Marondera fascinating history explored

Marondera is a district in Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe and is located about 72km east of Harare. The name Marondera was mispronounced and became known as Marandellas. On the 21st of April 1982 the name was changed back to Marondera. In the history of the district, it was first known as Marondera s Kraal who was chief of the VaRozvi people living in the area. It constituted a village in 1913, a town in 1943, and a city in 1982. Marondera was located in the Kopje area along the banks of the Ruzawi River four miles to the south of the present location. In 1890 it was used by British colonialists as a resting camp than a town as it was a small settlement of mud and wattle dwellings around the Ruzawi outspan, which was a stopover station for transport-wagon riders on the Harare (Salisbury)-Mutare (Umtali) highway. Other buildings included a police station, a store and an office for the Native Commissioner. When the rail line was established the Native Commissioners office and the police station moved closer to the line and the outspan was abandoned becoming old Marandellas. The present day Marondera grew around the Marandellas Hotel and railway station. During the South African Boer war it was used by the British as a staging point for military operations into the Transvaal, and in World War II it was used as a refuge for displaced Poles (from Poland).

Marondera is surrounded by commercial farms where residents go for seasonal employment. It used to service a large forestry, markets timber, tobacco, beef, maize and dairy products until the redistribution of land in 2000. The district is made up of four constituencies namely: Marondera East, Marondera West, Marondera Central and a small northern portion of Wedza North, most of which is the Wedza District. The district is made up twenty three administrative wards whose councilors make up a full council. The council is also split into committees who work on different areas that provide services to the district. For instance, under Chiota Communal Reserve other members of the council included four headman and fifteen elected councilors including four from Chiota, four from Nenguwo, three from Nyandoro and two from Samuriwo and another two from Mudzimerema.

Early History

In the history of the Vambire (a tribe under the rule of chief Svosve) when chief Svosve died his son Mukanganise desired to be installed as chief after his father. This led to his (Mukanganise’s) sister Chikombo to visit Mambo’s residence at Dzimbahwe to secure her brothers approval to be the next chief. When Chikombo had been away from home for too long, her brother Msora followed her at Mambo’s residence. As a result, Mambo bestowed on him the name Marondera which meant to follow. When Mukanganise died, he was succeeded by Marondera (Msora) and Chikombo was appointed “headman” by her father and she married Nechiwari of the Tembo totem but her children assumed her totem which was Soko. Marondera lived at Ziwande hills which was popularly known as Carruthersville Estate in the district. Marondera was killed by an army of warriors sent by Mukanyadze, a chief from the west bank of the Savi River after he murdered his two step mothers who were also his father’s widows. This act was supported by his two brothers Nyahuye and Gahadza but the name Marondera had become hereditary. Nyahuye was appointed as chief Svosve and the house of Marondera was degraded. Therefore, chief Svosve appointed Marondera as headman and directed him to settle at Nyameni. During the 1896 rebellion, Marondera made common cause with the rest of the tribe, with his people taking part in the Shona rebellion, attacking Europeans, then concentrated on Ruzawi Inn. Marondera lived in the Chiota reserve.

The Shona rebellion 1896

When the Shona rebellion broke out, Marondera area was highly affected. Since it was a white settlement and ammunition depot it was a major stopover station for troops and supplies from Beira en-route to the west. It was an important center of communication situated at the junction between Harare (Salisbury) and Mutare (Umtali) and Chivhu (Fort Charter). It served as the administration Centre in the district with a small population of white people. On the 23rd of March 1896 the Matabele war broke out but it wasn’t expected by the white people that the Shona would follow suit until attacks on random white settlers began, including the Norton family in June. Even the Rev John White was taken by surprise. The death of Bernard Mzeki shows an interesting angle of the driving factors for the uprising. It was a general national revolt about the seizure of land, rights and spiritual beliefs among the local Shona people and the attempts to convert them to Christianity. What incensed Muchemwa (Chief Mangwende’s son) and others was the commitment that Bernard had in the white man’s church such that he was believed to be a white man in disguise under black skin. The same impression was held on Molimile Molele the Methodist catechist at Nenguwo mission (Masingo) now known as Waddilove Methodist Mission established in 1892 and he too lost his life during the rebellion on account of his attachment to the white man when he was trying to escape with James White a farmer who was wounded on his arm by a shot from a firearm.

