Chikomba District history

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

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

Zunde raMambo concept

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

TRADITIONAL LEADERS IN CHIKOMBA DISTRICT

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

Chief Chivese

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

Chief Musarurwa

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

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

https://zimtribes.com/search/links/surname/musarurwa/member/

Chief Kareya

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

Chief Maromo

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

Chief Neshangwe

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

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

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

Chief Mutekedza

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

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

Chief Nyoka

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

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

Beow is Chief Nyoka’s family tree extract:

https://zimtribes.com/search/links/surname/nyoka/member/

Chief Mushava

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

The First Chimurenga in the Chikomba District

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

Author: Ashley Maganzo is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and a freelance Research Historian for 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.

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

References

Agere, H. (2022) US1bn project plants seed of hope. Available on: https://www.sundaymail.co.zw/usbn-project-plants-seed-of-hope/amp

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

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

Mushava, S. (2015) The story of Mutekedza Chiwashira. Available on: https://www.herald.co.zw/the-story-of-mutekedza-chiwashira/amp/

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

The Patriot (2015) Tormenting whites from a British Museum: The legacy of Chiwashira. Available on: https://www.thepatriot.co.zw/old_post/tormenting-whites-from-a-british-museum-the-legacy-of-chiwashira/

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