Shurugwi tribes and their origins

Shurugwi District (formerly Selukwe) is one of the eight districts of the Midlands Province in Southern Zimbabwe. It is an old district that was settled before colonization of Zimbabwe. It is located about 350km south of Harare and 37km south-east of Gweru. The town was established in 1899 on the Selukwe Goldfield which was discovered in the early 1890s after the annexation of Rhodesia by the Pioneer Column. On a clear day it is possible to see the hills around Masvingo and Great Zimbabwe over 145 km away. The district remains an important centre for gold, chrome, nickel and platinum mining. The Largest employers are ZIMASCO, Unki mine, Angloplats and the government. The town is located on Wolfshall Pass popularly known as Boterekwa due to its winding of the narrow road, negotiating its way up the mountains, steep slopes and sharp curves constructed by an Italian firm. In terms of traditional administration there are three chiefs namely: Chief Nhema, guarding the north, Chief Banga and Chief Ndanga in the south. These chiefs are supported by twelve headmen.


History of chieftaincies in Shurugwi

There are controversies about who settled first in the area, but it is generally accepted that the Mavedzenge were the first to settle when they migrated from Chivi in the 18th century. Mavedzenge then invited his uncle Nhema to settle in the area. Nhema then established supremacy over Mavengedze. The Land Apportionment Act of 1930 and the Native Land Husbandry Act of 1951 altered the boundaries of chiefdoms resulting to the creation of new chieftaincies. As the government appropriated land on racial basis in 1930, the Native Land Husbandry Act specified a limited number of beasts to be owned and introduced scientific farming methods that included: soil conservation mechanism such as digging of contour ridges, crop rotation, as well as, destocking of livestock. Following this Act fifty-four small scale farms were established to the east and south-east of the district in the Jobolinko-Rockford area and in the Gamwa area. Due to this establishment Chief Nhema’s subjects under headmen Mudzengi and Tinhira were relocated into areas formerly reserved for grazing. Other members relocated on their own accord to less densely populated areas such as Gokwe and Silobela for instance, Headman Mavedzenge who moved to Gokwe in the 1960’s and returned to Shurugwi in 1996 in Mavhumasha area.  Chiefs were expected to play a pivotal role in mobilizing their people to adopt these new policies in Tribal Trust Lands. Chief Nhema did not cooperate on the basis that the Native Reserves to accommodate his people and that more territory was required. Non-cooperation usually had consequences that included eviction from office, but however, Chief Nhema was not evicted after he demonstrated his understanding of these new policies.

Chief Nhema

Chief Nhema belongs to the Vamari tribe, his totem being Shumba and chidau Murambwi but have now adopted Masimira. Nhema was previously a headman under his own name. He was a direct descendant of the Nhema royal house before he was appointed as Chief in 1962 by the district commissioner and the people. After he was appointed he split the area of his dunhu (covering the west of Guinea Fowl known as Chikwingwishi, to the north the boundary went through Shayamavudzi Hill to the Tokwe River in the east) and kept a small portion for himself giving the majority to Nyahwa. Succession of the Nhema chiefs is listed below:


Headmen under Chief Nhema include: Chiborise, Mhloro, Nyahwa, Tinira, Mudzengi, Mpangayi, Mazivisa and Mavedzenge (Chikato division). The headman is appointed with the assistance of a svikiro who places his hand on the future headman head. This signifies that the spirit of the former chiefs and the tribes have settled upon the new headman.


The official name is Chiborise. Their totem is Shumba, chidau Masinire of the Mhari tribe. Chiborise used to be a chief, he became chief on the death of Ziyambe. The original boundary was quite big, it stretched past Diva to Lalapanzi, from Lalaphanzi to Guinea fowl, past Wanderer Mine to Chikopa then up to Senangwe and back to Lalapanzi. The area was then reduced during Ziyambes time of rule and most of the area was given to European farms around 1923 and he was reduced to headman. It is also claimed that in 1954 a part of this area was given to Mhloro by the District Commissioner. Rainmaking ceremonies also take place in the area. Offerings in the form of rapoko are taken to Chiborise who takes them to the svikiro who prepare beer which is then offered to the spirits through the Svikiro with people from different matunhu in attendance. There were also harvest ceremonies whereby the new crop “Donera” offerings are taken to the spot where the rain was asked for under a Chakata tree. Food from the offerings is cooked over a fire and thanks are offered and when the food is done the Svikiro is the first to taste. After this the Sadunhu spreads the word that the crops may be reaped and eaten. The list of headmen includes: Ziyambi, Navati Mapfumo, Maporisa, Tami Mugobogoro, Muchairi.


