Buhera tribes explored, who are they!

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

History of Buhera District

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

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

Chieftainships in Buhera

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

Nyashanu chieftainship

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

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

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


Communities under chief Nyashanu

Murwira community

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

Mabvure Gudo community

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

Chirozva community

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

Neshava community

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

Chingombe community

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

Nemari-Chiweshe community

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

Mafuratidze-Mawire community

The community was under headman Mafuratidze-Mawire.  

Makuvisi Gudo community

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

Betera community

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

Nechawava community

 Nehonde was given the name Nechawava and area by Chikuwa.

Murambinda community

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

Murairwa community

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

Mudinzwa community

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

Mushumba community

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

Chamutsa community

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

Below is the Family Tree for Chief Chamutsa:


Chingombe community

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

Makumbe chieftainship

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Communities under Chief Makumbe:

Mbundiri community

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

Maburutse community

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

Garamwera community

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

Ngombeyarara community

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

Mugweni community

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

Diki community

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

Ruzengwe community

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

Mutasa community

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

Marume community

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

Chatindo community

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

Manjengwe community

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

Makuvisi community

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

Munyira community

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

Ngundu community

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

Chapwanya community

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

Mudzamiri community

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

Nerutenga community

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


Matsweru community

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

Wata community

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

Zenda community

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

Chitsunge community

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

Matide community

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

Rambanapasi community

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

Chirinda community

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

Gunguwo community

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

Gwebu Chieftainship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zinyuke, R. (2021, August 2). Marovanyati Dam changes Buhera lives. Retrieved from The Herald: https://www.herald.co.zw/marovanyati-dam-changes-buhera-lives/

3 Replies to “Buhera tribes explored, who are they!”

  1. There is quite a lot of info but there are many details that could be included. Tsodzo, the area in which Buhera district office lies is not included.
    The thrust of the article is the people of Buhera. There was an important Rozvi chief who is buried in Nerutanga area called Mutinhima. Tradition says he was buried with one of his wife. I do not see him in the narrative. Probably he fell outside the area of focus.

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