Gwai/Chuma totem history and Eulogy

The Gora, gwai/mukuruvambwa was the popular gwai dynasty. Devera is one of the Gwai dynasties though little known when compared to Gora. There were also links between Gora and a group  that accompanied Nyamhunga, a dynasty that reached Zambezi-Sanyati confluence area, who were displaced in 1957 and relocated to Hurungwe (partly Kariba). However, the Nyamhunga people’s gwai chidawo is commonly referred to as Zambu. We do not know if this Zambu is associated with Zambu, one of Derere, chief of vaShawasha people, who led them from Mahungwi to Wedza, these were expert iron smiths who made knives, spears, axes etc, but Nyamhunga people are most likely an offshoot/descendents of the Gora dynasty. This makes the writer somehow think that Devera mentioned above may actually be Derere. However Derere’s totem was Soko and possibly the splinter group could have changed their totem to Gwai.

Both Devera and Gora had come from the territory between the Mubvinzi and Nyaguwe where a ruler named Kanyoka had a daughter who married the ancestor of the Chikwaka mbano/matemayi dynasty. Conflict between the mbano and gwai groups, with Rozvi involvement, led to the former dynasty coming to rule the disputed area, while Kanyoka’s grandson moved to Chivero’s country. There he was given land in the Matanha area, east of Nyundo tributary, and founded the Gora dynasty. This would have been before 1800.

Gora was a nickname given to one of their ancestors, Mavudzi, by the Varozvi. While entertaining the Rozvi he composed a lyric which likened himself unto a vulture (Gora) which does not settle until he spies a prey. The Rozvi understood his request and agreed to give him an area in which to settle. This area lay between Muvande and Nyundo rivers.

Mavudzi was the first to hold the name Gora , he was succeded by his son Muwunduri, who in turn was succeeded by his three brothers Chawasarira,Wanokorerwa and Marigumura. Next to succeed was Zinu the son of Rerezo, son of Wanokorerwa. Zinu was succeeded by his full brother Dzvairo. Next was Chirimuta, son of Benura, son of Masango – father not known. Next to succeed was Munako, son of Mafuridze, son of Munyongani, son of Masundasora, son of Marigumira. Next was Chigamba, son of Zinu , followed by Mhike also a son of Zinu.

The order of ruling were as follows: Mavudzi(Gora)–>>Muwunduri–>>Chawasarira–>>Marigumure–>>Zino–>>Dzvairo–>>Chirimuta–>>Munako–>>Chigamba–>>Mhike–>>Zinyama

Gora claimed to have granted Nherera settling rights in his area east of Nyundo. When tribal leaders were called to Salisbury, Nherera through some guile managed to procure the Chieftainship of the Matanha area. Since then Gora became subservient to Nherera. This resulted in constant bickering and misunderstandings between Gora and Nherera. Eventually Gora set up his own court in defiance of Nherera. It is claimed that Nherera usurped Gora’s rights when the latter fled in fear from the guns and foreworks at Edward V11’s coronation celebrations in Salisbury. Thus it was claimed that the Rozvi gave Gora land and he in turn allowed Nherera to settle.

The more prosaic truth is that in the late 1890s, the NC Hartley found several different groups in Matanha and put Nherera over them for convenience sake. In 1953, Gora was recognized a headman and it was decided to place him under Mashayamombe. This group is still agitating for an independent chieftainship, but the size of the tribe doesn’t warrant more than a headmanship. Some villages under Gora included; Zinyama, Chimbito, Dzapata, Fere, Gora, Kabanda, Kwaramba, Manyere, Mubaiwa, Mudzingwa, Musarurwa, Muzanenamo, Ngoroma, Tafira, Tsuro, Karanda, Katsambe and Tazvivinga.

Gora claimed all the land east of Nyundo, however, this seems rather extravagant, as both Mashayamombe and Nherera had large concentration of followers east of the Nyundo, to the north and south of him. Gora’s influence ends on an unknown stream between Karanda kraal and Matebe kraal. To the north his influence reaches as far as Tsuro, Mubaiwa and Dzapata kraals. To the east they are bound were European farms. To the west the boundary was the Nyundo river.

Kraals affected by the boundary are Karanda and Katsambe. Katsambe claimed to have settled in his present area well before both Gora and Nherera. Gora was the first followed by Nherera. Ever since the rebellion his people have been under chief Nherera. Katsande’s kraal split from him and they are related by marriage. These 2 kraals were reluctant to speak out and whom they preferred allegiance to. However, they had no strong ties with either and did not seem to mind who their leader was.

