mukuni of Victoria Falls of the Toka-Leya tribe who also migrated from the eastern side of Zambia. In addition, the fact that there is an area called Choma in Zambia may be a strong indicator of the tribe’s origins as these are said to have passed through Choma, and in the history of Chief Mukuni of Victoria Falls, they also mention have passed through northern Zimbabwe.

Kandeya Tribal Trust Lands

Chief Dotito

The traditional name is Dotito, of the Nzou Samanyanga totem. They are of the Nyombwe tribe (Korekore) and speak chiKorekore. The chief was appointed in 1938. The chieftainship covered by the Kandeya Tribal Trust Land consisted of the following matunhu:

Dotito community, Matope, Kandeya, Nowedza, Nembire, Pachanza and Chitsatu.

Below is a link to Dotito Family Tree:

Gutsa Tribal Trust Land

Chief Hwata

His traditional name is Hwata of the Shava totem and Chidau Mufakose from the Zezuru tribe.

History of the chieftaincy

In the days before European occupation three sons of Nyashanu (Chiweshe, Hwata and Gutsa) who lived in Buhera left their homeland and migrated northwards. Gutsa was a warrior who conquered and established two chieftainships for his elder brother Chiweshe in the Chiweshe Tribal Trust Lands and Hwata in the Gutsa Tribal Trust Land of Mt Darwin. After the rule of the Europeans in Rhodesia Chief Hwata was moved to Chiweshe where he had no area of his own but was under chiefs Makope and Negomo until he was given an area in the Gutsa Tribal Trust land in Mt Darwin.

However, during the colonial period, after 1950/1 there were many claims of chieftainships. A number of chiefs had been demoted to headmen as they were regarded less important to government programmes. Since the 1960’s, the Rhodesian front administration wanted to work with chiefs for their political benefits and efforts were made to upgrade the chiefs in the 1970’s and around 33 were upgraded in 1976. As a result, some people who did not deserve to become chiefs by tradition were appointed, thus creating challenges after the colonial period when colonially disadvantaged people sought to have their abolished chieftaincies reinstated made claims for restoration. Some of the factors considered for upgrading demoted chiefs included iter-alia:

The history, previous status, current practice; confirmation for the desire to upgrade; confirmation that the headman was accepted by the tribe as the right person to be appointed; confirmation of an updated family tree; confirmation that the boundaries are known.

In Mt Darwin District a number of headmenships were placed under chief Rusambo who was a recent immigrant in the area and could not have political power as some of his headmen had lived in the area for centuries. The chiefdom was an amalgamation of various autonomous units into one chieftainship. However, there seems to have been issues in the Rusambo chieftaincy as there was jealous and annoyance with chief Dotito who was placed in authority over Gwangwava, chief Gwangwava was traditionally a chief in the eyes of his own people whilst chief Rusambo wasn’t really regarded as a senior chief in the tribal hierarchy.

Current chieftainships in Mt Darwin District

Mt Darwin has six chieftainships and they are namely: Chief Matope of the Makombe clan; Chief Nembire –Nembire village; Chief Chiswiti (Nhari Nendoro totem) and installed in 1984; Chief Kandeya (Tembo Mazvimbakupa); Chief Rusambo-Rushinga area of Mugaranhewe and Chief Dotito (Nzou Samanyanga totem).

Chief Nembire

Nembire was the Headman to Chief Dotito of Kandeya Tribal Trust Lands in 1964. His mutupo being Soko and chidau Bvudzijena of the vaMbire tribe, speaking chiKorekore. His dunhu is Mbire, they call themselves vaMbire though the true Mbire are from Hwedza

History of the community 

They migrated from an area around Wedza where they are affiliated to the Soswe chieftainship. They were allocated their dunhu by Mukombwe, the then ruling Monomotapa at that time, the boundary with Dotito is the Fusiri stream.

Below is the link to the Nembire Family tree:

Functions of the headmen

The headmen administer authority at village level and play the following roles:

  1. Judicial –  some cases include adultery (hupombwe) divorce (kurambana), slander (kutukana),trespass, debtors (chikwerete), Fraud, Kureverana nhema
  2. Land authority
  3. Developmental – developmental activities received sanction of the headman.                                                                                                                                                                      

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for She is a strong consulting professional passionate about safeguarding intangible heritage and the history of Zimbabwe. She possesses exceptional communication skills and experience working with people of different cultural backgrounds and age groups.

