|The Rozwi Empire|
|Written by Administrator|
|Tuesday, 27 October 2009 14:53|
In 1693 the Portuguese were defeated by the Rozwi. Modern scholars think they were led by Changamire Dombo, whose power was based in Butua in the southwest. The Rozwi were formed from several Shona states that dominated the plateau of present-day Zimbabwe at the time. The Portuguese were driven off the central plateau and only retained a nominal presence at one of the fairs in the eastern highlands. The whole of present-day Zimbabwe was brought under the control of Changamire and became known as the Rozwi Empire. This fierce tribe of warriors was to be known as the Rozvi people and after driving the Portuguese out of the area, went on to establish the Rozvi Empire. They established their capital at Danamombe, also known as Dhlo-Dhlo (the Ndebele name).
Many sources see the Rozvi not as a recovering segment of the Mutapa people, but in fact a people in its own right emerging under the wing of the Mutapa (compare the rise of the Khumalo from under the Zulu nation). Once the administrative power of the Mutapa began to fail to control the whole empire (for unlike European kingdoms and empires, they did not have ways of maintaining complete control, therefore establishing sub-monarchs), a leader of the people of guruuswa who was given the title Changamire, who was known as Dombo, became independent from the Mutapa and when the Portuguese took over, led rebellions against European rule. The area of the Rozwi empire fluctuated. Its influence extended over much of present-day Zimbabwe and westward into Botswana and southward into northeastern South Africa.
Many tales identify Dombo ('Rock') as Chikura Wayembeu, but modern scholars agree that this was due to a confusion with another leader of a different people.
Technology, Economy and Culture
The Rozwi chiefs revived the tradition of building in stone and constructed impressive cities throughout the southwest. Polychrome pottery was also emblematic of its culture. The economic power of the Rozwi Empire was based on cattle wealth and farming with significant gold mining continued. Trade was established with Arab traders where metals such as gold and copper and ivory were exchanged for luxury goods. Records from the Portuguese account have shown that the Rozvi were expert military strategists and that they had used the cow-horn formation years before the great Zulu leader Shaka had. Without the use of guns and cannons, but spears and bows and arrows, the aggressive Rozvi took over the plateau.
Modern historians, particularly in Botswana and South Africa now believe that the Rozvi people were not part of the Mwene Mutapa aristocracy. Further a lot of things separate them from Shona people. To start with the Rozvi have their own languages the main one of which is tjiKalanga. There seems to be growing agreement on this point. It has been said that Kalanga is a variant of Shona and that it comes from either Zezuru or Karanga. This reasoning is not consistent with the fact that the Rozvi were the overlords of Zimbabwe. Important Zimbabwean shrines were found in BuLozvi, which has always been Kalanga speaking. It follows therefore that Kalanga, not Shona, was the official language of Zimbabwe during the time of the Rozvi reign. It therefore falls to be said that the Shona variants actually derive from Kalanga and not the other way. However, whilst respecting this view, it is important to note that most Zimbabwean scolars, and especially those with an understanding of the Rozvi people, would disagree with this view and would rather agree with or sympathise with a view that the Rozvi were indeed Karanga and not Kalanga's. This is constitent with the view that the Rozvi people rose out of the Mwene Mutapa empire, in the same way the Khumalos rose out of the Zulu empire. There is strong evidence that supports this view, but most importantly an understanding of who the Rozvi people are. The present day Rozvi descendents are shona speaking, these are the "Vayera Moyo's" those who share the Moyo totem. Indeed this is the distinguishing feature of all the Rozvi people, they all share the same totem, namely, the Moyo totem. It is indeed true that one can not claim to be Rozvi and not have the Moyo totem and vice versa. That is to say no one can claim to have the Moyo totem and not be Rozvi. All the people with the Moyo totem are one, the Shona saying is "Moyo imwe chete" which literally means that all the people with the Moyo totem are one. This must not be confused with the surname or second name which is Moyo. Totems, are significant in that they can only be passed on through birth, thus all the people with the Moyo totem are related. There are various sub-totems (zvidawo- plural chidawo- singular, which come under the broad Moyo Totem umbrella. Examples of such sub-totems or variants of the Moyo totem are, Moyo Ndizvo, Moyo yavaDuma, Moyo Chirandu, Moyo Murimirwa, and many more. Now, it is true that there are people with the Moyo totem who are Kalangas. How can we explain this? Another even more important question is to ask wether the Kalangas are the main or a sub-group of the people with the Moyo totem? The honest truth is that the Moyo totem that can be linked to the Kalanga only comprises a minor fraction of the totality of the people with the Moyo totem who are not Kalangas, and History can also help us explain this apparent anomally, why there appears to be two different people groups who share the same totem. This appears to be a contradiction, as has been pointed out earlier, all people who share the Moyo totem are one.