Totem Praise

The sheep totem (gwai, hwai, imbelele) is commonly called chuma or machuma referring to women beads. The clan is normally composed of quiet people from both sexes. The females are smart intellectuals, beautiful and heavily built. The males are tall, slender and average competitors. They do not eat mutton like any other clans who do not eat the flesh of their totem. They normally use chuma, mukuruwambwa or zambu as their chidawo.They praise themselves as follows:

Maita Gwai, Maita mukuruwambwa, Maita zambu, Vane chuma chisingaverengwi Vakatorerwa umambo naMabvakure, Maita hwai yangu iyi, Ikachema kunofa dangwe, Ukaidya unopera mazino, Maita vana vaMbarure, Maita vana vaChigondo, Vanemumba makazvarwa murungu, Zvaitwa mhuri yaNyamhunga, Zvaitwa mhuri yaGora, Maita zvenyu vari Goromonzi, Vari Mharamasimbe, Kuziva zvenyu vari Manyewe, Vari Baramhanya, Tatenda vari Mburwi, Zvaitwa, Zvaitwa Gono, Zvaitwa Gumbi, Zvaitwa Gwai, Maita vari Mhondoro, Maita Sembe, Chuma-Chitunge, Tinotenda vari kwaMashayamombe, Tinotenda Chinhove changu chichi, Zvaonekwa vari Doworo, Maita mwana waGora, Zvaonekwa Gwai rangu iri, Zvaonekwa Mukuruwambwa. Zvaonekwa Mushambadzi. Zvaonekwa Kota. Zvaonekwa Muzanarwo Zvaonekwa chibaba chavose MHIRIZHONGA.

By Misheck Samanyanga

Sources: Largely from D.N. Beach & National Archives

77 Replies to “Gwai/Chuma totem history and Eulogy”

    1. Kamba is a different animal from Gwai. Kamba seems to be a distinct totem from gwai Gumbi. Where is this difference coming from. A closer look at the whole praise train from the Gumbi of Nyanga, they are different from those listed here. They are, Gumbi, nyahwari, mukota, shuma-shewusaru, shuma- shevutungwa, muchena, Goride etc

      1. As long as vari vana Gwai, Gumbi or Chuma they’re tge same people. You have to understand that people settled in different parts of the country and over time assimilated into local systems and languages. Shuma just means Chuma for example.

      2. You have the clue broo I also had my father wachidero tinotodetemba kuti maita Gwai , maita Nyahwari , mukota ,chuma ,Gumbi etc buh zvakazonzi. Takawandisa all over the Zimbabwe Buh tinozodetemba zvakasiyana nekuda kwenzvimbo dzatinoraramira tiri uye vamwe vaizorwisana nehama vonogara kure pakudetemba. Vaigona kuisa zita rasekuru. Zvoita sezvasiyana buh tiri vamwe hanzii Gumbi i gumbi usazoroora hama yako , saka apo bro pamati shuma -chuma like vamwe vanoti Gombe isu toti Gumbie , ndezvimwechete Zvozosiyana nenzvimbo dzatinoraramira tiri chete kut tinotaura sei like Ana samanyika look the ascent yedu pakutaura , instead of chi – we put Shi instead of nei we say ngenyi I hope you get what I’m trying to say # Mutamvu From Nyanga ,Chief Tangwena

  1. Wow interesting. I’m a Mugadza from Marondera vakadzi tiri ana MaChuma. This info is an eye opener. Thank you

  2. l wish to greatfully thank you to all reciepients who acknowledge to know where you come from and how this totem came from how does it originates ,my fellow machuma and Gumbi be proud of your self .l thank you for more information dia 0773071765 Captain Banyisto

  3. I am a proud gwai from murehwa. I know at one point my father was in line to our chieftainship but was presented by internal politics.
    I am definitely a proud gwai

    1. @washington, Gwai translation is a turtle in original language back in the day in eastern part of Zim/Mozambique ( ‘VaSena’ etc ) Shona translation is sheep though so there is a bit of confusion .

    2. I’ve also been told that my Gwai is a turtle.I’m Chuma Gumbi Gwai and some relatives believe we are turles hamba dzemumvura because we came from Zwangendaba clan which migrated via the Mozambique coast where there are turtles.Normally Zulus and Ndebeles didn’t use animals as their totems,so this furthers the confusion!

    3. Manicaland it’s Kamba, which is mainly because we moved from Mozambique, Tete province from muti waMukota. Our complete train of praises is different from those from other provinces in Zimbabwe.

  4. Anyone with details I’m tshepo Gwai born in the north west in south africa I cant find our history nor how come we ended up in south Africa

  5. Isu tisu ekwaMutare, tingoseenzesa Kamba’tortoise’. Proud to be Machuma and thank you for the info.

    1. Hi Hellington, kindly get in touch with me please on 0712513688, I need to talk to you am so happy to find you here.



  6. I’m so happy to know our history. Please I need more information on this part of my history.
    Ndiri Gwai Mukuruvambwa from Mhondoro. Get in touch on 0774435212. Thank you so much.