The acceptance of the missionaries and the mission station at Nenguwo by Chief Nenguwo prompted the people of Chizengeni and Chiriseri to murder Molele and other whites such as Captain Bremner who was at James White’s farmstead at Mendamu. However, Chief Nenguwo merely made land available for the missionaries but did not become a Christian himself. Chief Gatsi and Muchemwa were not willing to give themselves up without a fight. During the course of the rebellion, the Shona people at Gatsi’s and Svosve’s fled into caves, dynamites were used on them and the district was being slowly cleared. Some chiefs refused to give up unlike Chief Makoni who surrendered but was eventually killed. Many began to move away from their homes following what Mangwende had done. Others travelled north to Murehwa district or east to Chiota under Chief Sadza or south to Wedza just like Svosve’s people had done. Chief Svosve remained with some of his followers in the rocky plateau where the Svosve Reserve is currently located although he was later captured. By the end of July the uprising was slowly coming to an end, with herdmen surrendering to the Native Commissioner including Chief Mangwende of Murehwa although he lived for centuries in Mahopo (Marondera). However, the 1896 rebellion had lasting effects on the history of the Marondera and the chieftainships that exist today. It was not until May 1897 when the rebellion ended in the District and that the community was rebuilt. The early administration feared that there may be another uprising after the first Chimurenga/Umvukela in Mashonaland and Matabeleland. The settlers believed that spirits of Mbuya Nehanda (Charwe) of the Hwata lineage and Sekuru Kaguvi (Gumboreshumba) of the Rozvi people were the epicenter of the uprising.

In October 1897 Gumboreshumba was taken into custody after some chiefs such as Kunzwi-Nyandoro and Mashayamombe surrendered. In December 1897 the medium of Nehanda was captured. They were both sentenced to death and were hanged by the neck on 27 April 1898. Nehanda went to the scaffold refusing baptism but Gumboreshumba agreed to be baptized into Catholic Faith but he was still hanged. Therefore, to guard against any recurrence of the uprising, in 1904 the government studied the composition of the Rozvi people in each district and the Hwata chieftainship in Mazoe was abolished after the uprising and was relocated to the Muzarabani District to avoid any resurgence of the uprising.      

Even after the rebellion there was no sudden turn to Christianity not until the 1930’s when education became popular and was available in missions. In 1902 when population was boosted to 50 John Finch reopened the hostel at old Marandellas and named it Ruzawi Inn as a health resort and weekend hotel until 1927. That year saw the beginning of the present Ruzawi School which started as a preparatory school for boys on leased buildings. In 1931 Ruzawi Schools Ltd. bought the property and the little community. The town also had the first coffee production factory in 1950 started by Kayteyn John and K became the brand name for K’s coffee occasionally referred to as Marandellas coffee. The district has since laid its foundations for the farming community which the prosperity of the district depends.

Chieftainships in the district

The district comprised of Svosve tribal trust lands, Chiota tribal trust lands and the Chimbwanda African purchase area. In the current setting Marondera West constituency consists of Chihota communal area and includes business centres at Mahusekwa, Chiwanzamarara and Manyaira. Marondera East constituency consists of the Swosve communal lands and the Rhodesclarke, Chitangazuva, Waddilove, Musi and Mukute, Surrey and Dambi Estates areas.