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.


Bishi, G. (2015). The colonial archive and contemporary chieftainship claims: the case of Zimbabwe 1935-2014. The University of the Free State.

D, B. N. (1976). The Mutapa Dynasty: a comparison of documentary and traditional evidence . History in Africa .

Latham , C. J. (1975). Rusambo Chiefdom. NADA, 68.

Mashingaidze, G. (2022, May 6). Let’s give credit where it’s due. Retrieved from The Patriot :

Mt Darwin District. (2019). Retrieved from

NAZ. (1964 ). S2929/2/2 Darwin D
4012istrict Delineation Report November 8-196 January 11.

Wrathall, J. J. (1968). Developing The Tribal Trust Lands. RJE, 54-65.

Nambya people of Hwange District

Hwange district previously known as Wankie district is located in the north-western part of Matabeleland north province of Zimbabwe. It covers 116 000 square miles and its northern boarders is defined with Zambia by the Zambezi River while its western boarder is shared with the country of Botswana. It is southeast of Victoria Falls. Tsholotsho, Binga and Kusile districts are in close proximity. The district falls under agro-ecological regions IV and V in the north and south. The major rivers are Deka, Lukosi, Matetsi, Gwayi and Zambezi. The district is home of the vaNambya and they have lived in their home area for at least centuries and the language spoken is ChiNambiya and a section speaks Dombi (Tonga dialect) whilst others speak isiNdebele which is understood by other groups. Hwange is special today because of the natural resources is holds. The large mammals draw most visitors to the National park which boasts the Big Five Game and other wildlife- the lions, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and antelopes.

Hwange National Park

The Hwange National Park and surrounding forestry areas are part of the Hwange Sanyati Biological Corridor Project which seeks to support conservation and sustainable use of bio-diversity by strengthening the management of Hwange and its buffer zones. It is also known for the rich culture and heritage associated with the vaNambya through archaeological sites such as Mtoa/Mutowa, Shangano, Bumbusi/Bumbuzi/Bumboosie national monument and other places of interest like Kune Ngoma cultural village and the Nambya community museum.        

Settlement of the vaNambya in Hwange District

The vaNambya tribal group are descendants of the Rozvi dynasty and it is believed that they came from Great Zimbabwe. The settlement was established by Dendelende (Dhende) later known as Sawanga of the totem monkey (Soko), he was the son of Mambo the Rozvi King. The totem of the Hwange Dynasty is Moyo same as Mambo’s, but later changed to Soko, the Monomotapa Mbire totem. The vaNambya are the majority in the Hwange district. They originated from Zimbabwe, where they were part of the vaNyai. Early in the 19th century Sawanga and his brother, Wanyika (Lewanika) decided to break away with their followers from the rest of the tribe and travel north to a new area. Wanyika and his people crossed the Zambezi into what is now Barotseland and settled there. Sawanga and his followers arrived in Hwange district after passing through the Sebungwe area. They built a stone walled enclosure similar to the Great Zimbabwe from sand stone rocks laid on top of each other at the top of a strategic hill named Shangano near the confluence of Lukosi and Chibungu rivers and it became the first capital city of the vaNambya. The stone walls at Shangano exhibit all the stylistic classification of wall styles from P (the earliest attributed to poorly coursed walls) to R (uncoursed walls attributed to later occupation) within the different enclosures. It is here that Dhende became known as Sewanga, shortened to Wange and his people referred to as Nambya. The name Wange became the hereditary dynastic title of the Nambya chieftainship.

