History is the opium of every society. A well-documented history is the preservation of societal culture and life. This article looks into the values, traditions and customary principles of VaZumba people in present day Mashonaland East province of Zimbabwe. Thus, this will help in tracing the clan, chieftainship and genealogy. Their cultural practices, respect of norms and values constructed a sound and efficient group of people. The society is egalitarian and it’s supported by peasant farming including other hand craft activities to earn a living.
Geographical Location and Historical Background of Uzumba Dynasty.
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP) is geographically located in Mashonaland East Province of Zimbabwe. As per the 2012 census, the population stood at 112,611. It is important to note that, through the government authorities the area was subdivided into Uzumba and Maramba Pfungwe. However, this dynamic change did not affect the roots of the people but only created gap in areas of habitation. Thus, currently the people are occupying Uzumba, Muswe, Nakiwa, Nyadini, Karimbika and Dindi villages. The area receives relatively adequate rainfall sufficient for crop and animal husbandry. Mineral deposits such as gold are also found in the area. History reveals, that the Ndowe people migrated scattering into the whole of Zimbabwe. Their family roots is traced from Seke communal lands. In fact, one of the Ndowe ancestors is believed to have landed in Seke area under the Vhuramavi clan. However, control over resources and clan ownership caused mayhem and anarchy within the Vhuramavi and the Ndowe people. This culminated in migration of the Ndowe people to the present day Uzumba. The area is blessed with rich agricultural soils and this has significantly improved the society through subsistence and commercial agricultural development. Favored by these nature blessings agriculture boomed through the use of cow dung/ ndowe, hence their name was frequently used as the Ndowe people. The Ndowe people were thus also referred to as Eland/ Shava/ Mhofu yemukono people.
Chief Nyajina Genealogy.
Oral tradition reveals beyond doubt that, the great Sororoziome Nyajina was the founding father of Vazumba clan. The revelations show that, Sororoziome Nyajina landed in Seke communal groups but later migrated to present day Uzumba. He migrated with his family and followers. He managed to secure a rich area where his clan developed tremendously. Sororoziome Nyajina was of the Shava/Mhofu yemukono totem. Upon his arrival in Uzumba, the aged Sororoziome passed the reigning powers to his elder son who became the first chief of the rich land. His name was Nyanhewe. He regrouped the clan into a more centralised and focused people in transforming their land. He also transformed his security to guard jealously his people since they were new people in the area. His mission was accomplished as he managed to defeat weaker groups and subduing them into Uzumba clan. Chief Nyanhewe was blessed with one son named Nyahuma. However, old age and body exhaustion numbered Chief Nyanhewe’s days on the rich soils of Uzumba. He died and was buried at Marowe Mountain leaving his son Nyahuma the seating Chief. After Chief Nyanhewe’s death, Nyanhewe became the family guardian spirit/ svikiro known as Bvukura or Bvukupfuku. As the name implies he was responsible for the upkeep of his children and clan. His role was also extended in chief selections and dispute management.
Interestingly to note is that, Chief Nyahuma upheld his elder’s cultural belief of having one spouse. His marriage was blessed with four sons namely Kanodzirasa, Mukonde, Kawoko and Chikuwe. It is common cause that, Chief Nyahuma taught his sons their culture and values. Control over their territory was their priority and they promoted unity among the Uzumba people. However, Chief Nyahuma died mysteriously. Ownership of his legacy became disputed amongst his four sons. Oral tradition reveals that, dispute originated between Kanodzirasa and Mukonde. The dispute was over who was the elder son to take control of the rich land of their fore-father. Through the help of svikiro Bvukura or Bvukupfuku, Kanodzisira lost the chieftainship battle to Mukonde. However, Kanodzirasa angered the spirit mediums and his descendants were cursed and were prohibited from retaining chieftainship. Mukonde was regarded as the first son and family legacy was bestowed to him. Being the incumbent chief Nyajina, Mukonde extended his love to his younger brothers. He collectively scraped the leadership wound created by Kanodzirasa and united his Uzumba clan. It is believed that, the three family starting from Mukonde, Kawoko and Chikuwe were the sole responsible chieftainship families respectively and interchangeably exchange the role and reverting it to Mukonde family.
The advent of colonialism did not affect this chronological sequencing hypothesis in the Chief Nyajina family tree. However, oral tradition reveals that, there was a time when Bvukura the guardian spirit would randomly choose the next Chief Nyajina. Chief Mukonde’s son Dyora was handed chieftainship responsibility. He executed his duties within the pretext and values of the clan. It is believed that, Chief Dyora was regarded as one of the best Chief Nyajina. After his death there was a smooth chieftainship transfer of power to Kawoko and Chikuwe families respectively. Around, 1931-1968 Chief Kapita from the house of Chikuwe had the ruling powers. It was then reverted back to the Mukonde family. It is important to note that, this sequencing ideology maintained peace and stability that fostered economic and political cohesion in the Nyajina Uzumba clan.
Oral tradition reveals that, Chief Dyora’s son David Nyajina and Chief Kapita’s son Joseph Manyika teamed up to cause confusion on the genealogy and linear accession. Attempts by these two failed dismally as Bvukura, the svikiro barred them from these shadow wrong doings. It is believed that, succession was then passed from Chief Nyahuma to Chief Kawoko. Importantly to pin point is that the reigns by passed Mukonde family. It is believed that, Chief Mukonde eldest son was late. Thus, sequencing principle was disobeyed. However, around the 1971, the Mukonde house retained the chieftainship. This leadership role was handed to Chief Bere. Chief Bere ruled up until Zimbabwe gained independence. Oral tradition revealed that, Chief Bere played a pivotal role in the liberation wars and he fought jealously for land. Around the, 1970s and the late 2000 towards his death Chief Bere maintained the cultural dictates of his Uzumba clan.
The death of Chief Nyajina Bere brewed leadership wrangle. In fact, the wrangle was caused by failure to chronologically sequence the family tree. This created mayhem and despondence with the family of the great Sororoziome Nyanjina. However, substantive Chief Chirinda was given the role until the dispute was resolved. With the advantage of age some elderly people within the family and clan, family roots were traced and exposed. Family testimonies reveals that, Mukonde family was last to have the role hence they was need of passing it sequentially. It is important to note that, both families alluded to the fact that chieftainship was to be transferred to the Kawoko family. Also, substantive Chief Chirinda was a stranger and was only to act whilst the dispute being dissolved. Chipfuyamiti from Kawoko family was thus granted the role and is the current Chief Nyajina.
Chief Chipfuyamiti being the current chief has transformed the area. His is playing his traditional leadership role in resolving family disputes, maintenance of peace and tranquillity in this part of Mashonaland East, respect of cultural values and norms of the area. The economy of the area has also changed for better through his leadership, albeit the economic challenges.
Conclusively, Uzumba clan was egalitarian. Its traditional leadership was defined by its ability in fostering sound and vibrant respect to cultural values and norms. Chieftainship was thus sequentially transferred and svikiro Bvukura helped where wrangles emerged.
By Leon Chigwanda