Chiota tribal trust land

The Chiota tribal trust land/Chiota Communal Land/Shiota Reserve has farming as the major economic activity in the area with crops such as tobacco, maize and vegetables as major products. The area consisted of five chiefs: Nenguwo, Samuriwo, Chiota, Nyandoro, Mudzimerema. The duties of the headmen are the same among the Tribal Trust Lands. He holds a court at which local disputes are tried. He is also responsible for conveying important messages from the chief to his people and he also collects personal taxes and includes record of them in his book. He is also responsible in the distribution of land. In Nenguwo there were two communities one centered on the chief and the other centered on Sadunhu Sadza.

Chiota comprises of the following communities:

  1. Marondera: he believes he is separate from Chiota and chiota felt the same
  2. Goremucheche: this community has more kinship ties with Seke than Chiota
  3. Chiota’s: this area is centered around the chief
  4. Nyandoro and Madzimurema:

Chiota chieftaincy

The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Chihota and spelt as Chiota in official records. The name was derived from an edible tuber called hota or popularly known as tsenza or coleus esculentus in English. The hota tuber was the only vegetable that the founding ancestors consumed when they first settled in the area as they did not cultivate. The founder was then given the name Chiota by his neighbors. The chieftainship is of the Mbizi totem (Tembo) and his chidau was Mazvimbakupa; Samaita Binga of the Manyika tribe. Chihota’s dunhu is big and is very close knot.

Goremucheche’s dunhu was a loose community and this could have been the facto pain against community development. The definition of district boundaries resulted in Goremucheche falling in Marandellas district where he now owes allegiance to Chief Chiota. Under one of the early Chief Sekes, Goremucheche was Seke’s mupurisa and guarded areas between Nyarushezhi and Nyatsime.  

Mudzimurema chieftainship

The traditional name of the chieftainship is Mudzimurema, their mutupo is Soko and chidau is Kumene of the Vambire tribe. The tribe moved to this area from the farm areas taken up by the Europeans around Wedza and Marondera district. The tribe’s old area was bounded by the Save and Mbowo rivers in the east and by Chiefs Nyandoro, Nenguwo and Mutekedza in the south and west. The area was known as Samuriwo country. The chief was appointed by the people and accepted by the government on the bases of succession from the deceased younger brother of his father (Babamnini) i.e. collateral succession.

From the tree Muchechese was in power from 1928 till 1978 when he died and Parawora was his deputy. Mubaiwa Chipfakachira acted as chief from 1979 till 1985 and Patrick Muchenje took over from 1985. During the period of 1998 to 2008 he was a member of the Mashonaland East Provincial Chiefs Council. He died in the year 2021 at his farm in Seke after battling diabetes and stroke and was buried at Mudzimurema village in Marondera. The headman was Chimbaira and his mutupo is Soko and chidau Kumene of the Mbire tribe. The traditional headman was Matimba installed in 1926 followed by Mungwari Chimbaira from 1943 and died in 1968 followed by headman Marufu appointed in 1975 and was killed in 1979.

Below is a link to chief Mudzimurema Family tree:

Nyandoro chieftaincy

The traditional name of the chieftaincy is Nyandoro. The mutupo is Nhari and chidau is UneNdoro. A warrior called Nyandoro seemed to be the origin of the Nyandoro clan name (a round shell worn by a mambo to signify authority).The tribe originated from the descendants of Batorwa and Chiunde. Zhanje was son of Chivinde according to genealogy by the district commissioner. In another record Zhanje was the son of “Baturwa” and there was no mention of Chivinde. Early history according to informants has it that the tribe originated from Charter (Chivhu) district during Chakavarika’s lifetime they fled the Madzviti raids towards Svosve area and settled at Matswitswi and then Mangondo near Marandellas followed by Ruswinga near Soswe and then in Mangwende. As the tribe increased, they were forced to occupy territory at Rusike, Goromomzi District. After their defeat to the Matabele the tribe retraced their steps to Charter. It was discovered the Europeans had occupied Enkeldoorn (Chivhu) and they were forced to settle in their present area and at this time only chief Samuriwo and Chihota occupied this area early.