The vaNambya were not the first to occupy the Hwange area. Previously, the area was occupied by the Baleya tribe (Tonga dialect) from North of the Zambezi. Their Chief Melukoba/Nemkoba of the Baleya tribe came bearing bundles of grain as a gift and a sign of peace and invited Sawanga and his people to live in his area at Bumbusi where he said land was better and more fertile. They moved from Shangano to Mtoa and the stone walls at Mtoa exhibit a style suggestive of R (uncoursed walls) whilst they have decorative motifs such as chevrons which in the traditional wall style classification were associated with the Q (neatly coursed) style just like on the Great Enclosure at Great Zimbabwe.  They subsequently moved to Bumbusi in the upper Deka valley during the reign of the fifth King Shana who ruled from 1834-1860. Bumbusi located 40km from Hwange and it consists of dry stone walls, boulders and platforms dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, excavations in the year 2000 revealed the floors of eighteen dwellings. It was built by King Shana. The site was built using the PQ (poorly coursed) and Q (neatly coursed) styles. Other stone buildings in the Hwange district show combinations in styles. The decline of the polity at Bumbusi occurred in the 1850’s as a result of an attack by the Ndebele warriors. The decline is associated with political myths which involve disputes over succession to the throne and tradition. It is believed that the ruination of Bumbusi was provoked by the dispute following the death of King Shana. Successors included Shana’s three sons and his sister’s son. When his sister’s son Lusumbami succeeded, Shana’s sons were disgruntled and Chilisa, one of the sons invited the AmaNdebele, followers of Mzilikazi in 1863 to attack, by provoking them with a tale of a powerful rival in the north with two hearts. The Ndebele captured Lusumbami and ripped out his heart and took man captives including chief Melukoba. Many Banambiya fled across Zambezi into Zambia.

 Chilisa took over as Wange but his people were scattered and the state destroyed. After some decades the dynasty began to regroup close to the ruins and elsewhere in the Hwange area. A number remained in the Zambezi Valley, intermingling with the Badombe, the river people who aided them against the AmaNdebele. The Nambya people were displaced by the colonial government and settled in dry and rocky areas that are not suitable for farming in the establishment of Hwange National Park and the construction of the railway line. With the development of the Hwange Coal concession people near Bumbusi were moved to the Lukosi and Inyathi areas. The major industry is the Hwange colliery and associated power plants. The district is an economic hub of the country. The abandoned Bumbusi became a sacred site because it was the burial place of a former ruler and subsequent generations went there to ask for rain, well-being and protection against external aggression and disease. 

Other tribal groups in the Hwange District

The other tribal groups that settled in the district include:

  1. BaLeya
  2. Dombe
  3. Amandebele


The Baleya tribe are the first known settlers of the Hwange district. They came from Zambia and crossed the Zambezi at the beginning of the 19th century or earlier. Their first area of settlement was near Victoria Falls but the group later moved to the Bumbusi area where they lived when Sewanga and his people arrived from the South. The chief of the BaLeya was named Melukoba. He met with a peace offering and invited him and his people to settle in Bumbusi. Melukoba later became a senior headman under Chief Hwange. Moreover, when the AmaNdebele warriors invaded the area, the people of Baleya scattered and fled, whilst Melukoba was taken prisoner and later killed. Some of his followers returned to Zambia where their descendants are still living under Chief Mukuni east of Livingstone.


The Dombe tribe is found in the Hwange district. They are an offshoot of the BaTonga of Zambia, descendants of the Toka Leya who are found across the Zambezi River in Zambia. Their language is Dombe and it is at the verge of extinction. It is believed that they arrived in the upper Zambezi valley before the vaNambya. Other Dombe people are scattered among the Baleya and vaNambya. They were famous hunters. When the Nambya arrived, they lived among the Dombe although the Nambya became dominant. They also assisted the Nambya to escape during the Ndebele attacks by ferry boats across the Zambia.


The Amandebele moved from Esigodini (Essesxvale), Matobo and Gwelo to Hwange district in 1954/1955. The main group comprised of evictees from Esigodini. When they arrived they were under the traditional leadership of Nambya Headman Nkosana. They didn’t like leadership from a different ethnic group and requested the colonial government for permission to select their own Ndebele headman. They selected Abednico Mlotshwa who was the eldest son of Tebele Mlotshwa, who had been chief Mvuthu in the Esigodini district to be their headman. They are neighbors of the vaNambya on the east under headman Nkosana. The Ndebele were evicted in the 1950’s to remote Lupane and Nkayi districts.

History of the Dendelende Sawanga Kingship

The table below shows the Nambya Kings and their period of reign.

