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 1934-1860. 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


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

By Ashley L. C. Maganzo

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.

Source: Bulawayo National Archives of Zimbabwe


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  5. Rupapa, T. (2022) Hive of activity as First Lady engages Mutoko community. The Herald.
  6. Mutwira, R. C. (1982) The impact of colonial rule on the people of Mutoko, 1885-1906. University of Zimbabwe
  7. Latham, J. (1987) Mwari and the Divine Heroes: guardians of the Shona. Rhodes University

Nyanga Chiefdoms explained

Nyanga District is located in Manicaland province. The district is bounded on the south by Mutasa district, on the west by Makoni district, on the north-west by Mashonaland East province and by Mozambique on the eastern side. The Nyanga mountains occupy the southern portion of the district, extending into Mutasa district. Nyanga National Park covers the central part of the range, including Mount Nyangani , Zimbabwe s highest peak. The Gairezi river forms the eastern boundary with Mozambique and the Nyangombe river being the western and north-western boundary. The Nyangui  highlands lie in the center of the district and this is where  Nyangui state forest/plantation is located.

Some of the chiefs in the district are; Saunyama, Katerere,Mupatsi, Tangwena


They  are Vaunyama or Vatokwana by tribe, with Shato as their totem and Mheta as chidau. Their language is Chimanyika. The chief is appointed on collateral basis by spirit medium/svikiro. The main family tree is as per the link below:

The tribe is said to have come from Nembire under the leadership of Mudziwepasi. Mudziwepasi had several sons and two of these became headmen holding away over his border areas – Sanyamaropa and Ganje.  Upon the death of Mudziwepasi, his eldest son, Nyoka, and another son, Hata, went to arms over the succession. Hata was ultimately killed, and the tribe split into two sections; the main section under Nyoka lives in the present Inyanga and Mutoko districts, and the smaller section under Hata fled to Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique).

Some years later, after the turn of the century, the Hata group returned and sought readmission into the tribe. Saunyama permitted them but would not allow them to have independent recognition. Since then the two elements have never reconciled. During the 1930s, the then native commissioner recognized the Hata segment as a separate chiefdom but this did not prove to be a lasting solution.  Later in the 50s, Mr Meredith, the then Native Commissioner , achieved a reconciliation of the two segments, and the idea was that the chieftainship was to alternate between these two villages. The Nyoka (senior) lineage first received the title, which they retained until the death of Kanyuru. Upon Kanyuru’s death Hata lineage claimed the title, but were outmaneuvered and outvoted by the Nyokas and Kamunu of the Nyoka house succeeded to the title.

In the meantime the Hata family have been given the headmanship (Gwidibira) which is not recognized by the Saunyama chief, who claims it to be a Government invention and not based on tradition, which says the Hata came back from East Africa and requested for a place to live in and were accepted.

The Hatas on the other hand, appear to consider a headmanship a scant recognition and indicate that they should be the chiefly house at the moment, based on Mr Meredith’s negotiations.

Some of the kraals under Saunyama’s Zimbiti Tribal Trust land include; Zimbiti, Sanyabako, Munuwani, Gwanyangwanya, Kanyuru, Saruchera, Chibaya, Tayengwa, Kutombo, Nyagura, Mandiwawarira, Tamunesa, Chipika, Sachirera, Nyapfupi, Kuwenyi, Chiobvu, Ruziwa, Nyakwangwa, Sadomba, Dirorimwe, Gambe, Matongo, Nyabeze, Mukonowatsauka, Tasundwa, Katsatse, Samapenda, Chimonyo, Mupambo, Mapara, Mapako, Katuta, Marawa, Chinyerere, Mudondo, Tungunika and Mupfurira.

Then under Swithin Tribal Trust land included; Dambakupetwa, Mutetwa, Samatina, Mufakazi, Manimanzi, Kadyamukonde, Sanyapani, Nyagwara, Nyamutowera, Mazarura, Nyagwande, Mutetwa, Sanyamahumba and Mutigwa.

Sanyamaropa Community

They are Vaunyama of the Shato, Mheta totem. They were given the area by Sawunyama with a view to protecting the eastern and southern portions of the chiefdom. The area derived its name from the bloody battle which took place in it, between the Nyoka and Hata after the death of their father Mudzewepasi. Their main family tree is as per the link below:

Some of the village kraals include; Karima, Sanyadowa, Sanyamaropa, Nyabasa, Samungure, Bumira, Chisoma, Mawadza, Nyikayaramba, SanzengaSamanyika, Samukuwira, Samuwi, Chidokohori, Mutemararo, Masangwi, Ruwende, Hamunakwadi, Murengami, Marugumisa, Manyawu, Sereko, Nyamupangedengu, Samutamba, Matema, Ngawagare, Ziko, Magadu, Kunyarimwe, Mukwekwe,Matiza, Gonda, Mutunduwe, Wudinge and Dhladhlara.

Ganje Community

Vaunyama, of the Shato, Mheta totem. Some of the kraals here include; Dandadzi, Mandigora, Mutetwa, Munembe, Bariri, Garafa, Satuku, Mutanga, Mukurakudhla, Sanyatwe, Sanyanhongo, Takundikana, Dzimano, Shamwarira, Guta, Madziwa, Sagwidza, Sakarombe, Nyamande, Sadazi, Nyazenga, Mandidewa, Tungunu, Kambuzi, Mandioma, Mutukumira, Nyabanga, Nyamakupe, Nyagweta, Nyagwaya, Gondokondo, Chapambauka, Nyanzuma, Mandikuwaza, Masaya, Nyagadza, Nyamutena, Mususa, Shatindo, Mandiwanzira, Mutandakamwe, Paridzayi, Mutsikamawe, Mazumba, Sabvure and Mataswa.

Gwidibira Community

They are Vaunyama, with Mheta as their totem and ChiManyika as their language.  Some of the kraals here include; Bonde, Maposa, Dzapasi, Matsapa, Nyatondo, Ndarangwa, Mutimutema, Ngwaseke, Manjoro, Mandipaka, Bore, Mandicheta, Sanyahokwe, Nyamugafata, Pasipawora and Bepe.


They are Wanewa or Wanyanga by tribe, with Ingwe totem and Nhewa as their chidau.  Their language is Manyika. Below is their main family tree link:

The tribe came from west through Nhowe (Murehwa) and settled in Portuguese East Africa-Mozambique (where most of the tribe now are). In 1952 the Portuguese tried to get Mudima to go to Portuguese, East Africa to be chief but he refused. Today the chieftainship is reduced to one kraal in the Tribal Trust land and some kraals in the “European areas”.  Most movements have been to and from Mozambique.


They are of Hwesa tribe, with Mbeva as their totem and their language is Chimanyika.  Chief selection is collateral based.

They are said to have come from Mbire which is the present day Hwedza district, led by their founding ancestor, Muriga. They settled in their present area which they say was unoccupied, and divided into  three groups, under Katere, (those of Sachiyo, Sanani and Katerere); each group was headed by a senior member of the original family.  There is some disagreement as to which branch was originally the most senior, but Katerere emerged as the overall leader as he had a far larger following than the other two.

Katerere’s main family tree is as per the link below:

Movements included Nyakakweta who was placed under Katerere but belongs to Sawunyama – was moved by Government. Sabvure who usedto be under Katerere, was moved out under Saunyama by the administration.

Some of the kraals include; Maruza, Binguro, Chabundo, Jani (Maruza), Matoropito, Mashumba, Marowo, Samakange, Mangezi, Tsengerayi, Zimunya, Mukuzunga, Munondo, Musuza, Mafara, Taziwa, Muzudza, Mundenguma, Katerere, Arufandika, Mupunwa, Sadowera, Mugarandega, Manwere, Fombe, Kazhanje, Kanyokazinu, Nzerodzawo, Kagoza, Koromora, Mukondo, Mupondapatari, Musangadzi, Chatara, Figu, Fero, Chibisa, Tizora, Chifambe, Chibvura, Renzwa, Sabamba, Kazozo, Nyamagoromondo, Tembo, Nyandoro, Pfumaikaramba, Sangoma, Kodzaimambo, Mbiriadu, Mukunza, Kawarauswa, Kudangirana, Kwawa, Katandika, Kadyamusuma, Nyakakweto, Nyamudeza, Mukwewa and Chibvembe.

Some of the divisions include; Sachiyo community and Sanani community.


They are of Shumba Tembo (Mbizi) by totem and Manyika by tribe. Chokahambeni was nominated by Mutasa to act for him in ruling the VaManyika in Inyanga district, and was appointed acting Chief in March 1949 but died on 18 April 1949. Mpatsi was nominated by Mutasa as his next representative. The subsequent chiefs are supposed to be appointed by Mutasa but Mpatsi then considered himself a chief in his own right and that his sons should succeed.

They are vaManyika and claim to have come from Mbire (Hwedza), but evidence suggest that they originally came from  the Dande Valley (Zambezi).

Communities under Mpatsi include; Mparutsa, Mandeya 1 and Mandeya 11, Zindi, Chikomba, Mudzindiko, Samanga.

Mparutsa Community

They are VaManyika of the Shumba (Mbizi) Gwara totem. Chifambausiku came hunting from the Victoria area. He showed Muponda cooked meat which he liked. However, later Muponda chose rump and not breast; therefore, Chifambausiku said he must be greater than Muponda (as he took the breast) and he assumed control.  Mundofa was a hero in a fight against Makoni (and was given a medal showing he had the right to be a chief). When he refused to take the chieftainship, he was given the present area.

Some of the villages within Mparutsa include; Buwu, Chimbu, China, Dumbura, Feremba,Kashiri, Mapeza, Mparutsa, Manyumwa, Mwanatsa-Jojo, Nyandoro, Sanyadororo Nyahereka, Samukupe, Sanyanga, Toro, Tafangombe, Tegwe and Zvarewamambo.

Mandeya 1 community

They are of Mbizi Shumba totem and fall under Mutasa.  They left Chief Mutasa and moved to Mapwepwe. All those who crossed Odzi were told they would not return (Mandeya, Saruchera, Sakarombe). Later they moved to Chirarwe and then to Hwera. Chief Mutasa ordered one branch to move to Holdenby.

Movements into the area included Marowe from Chirarwe, under then headman Sadurawe, and Chukimu moved from Makuni.

Some of the kraals include; Aparari, Chikumbu, Chinyama, Dudzayi, Dzingirayi, Hakuziwi, Kagweda, Kasikayi, Kawunyangepi, Magadzire, Makaha, Mpatsi, Muchena, Mukoyi, Murowe, Mwanaka, Nyamakambo, Nyariya, Tondondo, Toronga, Tsemunhu, Musakwa, Tadyanemhandu, Chitsanza, Dera, Dzvairo, Manjoro, Mashingauta, Mangere, Mikuro, Makora, Tichawangana, Dirorimwe, Guwerere, Kanganya, Mutwetwa, Munuwani, Nyamurundira.

Mandeya 11 Community

They are of Shumba Mbizi totem with Manyika as their language.Same history with Mutasa.

Some of the kraals include; Dziruni, Kawunyangepi, Nyakuwa, Hamudikuwanda, Mangwanda, Makwara, Sipeyo, Matambo, Mbare, Zawara, Pamayi, Fenga, Chiko, Chatambudza, Macheka, Sharambuya, Dzimwasha and Nyamundanda.

Movements into the area include; Dziruni, Nyakuwa, Mangwanda, Chatambudza, Dzimwasha, Nyamundanda, Hamudikuwanda, Pimayi, Fenga, Macheka, Sharambuya. Those from Mozambique included; Kawunyangepi, Makwara, Sipeyo, Matambo, Mbare, Zawara and Chiko.

Zindi Community

Mbizi Shumba totem with ChiManyika as their language.Came with Mutasa and split on arrival.