Below is the linkj to Nyandoro Family tree:

According to District Commissioner in 1964 the tribe originated from Enkeldoorn. A svikiro said “let us leave this hot tired country and go to the high country where salt is in the rocks” the person of note who came with this party was Chimbwanda. They stopped at Tsunga in Zvimba area, covering Chinhoyi, Chegutu and Norton) and the country was unoccupied, their burial place was traditionally Tsunga, but now it is Dikitira in the Marandellas district. The Ndebele arrived when the Nyandoro’s were settled in the present Zvimba area and they fled to Chiota in Marondera. Chiota allocated them some land where Kunzvi Dam is extending to St Pauls Musami. The Shona Uprising coincided with Chief Kunzvi being recognized to be a leader of the Northern Shona which included the Zezuru, Korekore and Manyika. The influence of the chief to the Southern Shona which is the Karanga was in dispute as a result of the influence of Mzilikazi and Lobengula in those areas.  Due to colonialism some Nyandoros were forcibly moved to Mvuma and Chivhu areas. A prominent Nyandoro is Makura, a chihoro who was Chaminuka’s wife.

Chief Kunzwi was installed and died in 1911. Mzeketwa was headman Nyandoro under chief Samuriwo from 1912 and was deposed in 1926, Shambambeva was also headman under chief Samuriwo from 1927. Mazhazha was chief in succession to late chief Samuriwo from 1937 and deposed in 1950. Followed by Munemo from 1953 till he died in 1976. Then Paradzyi who was acting chief from 1977 till he died in 1985. Headman Chirenje was under chief Nyandoro of the mutupo shumba, Nyamuziwa of the Buja tribe he was first officially appointed in 1972 and his name was Tasariranhamo. There were various headmen under chief Kunzvi and these included; Gongombi, Matarutsi, Msarururigwa, Mutshikanda and Shambambera.   

Svosve tribal trust land

The tribe came from a place called Chikwidziro in the area of the Makorekore and the chief of the area was called Dendenyore. He settled in the west bank of Winimbi River, whilst his sister Wachikombo lived on the east bank. After the death of Dendenyore, his son Mkanganise became chief and moved into the Masikana hills where his aunt (the sister of Dendenyore) lived. When his aunt died he appointed his daughter in her place and gave her the land between the Ruzawi and Karembige Rivers. When Mkanganise died, his son Nyahuye succeeded him. During Nyahuye’s reign war broke out between his tribe and that of Mtekedza and Mtekedza was defeated which resulted to Mount Wedza being added to Svosve’s district. When Nyahuye died Mutsahuni was appointed, he lived to a great age and was succeeded by his nephew Govha who was son of Nyahuye and he was succeeded by Nyakunengwa who was the son of Mutsahuni. When Mutsahuni died, Mgurwa, the son of Govha became the chief. A famine was in the country during the reign of Mgurwa and Mgurwa’s headman Chigodora joined forces with Sungandaba a Matebele induna and drove Mgurwa out of the country, leading him to settle in the Chirumanzi area and while there, a Shangan induna named Mchochenyani came to the district and attacked Sungandaba near Wedza who fled north of the Zambezi to form the Angori tribe. Mchochenyani then sent Mgurwa to back on the throne.

When Mgurwa died he was succeeded by Nemini, the son of Nyakunengwa and when he died, Chikunguru, the son of Mgurwa became chief. During his reign the area got attacked and raided by the Portuguese led by Rea and they were later attacked by Makoni, and after that by Nyamande the father of Gungunyani, leading to the death of Chikunguru. Chikosha who was the son of Nemini became the chief and during his reign, a year before the pioneers occupied the country,   Goveira and Piva (Portuguese) visited the district giving the paramounts guns and powder. Chikosha was captured during the rebellion and he died a few months after the rebellion was put down and Shibonoli, a son of Mrugwa was appointed by government.