Nambya KingPeriod of Reign
Dendelende Sawanga1737-1780
Shakwa Dembetembe1807-1822
Nyanga Chazho1822-1834
Shana Chazo1834-1860
Lusumbami Debwelezilawa1860-1868
Chilisa Mhuru1868-1873
Chilota Chimukutu1873-1895
Nchengwa Nengasha1897-1903
Shambwa Nekatambe1903-1955
Chimbipo Nemananga1903-1948
Ndunduli Nedundwi1950-1974

Table 1: Nambya Kings and their period of reign:

King Nchengwa Nengasha was the last king before white settlers established the Wankie colliery company. After his death instead of kingdoms, chiefdoms were established and the government split the chieftainship into two- Chief Nemananga and Chief Nekatambe. The two were restored to chieftainship that had been downgraded to headmanship. When the minor houses were demoted headmanship the Nekatambe house rejected the proposal and refused the headmanship which was vested in Siampanda, a commoner. The Nambya then demanded the upgrade of headmanship of Siampanda to Chief Nekatambe, headman Hlegiso of the Leya to Chief Dingane, and Nkosana to Chief Neluswi. On October 31 1948 the Chief Dunduli Sibanda of the Nambya tribe of isangelo Hobo (Stoat) was traditionally installed and officially by the government in 1950.

Solomon chipaya was the son of Lungani Chipaya, Lungani being the son of Lusumbami. He grew up in Makwa and later moved to Mwemba in Hwange district. Solomon had three brothers and one sister. In 1948 he was identified as one of the royal blood grandsons of Lusumbami and was chosen to be chief Hwange. Later he was appointed as the paramount Chief in the Hwange district and all the current chiefs Shana, Nekatambe, Nelukoba including Mvuthu were his headmen.

Current leadership in the Hwange District

The district has five chiefs namely: Chief Shana (of Jambezi area), Chief Hwange, Chief Dingane-Nelukoba (of Dete), Chief Nekatambe (of Dinde area) and Chief Mvuthu (of the Mvuthu area, Hwange west). Hwange Rural District Council has twenty administrative wards of which two are peri-urban. There are five communities and four are centered on the headmen whilst the fifth is around the Chief Hwange himself.

Tribal structure

Family head

This is the lowest level of the tribal structure. The family head adjudicates petty issues in the domestic nature and confined in his own family. When the problem is of consequence he refers them to the kraal head.

Kraal head

The Kraal head controls the tribesmen and reports criminal matters within the village. He takes preliminary evidence of civil disputes before forwarding to the headman.

Headman (mlisa)

The headmen control the area (isigaba) consisting of several villages. Each village has its own kraal head and is responsible to forward admin matters to the headman. Administrative functions pf the headmen include:Judicial – he is responsible for hearing civil cases within his isigaba. Each headman has his own traditional council known as inkundla, made of senior kraal heads. Appeals from him are refered to the chief.

Land application- no person should settle in his isigaba without his permission.

Administrative – assists the government in administration functions like organization of Kraal heads and assists district commissioner.

Development – no development is permitted without the sanction of the headman.

The chief

The chief is the most senior in the tribal structure. The headman notifies the chief of any happenings within the area as he is believed to the eyes of the chief.

Nambya culture and heritage

The Kune Ngoma cultural village and the Nambya community museum aim to that showcase the culture and heritage of the Nambya people. The indigenous language ChiNambya and traditions are in danger of being lost among other imported cultures. The Kune Ngoma cultural village is an interactive and educative center where youth can be taught and trained to carve, dance, play contemporary and cultural music. 


Hwange town and the Hwange National Park were named after the vaNambya King Sewanga who was later called Hwange by the Nambya people. The archaeological sites in the Hwange district were centers of political power and were successive capitals of the Nambya State. The three sites are sacred and are an important part of the Nambya cultural identity. The Nambya have a rich heritage that they are making efforts to safeguard, which include their language and crafts and dance.

By Ashley Maganzo

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.


Hensen, G. L. (1973) History and legend of the Vanambya. The editor Old Shell House, Salisbury.

Makuvaza, S. (2008) Revisiting Bumbusi, a Khami type-site located in Hwange National Park, north-western Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean Prehistory 28:21-40.

