How the Shumba clan settled in Chivi

(Last Updated On: October 3, 2018)


In most African societies and cultures, naming of children, places and even animals in some instances, gives an explanation of the history encountered by either forefathers, relatives or people related to those societies.

The late popular musician Leonard Dembo in his song “Vana Vanemazita” talks about how several names in African societies tell a tale. This is particularly true in respect of place names.

Where did the name Harare come from? Or Karoi? Masvingo? How did Chivi get its name?

‘Chivi’ is a Shona name that translates to an evil deed or sin.

Indeed, the interesting history of the area leaves one satisfied with how the place was named “Chivi”.

It was more than a century ago when one of Nehoreka’s sons Chivunguvungu left the Mutoko area after he had been accused of stealing cattle using magical powers. Nehoreka was of the Shumba totem.

Chivunguvungu settled in the area, which had the Dziva people led by Nyaningwe of the Dziva-Hove totem. The area is about 400km from Mutoko.

Chivunguvungu’s son, Mudzungairi bore a son called Tavengegwei who, like his late great grand father also had magical powers. It was Tavengegwei’s magic that helped him get a bride, according to a narration by chief Alex Vushe Masunda Chivi, Tavengegwei saw two beautiful young girls fetching firewood. He was mesmerised by their beauty, especially one of them, Shandurai.

The problem, however, was that the young beauty was daughter to Nyaningwe.

The powerful father allowed her daughter’s romance to flourish, but strangely demanded Tavengegwei bring a live warthog as bride price.

Thanks to his magical powers, which manifested throughout his clan, Tavengegwei managed to do just that and got the princess’ hand in marriage.

After the unfortunate demise of Tavengegwei, his children lived under Nyaningwe until they decided to take the throne.

“They went to bath and perform rituals on the Runde river and eventually convinced their uncles from the Dziva tribe to join them,” Chief Masunda said.

“It was at this moment that the nephews attacked their defenceless uncles while they took a swim. The river turned red with blood. A handful of Nyaningwe’s people escaped when they crossed the river to the other side of Runde, but not before they shouted Chivi chawa (a sin has been committed.

The narration of Chief Masunda resonates with his counterpart in Mutoko, Chief Dawa who explained how the Shumba clan who are now identified as Karanga are really Buja.

Chief Masunda said even though they inherited the culture of the people who had already occupied the place they always urge their people to understand their history and maintain high cultural values in the society.

“I believe in Nehoreka’s power and in that light I always consult on issues of rainfall. Right now I have sent people to Matebeleland to consult on the issue of this year’s bira,” he said.

He said the issue of lobola is one of the fundamental issues in their society. “I always encourage people to pay the bride price for their loved ones because that has been our culture,” he said.

Asked on the impact of government laws on culture, Masunda said it was worrying that some laws are affecting the culture.

“We are being affected by the laws of the government because these issues of human rights cannot allow us to bring some of our children to the line. Our cultural values have been eroded by these laws,” he said.

Chief Masunda believes that local people can only be the custodians of their culture.

“Local people are the custodians of our local culture. Our culture is our heritage and it is good for us as people to have it restored,” he said.

Gerald Chikozho Mazarire in his book ‘The Politics of the Womb” Women, Politics and The Environment in Pre-Colonial Chivi, Southern Zimbabwe, from 1840 to 1900, illustrated how the Shumba totem settled in the district.

“Five main Shona groups inhabited the district. To the north and central parts of the district are the Mhari under Chief Chivi of the Shumba Murambwi totem and to their West are the Ngowa under headman Msipambi and Kuvhirima of the Dziva Hove totem,” he wrote in the book.

He said the rise of the Chivi dynasties was made possible by the fall of the Rozvi Empire which held sway on the region through an effective tributary system.

Mzararire said Tavengegweyi only accessed the area after he married the Ngowa daughter vaChifeza.

“The Ngara-Govera of Nemavuze are claimed by certain traditions to have settled where they did after giving a daughter to the then Chivi ruler Tavengegweyi. The most widely accepted tradition, however claims that Mavudze dynasty was established after the discovery of a lone woman by one of the two Govera hunters, Garabwe andeVambe,” reads part of the book.

Tavengegweyi had five children with vaChifedza though he is said to have inherited his father Mudzamiri’s wife.

She was named ‘Mukadzi Wenhaka’ who then had children Mazarire and Mzorodze.

He also married another woman from Gutu who was said to be unknown who then became the mother of Mapanzure who came from Gutu.

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