Some of the kraals include; Nyakunuwa, Temanyi, Samutete, Zindi, Ndarowa, Chapinduka, Pfumanyi, Mugayi, Dzira, Sanganza, Madzitire, Makabvepi, Marimbita and Sapanana.

Chikomba Community

Of the Shumba Mbizi, being Barwe/Manyika  by tribe.  Share same history with Mutasa. They moved from Mutasa on their own accord and settled in their present area.

Below is the link to the Chikomba family tree:

Some of the kraals include; Marume, Maya, Sanyatsuro, Mungombengombe, Sagambe, Zuze, Chimuswe, Marechera, Kubarakwawina, Madzinga, Sabvute, Makwenzi, Mubata, Bracha, Magwendere, Chiwanza, Satombo, Kapipi, tetawako, Manari, Chavanga, Pachije, Sachisuku, Murandahandiumwe, Katiyo, Katambarare, Sadondo, Tongayi, Mukambachaza and Sanyamindu.

Mudzindiko Community

They are of Shumba, Bonga totem. Same history with Mutasa. People from Rusani moved from Jenya. Their main family tree is as follows:

 Kraals include; Chikopo, Chinamasa, Chinzou, Duri, Haripo, Kadzere, Kudumba, Kurewa, Mamvurura, Mapfumbate, MufandaedzaNenjerama, Nyamukondiwa, Rashama, Sherukuru, Tafangwewedu, Tsawa, Zinyembe, Mudzindiko, Mandangu, Dowera, Sachirarwe, Sadziwa, Samabza and Samusodza

Samanga Community

These are of Shumba Mbizi and of Manyika tribe. Were sent by Mutasa to occupy the area. Kraals include; Manunure, Chijara, Mareya, Munyuku, Sanyamandwe, Kwambana, Mbawa, Muchenu, Chipupuri, Sanewe, Samanga, Manzere, Chitsunge, Mandiopera, Chingweshe, Mangwara, Samushonga, Chidawanyika, Zamba, Madziro, Danhama, Moyoweshumba, Nyatsanza, Kwesha, Rore, Tamba and Pangeti among others.

Misheck Samanyanga is a freelance and passionate history researcher and founder of, an online platform that encourages people to document their history and build generational Family Trees to help current and future generations so that they know who they are and where they come from. For assistance in creating your Family Tree, kindly send an email to

Source: National Archives of Zimbabwe et al

Chipinge chiefdoms explored

Chipinge district is the southern-most district in Manicaland province. It is bounded on the north by Chimanimani district, Masvingo on the west and Mozambique on the eastern side. The Save river form the western boundary of the district, and drains the western and southern portions of the district. The north-eastern part is drained by the Buzi river.

Ndau is the main language in district. Ndau word is said to be a derivation from the people’s traditional salutation “Ndau wee!” in greetings and other social gatherings. When the Ngonis observed this, they called them the Ndau people – the name itself meaning the land. The ancient Ndau people are historically related to the Karanga tribe, and were already in Mozambique and parts of Zimbabwe by the 1500s, and because of the large scale conquest by the Ngunis in the 1820s a lot of Ndau ancestry evolved to include the Nguni ancestry and bloodline. This is evident in the wealth of Nguni /Zulu words in the names and surnames.

Some of the Chipinge chiefs are; Mutema, Musikavanhu, Garahwa, Mpungu and Mapungwana


Vatsanga tribe of the Ndau dialect and Ngombe totem. The chief is normally referred to as Mutapi or Mambo by his subjects. Succession is collateral-based . The tribe comes from the Rozvi under Shiriyedenga. Some movements included the Shangana under Gungunyana, though most have departed there are still some remaining. Some of the sub-divisions by headmen in the chiefdom include Mabuyaye, Chikwanda, Chivunze and Nduku.  Mutema is closely related to Makuyana who now controls a portion of his people. During drought they approach Chief Musikavanhu for rain.

Below is the succession tree for the chiefdom:

Kraals under the kingdom include:

Mabuyaye – The area is called Chisanga. They are Matsanga tribe with Chindau as their widely used language, with Moyo as their totem Sithole chidau.

Kraals include; Bamarere, Charuma, Chigaro, Chengono, Goko, Hanugurwi, Mabuyaye, Mafahuni, Mandiyambira, Manesa, Mutsanangura, Maunganidze, Mukutyo, Mindu, Mudzimwa, Muzare, Mukokota, Mukuyaya, Mundidini, Munyokovare, Mupfambi, Mushakavanhu, Nechekukuti, Nemashapa, Nedangura, Panganayi, Rukandi, Tawona and Hwapera.

Nduku – The area is called Ngaone. They are vaNdau by tribe , with Simango as their totem with Dede(Dhlakama) chidau. Maoneyi came from Zimunye and worked for Munodani (Chief Mutema) as a police boy for many years, and was then awarded with headmanship. He came with his family, including his father Musiandaka.

Some of the kraals under Nduku include; Bingepinga, Chaweta, Chichichi, Fitsaro, Hlangani, Makwehe, Marwendo, Matandana, Murepa, Museye, Mutema, Mutendadzamara, Nduku, Nedanhe, Nengwani, Ngwaudzo, Rukasha, Samutsa,

Chikwanda– The area is called Charurwa. They are Matsanga by tribe with Chindau as their widely used language, and Moyo as their totem with Sithole as chidau. Dengure was given headmanship of Muzvare but died without children. His brother Mukanangana was killed in the war with Shangaana. Both died before Machiso. Their father Mamunye was a younger brother of the then chief Mutema.

The main kraals include; Chikwanda, Gapa, Kufakwezve, Madzapanda, Mahlangana, Makazowoneyi, Makocheredze, Mariausiku, Matenderekwana, Matsaka, Mawunze, Muvecha and Mandifura.

Chivunze – The area is called Chivunze. They are of the Matsanga tribe with Chindau as their widely used language, and Ngombe as their totem with Sithole chidau. Chiripandova is believed to be son of Matsikachando (chief). He had no brothers to succeed hence his eldest son did.

There are a couple of kraals which include include;  Chayenera, Chitende, Chivunze, Kunjenjema, Magodoro, Manyaya, Matoranheme, Matyabadza, Muturikwa, Siyakaya, Singizi and Ziyapenduka.

Chamwakaona Community.

The area is called Ngaone under headman Nduku. They are Matsanga by tribe with Chindau as their widely spoken  language and  Moyo  as their totem with Sithole/Ngombe/Semwayo  as chidau.

——————————————————————————————————- CHIEF MUSIKAVANHU

Area is called Dondo and they are vaDondo by tribe, with Chindau as their main language. Their totem is mvuu, with Mlambo as their chidau.

Nyakuvima was the rainmaker to the Rozvi mambos. He deserted with the charm (muti) and was waylaid at Chibuwe hill and killed by a Rozvi army (impi) who cut off his head and took it back to the mambo. His wife escaped and went to Duido (present area). The head never reached mambo as it swelled and finally burst, giving birth to the Sabi river. Nyakuvima’s wife gave birth to a son who became the first Musikavanhu and to who she handed over the rain making properties.

Movements in the area include; Shangana Nguni impi, e.g Mpungu and Gungunyana (Mapungwana). Those who moved out include some who went to Bikita/Zaka where life was not so grim during the Nguni overlordship.

Below is the succession Family Tree for the chieftainship:

Some of the kraals under Musikavanhu include:

Musikavanhu– Njachiwe, Chapo, Chabvukwa, Gona, Magaha, Makudza, Manyezu, Muchakagadza, Munyamana, Mupambi, Murenje, Musikavanhu, Peyisayi, Takara, Tamawako, Tuzuka and Tauya.

Headman Zamchiya – The area is called Chihomo. They are Mudondo by tribe, with Ndau as their main language. Their totem is mvuu, with Mlambo as their chidau. This headman derives from a junior house (younger brother) of the 5th Musikavanhu. For this reason the Zamchiya people seem to feel they have a right to recognition as a separate chieftainship.  Kraals include; Chimambo, Fukayi, Hakwata, Kungayi, Maduku, Mahachi, Mamuse, Madenga 1, Madenga 11, Manzwire, Mapundu, Mariya, Mavaringana, Mubuyaye, Mufukwa, Mhlanga, Mutumwa, Muumbe, Mwanyisa 1, Rimayi, Tutayi, Zikuyumo and Zamchiya.

Headman Dumisayi – Names of the areas include; Madzutsu, Chibuwe and Gumira. They are Mudondo by tribe, with Ndau as their main language. Their totem is mvuu, with Mlambo as their chidau.  

Kraals include; Betura, Chibuwe, Dambamuromo, Dumisayi, Gumira, Machiya, Mapondo Mukomba, Maronga, Masimbe, Mayanga, Mbengo, Mbeure, Muchaiana, Musapingura, Muzondakaya, Mwandina, Mwanyisa 11, Ndapingwa, Ndunduma, Nyakumanwa and Tapera.

Headman Mukwakwami –   Area called Sone. They are Ndau by tribe, with Dziva as their totem and Mlambo chidau. .Kraals include;  Bangura, Chiyaza, Chimene 1, Chimene 11, Chanava, Jenya, Kanikani, Kondo, Kanondeya, Machapuya, Maguta, Mandibayi, Mayengeni, Mhute, Mukondo, Mukwakwami, Muswera, Muyambo, Mwatsura, Mwazowoneyi, Ngwarayi, Sakuiye, Shashekwa, Siyawakisa, Tembani, Tinoyengana, Tanhechawa and Zireni.

——————————————————————————————————- CHIEF GARAHWA

Area called Garahwa or Ndowoyo. They are vaRozvi (vaSanga)  by tribe, with Ndau as their main language. Their totem is Moyo, with chidau Kumbuya or Ngombe.  This tribe is an offshoot of vaRozvi, with the first Garahwa being thought of as the eldest son of Mutema. They migrated from Mbire (Hwedza area) which at the time seems to have been the centre of the Rozvi empire. They took up occupation of their present country on finding it vacant and to their liking. Some movements into the area include those from Chisumbanje , Mutambara in Melsetter. Kraalheads seem to have more action in allocating land.

Some of the kraals include; Bebe, Chadamoyo, Chinguwo, Chinyamukwakwa, Chisumbanje, Chiwenguwengu, Foridye, Garahwa, Gavire, Konjana, Kufamuni, Mabehe, Malashi, Machona, Mambarangwa, Mandeje, Manyanga, Maparadye, Mapokonyore, Machobe (Mashubi), Marega, Musunde, Matikwa, Mavune, Muhlambi, Munaka, Musawonyerwa, Mutoki, Mutumbami, Mutumburi, Muuyana, Sozayapi, Tandikayi, Mutechana, Zimvumi and Chigodo.

Chisumbanje Community

They are subjects  of chief Garahwa. They are Ndau by tribe with Naonyama as their totem and Sigauke as chidau. The clan migrated from Mutambara’s country during the time of Kureregava. They settled in their present area with Garahwa’s permission and Chisumbanje  married Chikau, a daughter of Garahwa. He eventually left but “gave his name” to Masunde, who then succeeded his father. Chisumbanje therefore regards the chief as their sekuru.

Maparadye Community

They fall under chief Garahwa. They are Ndau by tribe with Mashava as their totem and Garavati as chidau. The clan’s origin not readily available but it’s said the first Maparadye married Garahwa’s daughter and so established a relationship which stand till this day.