Mcgregor, J. (2005) The social life of ruins: Sites of memory and the politics of a Zimbabwean periphery. Journal of Historical Geography. Vol.31, 316-337.

Nambya Cultural Association and Nambya Development Organization Trust

Ncube, G. (2020) A comparative study of the politics of chieftaincy and local government in colonial and post-colonial Zimbabwe 1950-2010. University of South Africa.  

Nyabezi, P. and Gronenborn, D. (2021) The Zimbabwe culture and the development of the Nambya state in north-western Zimbabwe. Cambridge University Press.

S2929/5/7 Report on the Delineation of communities, Wankie District: A. D. Elliot, Delineation Report on the Abednico Mvutu community, Wankie Tribal Trust Land, 23 March 1965. 

The Mutoko descendants of Nehoreka

Mutoko, named after the local Chief Mutoko is a small town sited in a very mountainous region in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe. The vaBuja vaBudjga/vaBudja are a small Shona speaking group which is part of the smaller Shona chiefdom and that reside in Mutoko district which falls as one of the eleven districts in the province, namely: Chikomba, Goromonzi, Hwedza, Marondera, Mudzi, Murehwa, Mutoko, Seke, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Marondera Urban and lastly, Ruwa. It is located approximately 143km North-East of Harare on the A2 highway to Nyamapanda, Tete and Malawi.

Mutoko Ruins

The town is occupied mostly by the vaBuja people they cover a geographical area of 486 000 acres.  They are now known for being the best tomato and mango farmers in Zimbabwe. This area also produces beans, cotton, maize, rapoko, groundnuts, cowpeas (Nyemba) and tobacco; and because of its mountainous terrain it is the source of granite stone. To the north and west of the vaBuja there are the VaZumba who occupy the Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe district beyond the Nyadire river; to the north and northeast are the Tonga under Chief Mkota in the Mudzi district; to the south there the VaZezuru under Chief Mangwende; in the east there the Hwesa who share a provincial boundary with the Manyika in eastern Zimbabwe. Mutoko was founded in 1911.

Origin of the vaBuja people

The VaBuja originally came from an area called Mingari/Mhingari/Mungari around 16th century, a remote area in the Zambezi region, in the Tete province in what is now known as Mozambique. The name of the people is derived from a Makaranga boy child born in Malawi, his name was Samabujga shortened to Maja and his sister known as Njapa. The boy was crippled, with a deformed leg. The vaBuja men swore by Njapa and the women swore by Maja, perhaps they regarded them to be sacred, hence, adopting the name. They first moved to Choma in Mozambique but due to lack of enough water they then moved to Buja country led by Nehoreka/Nohureka, with the assistance of his father (Mukombwe), brothers (Nyanzunzu and Mukwiradombo) and sister (Chingate-Nyamungate /Njapa). Nehoreka belonged to the Shumba (lion) Nyamuzihwa (the known one) totem (mutupo) and so did the rest of the vaBuja. The Shumba totem tracked south from Tanzania via Malawi and Mozambique as part of the century’s Bantu migration. The lion (shumba) is believed to be the king of the forest in terms of power, military might, courage, strength, cultural respect and fame, hence, the Shumba totem has become the cultural symbol of territorial authority and chieftaincy (umambo/ushe) of the vaBuja. Nehoreka’s people originally settled at Charehwa which is located between the Nyadire and Chitora Rivers, the current homestead of the ritual home of the Mutoko chieftainship under the Shumba Nyamuzihwa totem. The vaBuja are found in the outskirts of this homestead such as Nyatsine, Mutsvaire, Manhemba, Musanhi and Chindega.

The Shumba Nyamuzihwa totem (mutupo)

The vaBuja use the lion as their special name, identification and emblem. It represents very strong and competitive people owing to the mighty of the lion, which is considered the king of the jungle. The people of vaBuja are not allowed to marry from the same totem and if that taboo is defied and individuals decide not to comply they are fined for incest (makunakuna). Detembo for the Shumba:

Maita Nyamuzihwa,

Shumba, Hara, maita Muchori.

Maita waNanga wasina mhezi,

Wakabva Buja neMbondwe.

Maita muzukuru wa Chakoreka.

