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

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16 Replies to “Chief Chivero origins & the Shava totem”

  1. A notable summary of the Shava Mhofu clan, but wanted to know the relation between Nyashanu and Mutekedza.
    I am a Shava Museyemwa and was told by my Grandfather that our Great grandparents used to be settled around Charter Estates but we were removed by the white government and resettled in Tsate after Sadza Growth Point in Chikomba, initially under Chief Neshangwe but recently changed to be under Tambaoga @Shumba Business . My great grandfather was Musonza Muhera ari chizvarwa cha Chief Nyashanu.

  2. Mbiru ,the great great grand parent of the mhofu dynasties came from where before he settled in Gombe hills(Buhera)?

    1. The Shava have always been close to the Rozvi, in fact they are related and I think most Shavas in Zim have a southern origin not northenn origin and this could explain why they opted to move from the South and South East to the North.

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