Chinyamukwakwa Community

They are under Mbasasani area, in chief Garahwa. They are vaNdau by tribe, totem being Kumbula, with Sithole as chidau. Said to have lost his position when Garahwa registered himself as Chief at Chipinga, as Chinyamukwakwa was old to travel. ——————————————————————————————————- CHIEF MPUNGU

They are Shangana by tribe and language with Khumalo Ndabayazita as their totem. Their forefathers came with a Nguni army. When Gungunyana was killed, Mpungu decided to settle in the present area. They fall under Ndowoyo Tribal trust lands. Some of the villages include; Kaitenjwa, Machopa, Magoda, Marufu, Mpungu, Mugunyana, Murijo, Saringo and Tebe among others. ——————————————————————————————————–CHIEF MAHENYE

They are under Ndowoyo Tribal Trust land, and their area is Mahenye. They are Hlengwe by tribe and language. Their totem is Hombo or Honje (snail) with chidau as Wuyachisa muulo. The tribe migrated from the south during the time of Banga. They say they come from kwaZulu. In order to settle in the present area, they had to drive away Makoni and his people, who on being defeated migrated to a place called Mukupi. Makokwe was chief Mahenye at the time of the occupation.

Some of the kraals include; Chigumeta, Chimbi, Chingela, Hlamarani, Matukuteya, Mahenye, Mahohoma, Mwanamuni,Ndhlondhlo, Puzi and Ukete.

——————————————————————————————————–CHIEF GWENZI

They are Ndau by tribe and language, with Ngombe (moyo) as their totem and Sithole as chidau. They are said to have come from Mbire (no known reason) and are an offshoot of the Rozvi. They regard chief Mutema as the paramount Chief.

Below is the succession Family Tree for Gwenzi kingdom:

Some of the villages include; Gwenzi, Hlekisana, Munamba, Munasi, Sita, Siyonamezi, Zibuke, Chikangayiso, Madhlope, Mariseta, Marufu, Masocha, Mugondi and Muzite. ——————————————————————————————————–CHIEF MAPUNGWANA

Falls under Tamandayi Tribal Trust Land and their area commonly known as Mapungwana. They are Ndau by tribe and language, with Dube as their totemand Mhlanga their chiNdau. The tribe was living in the present area before Europeans came.

Below is the succession Family Tree for Mapungwana chieftainship:

Some of the kraals include; Chijiya, Hlayiso, Hlinzana, Kwenenhu, Mabeure, Machowiro, Makumba, Mapungwana, Mapuba, Marifiye, Mashevedze, Matanga, Muchayendepi, Mufoya, Mukabaniso, Muradzikwa, Musimbo, Ngocheni, Pikana, Kobeka, Sakabuya, Siyapeya, Younga and Zibinda.

Misheck Samanyanga is a freelance and passionate history researcher and founder of, an online platform that encourages people to document their history and build generational Family Trees to help current and future generations so that they know who they are and where they come from. He can be reached on

Source: National Archives of Zimbabwe et al


Tracing Gutu history

Gutu district is the third largest district in Masvingo province after Chiredzi and Mwenezi and is located to the northern side. The name Gutu is said to have originated from Chinomukutu wemiseve , meaning, the one with a load of arrows. This is according to the historical folklore of the Gumbo clan who took over the area from the Shiri clan through killing them by poisoning the fruit trees in the area called Gona. Chiefs in the district include; Gutu/Gadzingo, Munyaradzi, Chiwara and Serima.

Gutu Map


Gutu Tribal Trust Land is the larger of the 3 T.T.Ls falling within Gutu district. It falls almost entirely under the paramount chief Gutu/Gadzingo who also has followers in the other tribal areas of the district. The area is bordered by Buhera to the east , Bikita, Devure and Chikwanda to the south, and Europeans farms to the west and north The Nyazvidzi N.P.A is to the north-east of the T.T.L.

The chief is known as Ishe like in most Shona clans or vaShe in plural. He is not Changamire as in Njanja clan. They refer to themselves as vaGutu as Karanga is perceived to be too general like Shona. Some informants pointed out that they are vaKorekore, having sprung from Musana who is Kore kore chief around Bindura. Their mutupo is Gumbo with Madyirapanze as their chidawo.  However, they claim that their original totem is Makuwapasi but this is no longer being used owing to its rather earthy interpretation. Madyirapanze is said to have been conferred on the sons of Musana who left Musana (Bindura) and thus chose to “eat outside”. This is not offered as a definite explanation of the praise name though.

As alluded above, the Gutu people came from Musana and the leaders of the migration were sons of chief Musana. The Gutu people came to control an area stretching from Enkeldoorm through Eastdale Ranch to the present T.T.L. Much of the former part fell under European farms. Nyazvidzi was also formerly part of Gutu’s country. The only big group in the area which is not part of the Gutu clan is the Munyaradzi community, who are vaHera, who occupied the area when the Gutu people came into the area. Most of these were driven back east of the Nyazvidzi into Buhera and those that remained were absorbed into the Gutu people.

Family tree of Gutu is as follows:

Gadzingo community

Gadzingo Makuvaza was regarded as Ishe by his subjects or Muchinda wa Gutu. Makuvaza was the son of Chief Gutu Chaurura and later became Chief Gutu himself.

Some of the villages include; Bere, Chamisa, Chibodo, Chidembo, Chikomo, Chinembiri, Chinyama, Chipenzi, Dambwara, Gandashanga, Guvamatanga, Hamandawana, Hamandishe, Humanikwa, Isingu, Jayaguru, Jinjika, Kokerayi, Kurambwi, Machinya, Madende, Madondo, Madzana, Mahachi, Makuvaza, Mandaza, Maradze, Mashanda, Mashingaidze, Mawire, Mazonyanya, Mupandawana, Muchadenyika, Muchena, Mudzitiri, Mugadza, Mukadziwasha, Mukoroverwa, Mumanyi, Munamati, Munangarwa, Mupuwi, Murambinda, Musekiwa, Musota, Magaya, Muzorori, Nyota, Peresu, Potoriro, Ririmuvanhu, Rukowo, Runyowa, Shamu, Tarume, Tatira, Tazarurwa, Taziveyi, Tigere, Tofa, Vengesayi, Watungwa, Wicho, Zariro, Zvenyika and Zvishiri.

Subdivisions included Mukoroverwa and Guvamatanga areas. Mukoroverwa is the area north-west of Chishamba stream. Mukoroverwa is their senior kraal head and tries petty cases but is not an autonomous judicial authority. Kraals that fall into this group include; Mukoroverwa, Hamandawana, Mazonde, Musekiwa, Madondo and Taziveyi.  Then Guvamatanga is the area bounded by the Devure river to the west down to the confluence with Matsayi and then up Matsayi to the fence. It has the following kraals; Chipenzi, Ririmuvanhu, Muzorori and Mupuwi.

Chipenzi disputes Guvamatanga’s seniority. Guvamatanga may take cases but his people can go direct to Gadzingo or Gutu. Chamisa and Chinyama are senior kraalheads but do not prepare cases from other kraals, nor do they have a defined area.

CHIEF MUNYARADZI (formerly headman)

They are VaHera, with Shava totem. The chief is appointed by elders and kraalheads of the clan, and appointed by chief Gutu. They claim they were given this area by Mambo Rozvi as a reward to their great mother for rain-making. They originated from Nyashanu in Buhera, and claim to have settled here before the Matebele and Europeans invaded the area.

Way back when Mambo VaRozvi was paramount chief of Southern Rhodesia there was a great drought and all rain-makers were called to Matopos, all failed to make rain except Munyaradzi’s mother, and as a reward she asked for this area and it was granted. Munya’s mother was from then considered a wife of Mambo VaRozvi and had to take his Chidau, i.e. Moyondizvo.

When Gutu and his people arrived, Munyaradzi made friends with him, and he was allowed to remain where he had settled.

Munya claimed to have been a chief in his own right, but because he has few followers he was made a headman under chief Gutu. A portion of their land was cut off when Europeans farms were surveyed – a porton was lost to Gadzingo and Makumbi. Nyamande was extended across the Soti river.

Below is the Family tree extract for the clan:

Movements in and out the area

Movements into Munyaradzi area included Nyamande, Musarurwa and Zinyemba people. In addition, other kraals came in including Munatsi from Denhere, Magombedze from Matarutse and Marekedzi from Gadzingo. Movements out of the area included; Zingwangwa to Nyamande and Wushendibala took half of his kraal to Chita.

VillagesVillages that comprised of the community by then include:

  1. Mutunhe – Munyira, Rutsvara, Jiri-Amos, Chihaka, Mugore, Regwi, Wunganayi, Mukirivani, Gotosa and Musengi.
  2. Chesvingo/Chikombingo – Chikombingo, Makove, Bvanyu, Ndibgwo, Hapagarwi, Perukayi, Kubvoruno and Chemhere.
  3. Bvumburwi – Munyaradzi, Madziva-Mashura, Muzavazi, Chifamba, Tabva, Kuvarega, Takavingwa, Madzima, Nyodzo, Shumbayerwa, Ticharima, Tevera, Torovanda, Gwaradzimba, Maravanika, Bareni, Chakwesha, Garariza and Madzima.
  4. Rugwedutu – Rafomoyo, Masunda and Muchove.
  5. Chavanda/Zvavahera – Zvavahera, Boora, Murozvi, Mugota, Zvigove, Mukozho, Mubayiwa, Magaya from Zinyemba and Magumbezi from Maburutse.
  6. Muchirara – Tichati and three kraals from Musarurwa.
  7. Rochecheza/Gonye area – Gonye, Magara, Mareva, Rutsere, Muwandi, Mukiyo, Motowanyuka, Muzenda, Banditi and Chivasa (a Nyamande Kraal)
  8. Chihonga – Manjuzu, Mandishaya and Manyutehwa


Their traditional boundaries include a large portion of the European Farming area. Starting from where the fence cuts Matsai, down the stream to Dewure and follows Dewure till it meets Soti, then up the Soti river to where Wazizi joins, then up the Wazizi to the fence.  Their present boundary is pretty much the same, except that they have lost Rasa and the portion along the western side of Soti occupied Nyamande people.  The boundary between Munyaradzi and Nyamande South of Gonye school is the Mandisa river.

Major sub-divisions of Munyaradzi’s area include Gonye. Gonye people are not related to Munyaradzi people except now through inter-marriages. They originate from Makoni and their totem is Nyati. Munyaradzi allows Gonye to hear very minor cases and hence are regarded as a major sub-division of the community.  The Gonye were given permission by Munyaradzi to settle in the area and they are regarded as Munyaradzi’s people.

Villages under Gonye include; Gonye, Rusere, Marewa, Magara, Mukiwo and Muwandi –Guramatunhu. All cases from these kraals are brought to Gonye and he settles them if he can or else passes then on to Munyaradzi.

Munyaradzi is the land authority for the whole area and he allocates the land and he gives permission for any sell of land. On the spiritual side, their Svikiro (spirit medium) was Gorire and used to live in Chesvingo, where the spirit of their great grand mother lived. They used to perform their own rain-making ceremonies, and no other clans join them and they do not proceed to any more superior svikiro. Harvest festivals are held regularly  but rain-making ceremonies are not performed every year.

When a Munyaradzi successor has been selected, the svikiro speaks to him through the medium of the moment like Gorire.

The headmen perform the usual administrative functions such as assisting in arresting wrong-doers, and notifying thr District Commissioners of any irregularities within the area.

For any developmental projects, permission is sought from Munyaradzi first and these include among other; schools, clinics, roads and the like.


Are vaDuma by tribe of Moyo totem with Sahayi as their chidawo. Succession is collateral based like most patrilineal Shona societies. Chiwara was originally a nickname for Matafi (probably a praise name) and this was adopted for the dynasty. The name Mamvura applied to the original dynasty. The Chiwara people claim that during the reign of Bingwa , the area now occupied by Mupata and Magombedze fell into the Chiwara  area. They also claim that these two groups used to be controlled by Chiwara, though this is not authenticated.