Ewo Bonga, weChingate,

Muzukuru waMapahwe, wari Choma,

Ewoyi Shumba, maita Hara.

Maita Bonga rangu riri,

Maita Nyamuzihwa,

Maita wari Mangadza.

Maita wari Dombojawa rina mawara machena,

Dombo rakaramba kumera uswa nemiti,

Rinoti makwapamakwapa anenge nzira.

Maita zvenyu Shumba,

Chikanda change chichi,

Maita waTsuri wamasawara.

Kana musipo hapana chinochekwa.

Maita Chiurayi, hekani Chikanda,

Mwana waMukombwe naNehokera,

Chipfuyawarombo, hekani waNjapa,

Maita mutumbe, Donga, wari Man’anja,


Zwaitwa Kondovha asingachariki mvura,

Mwana waChinyanga, asingaje imwe mbeu,

Kusiya kwezviyo chete.

Maita wari Tsatsa Mukonde,

Aiwa zvaonekwa Nyamuzihwa,

Tikafira pano wani.

In other regions the females belonging to the Shumba totem are referred to as MaSibanda/MaDhawu/MaShumba.

VaBuja in Mutoko

The vaBuja on their relocation led by Nehoreka in search of better land with accessible water came across Chief Makati a man with powerful charms who was the original occupant of the area and lived near mount Mutemwa. Makati was believed to be the builder of the dry stone walls now known as Mutoko ruins. He ordered Nehoreka and his people, the vaBuja to leave his territory and they returned to Choma. Upon their return, Nehoreka was desperately in need of water for his people and decided to overthrow Makati and settle there were water was plenteous. Nehoreka gave his sister Chingate as wife to Makati as an attempt to find out if he possessed any powers or magical medicines in conflict and war (makona ehondo). Chingate then discovered a calabash (gona) and smuggled it out and fled back to her family. Without the gona, Makati was without powers leading to his defeat and loss of the Kingdom to Nehoreka by the arrows of his magic in a battle fought in Mutemwa resulting in Makati fleeing with his livestock to Monoro where he is said to have entered a rock near Mutoko Centre which is about four kilometers along Nyamapanda road. For several years his footprints were believed to be seen on it together with a hoe that Makati left that is still visible to people with special gifts. The Mutemwa Mountain is believed to be sacred, some of the caves like Ruchera caves are rich in well-preserved rock paintings. Mapatswe was the younger brother of Makati who helped Nehoreka establish his rule over the Makati people. Nehoreka became a powerful ruler in his own right and this is where the name originated from Ndakukoreka, I have tricked you.

After the battle in Mutemwa, the vaBuja settled down in the area until a Portuguese soldier Gouveia (Manoel Antonio de Souza) arrived in the region and commandeered neighboring territories such as: Ngarwe, Mtoko & Chikwizo. The Portuguese were active in the area for centuries. In the 1880’s Gouveia was then surrounded by Mapapwhe/Mapahwe/Mapakwe (Nehoreka’s son) and his soldiers in Mariga, where a large number of Portuguese soldiers were killed by bows and arrows. Gouveia retreated via Umtali now known as Mutare and joined Mangwende who allowed him to settle at Dzimwe. When the vaBuja found this out, they fought another battle where Gouveia was killed and his scrotum cut off and its sac made into a snuff pouch (tsindi). As a result, Mapapwhe occupied the three regions that had been captured by Gouveia. When the British arrived, they had the support of the vaBuja in the fight against Mangwende at Mrewa, Mangwende’s people fled to a mountain called Shombwe but were surrounded and killed. The British took the guns supplied by Gouveia and allowed the vaBuja to keep the ones they captured from the Portuguese. Nehoreka through conquest of other clans became the supreme leader of Mutoko district. Chief Mutoko leader of the vaBuja people signed a concession in favor of the BSAC in 1891 and later realized that they had tied themselves to colonial rule similar to that of the Portuguese that they had fought against in the past decade.

The years from 1885 till the period of independence mark a period when the people of Mutoko fought at different times for political survival. The colonial government put in place political structures that almost paralyzed the traditional structures of the vaBuja chieftaincy. The district and provincial administration, the judicial system, community courts at district offices of the government usurped the powers of traditional chiefs who were previously responsible for trying communal disputes.