The official name is Mavedzenge. Their totem in Nzou and chidau Makawu of the Lemba tribe. The list of headmen includes: Mavedzenge, Mugumba, Marongwe, Mawere, tafirenyika Ndafana, Zambezi, Burombo, Dokotera Joniseni, Mhindu, James, Jonas, Matambo Gilbert Poshayi, Hebert Marongwe, Wilshire Nyoka. Mavedzenge a senior sadunhu under Nhema. He divided his dunhu between his older son Mugumba and his younger son Chino. Mugumba ruled over the area now known as Kwati and Chino’s dunhu passed into Burombo’s hands. Burombo was appointed in 1962 by the administration and by Chief Nhema as his father Chinho had been headman before him. Burombo succeeded his elder brother Kombayi who also succeeded their father Chinho. Zambezi the son of Kombayi who also was a kraalhead who also acted as sadunhu on the death of his father.


Their traditional name is Mazivisa and their totem is Shoko and chidau Jinda of the Mbire tribe. Their totem is as follows:

Maita Shoko,

WeJinda Marambire

Mhokore, Mutsoruga,

Vambire, Vazumba

Shoko dzangu Mbereka


VaChatokwe chine Gombana

Vashamba, vakutedza  kutedza

Moti kutedza kutedza mumbuzhe

Mukagohokwira wani.

 The Mazivisa clan is linked to the Nhema clan. The Mazivisa headmen include: Mazivisa, Makandire, Chikuni, Mandiyenga, Muzondo, Nyika, Ganyana Muzondo, John Kumbira, Essau Kumbira, Simon Musindo, Mashiri.


The official name is Mhloro he is known as the sadunhu of the Mhloro dunhu. His chidau is Masinire this is explained as being the chidau of children of Nhema. Mhloro’s dunhu is sometimes refered to as Mapani due to its rolling treeless fields. Mhloro was appointed on the basis that he was the eldest son of Makonese, son of chief Nhema and that Makonese was previous sadunhu of Mhloro’s dunhu he was selected by succession and because of his direct relationship to Chief Nhema. When Bushman Mhloro was appointed he was sent to Domboshava with various other Chiefs to learn about being a chief.


The Mudzengi clan are of the Shumba totem, Masinire chidau and are of the Mhari tribe. Mudzengi was of royal kin, he was the son of Chief Nhema, and was appointed in 1918 gore refruwenza appointed by the Native commissioner at the time who he called Manyatera. Gumira and Takawira were of the original house of Nhema. Nhema (father), Mudzengi (son of Nhema), Takawira and Gumira (sons of Mudzengi). In 2011 there was one headwoman. In most cases women are denied the headmen positions as they are deemed patriarchal positions by many. Headmen of the Mudzengi clan include: Mudzengi, Takawira, Gumira, Mbono Paul, Chingobo Lawrence, Zakaria Rambo, Jacob.


The Mpangayi clan are of the Tembo totem and Mbaiwa chidau of the Manyika descent. Mupangayi and family members came from the Bromley area looking for land and his uncle Chibururu whom he found living under chief Ndanga. Upon payment of gifts and cattle to Mambo, Mupangayi was given an area around the Wida hills. The dunhu is called Vungwi, Humbani claimed he was the grandson of Mpangayi, he was brother of the last Mupangayi (Furusa). His basis of succession was that of collateral succession. According to Hambani he succeeded Chidende who succeeded his elder brother Changunduma, the son of Mpangayi. Hambani succeded furusa his elder brother and furusa succeded chidende.   


The traditional name is Nyahwa of the Shumba totem, chidau Masinire and Mhari tribe. Tasara was appointed in 1962 by the District commissioner on the bases that he was the third cousin of the chief, he was chief’s main councillor. The dunhu is divided into two areas known as: Swika area and Nyahwa area.


The Tinhira clan of the totem Gumbo, Madhlira chidau and Sena tribe. Tinhira’s dunhu is known as Chipwidza after a local hill of that name. The arable portion is known as Jakata after the Muchakata trees which are predominant. Tinhira was appointed in 1927 by Chief Nhema Chiwira and by the Native Commissioner. Mtheliso succeeded Mashunye in 1917, Mashunye was Mtheliso’s fathers elder brother. He was first sadunhu of the Tinira area which is part of the old Mudzengi area by Chief Nhema Mudzengi for services rendered to the chiefdom. He was a famous blacksmith who manufactured hoes and spears which were also offered to chief Lobengula of the AmaNdebele as tributes he also paid lobola for one of Nhema’s wives.   Homera’s brother, Mtheliso was his predecessor, he became crippled in 1927 and could no longer perform the duties of sadunhu. Homera was then appointed as headman.