Some of the villages include; Bupe, Chikanda, Chikwati, Chingombe, Chivavare, Chekure, Dumbu, Gozho, Gudza, Jakata, Kundinya, Mabuku, Makada, Makumbe, Makweva, Manzunzu, Mapfuwa, Maradze, Marufu, Shuro, Muchowo, Mudukuti, Mudzimurega, Munyanyiwa, Mupinga, Murira, Maruve, Musendo, Musina, Mutambara, Mutema, Mutsengi, Muzvimwe, Muzota, Nevanje, Nyambuya, Rufasha, Shumba, Shuro, Tsvangirayi, Zinhata, Zheve and Zvamashakwe.

Subdivisions include Mutambara area and crown land. Mutambara is a senior kraalhead and this was acknowledged by Chuwara though he refutes that he has any judicial powers.


The traditional boundary appears to be from Mugezi/Devure confluence up the Devure to the Mukuro river, then to the Shuku and across the water shed to the Mungezi and down the latter to the starting point. The present boundary is substantially the same.

Functionally the chiefs performs duties like in most Shona chiefdoms.


They are Korekore by tribe of the Tsivo, Gushungo totem. These originally come from Zvimba. After the death of Zvimba, their chief which occurred during some tribal fighting they fled to Rupati where their uncle Tazvareva was living. They lived under him till his death. It seems since then they have been ruling the area. According to sources, Rupati was occupied by a son of Gutu called Chipenzi. Chief Chirumhanzu organized a raid by the Ndebele on Chipenzi and drove him out of the area, and then Chirumhanzu put Serima as the chief in charge of the area. It is believed that before Gutu could retaliate, Chirumhanzu made friends with him and the matter was dropped.

Serima claims that the area they now occupy is much the same as that which they have always occupied except that it has been made smaller due to the European farms.

Some of the families comprising the chiefdom included; Toziyana, Gofa, Manjengwa, Chikwekwema, Mushayike, Rugara, Mapurazi, Besera Madubeko, Gondongwe, Bani, Muduba, Nyanda, Mubvekeri, Mubaiwa, Muzondo, Chikanya, Matizha, Pindura, Masendu, Serima and Pasipamire.

Serima Family Tree extract is as below:

Detembo for Gumbo MadyirapanzeMazvita Gumbo,
Maita zvenyu Madyirapazhe ,
Shava huruyakapamba Gona Gararamasango,
Chipauro chamafuta Chikodza mhandara,
Godza muto mhuru inobva Gona,
Vezheve tsuku,

VeRufura Mushukuru we Gona,
Vane chitangachisisazari ngombe,
Chinotozozara musuwezvita
Maita vari Masakadya
Maita vari Njaidza
Vari mhiri kwaNyazvidzi
Vari Hwiri
Vari Zvomutumbwe
Vari Raubwi
Vari Muharu huru

Varichikomo chaMabwazhe, Chisema, Sambiri
Chikara chapazhemwongo
Chifuramakuru Mazondo tinodya
Maita vari Svikire
Maita vari Maturi
Vari Chivende
Vari Hubvumwe
Chipatsamakuru Godzamuto

Chakada mutema muzvare Mataruse,
Hekanhi vari Raubwi,
Vari muhari huru,
Vari chikomo chaMabwazhe,
Mhare yokurwa yaiganza kunge handira,
Zvaitwa Chisema, Sambiri,
Chikara chapanze,
Chifamba namana,
Chifuramakuru, mazondo tinodya
Maita vari Svikire,
Vari Maturi, Vari Chivende ,
Vari Hubvumwe, Chiputsamakuru; Godzamuto,
Vari Hwiru ya Mazonde vokuda nyama,
Vanoera gumbo remombe asi mutumbi wayo vachidya,
Shava yangu yiyi, Chitanga, Chikanyamatope,
Maita vari Mapfukudza kunodyiwa boora nechirimo,
Naka muchadya makunguwo huku dzarova,
Hekanhi Madyirapazhe, Ganyamatope,
Kuti vane nzara vaponewo,
Hekanhi Musipa,

Marera Nherera Matsikapasikuzororahuvata,
Hekanhi Gutu, Hekanhi weGona, ndisingei,
Senga nhundwa, senga musoro pane romo neziso,
Hekanhi Mhandamakan?a, Matakuradumbu,
Matangakunwa muviri une nyota,
Vatambi vemuGanyiro,
Matsika pachena napanerima,
Hekanhi Masangedzwa,
Teveratsimba mutsvairo wenzira,
Hekanhi Murendo, Mushaya chirashwa,
Mafuta tinozora,
Runyanga iginamombe,
Gumbo mubhadha, dovo tinowadza,
Nyama tinodya, mukaka tinomwamwa,
Muswe inhawo, ndove indozura mumba ,
Zvaitwa Chitova, mushukuro wegonamombe,
Aiwa zvaitwa Gumbo,
Chinemukutu, maKorekore.

Misheck Samanyanga is a freelance and passionate history researcher and founder of, an online platform that encourages people to document their history and build generational Family Trees to help current and future generations so that they know who they are and where they come from. For assistance in creating your Family Tree or documenting your family history, kindly send an email to

Source: National Archives of Zimbabwe, et al


Chief Chivero origins & the Shava totem

The tribe claims to have migrated from Guruuswa, settling near Norton where the first Chivero was buried, and where they lived until they were moved into the Reserve by the government. Their totem is eland, Shava (Mwendamberi). They claim that the area was not occupied when they arrived and they evidently held control of a very large area, including today’s Mhondoro Tribal Trust land and some white farms. Their area stretched as far south as Ngezi river, this is an accepted fact and all the tribes living in Mhondoro admit that they moved into Chivero’s area. The eldest son of Chivero, Chiyanike is said to have murdered his father, the first Chivero, thereby making the right to the throne being accorded to the second son, Taaziva, but because he was a blood brother of the “murderer” he declined to accept for fear of being accused of witchcraft. This gave rise to what is known today as the Matibvu house  or Chingwere house. They do not take part in the succession but play an important role in communicating with the tribal spirits and in the selection of a successor when a chief dies. They hold a position of Nevanji, i.e. the eldest son, and each chief should be on good terms with Matibvu.

It is claimed that Matibvu always had a dunhu (village) of his own where he tried the cases of his children as it were, this was stopped by Mishi when he was appointed chief. There are roughly five kraals of the Matibvu family, but as they do not leave in one group this makes it virtually impossible to allocate them them a dunhu of their own. However, the chief may allocate them additional kraals to make up a dunhu ,this may have been the case in past and it may recur in future. Informants were however reluctant to speak on these matters.

Below is part of the Family Tree for Chivero chiefdom:

Nyandevhu was the chief during the occupation period and on his death Chimanda was appointed –  theoretically he ruled until his death in 1944. Marisamuka, son of Mudarikwa, assumed chieftainship even before the death of Chimanda, on the grounds that; Chimanda was too old and because his father, Mudarikwa had only held chieftainship for a few days. The Svikiro of the tribe is said to have nominated Marisamuka as the rightful successor. Marisamuka is believed to have acted as chief until the appointment of Mishi in 1950 though the records show that Denya, the son of Chimanda was appointed Acting Chief in 1949.

When Chimanda was in power, he is believed to have had four machinda who also acted as maSadunhu and these incuded: Chimatira, Makoni, Chivezani and Matibvi. Chivatira now lives in Chief Nyamweda’s area due to changes in boundaries, which also affected six other kraals. Because of the change, Chimatira no longer act as sadunhu or muchinda. Makoni was the sadunhu for the western section, while the chief lived in the east.  Chivezani lived in close proximity to the chief Chimanda, and he was his senior councilor and it is believed he settled petty cases for the whole area, passing only the major ones to the chief. Matibvu has been mentioned above and should be a highly respected figure as they have important spiritual functions though they do not share in the succession.  It was mentioned that no Chivero’s dare try the Matubvus and their disputes are settled by whoever is holding the name of Matibvu at the time.

Prior to centralisation, a very confusing state of affairs existed in Mhondoro reserve. Both chiefs Chivero and Mashayamombe had kraals scattered over the vast areas and there was a state of mingling of the kraals. Centralisation strove for some measure of organisation in Mhondoro and certain boundaries had to be laid down, i.e. The Mupfure river was proclaimed the boundary between Mashayamombe and Chivero. Both chiefs had kraals on either side of this river but the bulk of Chivero’s were to the north and Mashayamombe’s to the south. Kraals were thus instructed to follow their chiefs or change their allegiance. Most of them preferred to keep their lands and from then on they were regarded as the subjects of new owners of the land. The Nyadyori river was also proclaimed between Chivero and Nyamweda, here again Chivero lost kraals, in this instance there were seven kraals involved. The second chief Mashayamombe (Gobvu) actually lived north of Mupfure, where he is believed to have controlled an area which consisted of a portion of both Chivero’s and Nyamweda’s areas. This area lay adjacent to Mupfure river around Gobvu school and Muzhuzha dip extending across the Nyadyori river.

Some of the kraals under Chief Chivero were; Chakuchichi, Chikanga, Chikowore, Chirikure, Chitine, Chivero, Chiwara, Denya, Dikito, Ganga, Gahamadze, Gofa, Goredema, Gweshe, Jonera, Kaseke, Kavera, Kawanzaruwa, Kamadiro, Koroka, Makoni, Mandenga, Maradzikwa, Mariwa, Marigwa, Marube, Marufu Bure, Marufu, Maruma, Masawi Mwero, Mashayanyika, Matare, Matema, Matiwenga, Mawuto, Mujoma, Mukanga, Mudimu, Mudzurawona, Matswaire, Musara, Mutikani, Mutongwizo, Mugari, Muyonga, Mupfumira, Muranda, Musonza, Mutemasango, Mutimusakwa, Muzhuzha, Nyakudya, Nyandebvu, Nyanyiwa, Nyepa, Rungwere, Samoyo, Shoko, Simbanegavi, Takawira, Tafirenyika, Wazvaremhaka, Zimucha, Zindonga, Zinyama and Wakuhwamoto.

There is one group who are pressing their claims for recognition. This group fell under the leadership of Chigutiro of the vaMbire tribe. Unbeknown to Chivero, Chigutiro and his followers  settled in his area. After this was discovered some agreement was reached, but trouble soon broke out between the two tribes and a fight ensued. This was settled by VaRozvi overlords who instructed chief Chivero to allocate Chigutiro a portion of land. During rebellion Chigutiro and his subjects deserted their area and fled towards Chinhoyi. On their return they found Chief Mashayamombe in control of their area. Circumstances thus forced them to pay their respects to the two chiefs and for permission to settle in their old area. This group is now agitating for recognition, however, they were only four kraals and the ramainder of the subjects were to be found as vatorwa (strangers) in various other kraals, making the group too scattered and small to merit a chiefdom.

In Chivero area, the chief is the land authority and no one can be given land without his authority.  His other functions include trying cases from his subjects. The courts sessions are normally held on Tuesdays and Fridays  as well as Saturdays for the benefit of farm labourers. Cases on appeal go to the District Commissioner, Chegutu.

An indepth look at the Shava totem and its variants (zvidawo)

Shava is a totem name variant of the Mhofu/Mpofu, which is the eland. The word shava can mean a number of things including; the fairness of their skin resembling colours of the eland. Shava is more synonymous with the VaHera tribe, who are descendants of Mbiru, who lived at Gombe Hill in present day Buhera. It is believed that VaHera also include the Mpofus of Matabeleland who also claim that they came from Guruuswa.  All the descendenats of Mbiru share the same totem, Shava, but some changed to other zvidawo (praise names) over time in order to disguise themselves from the enemies or to allow intermarriages. The Shava belt includes: Bocha, around Odzi and Save rivers, Marange (Shava Mukonde) in Buhera on the south bank of upper Save river, Nyashanu (Shava Museyamwa) dynasty, Mutekedza (Shava Musarirambi) dynasty to the south of Buhera, Munyaradzi (Shava Wakanonoka) dynasty. Then west of the watershed the Shava dynasties stretched from the upper Munyati to the Munyati-Mupfure confluence. These include the Mushava (Shava Musimuvi) dynasty, Nherera dynasty and Rwizi (Shava Mapazura) dynasty in the middle Mupfure river, The Chivero (Shava Mwendamberi) to the west, the Neuso (Shava Mhukahuru Murehwa) dynasty, Muvirimirwa dynasty , The Chireya (also Shava Murehwa dynasty), The Njerere (Shava Mvuramavi) dynasty, Nemangwe dynasty, Nenyunga dynasty, Negande dynasty, Nyavira dynasty, Hwata dynasty (Shava Mufakose) and Chiweshe (Shava Mutenhesanwa) dynasty in the northern part of Zimbabwe (Mashonaland Central).