The vaBuja struggled with colonial pressure for a long time but were strong enough to fight it. Had it not had been for the signing of the BSAC treaty system, as they were at an advantage of a) their location- it took time for information from Mutoko to reach the authorities and vice versa b) the climate in the region was not favorable for white settlement and the infestation of tsetse fly affected the white men. So for most of the time the chiefs of Mutoko were not pressured for taxes as compared to other chiefs in neighboring regions. The Portuguese failed to establish authority in Mutoko and the British could have equally failed by the way the vaBuja fought against colonial rule and occupation. The traditional weaponry is still used amongst the vaBuja community. Some weapons are still being used through daily life in present day as armaments or for protection, for instance, for quick reaction when commotion is heard in the kraal. 

The first vaBuja people in the Mutoko area split into two groups, the first was under Nehoreka living in Mutunya and the second, under Mapaphwe living in Chikona. Nehoreka gave his children medicine to become tribal spirits after their death (mhondoro) but Mapaphwe did not take this medicine. The descendants of Mapaphwe are under the chief Mutoko, who is considered chief of vaBuja. Over the centuries, clans broke away and relocated from the vaBuja group to form their own. Moving south was popular, some moved to present day Hwedza District, led by Magwenjere and lived among the Mbire/Svosve of the tsoko/shoko totem. The original leaders from Mutoko such as Magwendere, Samhiwa and Musakadongo are buried in the Mukamba area of Hwedza. The others proceeded to Svosve areas with Sinamano, Nematukununu and Nezvigaro. Sinamano led the group to Masvingo and settled in Rusvingo under the ruling of Chirichoga/Mumeri/Nemanwa. The group propagated into the totem vaNhinhi after the hill Nhinhihuru. The prominent leader of the group was Chaida the son of Sinamano. The majority however remained in Mutoko and still practice their customs.

Religion and beliefs of the vaBuja

Dzivaguru was a man from another clan with the totem Chikara Sakupa, he came from Choma in Mozambique in the mid-16th century and was considered to be the greatest of all men possessed with powerful medicines (pfuta), he could win wars and he could make a person a tribal spirit (mhondoro) after death. His spirit does not come from the vaBuja who do not clap hands in his honor. However, in Choma, Nehoreka learnt about powerful medicines from him.  The vaBuja consult Nehoreka but if he is not forthcoming they seek the aid of Dzivaguru. The high god is known as Chikara and the vaBuja accept his presence but do not pray to him. They have expressions for instance, in the event of death “God has taken him” (chikara chamutora). They do not use the name Mwari.

Nehoreka set himself up as the tribal high priest and rain god. He introduced religious and ritual ceremonies and convinced tribal elders that after his death a woman would be possessed of his spirit. Chief Mutoko nominated a female guardian called Charehwa/Charewa/Chareva of the Tembo totem and is supposed to be an elderly and unmarried woman, to take care of and administer the requirements of Nehoreka with the support from vaDziva.  Nehoreka continues to reign over his land (nyika) through the guardianship of his medium, the Charehwa. In times of drought the vaBuja travel to Charehwa, the chiefs homestead, where Nehoreka’s spirit manifests in a spirit medium (svikiro/Wamvura). They ask for rain and it is believed that after the rainmaking ceremony, rain actually falls on the same day or the next day. The chief mediates for rituals of rain and harvest.

The vaBuja people refer to Mutoko ruins as Makati’s former village (Tere RaMakati). This is why they do not recognize them as belonging to the ancestors it is believed to have been built and occupied by Makati. National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe have since taken the custodianship of the site and it is open to the public to learn about the people of Mutoko and the vaBuja origins. Dzimbahwe which is not far from the ruins is valued by the vaBuja where the spirit of Nehoreka is held. There were some cultural practices they still insist on such as choosing people from the community (among the son in laws and grandchildren) who to prepare and clean the Dzimbahwe as they value the place where their ancestors are resting. The people delegated to clean are not allowed to have sexual intercourse with their spouses during this cleansing period. They do not cut trees or cultivate at or around the sacred shrine, they keep the place as is and some of the cultural practices are performed at Dzimbahwe. A special beer called Mukwerera is brewed for the rains and this is done by the elderly women who can no longer conceive and those who are not sexually active. The ruins are located in headman Rutsito’s area. In that area there is a sacred well which is believed to be used by the Mutoko ancestors occasionally. Traditional leaders across the country make use of this well for their healing waters. The vaBuja are known for giving all their visitors drinking water first before they start talking, even when they are not asked for it.