  7. Hesi hama yangu. I’m Gumbi too from Nyazura Mukamba . I’m very happy to meet you all here and l have created a group on WhatsApp rakanzi Gwai Machuma and if you want to be added in there contact me on 0774751756. Maybe your next destiny can be unlocked neveropa rako ava. We are
    a humble , smart and intelligent people who are gifted mune zvemaoko… Ichokwadi chiro mu history iyo… I conform and confirm to it.

  8. I’m looking for the whole Manyika version of Gwai , kamba mutupo , I see the way yaunodetembwa kwandakaroorwa is different than the shona version

    Vanoti maita gwai , maita gumbi , nyahwari , chikokoma , but manje vanhu havachaziva the whole mutupo kuti unonzi chii

    1. Gumbi , Kamba, nyahwari , chikokoma, mukota (a place with a undying tree in Tete province, Mozambique), shuma-shewusaru, shuma-shevutungwa, muchena, ….etc.

  9. Intrigued by that chuma from zhombe under chief also interested in knowing my family tree .if there is anyone who can assist me can contact me on my app number +263719943849

  10. Eheka tiripo anaMachuma vacho
    Varingarohwe nemheni
    Gwayana raMambo
    Kupota kubarakomba
    Ehe Gumbi
    Eheka tiripo

    I love my totem zvekudaro

  11. Also proud to be associated with our people of Gwai Gumbi Zambu Chinove Murove.All I know from my elders is that we are Geezi people from Ethiopia and our Great Grandfather is Chiriweka(Menelik by King Solomon through Makeda/Queen of Sheba).If you want to hear more about our totem go to Johane Masowe weChishanu, that’s our traditional church -Monophystism).I can round up saying madzibaba edu ainamata uye varungu saka muchinzwa mudetembi.Our fathers went as far as Swaziland running away from Mohammed Wars around 500AD where we brought the Nkala Maposa People to Zimuto Area..We settled ourselves at Mutingwende Bikita,and some in Mberengwa the Murove people and some in Mhondoro,the Chinove.This is how we got spread..We are Habirus-Baruramasango.Zambu,Gumbi, Chinove and Murove refers to the tail ndicho chizere chuma “fat” something liquid.Chinozara ndove mudanga hence “Murove or Chinove”.As quiet people we don’t begin a fight just like our ances Ibrahim and Isaac -Mukuruvanbwa unyerere.The issue of Dewera refers to the tail or follower we followed after the Rozvi who were our Heads(Mombe).
    Otherwise didn’t know that we were related to “Kamba-tortoise” and was perplexed much by “Hora which is vulture but now see the connection it’s due to Menelik mwana akazvarwa naqueen of Sheba thru Solomon so mwana azvarwa asinababa mumusha uno anonzi “Gora” saka pachizonzi vane mumba makazvarwa murungu.Menelik was a Geezi among the Hamitic (VaTema). Some of our relatives are the Nzou Hwesa people who are also Jewish.

    1. We have a village full of Machuma in Mt Darwin,I’m aware we are scattrerd.This is interesting indeed,ende ndochechi yangu my God

  12. Thank you so much neniwo ndiri Gumbi mukuruvambwa wepa Murehwa apo l have a sense of belonging now because l was one kid who always wanted to know my roots

  13. Happy to learn my origin.Gwaai from Mt Darwin.We have our village full of Gwaai Machuma only.Happy meeting my brothers and sisters here.

  14. We’re not too many as compared to other totems and that’s why if you see any Chuma, Gwai/Hwai, Gumbi, Mukuruwambwa, MuchenawaShe….just know We’re end and the same people. There will be slight variations in chidau or detembo but it’s normally just because people settled in different parts of the country and assimilated into the local environments…for example the Shuma people are still Chuma.
    The Goride, Chiwaya are still Chuma Gwayi.
    I believe from reading somewhere that we are Chuma because we used to trade gold, beads and other precious with white people…especially the Portuguese. I think that’s why we’re also vana Goride.
    However, somebody on here said Chuma refers to the sheep’s fat tail. I would need to research on that.

    Don’t quote me on this one but I believe we’re Muchena waShe because either our women tend to be fair in complexion. Maybe somebody can educate me please.

    Also, somebody said Gumbi refers to the tail…is that true? I also need to know why we are Mukuruwambwa?

    I believe our women can be praised by saying… ‘maita makwinya-makwinya, vanokwinyaira vachienda kuzvipare…vane magaro makuru….(and so forth).

    Let’s discuss.
    Maita Chuma changu chichi

  15. Im Gwayi Msibi Tshababa frm Bubi. Related to Mashayamombe pple, who left Bubi for Mashonaland leaving their cattle behind hence to us the Swati-Ndebele we call them Matshiyangombe

  16. Ini ndinonzi kuMasvingo kuZaka Jerera mudumbu rekwa Chapwanya.Ndafara kuziva kwatakabva tese vaMachuma Gwayi.Ndinotenda Ndiri Gwenyambira Tiriparwendo hit maker.Ndiri black Smith tese nevakawanda vekumba yedu vanoita vataura zvese izvi.Tinotenda.

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