The most compelling and untold history is that of Seke Mutema whose actions opened up the north , east and west of the present day Zimbabwe to a civilisation of the vaHera underpinned by inclusiveness and never marrying among their totem. Seke being first born son of Nyashanu and disgruntled by having been passed over in succession because some say his mother was not of the Rozvi clan, but of Dziva, decided to move west , and then north-east. With the help of his brothers; Hwata, Chiweshe, Marange and Gwenzi, he set up a vast kingdom which encouraged others of their tribe to move south and west. Here the change in variants of totems was more to do with events than need for intermarriage; it is still not accepted for any Hera intermarriage.

It is said that Hwata’s children and Chiweshe’s fought battles over land and women encouraged by uncle Gwenzi, who himself never sired a child. In settling these disputes, Hwata became Mufakose (die on both fronts) as he had conflicts in the west with Mzilikazi and was now fighting within territories under his governance and Chiweshe assumed Mutenesanwa (those fighting among themselves).

Seke on the other hand changed to Mvuramavi (hailstorm) after having agreed as per Rozvi tradition to change his people totem to Zuruvi in order to marry into the Zuruvi Chief’s daughter as a peace arrangement. Upon the death of the wife, the people agitated for the return to their original totem but this was no longer possible as in the intervening period there had been intermarriage. So in a war with Gunguwo people, there was a hailstorm (chimvuramabwe) and his people continued to fight in the hailstorm pushing the invaders out of his boundaries and thus assumed the totem Mhofu Mvuramahwe which over time came to be Mvuramavi.

Misheck Samanyanga is a freelance and passionate history researcher and founder of, an online platform that encourages people to document their history and build generational Family Trees to help current and future generations so that they know who they are and where they come from. For assistance in creating your Family Tree or documenting your family history, kindly send an email to

Source: National Archives of Zimbabwe et al

Hurungwe chieftainships at a glance

Hurungwe District is located in Mashonaland West province of Zimbabwe and is fairly the largest district  in the province in terms of physical expanse and population. The main town is Karoi, which is located about 200kms from Harare by road. The district depends more on farming, with Tobacco being the main cash crop, followed by cotton. The chiefs in the district include: Chundu, Kazangarare, Dendera, Nematombo, Mujinga, Dandawa and Nyamhunga. There are a couple of service centers which include; Kazangare, Kasimhure, Nyamakate, Tengwe, Mwami, Zvipani, Chitindiva, Mudzimu and Chidamoyo, with Magunje being the main growth point, and one urban center at Makuti and National Park stations.

Chief Chundu

These are Tonga (Soli) by tribe of the Bere totem, with Nyagu as their chidau. They occupy the north-eastern part of the district and originally from the Zambezi escarpment. A lot of migration however took place since the displacement from the Zambezi river with families from nearby farms in the district coming in. Below is the Family Tree link for chief Chundu’s  lineage:


Chief Kazangarare

These are Korekore by tribe of the Nzou totem, with Samanyanga as their chidau. Their history is a bit vague but is known that they are descendents of Mutota and that they originally came from Guruuswa. At first their ancestors settled at the Dete Valley area and later left for Ruvanga  (their present area). Kazangarare gave his sons Dendera and Garara their own areas. Dendera got Ruvunze (an area in the farmlands) but was later moved to the Magunje area. Garara got an area called Dunga (also farms) but he didn’t get official recognition after the occupation and seems to have faded into oblivion.

Some of the kraals that constituted of the chiefdom included; Chitaunike, Gondo, Donora, Mukwesha, Kazungu, Nyakurazare, Kamuchenge, Matesanwa, Katena, Mafuwa, Washayanyika, Kachidza, Zau, Magwira, Varetta, Dandamira, Kapuka/Zuze, Zinyenge, Mafungautsi, Mukambi, Dipuka, Muroiwa/Karima, Muyengwa, Murehwa, Musikwenyu, Zvikonyo, Mupakati and Magwedebure.

The Family Tree for chief lineage is as follows:


Chief Dendera

These are Korekore by tribe of the Nzou totem, with Samanyanga as their chidau. They occupy the north-western part of the district which include Magunje growth point.


The group originally came from the Dande area of Chipuriro. They are descendants of Mutota and are related to chiefs Chisunga, Chitsungo, Kazangarare, all of whom have the same totem and chidau. Early ancestors are reputed to have been elephant hunters. One such ancestor, generally honored as having founded the Dendera chieftainship, was Chatsukameso (the one with red eyes), also known as Chatsurameso.  Chatsukameso parted company with his relatives (ancestors of chief Kazangarare, who he addresses as sekuru) at a place called Deve – a large vlei in the Mukwichi area. The name Dendera derives from the ground hornbill, It is said that Chatsvukameso, whilst on the trail of elephant during a hunting expedition, was pleased by the repeated low hooting sound of the ground hornbill. He stopped to enquire of his servants (varanda) what it was that gave this pleasant sounding call, but which was seldom seen. He was advised that it was the Dendera birds, and so the nickaname became attached to him. Succeeding chiefs have all ruled under this name. Some say it was Nyamavere who first assumed this name of Dendera.

They found people of the Tembo/Mazvimbakupa totem in the area when they arrived. These were subjects of a chief “Nyamusiya”. Fighting ensued, and the Tembo people are said to have fled to Zambia.

Some of the kraals include; Chiyangwa, Chigede, Mbereko, Chinyembere, Chigumbura, Chivere, Karenga, Dzunguichewa, Kangausaru, Ngorezha, Mashayamombe, Maguranyanga, Makanyaire, Matsika, Mazvimbakupa, Kawandi, Mahwadu, Wendera, Kandengwa, Magumbura, Makumbirofa, Dendera/Mupamombe, Chitemerere, Honzeri, Kwakwiyo, Matope, Mpokuta, Mudyavanhu, Joga, Makayi (new kraal 1967), Seremwe, Hondo, Kambamura, Zindanga, Zharare, Muchoraringa, Murimbika, Kandororo, Kapungu, Makumbe, Nziradzepatsva, Dzvete, Tadzimiwa/Banki, Bopoto, Maplanka, Mudekwa, Mutema, Gonga, Zunzanyika, Kadema, Matanga, Nyamufukudza, Sikanya, Kapengautowa, Nyamadzawo/Nzara, Zendanemago and Gawa.


The tribal trust land/European farming area fence forms one boundary, and the common boundary with Chanetsa and Nematombo is Murerezhi river.

Below are some of the chiefs who ruled the Dendera chiefdoms:

Dzakukameso, Nyamavere, Chinopisa, Mashonga, Mashorapayi, Muchenje, Mutarachisa, Nziramasanga, Murodza, Chivere (1910 to 1012), Chigede (1920 to 1928), Mupamombe (1930 to 1952), Mupanganeye Musokota (1959 to 1960), Kahama (1959 to 1960), Mutema Obert (1960 1966), Chenge (1966 to 1968), Mavunga Rameki (1968 to 1984 and Kerecheni (from 1984)


Chief Nematombo

These are vaBudya of Mutoko by tribe, though they now claim to be VaKorekore because of the language they speak. They are of the Shumba totem, with Nechinanga as their chidau. They occupy the western part of the district. Some headmen under chief Nematombo included  Chanetsa and Zimhowa. Chief Zimhowa  were Karanga by tribe of the Mhara totem with Chikonamombe as chidau. Then there was Chief Chanetsa who was downgraded to headman under chief Nematombo in July 1961. He was a Zezuru of the Nhari totem with Nyamakwembere as Chidau.


The ancestors are claimed to have migrated from Guruuswa and Mutoko and they claim to be descendents of Nehoreka. They were under the leadership of Dokotoko and were of the same migration as Makope (in Chiweshe Tribal Trust land). Dokotoko was not a chief, but merely an ordinary man or commoner. He came on a visit here and found the Marindi people near Gache gache. Dokotoko had two sons, Ngendongara and Chinehasha. They fought the Marindi people and drove them west of Sanyati river to Chief Msampakaruma’s country. Much later Chiefs Dandawa, Dendera, Matau, Mudzimu and headman Chanetsa, Mzilawempi and Nyamhunga, were moved into his traditional area, thus considerably reducing his domain. Even today, much of the area claimed by Nematombo permits of increased settlement. His country, he claims stretches from Tengwe river to the shores of lake Kariba – about 60 miles.

Some of the kraals under Nematombo included; Majinjiwa, Machona, Nyamadzawo, Matsika, Mazvauri, Paratema, Madima, Chigara, Mateta, Muuna, Wasakara, Chikwata, Bunda, Wamiridza, Kadowonda, Chawasarira, Chendamora, Ngoshi, Kademaunga, Masati, Gumiremhete, Jochore, Choto, Chitau, Dandaratsi, Zikonyo, Ziome, Soraidoma, Matenga, Kunzekutema, Makiwa and Meja Biri.


The western boundary is the 4-wire cattle fence; the southern is Tengwe river, whilst the eastern boundary is formed by a portion of the Tengwe and Murereshi rivers, then to Nyaodza  and then to the shores of Lake Kariba. Headmen Mzilawempi and Chanetsa both have their own defined areas of jurisdiction though they are part of Nematombo.

Below is the Family Tree link for chief Nematombo’s lineage:

Headman Chanetsa

Chief Chanetsa was downgraded to headman under chief Nematombo in July 1961. He was a Zezuru of the Nhari totem with Nyamakwembere as Chidau and now absorbed into Korekore. The tribe originally lived in the area known as Mbowe, which is Lomagundi district. The boundary was the Angwa river at a place called Siso, and then to Chikonohono hill, and then to the Manyami river (Hunyani), then to Silver Mine, then to Nadzuka (vlei). Originally, a man called Nyamakwere lived in this area. He had four eyes: 2 in front and 2 at the back. The original Chanetsa people are said to have migrated from Guruuswa and they sought assistance from Nyamuswa who also lived in this area under chief Nemakonde. Nyamuswa was the principal mhondoro and they asked him to come and fight for them against Nyamakwere. Thereafter, he gave them his son, Nyachawa, to be their mhondoro and to help them in the administration of their area.

The title Chanetsa , according to legend, derives from one Kamukapa, who went to the Makorekore to fetch certain tribal drums; he therefore “suffered for the country” – Chanetsa. Makumbe appears to have been the first one to use the title. Official records bear out the claim of the headman that he was previously a chief and they have not forgotten this and a claim for the restoration of the chieftainship is bound to come up in the future.

The group’s recent history is not very clear but it appears that they were moved into the present area circa 1942/43 and the area was regarded as belonging to Nematombo. The headman claimed that he was advised to move further down to the Musukwe river, where many of his subjects lived but he refused and hence remained in Nematombo’s area with no real boundary being defined. But later, when Land Husbandry commenced, an attempt was made to establish the boundary between Chanetsa and Nematombo. The old road to Zvipani was taken as the boundary in the west , but it’s not clear where was the boundary between Chanetsa and Mzilawempi.