When the Ndebele under the leadership of Dingiswayo (a general in Mzilikazi's army who tempralily took over leadership when Mzilikazi died,) came to the area where the Karangas lived and then under the leadership of Lobengula theson and successor of Mzilikazi the great leader of the Ndebeles, managed to subdue most of the shona living in the now Matebeleland area of present day Zimbabwe. The conquered peoples were foced to assume new names and a new culture as part of their assimilation into the ndebele nation. The Karangas, became the Kalangas, which is mainly karanga with ndebele overtures, for example, in the ndebele alphabet "r" is replaced by "l" so Karanga became Kalanga.
The argument that claims that the Rozvis are Kalangas quotes the praise poetry for Rozvi people. The praises of the Rozvi of Bhasvi's line are: "Sai, Gumborevhura, vana meso ari patiko...chulu chamafunde manji! Vumavaranda..Mutengeni wazvozvovenga; muti unokope chirimo; zhizha ukakozhe ndove and chipwanya mateteni!" The Shona equivalent for Gumborevura is Gumboremvura,"tiko" is gotsi, "mateteni": zvinhu zvakaoma, "chulu": churu, "manji": mazhinji. Given that Bhasvi's people are found mainly in Wedza and in parts of Murehwa and Mhondoro all in Mashonaland and the language above is more close to Kalanga than the Zezuru variant of the Shona which is the prominent dialect of Mashonaland the theory that Bhasvi's people are not originally Shona is somewhat established. Further the names Rozani and Bhasvi will be found nowhere else among other Shona groups except the Rozvi. However, again this is a very shallow and narrow minded approach to a more complex and diverse subject. There indeed are many many Rozvi people who are not Kalangas and infact the Rozvi people themselves would not identify themselves as Kalangas. That is not to say the are no Kalangas that are Rozvi. The argument here is what came first, is it the Rozvi or was it the Kalangas. History tells us that The Kalangas emerged as a mixture of mainly Karanga groups being incooparated into the Ndebele culture as recently as the early 1800s, on the other hand history tells us that the Rozvis have been around since the early sixteenth century. A full discussion of this important subject would warrant more indepth discussion and a much broader approach to this very important subject not least for the fact that it centers on the identity of who the Rozvi people are. What is not in dispute, however is that the Rozvi people are the people with the Moyo totem, and that this indeed is the distinguishing feature of this great warrior people.
A school of thought has emerged that suggests that the Rozvi could actually have been an earlier alien invasion from the south of the Limpompo. Three reasons for that are that in fact it was Tombolaikonachimwango [Changamire Dombo] and not Shaka who first used both the assegai and the "cowhorn formation" known as "mulomo akumba/the mouth has visited" in Rozvi. It was this that defeated the Portuguese several times and therefore the military genius that is accredited to Shaka was started by Changamire Dombo. Another reason is the similarity of tjiKalanga to SePedi and Tsonga which are both South African languages. Historians in Botswana have argued that the Rozvi are in fact a group of BaPedi who took advantage of the confusion in the Mutapa empire and conquered it. We also have to remember that the names Rozvi and Mire are both Portuguese and Changamire's real name was "Changa". As much as this view has its own merits it does have its own short falls, and does not seem to hold water after further scruitny. We know for a fact that the Rozvis demonstrated great military genius and as pointed out were the first to usethe cow horn formation. The use of the assegai, which is the short stabing spear has no documented evidence or been associated with the rozvi people and neither the Rozvi people themselves, or any Zimbabwean historians have ever made such claims. The second anormally with the above argument is that it seems to credit the Rozvi military genius to an association to a South African origin. The only problem with this point of view is that the Rozvi's were in present day Zimbabwe as early as the mid 15th Century and the military genius associated with Chaka was only seen in the early 19th Century. The time line does not support this argument. Secondly, one would then have to explain why these people were moving north, whereas the general trend in those days was to move further south, were there was less pressure and competition for grazing pastures, and land for hunting, farming and virgin lands for new settlements. Thirdly, oral history does not seem to support this view either. There is no record in Zimbabwean oral history that seems to support this argument in part or in its totality. This would probably explain why no single Zimbabwean historian has ever come up with this view and why even to this day it remains a theory alien to the peoples of Zimbabwe. If such an insurgence had occurred with the ferrocity and scale that is being suggested here it would be very difficult to explain why it is totally absent in any oral history of the Zimbabwean people to this day. At best then, this theory does not seem to hold water, and seems to raise more questions than answers.