Chief Ndanga

The traditional name is Ndanga of the Shiri totem, Neva chidau formerly Mawokomavi of the Bonda tribe. In their early history there was a group pf people from the north who first settled at Mugoneratsinzi in Gazaland. Some of its people under Nemato moved to Buhera after a short stay there another set of people broke away under Nemato’s son Bara and settled in Gutu district. Bara died in Gutu and also his successor Sakunara. Sakunara’s son Chasura became chief. Later a fight occurred with a cousin in which Chasura was defeated, leading to him and his followers fleeing and found refuge in the Gorombe hills in Chibi district. They were prepared to fight for land but chief Chibi was too powerful and they proceeded to Shabani where they defeated the local tribe under Nyagowa. Chasura then obtained permission from the Varozwi King to be recognized. Chasura was involved in another fight with his younger brother Ndanga and the King decided to give Ndanga a piece of land further north. However, by giving a daughter to the King, Ndanga was made chief. At the time of the European occupation Ndanga’s area was centered around mount Bougai and encompassed the present western part of Selukwe (Shurugwi) district. Chief Ndanga was appointed in 1948 by his people and the Native Commissioner. Chacha was appointed by Chief Ndanga after an election at the chief’s dare as that was custom of the Ndanga people. He was related to Chief Ndanga both having a common great-grand father in the first Chief Ndanga. This dunhu starts at Wida Hill to Nyamakupfu stream then downstream to its confluence with Msavezi river to the Reserve boundary then up the river to its confluence with Gwemvurachena river or Gwenedziva river.

Ndanga Family tree is as follows:

Headmen in the area under Chief Ndanga include: Mupanduki, Mapendere.


Shiri totem, chidau Madhlira and Bonda tribe. The traditional name is Mpanduki. Kutsi was appointed in 1962 by chief Ndanga and his dare and also by the district commissioner Mr. Gumprich. He was selected on the basis of collateral succession. The area fell under chief Mambo of the Varozvi and chief Ndanga before Mpanduki. List of headmen: Mpanduki, Tavagwisa, Shurukuru, Chikozho, Mbengo, Kutse, Magura Shurugwi, Hlupeko, Musindo.


Headman Mapendere (Mhlambi) appointed in 1971 followed by acting headman Sidakwa in 1973, followed by Ndaraza in 1975.

Chief Banga/Banka

The rise in population followed the settling of Chief Banga and his 2000 subjects in the south-west part of the district after their displacement from the Tokwe ranch in the Mashava area in 1924. The Banga clan is of the Shumba totem, Bangure chidau and Mhari tribe. The area comprised the country between the Ngezi River in the east and the Tokwe river in the West. The southern boundary of the area was the confluence of these two rivers. The northern boundary was the line running east to west just south of the present Lalapanzi Mine Hill.

Below is a link of the Family tree extract for the Banga/Banka chieftaincy:

The area was reduced by encroachment by the Europeans. In 1936 the whole area was declared European area and the Banga people were moved and resettled in the Gamwa , Limerick and Guruguru divisions. Chief Banga had two masadunhu namely: Mangame (situated in the Guruguru division) and Pisirayi (the greater part is situated in Guruguru and some kraals in Limerick division).  Gamwa falls under Mashaba and Guruguru and Limerick fall under Selukwe (Shurugwi) district. Chief Tachiwona Banka was appointed in 1956 prior he was headman holding the title since 1946. He was selected due to the fact that he was direct descent from the first house of Banka. Mutiswa Banka died in 1953 after ruling for less than a year The area of the Banka community fell under the main Chibi chieftaincy from which all three groups have sprung.


The traditional name is Mangame. They are of the Mbizi totem, Mashandudze chidau and are of the Manyika tribe. He was called Nduna by his AmaNdebele followers and Ishe by his Chikaranga speaking people in his dunhu. He was appointed by chief Banka. Umvikwa was selected on the bases that his father was headman Mangame as well as his brother too.


The traditional name is Pisirayi of the Shumba totem, Murambwi chidau and Mhari tribe. The name was Pisirayi a respectful form of Pisira. Pisirayi was the headman’s name but he was also referred to by his father’s name Maganyani, the son of Gwachua, who was son of the first Banga. The house never succeeded to the chieftaincy owing to the early death of Gwachua. He was appointed in 1962 by Chief Banga and the District Commissioner on the bases that he was the great grandson of the first Chief Banka. Headmen include: Pisirayi, Musindo, Magama Chiwara.

Cultural attractions in Shurugwi

Scenic views around Shurugwi with cultural and aesthetic significance include: The Impali rock art site in Shurugwi is next to the Impali Dam and in the vicinity of the Unki mine; Bonsa ruins is a stone and iron smelting site in the district there is need for preservation of the monument and protection from human interference;  Boterekwa Wolfshall Pass a winding road that passes through the mountains constructed around 1945 during the Second World War by the prisoner of war; Boterekwa Dunraven falls are used by various religious sects for spiritual ceremonies; Boterekwa Valley which is famous for freshwater streams, various plants; Ferny creek botanical gardens which includes a natural spring and was home to Zimbabwe’s national flower the Flame Lily or Kajongwe in Shona; and also the Ndawo National Heritage Centre which is Shurugwi’s major heritage centre near Chachacha (Donga) Growth point.