Headman Mzilawempi Zimhowa

Are VaKaranga by tribes of Mhara totem and Chikonamombe as chidau. The group are a branch of Chief Mashayamombe of Chegutu/Hartley. They were under the control of Zimhowa (who is reputed to have been the first headman), and lived in the Gwelo district under chief Chiundura. After some years Mzilawempi led the people to Hurungwe where they were settled in Chief Nematombo’s area. People loyal to headman Chanetsa were living in the area and they were expected to give allegiance to Mzilawempi or move to Chanetsa’s own area further north. Some remained whilst other moved.

Some of the kraals who came with Mzilawempi were; Maplazi, Mufi, Sifelani, Tendekayi, Sichakala, Masocha/Mzilawempi, Muchakure, Fantiso, Matare, Kiwa, Matoto, Magama, Mafishi, Nikisi, Tachiona, Nyikadzino, Wurayayi, Sikonzapi, Matiki, Philip and Takanayi. Some of the kraals of vaKorekore who remained and didn’t move to Chanetsa’s area included; Makoshore, Karima, Beremauro, Charingana, Mudengezerwa, Nyakuziranga, Nyamutora, Nyarumwe, Waniridza, Mutungambera, Mukakatanwa and Dandaradze.


Chief Mujinga

These are Wambire (Korekore) by tribe of the Tembo  totem, with Mazvimbakupa  as their chidau. Circa 1899, one Chimusimbe who had come from Shangwe west of the Sanyati and married into the tribe, was appointed headman, by the then native Commissioner on 31 March 1900. He was appointed chief following the death of Kapuma despite objection from the tribe and even Chumusimbe himself.


The tribe is said to have originated from Guruuswa and are related to chief Chihota of Marondera. Mudanyota is the earliest known ancestor (Sikarudzi) and he found the country unoccupied when he arrived here. It’s said that Karimanzira migrated from Guruuswa leaving his father Mudanyota behind. Some of the kraals included; Bisheri, Chinyenze, Mujinga/Chieta, Dabvu, Dimba, Goremusandu, Kanongota, Kasengezi, Mazura, Makisi, Manhenga, Maravanyika, Marumazvitsva, Matambura Matiza, Muparaganda, Mandizha, Ndekeri, Nyamuderu, Nyawisa and Tavaguta.

When asked about the vast largely vacant Piriwiri area and of the possibility of settling more people therein, the chief agreed that they can accommodate more people but he emphasized that if the Government wanted to settle more people, let them not send more VaKaranga as they didn’t get along very well – they preferred other smaller groups of different  as VaKaranga would even usurp their chieftainship.


Commencing at the intersection of the Tengwe European farming area/tribal trust land fence with Tengwe river; then down the river to the confluence with Sanyati river and up Sanyati to the confluence with Piriwiri river, then up Piriwiri to the boundary of the tribal trust land and generally northwards along tribal trust land boundary to the starting point.

The chief lineage Family Tree is as follows:


Chief Dandawa

These are vaGova (Korekore) by tribe of the Tembo  totem, with Mazvimbakupa  as their chidau. Chieftainship was first recognized in 1900. In an attempt to steamline the tribal organisation, chiefs Dandawa and Chundu were ‘resigned’ and both tribal groups placed under one chief which proved unsuccessful. Headman Mudzimu is under chief Dandawa  and they are of Gumbo (Madyirapanze) totem and Korekore by tribe.

The Dandawa people, like those of Mudzimu, Chundu, Nyamhunga and others , originally lived along the Zambezi valley and their area was located close to Mana Pools game reserve. Their tribal boundaries were the Zambezi river (in the north), Sabi river in the east, Chikuti river in the south and the Mahongwe river in the west.

The group was moved to their present area, Rengwe in 1958 and when they moved to Rengwe, they found some VaKorekore people (ex Sipolilo district) in their present area. These kraals were assimilated into their chiefdom. Some of the kraals include; Matore(Gumbo/Madyirapanze), Matengaifa (Nzou Samanyanga), Katswere (Nzou Samanyanga), Katuma (Nzou Samanyanga), Manyembere , Munuwa (Nzou Samanyanga), Chiwanza (Nzou Samanyanga), Chagioma (Nzou Samanyanga), Mudzongachiso (Nzou Samanyanga), Zunza (Nzou Samanyanga), Nyamandu (Nzou Samanyanga), Mufurutsa (Nzou Samanyanga), Gwenzi (Nzou Samanyanga), Gwara (Mbano/Matemayi), Rukanzakanza (Mbano Matemayi), Tevedza (Shava Mhofu), Gunduza (Shava Mhofu), Tsungura (Shava Mhofu), Gwatura (Shava Mhofu), Mbamuchena (Shava Mhofu), Kangwara (Shava Mutenesanwa), Chishato (Shava Nematombo), Kondo (Shava Nechiromo), Ndoro (Shava Mufakose), Nyamawe/Chipangura (Bere Nyangu), Manzungu (Nhari Makwembere), Chisora (Shumba Nechinanga), Kufandirori (Shumba Nechinanga), Sirani (Mawongera), Varetta (Mawendera), Chitawu (Zambu Hwai), Gandawa (Mhizha Macheka-field mouse) and Mataruka (Mbiti/Mbire).

The kraals who were found in the area and assimilated included; Samvubu (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Dandawa/Matsviru (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Kamanura (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Goremusandu (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Chidoma (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Nyarongwe (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Chidyafodya (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Mugurameno (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Matiza (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Nyamukayiwa (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Patsikadova (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Chifuradombo (Moyo Chirandu), Karoko/Guveya (Moyo Matere), Charewa (Moyo Matere), Majinjiwa (Moyo Nematombo), Chawasema (Soko Wafawanaka), Chiworeka (Soko Wafawanaka), Nyamaromo (Soko Wafawanaka), Tayena (Soko Wafawanaka), Chiyangwa (Soko Wafawanaka), Gwaze (Soko), Penyayi (Soko), Hutotso (Soko)

Below is the Family Tree link of chief’s lineage:

Headman Mudzimu

VaGova (Korekore) of the Gumbo, Madyirapanze totem. The tribe claims to be descended from one Nyamatinhiri (possibly another name for Mudzimu), who migrated northwards to Chirundu from Musana reserve in Bindura. Apparently relatives of Nyamatinhiri became tired  of the long journey from Guruuswa and settled in Musana. Others deflected to Gutu and Ndanga districts where the Gutu and Ndanga chieftainshis were set up.  All these chiefs taboo Gumbo (Mudzimu, Musana, Gutu and Ndanga). When Nyamatinhiri arrived at the Zambezi, where he decided to settle, they encountered the Vambara people and they conquered them leading them to flee to the northern part of the river. The country was called Gova (big river) and its boundaries were; to the north was the Zambezi river, to the east was Nyakasanga river (Dandawa) and to the west Share river (Nyamhunga). They lived east and west of where Chirundu bridge is now.

Around 1956, the entire community was moved to Hurungwe. They claim to have been told that they would drown if the dam wall will burst so they should move to the higher ground. The tribe comprised of about 13 kraals which included; Mudzimu (Gumbo Madyirapanze), Kapandura (Gumbo Madyirapanze), Nyakuritsika (Gumbo Madyirapanze), Bandora (Soko Wafawanaka), Karambamuhoro (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Nyamhondoro (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Kwarirandura (Nzou Samanyanga), Kawanje (Nzou Samanyanga), Nyamaropa (Matere of Nemakondo), Karenga( Matere of Nemakondo), Zvikonyaukwa (Shava mhofu), Masheedzanwa (Zambu Chuma) and Maringapasi.

Those who were found in the area and switched their allegiance to Mudzimu included; Muwaira (Soko Wafawanaka), Chirasasa (Shava Mhofu), Matenga (Shumba Nechinanga), Murasiwa, Mudzwamutsi, Jera, Marumezvitsva/Mhazi, Gasura 1, Mutauwa, Charuma/Kadyafodya, Mutematsaka, Kandiya, Coffee/Manenda and Gasura 11.

There were also some families who moved into the area mainly from Masvingo and these included; Manjongwa, Marangwanda, Muvengwa/Chitiki, Mudzingi/Chipere, Mukucha, Goromondo, Mangarai, Kwirirai, Musekiwa/Masiyanwa and Mapfuwamara.

Headman Matau

They are vaShawasha by tribe of Mbano Matemayi totem with Korekore as their language. Was recognized as headman in 1948. Originally, Matau and his people lived near mount Urungwe, along the upper reaches of the Rukomechi river. In the old days, Matau’s forebearers were sent up the Highveld to spot the vultures feeding on dead elephants shot by Dandawa’s hunters. This detection of vultures helped them to locate the dead elephants and they took the tusks to Chief Dandawa and this became a custom. This led to Matau being awarded headmanship by Dandawa. The group was also moved to the present day location in 1958. Headman Matau’s mhondoro is called Chinenyanga.

Some of the families under Matau were; Nyambaro, Dzorani, Bakasa, Kapesa, Murimbika, Kabatamuswe, Chiwara, Makanyaire, Gonye, Kademaunga, Nidzebonde, Uzambe, Chabata, Mandinda, Katemanyoka, Bvunzawabaya, Kachemaedza, Mande, Matau, Madzvambeya, Chapupu, Elias/Muvhitori, Munyuki, Bere, Gudure and Jangwa.

Regarding the boundaries; in the west is 8-ways fence with Chief Dandawa’s area, in the north is chief Nyamunga at Kanyati river, in the east is chief Nematombo where there is 4-way fence, with headman Mudzimu on the south.


Chief Nyamhunga

These are Korekore by tribe of the Gwai  totem, with Zambu/Munawa  as their chidau. They occupy the north-western part of the district. They were moved from Zambezi  around 1957 to pave way for Kariba Dam. It is believed that Nyamhunga is an offshoot of Gora from Goromonzi who then  moved  westwards and settled at the confluence of Sanyati and Zambezi rivers. Their Chisi days are Mondays and Thursdays. Tribal spirit was Nyanhewe. Related to Chiefs Nematombo, Dandawa and Headman Mudzimu who are all of the VaGova tribe. They do not eat the bones of a mutton for fear of losing teeth.


The tribe is said to have its origin from Guruuswa. Little is known about the past than that the early ancestors lived a peaceful, though backward existence along the Zambezi – some say they are an offshoot of Gora dynasty in Goromonzi. They were hunters and fishermen rather than agriculturalists – their crops were continually raided by elephants  and hippos. They were first moved to the Badze river area of Chief Nematombo. Here they found a lot of kraals “who were born under chief Nematombo but who had switched their allegiance to headman Matau (under chief Dandawa) whose area it had been proclaimed”. Then the area was stated to have been given to Nyamhunga, “so the people paid tribute to him rather than move to Matau or Nematombo areas.” These kraals were accepted into the community. Subsequent to this, Nyamhunga was given a difficult area (the present one), and some of the kraals found there chose to move with him, whilst others chose to remain behind and pay tribute to Headman Mudzimu.

The community is, for some reasons, a very loose one. There is little loyalty to the chieftainship by kraals other than those comprising the original community. Continual movement has not been conducive to building of a strong society. Little in the way of community development/local government can be expected until the people have settled down properly.

Kraals who were part of the original community at Gova are: Nyamhunga (Zambu), Chinokopota (Zambu), Kakwenya (Zambu), Mapfungautsi (Zambu), Karowamatanda (Zambu), Maurukira (Zambu), Karombe (Zambu), Chamononyonga ( Moyo Matere), Makudzashamba  (Shonga/Nechiru), Mpombwa     (Shava/Mhofu), Dzombe (Ngonya/Gushungo), Murota (Nzou/Samanyanga), Chimurewo (Nzou Samanyanga), Zambezi (Tembo/Mazvimbakupa) and Bakasa (Soko/Wafawanaka).

Those who left Nyamhunga community included; Chirovapasi, Makwenya, Mapfuwamara, Chisandau, Maringapasi, Muparaganda, Kandiye/Chikupo and Nyakasikana.