The debate on the origins of the Rozvi has also led South African historians in particular to say the group may be alien to even southern Africa. They have pointed at religion. The Rozvi are the only southern African tribe that has a single Deity. Unlike other groups the Rozvis had shrines and prayed directly to a single God without the intervention of the spirits of dead relatives or "amadlozi". Their main shrine is at Njelele in Matabeleland. The Rozvi have always prayed directly to God without seeking the intercession of any spirit of dead relatives. The Rozvi religion is strikingly similar to modern mainstream religions. The Moyo and Ncube people are the custodians and 12 women who are above fifty-years old, 12 men who are above fifty years, 12 virgin boys and 12 virgin girls help with the chores at Njelele. The number 12 is so strikingly similar to the same number in the bible. The Rozvi also did not pay homage to spirits of dead relatives.
A further separationn is that in the past the Rozvi did not accept any dowry prices for their female children. A Rozvi child gave birth to a Rozvi, and this did not matter whether it was a Rozvi daughter or son. George Fortune pointed at those people with the totems Moyo Muzukuru, and "Soko Moyondizvo" the children of Rozvi daughters who took the totems of their mothers.
Politics and decline
The Rozvi, unlike the Mutapa, did not much rely on the intervention of spirit mediums to decide the monarch, but rather wealth and acclaim or, in many cases, succession. This system caused problems, as some people disagreed with the successors and after nearly two hundred years of total rule over the region, the empire was starting to decline. In the 1790s the whole southern African region began to experience a prolonged series of droughts. They weakened the Rozwi Empire, which allowed local chiefs and spirit mediums to begin seizing power. The gold fairs functioned only intermittently. Internal feuding also weakened the empire. In the early 19th century, the period of regional warfare and forced migrations known as the mfecane began. Following victories by the Zulu king Shaka in what is now eastern South Africa, the Ndwandwe, a Nguni-speaking people, were forcibly dispersed, and armed bands led by Ndebele chiefs migrated northward, invading the Rozwi Empire. The empire was devastated by the Ndwandwe armies of Nxaba and Zwangendaba. In the early 1830s the last Rozwi ruler was killed in his capital of Khame. Zimbabwe came under control of Ndebele chief Lobengula in 1834.
In fact some of the Mfecane generals were defeated by the Rozvi. Nxaba in particular was defeated and the death of the Rozvi king under Zwangendaba could have been an assassination rather than defeat of the Rozvi. Another general to be defeated was Kgari whose AmaNgwato tribe was completely defeated and obliterated by the Rozvi under NeTjasike. Even with the coming of the Ndebele the Rozvi were not defeated and under the guidance of Tohwetjipi, the Rozvi continued to fight against the Khumalo. Only the statemanship of Lobengula brought peace and therefore Ndebele is a Nation not a tribe. It is a nation of many people including the Khumalo and the Rozwi who were still in Matabeleland at the time [the Majority].
Today, the Rozvi descendants are those of the family Moyondizvo (Mwoyondizvo). Among the Moyondizvo family there are families like Mutendi, Chiminya, Moyo, Sai, Rozani, Bhasvi, Dewa, Mangena, Dlembeu, Moyo (Ndebele, not Shona), Vuma, Balanda, Masuku, Nyamweda, Samuriwo, Mutyambizi, Tshabezi, Mahara, Chipai, Pilime, Zwabasvi, Jiri, Madamombe, Mamvura/Mavura, Thole, Chigavazira, Nyakuvambwa, Kunaka, Dzumbunu, Matambanadzo, Njelele, Tandi, Wozhele, Gumunyu etc. Mutendi, Chiminya, Sai, Jiri and Gumunyu are now stationed in Gokwe. Chiminya could have been derived from "Cimininyambo or Kandeya II, who ruled between 1828 and 1830)", the Mwenes of the second Mutapa state.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:26|