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.

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7 Replies to “Shurugwi tribes and their origins”

  1. This is a very detailed history. Mangame had amaNdebele followers and these guys were left by forefather, my direct grandfather Mxotshwa, a Nduna in the Mzilikazi regiment. He was successful in the raiding of shona tribes more so in the north. My grandfather never had relatives but came along with his grandfather Mzilikazi, my grand grand father Ngonyama later known as Nyandeni gave birth Khukuza, Gasela, Vumisa right through to Mfelamona and Mxotshwa who are great children. Children and grandchildren are spread over Xhosa, Zulu, Eswatini, Ndebele (KwaMhlanga in South Africa) and those that crossed over to Zimbabwr with Mzilikazi were transited to be called Mpofu from the curse they obtained from Khumalo Clan in South Africa. Mpofu was ompofu meaning poverty but they assimulated it to Mpofu Mhofu eland and Shava. We settled in Shurugwi under a ndebele headman Mabuto in Chikato of the mpofu. That’s how the Karanga origin came from. We can discuss this in detail how the sons of Mxotshwa married Mbizvo daughter of the Gwinji clan, Chigumba, Mavedzenge clan. Mbizvo is part of Mavedzenge from Zvishavane/Mashava. Majority of the Matenganyika owners were farms given to Xhosa tirbes brought by Rhodes to fight Ndebele Mzilikazi. After the war there given small portion of farms around Midlands…lalapansi, msengezi, Mashava, Tokwe Mbizvo, Filabusi area Gwatemba area.

    Majority if Mpofu in Midlands and Matebeleland are Gasela, Vumisa, Nyandeni descendencies. Mxotshwa Mabuto is one of them

    1. True we trace our history from the Eastern Cape right into the Midlands ( shurugwi, mashaba,somabhula, vunku/ lower gwelo, chiundura, zhombe/ silobela )

  2. Would you be in a position to tell me all the sons of Nhema in their order of birth.his brothers and sisters if possible . I am equally interested in the sons and daughters of Magumise who is said to have been the first son of Nhema. Thank you so much for this website. It gives us a rough story of where we came from. Being far from home it helps us to connect

  3. [2/22, 21:01] Maya.Never: Any history should be good and beneficiary to the reader especially those it tries to associate with.

    I wish we would know the source of this piece.

    I have observed some interesting omissions though:

    1. Do we have a history of Mavedzenge the headman ever migrating to Gokwe in the 1960’s returning in 1996 and which part of Gokwe he migrated to. Since there are several rotations in the headman-ship, which particular Headman Mavedzenge was involved in this migration.

    Who remained acting on his behalf, if none how was the headman-ship protected during his absence.

    2. Unless there is a general assumption that by Mavedzenge is included Pandehuni Mavingire, there are some Headman avoided under all the Chief’s in this research and findings Viz Mabhachi, Gwinji, Zura, Pandehuni, Pfebeni etc.

    Unless these are in an area controlled by a different and unnamed Chief, there then is a serious anomally.

    Those in the know may assist.

    3. Does the spelling of *Chino” without an “h” in the narration symbolise a different perception regarding the actual name of one of Mavedzenge’s sons or just a typing error.

    Or the name developed to become Chinho after one born as Chino.

    Remember there is a notion that Mavedzenge was in fact thought to have been born Chino and nicknamed the earlier and latter gave the name Chin(h)ob to one of his sons.

    We also see the spelling Chinho in the writings.

    4. I would encourage the researchers to interest themselves with several changes of the area names from before it was even named Selukwe.

    It’s a good contribution to the Shurugwi history though.
    [2/22, 22:53] Maya.Never: Ok thanks my dear. With our knowledge of Shurugwi and it’s tribes, Chiefs and Headman she did her best but fell short of fully impressing a professional research process.

    She might have done a telephone interview of some local people.

    If she reaches the ground the Chiefs and Headman referred to and the elderly will present to her a more enlightened picture about our homeland, the beloved Shurugwi.

    Those who may have read the development of Shurugwi mining town will remembers how Churugi/gwe/gwi became Selukwe etc and eventually Shurugwi today and who was leaving in that part, their tribe and why they called the mountainous area Churugi/gwe/gwi. due to its rocky enclosures.
    [2/23, 01:15] +263 71 278 6609: I conquer with you my brother there are a lot of distortions and a lot of flows in the research
    [2/23, 07:07] Katleho G7: Thank you.. I will forward your comments to her platform

  4. Thank you for the research . Although it seems distorted, I would like to know about the Maveza (Maveza) clan. Where did they originate from and what is their leadership tittle?

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