Whither Chieftainship, our culture and tradition?

17 Aug, 2019 - 00:08 0 Views
Whither Chieftainship, our culture and tradition?

The Herald

Continuing from last week edition…

Aaron Rwodzi and Obert Matsveru

Marcus Garvey once said ‘A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots’. At the current rate we are steadfastly undermining our origin and history, and we will fall as the roots that have kept us standing give in to our indiscretions.

The redistribution of land following the land reform program which sought to resettle people on land that had been forcibly taken from chiefs whose boundaries had been redrawn by the settlers, the creation of land committees, their composition and roles of different actors thereon, sowed seeds of potential conflict with the Chiefs. Add to that, the exigencies of the modern economy accelerated by the emergence of corporations mining who are expected to pay for social responsibility without clear guidelines, this had the makings of a perfect storm brewing.

The administration of traditional affairs, including the appointment and inauguration of Chiefs, was assigned to the Minister and Ministry of Local Government.

That role required respect for traditional practices of each clan and chieftaincy in resolving succession battles. Reports of serious wrangles over appointment of Chiefs emerging from mishandled cases such as the Mutekedza of Chikomba, by the first Minister of Local Government and subsequent ones in Zvimba, have marred how the Zimbabwean government has handled some Chieftaincies.

Good decisions were also reported in the case of Mashayamombe of the Chikonangombe Dynasty and Bere of Masvingo. However, of late there have been numerous reports in Chiredzi, Manicaland and other areas of poorly presided selections of Chiefs.

The fact that we still have those instances thirty-nine years after independence says a lot about our respect or lack of it, for our own culture and customs.

There is a worrisome and pervasive condescension from different levels of the bureaucracy who in some cases are playing themselves the know-it-all arbiters of traditional leadership issues that are best handled by the respective chieftainship clan, something they have done since time immemorial.

Is it not ironical that as a nation we are witnessing escalating discord and disorder in traditional leadership renewal as we craft and implement ostensibly improved laws which should smoothen succession and the preservation of our culture and tradition?

Should we be the bearers of the title of a generation that championed the bastardisation and evisceration of our own tradition and culture for the parochial interests of a selfish few?

It is in that context that the Chirumhanzu dynasty, and indeed other chieftainships need to be viewed.  White settlers disrupted his domain and grabbed his lands as punishment for his stubborn refusal to be dominated and forced to accept the council structures of a white local administration.

Chirumhanzu borders Chivhu, Chikomba and Mhondoro on the North, Gutu on the east. Zimuto and Zvishavane on the South and Shurugwi and Chiumdura on the West. Mhepo the first Chief Chirumhanzu lived with Vanjanja, SheGutu and Murozvi peacefully, fought with the Ndebele’s Mfichani on the south-west, and reigned over that vast area with his brothers, children, machinda and varanda.

He is buried at Guzuve east of Mteo Forrest. The next Chirumhanzu had his headquarters grabbed at modern-day Driefontein, and his descendants later moved to Chivavarira where they set up their headquarters next to Gonawapotera. Simba one of the two reigning brothers was buried at Chomukova, which now fall under Gutu in Masvingo province.

With the resettlement following the land reform, local government led lands committees parcelled out Chirumhanzu lands to outsiders without fully consulting the Clan. Chirumhanzu was a battle ground for the then G40 and Lacoste factions in ZANU PF, a matter that was of no relevance to the Mhanzu Chieftaincy which is apolitical.

The appointment of Jerald Mudzengi as Chief ahead of Chigegwe the rightful heir was a blatant manipulation of clear lineage, much to the chagrin of vaMhanzu. Jerald had to do his bidding appointing non-Mhazi people as Headmen and settling many outsiders in Mhanzu sacred lands while the Mhanzu remained crowded in the former Tribal Trust Lands where they had been forced into by the colonialists.

As a result, sacred lands such as where Mhepo was buried at Guzuve and where Simba was buried at Chomukova, were handed over to people who do not know the spiritual value, sacred nature nor have any reverence to these founders of Dzinza, a sore point to the VaMhanzu.

Who would not be incensed by the desecration of their sacred lands, and a complicit and irregularly appointed chief looking on and doing nothing?

It is exactly for that reason that the Chirumhanzu Dynasty through their Steering Committee are crying foul to the perpetuation of an irregularity that twisted a cultural practice for short-term convenience. The Chirumhanzu Steering Committee petitioned for the removal of Jerald Mudzengi as Chief, a request which awaited HE sign-off in 2017.

It is on record that, at the time of his death in February 2019, Mudzengi had been written off by the people of Chirumhanzu. They demanded and are still demanding the installation of their rightful Chief, Julius Chimbi Chigegwe. They cry, justice in our times!

Marcus Garvey once said ‘A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots’. At the current rate we are steadfastly undermining our origin and history, and we will fall as the roots that have kept us standing give in to our indiscretions.


Raised in Chirumhanzu Aaron Rwodzi [email protected] a former banker, farmer, businessman is a keen follower of the Chirumhanzu dynasty’s history

Obert Matsveru [email protected] is an international development consultant with experience in various developing economies

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