Sosve/ Sosve Tribal Trust Lands/ Soshwe Reserve/ Svosve Communal Lands was originally designated as Sosve Mission Reserve in 1900. The British expropriated a huge part of the Svosve territory for farming and the local people split between Svosve, Chiota and Wedza. They were under chief Gahadza-wa-Svosve of the Soko totem and chidau Moyondizwo of the Rozvi tribe. There was chief Chibonore appointed in 1898, followed by Choto Mututa who was Chief Svosve in 1905 till 1927, followed by Gambiza from 1928 and died in 1939, followed by Choto Chibonore from 1943 and died in 1962, followed by deputy chief Guveya from 1961 to 1962 and he also acted from 1962 till he died in 1971, leaving Nowea Nyahuye acting as chief from 1972 till 1974. In 1972 that is when the Gahadza-wa-Svosve chieftainship was established and Nowea Nyahuye was appointed chief from 1974 till he died in 1977/1978. Tapfuma Timothy acted as chief from 1978 till 1984 when Enock Muvirimi was appointed chief.

There was a split among the Svosve to form Gahadza-wa-Svosve chieftainship. Muzanenamo David was acting chief in Wedza under chief Nyahuye-wa-svosve from 1972 till Chitau was appointed as chief in 1972 till his death in 1983 and left chinembiri choto acting as chief. With headmans Makwarimba, Mubaiwa, Goto, Chigodora, Musanu and Murwira (who was once under chief Chiota). This area is controlled by a headman Chapendama who is the leader of the community. Headman chikosha (Chaitwa) under chief Svosve was appointed in 1951 and died in 1957, followed by headman Chapendama (Nyahuye) appointed in 1961 and the headmanship was terminated in 1972 as he was appointed as acting chief Gahadza-wa-Soswe and headmanship lapsed. The Chikumbiri headmanship under Chief Svosve was deposed in 1949 when Chikwepa was headman after succeeding Chikumbiriki in 1943. As well as Gambiza headmanship which also lapsed. The sadunhu (headman) traditional name was Chapendama of Svosve and mutupo Soko, chidau Vudzijena of the Vambire tribe.

There were kraal heads (masabhuku) who were literally the keepers of the books, tax register. Some kraals such as Gwasira, Chawenga, Manyengavana and Nemkuyu left Svosve for Murewa on account of shortage of land, other kraals left Wedza for Svosve and are now Svosve’s subjects and these include Zenda, Gambiza, Makusha, Mudzimukunze, Ruswa, Mapfanya and Zigumbu. Villages in Svosve area at the time included: Chapendama, Zinatsa-Munyuki, Mutenga, Chakudunga, Chikwana, Gonye, Badza, Chibanda, Wenjere, Muchemwa, Mubvumi, Munyukwi Jiri, Shoniwa-Neshamba, Choto, Gore, Magorimbo, Kundishora, Gwatidza, Kwaramba- Masangomayi, Gomo, Nyahuye, Chiwewete – Mpazwiriwo.

In 2005 there were sixty six masabhuku of which two were women in Svosve. In Wedza the Svosve chieftaincy consists of communities like the: Mbaiwa, Goto, Makwarimba, Chigodora and Musanhu. It is believed that Nembire moved from Mt Darwin which is under headman Nembire today and they are believed to have come from Svosve they came to settle in Marandellas district. His father Mukanganise was the first Svosve. The 1896 uprising may have contributed to the splitting of the group, therefore the tribe is divided into three: 1. Svosve lands known as VaZomba 2. The Wedza known as Mbiranhunge 3. The Marandellas group known as the Marondera under their headman. They live in Chiota area and they are bidding on being recognized as a chieftaincy. Some believe there is a fourth which is Mudzimurema in Chiota although Mudzimurema claims Rozvi ancestry.  