Those who were found in the area and changed their allegiance to Nyamhunga were as follows: Masanga (Ngonya/Gushungo), Chineviringa (Nhari/Unendoro), Zakariah (Nzou/Samanyanga), Mutinha (Nzou Samanyanga), Muparu (Shava/Mhofu), Bvungo (Shava Mhofu), Musauke (      Soko/Wafawanaka), Kapamara (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Chiumburukwe (Tembo Mazvimbakupa), Kanyurira (Mbano Mademayi), Mazindori (Zambu/Munawa), Jera 11 (Moyo Matere), Goredema (Shumba/Nechinanga).

Then later, there were VaVhitori who joined the chief who now regard themselves as per of the community were: Musekiwa, Mupandagwara and Kadondo.


Commencing at the intersection of the Kamazi river with the 4-strands cattle fence, then down the Kamazi to its confluence with Nyadara river, then up the Nyadara to its intersection with the 8 strand game fence, then along this fence  to its intersection with the 4-strand cattle fence , then along the fence towards the Karambazungu gate, past this gate and back to the starting point.

Some of the chiefs who reigned were as follows:

Zheke, Ndingi, Chisodza, Chipembere, Kufawepasi (01.07.1924 to 11.09.1961), Chinyandura (01.10.1961 to 30.06.1974), Mupandagwara (01.07.1964 to killed 16.06.1978), Kwaipa Zebedia (03.10.1978 to 19.12.1984), Chiyangwa (from 1984)

———————————————————————————————————By Misheck Samanyanga

Source: S2929/2/9-10

History of the Zvimba dynasty

Zvimba district is located in Mashonaland West province, in central northern Zimbabwe, sharing bounderies with Guruve district to the north, Mazoe to the east, Harare to the south-east, Chegutu the south, Kadoma to the south-west and Makonde district to the west and north-west.

The Zvimba chieftainship was founded by Neuteve Chihobvu who migrated from Guruuswa (thought to be in present day Tanzania). Chihobvu was Neuteve’s father and is the founder of the tribe in Guruuswa. Neuteve left his father’s kingdom and travelled westwards in search of a country for himself. This was probably part of the same migration as such other chieftainships like Chiweshe, Chipuriro, Chivero, Chirau and Magondi. When he arrived in the now Zvimba area, he complained that his feet were swollen  (Ndazvimba makumbo). He was thereafter nick-named Zvimba. At the time, the Rozvi governed the country and Tambare (thought to be Nemakonde) allocated the land to Neuteve, driving off Svinura’s people. Zvimba’s clan are of Gushungo totem with Zezuru as their main dialect with Korekore also in some areas.

Neuteve had three sons: Nemahunga, Negondo and Pokoteke. To the eldest, Nemahunga, was allocated a tract of land where Msengezi purchase area is today. Negondo married a sister of Gwenzi (a member of the Chivero community near Chegutu /Hartley), but was unable to father any children, so he invited his young brother, Pokoteke, who helped him to father Chambare and Pokoteke. These two were regarded as Negondo’s sons.

Zvimba family tree is as per the link below:

Neuteve’s successor in the Zvimba chieftainship was Negondo, who was followed by Pokoteke. The later gave a tract of land to Chambara (where Martinspur is today). This area was called Chikanga. Pokoteke himself retained control of the area between Karoi and Hunyani rivers. He married a Chikunda woman (from Portuguese East Africa) and had two sons , Kakomwe and Chidziva.

After Pokoteke’s death, Beperere assumed the chieftainship on the grounds that his elder brother Chambara, had his own inheritance (Martinspur farm). The news of the death was slow in reaching Chambara, but when he heard of it and came to pay his respects, he incited trouble. He wanted both areas, but many people backed Beperere, because Chambara had been away in his own area for many years and was regarded as a virtual stranger. Chambara had the support of Pokoteke’s sons, Kakomwe and Chidziva, and he sought and obtained assistance from the Rozvi, who had spears which instilled great fear.

Beperere’s people took refuge at a hill called Chakona, and were soon surrounded by Chambara’s warriors. Beperere summoned his sons to him and gave to each a horn of a wild animal, as follows: Baranje (eland), Nyamangara (kudu), Gwewera (sable), Dununu (tsessebe) and Chimbamauro (bush-buck). He himself had a horn carved from bamboo. They assembled in an unplastered hut on top of the hill and blew their horns in unison, giving off a terrifying din. A great wind arose and carried the hut (complete with occupants) to the far bank of the nearby Hunyani river. Beperere seeing the fear of his brother, shouted across the river: “You have failed “(wa kona) – hence the hill is called Chakona to this day.

Chambara was unable to cross the river, but shouted back: “Young brother, let us fight now for the country!” to which Beperere responded: ”Do you know what we are fighting over? Are we not brothers of the same womb? Is it not proper that each son should receive his inheritance? You, elder brother , have your country, this is mine!”

These words annoyed Chambara, who shot an arrow across the river at Beperere. The arrow landed into the sand near Beperere, who shouted: “So! It is you who has the audacity of war – yet you have no aim!”. He plucked the arrow from the sand, broke off the head, and spat on the shaft, saying: “Look, brother, my aim is true, but do not touch this arrow when it reaches you for you will surely die!” He shot it back across the water, on its way the arrow turned into a cockrel and settled on Chambara’s head, depositing its droppings in his hair. The BaRozvi loughed at him and withdrew their support. Thus Beperere got the country.

Chambara became insane and died shortly afterwards, and Beperere shared out the country amongst his sons. To Baranje, he gave Bangasefu (Banket) and he did the same to the other , with the exception of Chimbamauro, who began to sulk and beat his drums loudly every night until he was given land near Darwendale.

Thus originated the present subdivisions, of the Zvimba area: The chief’s own dunhu, and those of Dununu, Nyamangara, Chimbamauro and Nyamukanga (Chambara’s son).

Movements into and out of the area

Chief Mashayamombe tried to conquer Chief Zvimba’s people but was driven off. One, Chimanga, a kraal head from chief Nyandoro’s country, came to settle in Zvimba’s area, and was given a wife and a small piece of land. Chimanga is regarded as a “Muzukuru”, who officiates at the succession of chieftainship ceremonies. The following also came from other areas: Chitsinde, from Chief Hwata, Kutama from Chief Gutu, Mariga from Chief Nyashanu, Mucheri from vaRozvi. In recent times, Chief Nyabira’s people dispersed themselves, and many settled in both Chief Zvimba’s and Chief Chirau’s countries.  In addition, Madzima moved from Chief Njanja, Runganga from Chief Mutasa, Chaparadza from Gokwe and  Masiyarwa from Chief Chihota.

On the other hand Chief Serima moved out to Serima tribal trust land. Chief Serima shares the same totem (Tsiwo/Ngonya).

Totem praise

Maita Gushungo,VokwaNzungunhokotoko,Muchero waNegondo,Maita Tsiwo, Usavi hwavamwe varume,Vambwerambwetete,Kugara pasi kusimuka zvinohwira vhu,Musati hutukwa,Mutupo ndowenyu,Tatenda varidzi venyika,Vakabva Guruuswa,Varidzi vamazhanje.Maita vokwaZvimba,Vazere muChakona, Vene vamachiri namakute,Vano kutizira kunenge kudyara nzungu,Vakapangura nyika inoIchakatsitswa nezamu,Vomutupo weGushungo,Vari chipata, Zambezi naMaringohwe,Aiwa mwana waZvimba,Zvaitwa vaNgonya.

Compiled by: Misheck Samanyanga

Source: Mainly National Archives

Kariba Chiefdoms unpacked!

Kariba district is located in Mashonaland West province of Zimbabwe and is widely known for its majestic Kariba Dam, along the might Zambezi and is one of the biggest man-made lakes in the world. The Lake is about 1,300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean, along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Kariba town is a tourist town due to its vast waters and wildlife. One can enjoy game viewing, boat cruises, fishing and hunting among other leisure activities.

Lake Kariba

Kariba district mainly constitutes of four (4) traditional chiefs – Mola, Msampakaruma, Nebiri and Negande, with Nyamhunga falling between Hurungwe and Kariba. These were some of the traditional leaders who were displaced from the Zambezi river to pave way for the construction of the Kariba Dam around 1957. After displacement each of the four chiefs was allocated an area on the lake shore to establish Fishing Camps and these include, Msampakaruma, Charara, Sibilobilo, and Makuyu camps. In some cases, old villages were used for these camps. I will not dwell much on other chiefs on the eastern side who primarily fall under Hurungwe, as these will be covered in a separate dedicated article.

Chief Nebiri

These are Shangwe by tribe of the Shoko-Ncube totem. Their chidawo is Chirongo. The area as a whole is called Nebiri, and it has various sub-names , such as localities bearing names of rivers and streams like Chifudze, Hwadze, Kasvisva etc.


For the Family Tree of the chiefdom till the time of Chief Matashu, kindly follow the link below:

The name Nebiri is derived from the name of the valley, it was never a personal name. The chiefs have always been called Nebiri and this is now a traditional name. This tribe was granted chieftainship by Chief Chireya who falls under  Gokwe. Chireya was regarded as paramount chief in Gokwe where he had six headmen under him where all functioned as independent chiefs with headman status. This is because there was no post of paramount chief that existed and promoting them to chiefs would make them independent of Chireya. In addition to the six, Chiefs Nenyunga, Nebiri and Negande all regard Chireya as their senior.

The Nebiri family married from the Chireya family and became vazukuru to chief Chireya. Because of this relationship, Chief Chireya agreed for them to have an independent community but they had to pay for their land with blood in the form of human sacrifice. Kasusira, their first leader, agreed to be beheaded in order to earn the soil for his people. Similar ceremonies were conducted for others, such as headman Nembudziya, etc.

Nebiri family are still responsible for assisting in the selection of chief Chireya , though they are not the only ones who have this function. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, spiritual installations were conducted , but since the native commissioners have been taking part in the selections all spiritual functions associated with succession have ceased.

At these ceremonies,  string of black beads (matimba) had to be placed around the successor’s neck. Chief Chireya had the responsibility of installing (placing matimba on)  most of the chiefs and headmen in the Kariba-Gokwe district. Although chiefs are no longer installed with Matimba, the significance of this function still persists in certain respects – for example, Chiefs Mola or Nebiri would not dare spend a night at Chireya’s village because they have never been presented to the spirits.

Rain ceremonies are usually held each year, at a place near the chiefs’s kraal. Gifts are also sent annually to Nevana, the rain svikiro (spirit medium) of the Vashangwe residing in the Gokwe district.

Masava/Masaba Community (Chief Nebiri)

It’s important to mention the Masava group who were appointed by Chief Nebiri as headman. These are also of the Soko totem (Chirongo) and Vashangwe tribe. Masava was appointed around 1939 by Chief Nebiri as Sadunhu and was selected by the elders of the group. Basis of selection was collateral successon (patriarchy). These occupy the Bembera-Chifudzi area.

Chief Nebiri was muzukuru to Masava – that is , the mother of chief Nebiri was the daughter or sister of the Masava family . Masava was a bodyguard to chief Nebiri, thus they came into this area together. Masava first settled at Vuranduli  and were relocated to Chifudzi to after the construction of Kariba dam. Some of the vilages under Masava included; Gasura, Mapinda, Masava, Tapererwa or Mazezewa, Basaroukwa, Marairomba, Makumbirofa or Kanegocheka, and Makwerere or Marundura.

For the Family tree, kindly refer to the link below:


Chief Negande

Negande people are VaShangwe by tribe of the Shava, Mhofu totem, with Gamanya Kuenda as their chidawo. They border chiefs Mola, Nebiri, Nenyunga and Siabuwa. They use both Tonga and Shangwe as their languages. The chief is normally referred to as Mwami by his subjects.