Politics, spirituality and Chieftainships in Mutoko

The spirit of Nehoreka is currently believed to influence vaBuja religious, economic and political events. No chief in Mutoko could rule without the approval of the medium of Nehoreka. The head of the vaBuja dynasty is a chief (Mambo).  Chieftaincy rotates from one household to another and is controlled by a hereditary lineage (Imba). The chief is the religious and political leader of vaBuja tribal household. He administers rain rituals, serving as a link between the ancestors and the living. The appointment of the chief involves ancestors and living elders of the ruling households. The tribal spirit medium approves the name of the individual to be enthroned. Tribal politics involve the chief’s council (makurukota), the ancestors of the tribe (mhondoro), ritual friends (sahwira), and some nephews (vazukuru) of the ruling household.

The politics of the vaBuja people involved women in spirit mediumship (svikiro) such as the Nehoreka-Charehwa, who relayed sipritual messages to the living. Other tribal groups in Manicaland and Makonde also included headwomen in their politico-jural authority. The Nehoreka chieftaincy involves a secular political authority vested in a woman as she is the one who chooses in accordance as much with the opinion of the public as ancestral validation, a deceased chief’s successor, and who continues to exercise ultimate power through her communication with the tribal spirits. There are also female village heads who are also involved in traditional courts and help solve disputes amicably.

Post-independence, the chief allocates land, presides over land and social disputes. He is the custodian of communal rights of the vaBuja including land ownership. The chief guards the heritage of the people from foreign aggression by other tribes and also from forces such as witchcraft by speaking strongly against it. He takes the responsibility of enforcing the taboos such as traditional rest days (chisi) of the tribe or incest (makunakuna) is breached to maintain a good relationship with the ancestors. All aspects of the vaBuja traditional religion under the chieftainship such as the chief’s granary (Zunde ra mambo), adjudication of justice and protection of heritage aim to secure and sustain life.

Zunde ra mambo is the chief’s granary, it is a traditional food security programme for a tribal household. This program alleviates hunger and starvation during famine. The vaBuja are not the only tribe that practice this, the Manyika of Eastern Zimbabwe, the Zezuru of Murewa also have the same practice. It involves all people under the chief taking turns to till portions of the chief’s field to fill his granary for food storage with the aim of aiding starving families and orphans. Such a programme encourages community involvement and promotes social unity which empowers the beneficiaries within the community.

Chief Mutoko is the highest authority in the district and immediately below him is the headman (sadunhu) who administers authority at village level. There are several headmen under Chief Mutoko, for instance, headman Nyamukapa and headman Kawere. They all accept and worship Nehoreka as a tribal spirit and they are spiritually under Charehwa his representative. Each headman has a lesser clan spirit with a medium in his wards. Four of them share the same clan spirit and medium. The Mhondoro’s are all descendents of Nehoreka, for example, Nyamhanga (Mhondoro of Nyamukwere ward), Nyazunzu (Kauye’s ward) and Nechimombe (for the Dawa, Kawere, Gote, Rukau areas). There are also kraal heads who report to the headman. The first tribal head was Chief Mutoko, and succession is collateral in the male line of decent. The current is represented by Nathaniel Gurupira, one of the descendants of the original chief of the vaBuja who settled in Mutoko around 16th century.


The vaBuja people are the most law abiding tribes in Mashonaland due to the influence of Nehoreka and Charehwa. They have since revealed the inclusion of women in political authority from the pre-colonial era to present day, proving that women have always been powerful than was formally acknowledged in most literature. Traditional beliefs and practices are still dominant amongst this group as they still sacralize the tribal spirits and consult them in political, social and economic matters.

By Ashey Maganzo

If you would like to contribute to research efforts by Zimtribes to document and promote the history of each tribe in Zimbabwe click the button below.

Source: Bulawayo National Archives of Zimbabwe


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