Svosve went through a full range of modernizing interventions from the 1940’s as a means to improve African farming.  These included the introduction of mechanical works to control soil erosion through contours and drainage strips, destocking of cattle, and the reorganization of farming into designated zones under the Native Land Husbandry Act in 1952-6 such as residential, arable and grazing zones. As a result, In Svosve the adult male population was reduced by fifty percent as they were moved to other reserves in 1947 and cattle reduced from 4077 in 1943 to 1616 in 1956. However, the rapid increase of population in Svosve after independence in 1981 means that those who previously were in control of land since the colonial era were no longer the majority.

List of chiefs in Svosve


Mkanganise                            son of Dendenyore

Nyahuye                                  son of Mkanganise

Mutsahuni                               son of Mkanganise

Govha                                     son of Nyahuye

Nyakunengwa                         son of Mutsahuni

Mgurwa                                  son of Govha

Nemini                                                son of Nyakunengwa

Chikunguru                             son of Mgurwa

Chikosha                                 son of Nemini

Shibonolo                               son of Mgurwa

Chimbwanda African purchase area.

Native Purchase areas were established as a result of the Land Apportionent Act of 1930 following recommendations by Morris Carter Commision in 1925. These areas were designed as compensation for Africans who could not purchase land elsewhere. These were mostly of poor quality and in remote areas. Chimbwanda African purchase area was to the south of Chiota area. The area was opened around 1952 and settlement was based on the basis of agricultural preferences. This setup allowed for Africans to be able to buy small farms. There was a committee responsible for the conservation of the area and for advising farmers on better techniques. The farmers’ association was a platform for people to share and learn from each other. Changes in land governance – powers over land allocation were vested in traditional chiefs during the precolonial and colonial period to a certain extent, following the transition of these reserves as Tribal Trust Lands in 1969. The District Councils Act of 1982 section 8[2] required RDC to have land allocation responsibility. This was contested by the Chiefs and they won. The Traditional Leaders Act of 1999 formally restored customary chiefs’ land allocation roles in communal areas.  In the post 2000 era several claims were made on land after the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Chiefs utilized this opportunity to reassert their authority whilst the government committed itself to addressing the land shortages. For instance, Chief Svosve who made attempts to re-establish his control over lands, traditional authority and power.


Marondera carries a strong history of Zimbabwe and the Shona uprising 1896-7. During this uprising the spirit mediums coordinated various Shona chiefdoms predominantly Zezuru in an attempt to get rid of white settlers. The Kaguvi and Nehanda mediums played an important role in the coordination of the uprising and as leaders of the revolutionary rebellion.The tribal structure of the chiefs, sub chiefs, and village headmen represent the continuity of pre-colonial structures and these have been incorporated into the administrative and political structures of the nation at large.

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


Bishi, G. (2015). The colonial archive and contemporary chieftainship claims: the case of Zimbabwe 1935-2014. The University of the Free State.

Chimhowu, A. & Woodhouse, P. (2008) Communal Tenure and Rural Poverty: Land Transactions in Svoswe Communal Area, Zimbabwe. In Development and Change. Blackwell Publishing. 39(2) 285-308.

Morris, E. W. (1977) History of Native Tribes and Chiefs. Information supplied for the South African Native Affairs Commission, 1903. NADA

Posselt, N. C. (1927) Marondera. NADA.

Rennie, J. K. (1975) From Zimbabwe to a colonial chieftaincy; four transformations of the Musikavanhu territorial cult in Rhodesia.

General report on the Delineation of communities: Wedza Tribal Trust Land: Wedza District S2929/3/3 (1964)

General report on the Delineation of communitise: Marandellas Tribal Trust Land: Marandellas District S2929/3/8 Marandellas (1964)

3 Replies to “Marondera fascinating history explored”

  1. I enjoy our Zimbabwean history thank you so much Ashley for putting this together.
    I come from Mashayan’ombe dynasty and would be glad if you can share any materials with me.

    1. Good it’s said Marondera followed his father to Dzimbahwe does it mean they went with his sister (Chikombo)..??am a direct descendent of Marondera.4th generation

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