Kamkota, son of Chireya, was given this area and the people regard him as their ancestor. Kamkota was given a branch of a tree by Chireya and he was told to go forth and start his own tree. When they came to the area, they found people of the Sakurebgwa tribe, whom they fought and drove off. Their ancestors then settled in the very place where the tribe is still living today – these were not affected by Kariba dam displacement.

There were some movements into the area with two kraals from Mola, that is, Moswera Kahusu and Magwama and these settled in Dela. Makaza kraal moved in from Sinakatenge and settled at Munengi.

The Family Tree of chieftainship is as per the link below:

Some of the villages in Negande included; Chibanka, Kanengocheka, Katizandima, Makaza, Mapwatu, Mazabuka, Mazinyo, Negande, Siachamwaika, Siachikalanga, Zimonyo, Jeke, Mafuriranwa/Chatakarura, Mangwama, Malobokela, Marumasangu, Murota, Miyozi, Siachakanzwa, Sianjarika, Mudenda, and Siansangu Makaringe.

Chief Msampakaruma

Were also affected by Kariba dam and move further south in the interior. Before displacement they occupied the area between Sanyati and Bumi before being moved in 1956. They are baGova (Shona) by tribe and of the Shoko totem going by chidawu Wafawanaka. Common names of occupied areas include Marowa, Chidyamugwamu, Karongwe, Chisanga and Gunguwe among others. The chief is normally referred to as Ishe by his people.


Even the oldest Sampakaruma last interviewed didn’t recall legends of his tribe living anywhere other than the Zambezi, possibly meaning they were some of the first Shonas to come to Zambezi. The tribe was conquered by the Ndebele tribe and made to pay taxes to the Matabele king in tobacco.

The basis for selection of a chief is collateral and follows roughly four main houses. Among these people a new chief is chosen by the vazukuru and the makota. The muzukuru puts matimba on the chief- Nemawana is the muzukuru and it’s a traditional name. The first to hold this office was a son of the first chief’s sister. The name and responsibility are passed on to the next successive generation.

Other vaGova chiefs who lived in the east of these people were Nyamhunga, Dandawa, Chuundu and Mudzimu. Although these are of the same tribe, Sampakaruma claims no relationship. When Sampa lived in the Zambezi he had two abalisa, Litswara and Chitondo, who ruled their own small areas  and were subservient to chief Sampa. However, since they have been displaced to the bush, they have not been given areas and they are no longer as functional making them to be regarded as mere kraal heads.

It is said that when chief Sampa shifted to his new settling ground, he carried with him his ancestor , Kasengeri – that is he dug up his bones and transported them to their new burial ground. Kasengeri is their tribal spirit and he used to speak to them through the medium of Pinchisi, alias Kasengeri, a son of Chinodakufa. For the Family Tree, kindly follow the link below:

They claim that chieftainship should alternate between four houses – Chavonga, Maguranyonga, Morepori and Nyamadzawo (Chigwededza). Some of the villages found in Msampa are; Chibayamagora, Chikwasha, Rudondolo, Mugara, Mashowedzana, Mutanaugwa, Matengambiri, Msampakaruma, Siantumbi, Kuchacharika, Chibumba, Chunsiya, Chipura, Djumba, Kashambe, Mutandira/ Katandira, Mutimutema, Siachazangwa, Marambo, Mashonga, Matekenya, Siamatari, Munanga, Chakazamba,Honye, Mapokotera and Mutukura.


Chief Mola

Were equally affected by Kariba dam and moved about 15 kilometers further into the interior- They are the closest to the Zambezi river. Before displacement they occupied the area between Sengwa and Bumi or Ume river. They are baTonga by tribe and of the Nyoni totem going by chidawu Mushanga Muyuni. Common names of occupied areas include Bumi, Chitenge, Dove, Mayove,Kalundu, Mangwala, Chiweshe among others. The chief is normally referred to as Mwami  by his people.

Unlike the Shona patriarchy selection of chiefs, Mola use matrilineal succession with nephews (sons of sisters) taking prominence in selection, this is similar to most Zambia tribes, including the Tonga of Bamutala (across the river). Successors are selected by the makurukota (the equivalent of masadunhu in Shona). Masvikiro or mhondoro play no part in these functions.


As far as the tribe can recall, they came from the Zambezi and can hardly trace their history or origins beyond this point. They do not claim relationship with the surrounding tribes or chiefdoms.  Prior to their displacement in 1956, Chief Mola and his people occupied the southern bank of the Zambezi, from Sengwa to Bumi (Ume) rivers. Their neighbors across Sengwa were Sinakatenge and Msampakaruma across Bumi. Chiefs Nebiri and Negande were neighbors to the south living some distance from the Zambezi river.  The main Chief Mola and the majority of his subjects lived upstream around Sibbilobbilo area with a few living in Bumi’s Kasonde area , just close to the current Bumi Hills and this is where he used to appoint his nephew as headman or subchief to handle issues and oversee that area.

All Mola people were affected by the displacement, and apart from two kraals, all settled around their chief. The two kraals excepted were Jeke and Siampamba – the latter is still under Mola’s control, while Jeke switched allegiance to Chief Negande.

Some of the villages (sabhuku) included; Dumbula, Gwangwaba, Jeketera, Kai, Lutope, Masaba Kayungwa, Siachiwa, Siakaloba, Siachitema, Kubanyawu, Siampanda, Siamavu, Simuguga, Chalibamba, Liyongwesha, Mujokeri, Musana and Zvamoyo (Chirume). Chirume was a minor Muchinda of chief Mola on Kasonde side and he controlled Liyongwesha, Mujokeri, Musana and Zvamoyo.

There were two subdivisions of the Mola community – Chirume and Siachamwaika (Bokisi). Chirume was a minor subdivision of the community.

Sialonje was a muzukuru of chief Mola and was responsible for appointing successors to the chieftainship. He was appointed by Chief Mola (Siajeya) around 1941. He was of the Soko totem (Chirongo). This privilege has been passed down to the present generation.  This family holds a prominent position in the chiefdom. This group lived on the Bumi near the present day hotel. The area they currently occupy belonged to chief Nebiri. Some of the villages under Sialonje included Chigwagwa, Shangwe Siandima, Lusinga (Siamabechu), Majomba, Mola Mutami, Sianembwa and Viringana.

Chieftainship structure

For the Chiefdom tree, kindly refer to the link below:

Bounderies with other chiefdoms

Ndepa mountain range is the boundery with Nebiri, whereas the Bumi river is the boundery with chief Msampakaruma. The boundery with chief Negande is not so clear-cut. It is approximately as follows: Starts at Ndepa, then follows a north-westerly direction to Marambwa, a pool or pan, then to a strean called Sonda, which flows into the Sengwa about fifteen miles north of the Dela.

Rain ceremonies are held each year, and gifts are sent to Nevana (the rain svikiro in Nemangwe, Gokwe).

By Misheck Samanyanga

Source: Mainly from the National Archives records.

Interesting historical music insights in Africa

Music has been part and parcel of humanity for a long time. Not every sound is musical, but sound has meaning and sometimes the meaning of sound is specific to its context.

But when it comes to archaeology there is scant evidence of music or sound producing artefacts from southern Africa. This is because of poor preservation of the mostly organic materials that were used to manufacture musical instruments. Rock art offers depictions of musical instruments as well as scenes of dancing that can be linked with music performance, but here only music-related artefacts will be discussed.

I conducted original research as well as a survey of the literature available on these artefacts. Ethnographic sources were also consulted in order to attempt to provide a broader contextual background against which knowledge of the archaeological implements could be expanded. The Percival Kirby online musical instrument repository has also been used. Music archaeology is multidisciplinary in nature.

The result is one of the first reports on southern African sound- and music-related artefacts.

Research in music archaeology in southern Africa has just begun. Available evidence dates back from around 10,000 years ago, from the Later Stone Age up to the Iron Age. The artefacts fall into two groups, namely aerophones, where sound is produced by vibrating air, and idiophones, where sound is produced by solid material vibrating. These artefacts include spinning disks, bullroarers, bone tubes that could have been used as flutes or whistles, clay whistles, keys from thumb pianos (also called lamellophones or mbiras), musical bells and an ivory trumpet. The list is not exhaustive and more research needs to be conducted.

These music-related or sound-producing artefacts are made from various materials, including bone, ivory, metal and clay. The artefacts show how integral sound and music production was in the socio-cultural practices of people in the past, most likely for entertainment and rituals. Sound production and music making is a sign of being fully human.


Recent experimental work established that some Later Stone Age bone implements from the Klasies River Mouth and Matjes River sites are a spinning disk and a bullroarer respectively. Their replicas produced powerful whirring sounds and they can be referred to as sound-producing implements even though the purpose of the sound or their use cannot be clearly ascertained. They could have been used as signalling implements, toys, in ritual settings or in musical contexts, among others. Nowadays these implements are seldom found in the region.

A flat disc shaped like a mollusc with a hole through its thin end.
Bullroarer found at Matjes River. Joshua Kumbani

Bone tubes, mainly in bird bone, have been recovered from Later Stone Age contexts from the southern and western Cape of South Africa and some were also recovered from historical contexts. Previously, these bone tubes were interpreted as sucking tubes and beads. But morphological analysis – or studying their form – has indicated that considering the various lengths and widths as well as their smoothened ends, they could have been used as flutes or whistles. There is no a clear-cut distinction between flutes and whistles.

Brown flute-like tube with etchings on it.
Bone tube from Matjie’s River. Joshua Kumbani

If they were used as flutes they were single tone flutes since none has finger holes that can enable the production of more tones. Some of the archaeological bone tubes bear chevron and cross hatching patterns, but it is not clear if the decorations have a meaning or were just made for aesthetic purposes. The San and Khoe people in South Africa used reed flutes in the past. Flutes are still used today by various cultural groups in South Africa, for example the Venda people in South Africa use flutes when performing the tshikona dance.

Round, brown acorn-like object with a hole in one end.
Clay whistle from Mapungubwe. Joshua Kumbani

Clay whistles have been recovered from the sites of K2 and Mapungubwe from Early Iron Age contexts. Similar clay whistles are very rare and are not mentioned ethnographically, but it has been said that the Basotho herders in Lesotho used similar whistles. Whistles can also be used during a musical procession or as signalling implements in sending a message.

An ivory trumpet was recovered from Sofala site in Mozambique. It has a blow hole and some decorations on its body.

Intricately carved brown object.
Ivory trumpet from Sofala site in Mozambique. University of Pretoria Museums

Ivory trumpets are not common in southern Africa, but are known in west Africa. For example, in Ghana among the Asante people they had a spiritual significance and were associated with the royal court. Ivory trumpets are also said to have been used to announce the arrival of kings. The trumpets that are found in southern Africa are not in ivory.


Thumb piano, lamellophone or mbira keys have been recovered from the Later Iron Age contexts in Zimbabwe and in Zambia. This idiophone became popular with the introduction of iron technology and it is still used today. Some popular musicians play the lamellophone, for example Stella Chiweshe from Zimbabwe. Mbira is closely associated with spirituality, especially among the Shona people of Zimbabwe. The lamellophone is now a common musical instrument globally.

A small, brown, rusty metal object in the shape of an oar.
Thumb piano key from Great Zimbabwe site. Foreman Bandama

Musical bells were found in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia from Later Iron Age contexts. Both double and single bells existed and, for example, at Great Zimbabwe both were recovered. Ethnographically, musical bells are known to have originated in West and Central Africa and they were most likely introduced to southern Africa through trade. These idiophones are said to have been played to announce the arrival of kings. Musical bell

Musical instruments are seldom found in the archaeological record and are not easily identifiable, so there is a lot of debate among researchers when it comes to identifying these instruments from the archaeological record. Some instruments may not have been musical instruments per se but rather sound-producing implements that were used to convey certain messages or used for ritual purposes.

By Joshua Kumbani, Phd candidate

Extracted from