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Mberengwa District

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Title: Mberengwa District  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Districts of Zimbabwe, Geography of Zimbabwe, Mberengwa District, Hungwe tribe, Bubi District
Collection: Districts in Midlands Province, Districts of Zimbabwe, Mberengwa District
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mberengwa District

Agincourt Mine in Mberengwa

Mberengwa is a district in Midlands province in Zimbabwe. The district is now divided into sub-districts: Mberengwa North, East, West and South. It is bounded by Gwanda in Mberengwa west, and by Zvishavane in its northern zone, to the south it stretches to Neshuro, Chikombedzi and bounded by Manyuchi dam. The district is prone to droughts and high temperatures, but abundant in minerals like gold, iron ore, emeralds and asbestos. Buchwa Mine, Vanguard Mine, Sandawana and C Mine are all in Mberengwa. The name "Mberengwa" itself comes from the Karanga phrase Mbere-yeingwa. The other plausible theory about the meaning of Mberengwa is 'verengwa' which is an act of census believed to have been conducted by the Lemba people stationed at Mount Mberengwa after a terrible plague. Clans that had been counted and accounted for became Mberengwa. After the census various clans of the Lemba migrated to different parts of the district including Thohoyandou in Venda, South Africa. This name is still used as a clan name by the Hadji tribe of the Lemba (Mzezewas) still stationed near the mountain. The Hadji clan in South Africa also uses Mbelengwa (with an 'L'from their local Venda language) to describe themselves. Mount Mberengwa is one of the highest mountains in Zimbabwe, but not as high as the mountains in the Eastern Highlands. Pre-Independence in 1980, the mountain and district was also called Belingwe which was a colonial adulteration of Mberengwa.

Mberengwa District is known for its riches in minerals and fauna. Gold is mined at C Mine and other small claims mines scattered around Mberengwa. Emeralds are mined at Sandawana while Vanguard Mine was once a major player in asbestos production till the 1980s when asbestos lost its importance to the world. Chrome was mined at Rhonda and Inyala mines, but these closed down due to the disastrous effects of the Zimbabwean crisis and Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. Cattle ranching is a major farming activity.

The district has a number of missionary-run schools that run up to A-Level, notably CARE have or had had programs operating there as well.


Primary and secondary schools in Mberengwa compete yearly in football tournaments. There is a trophy won, originally funded by the Coca Cola Company. Soccer is the most favored sport in the district.

Apart from soccer, gollball is also a popular sport for visually impaired school children. Over the years basketball has gained momentum especially amongst high schools. Mission schools under the Evangelical Lutheran Church compete in the E L C Z sports tournament which are held yearly. They are rotated amongst the schools. Sporting activities such as soccer, netball, basketball, volleyball, etc. are competed. One year focuses on track events then the next year focuses on field events.

The indigenous languages spoken in Mberengwa are mainly Karanga and Ndebele. Pfumbi, a variation of Karanga which is also close to Kalanga, has also been spoken in chief Muketi areas. The Pfumbi quickly assimilated into the Karanga and most of them crossed Mwenezi river and settled in the Maranda and Shayamavhudzi areas in southern Masvingo. It is thought that Pfumbi used to be more widespread than this in the past before the onset of Shona as the compulsory vernacular language to be taught in schools. One name which retains a trace of that past up to now is Mupandashango school, which in the Shona form of today would be Mupandasango. It is possible to meet people called Mashango (Masango) The use of words with velar fricatives, once represented by the letter "x", but now abandoned by orthography since the 1956 Samukange-led standardization of Shona, is another example that clearly and closely links the Karanga of Mberengwa with Kalanga with which it used to relate in places west of the current district as well as in the Gwanda West Nicholson area where the Jaunda version of Kalanga used to abound, and in Mwenezi. These are words like "xwera, xare, xwitaidza". Many areas of Zvishavane share a lot in common with the Karanga language spoken in Mberengwa. Generally, Shona can be considered to be foreign to the Mberengwa area. Many Ndebele speakers were settled in the Mberengwa district throughout the 1900s, on their own accord or because of colonial government relocations meant to pave way for White farms and mines in their areas of original settlement such as the De Beers ranch and other places in the Somabula and Shangani areas. Because of these new arrivals, Ndebele words are used freely in Mberengwa's Karanga, which is a natural process of borrowing and adaptation among closely settled and interacting peoples. In Mashonaland where immigrant workers of Malawian origin were found in numbers, Zezuru (Shona) borrowed and adapted words like "tsano, kabanga, wondonga" etc. n.b. A lot of words were brought in from Afrikaans by Karanga, Shona, Manyika and utilized there. Examples are "dhuku (doek), bhurukwa (broek), jon'hosi (from Afrikaans for [young ox])" and others. As in Kalanga, the use of "l" in words like "dla" or "tla" (to eat, to fear) is part of the Karanga language and not a borrowing from Ndebele language.


The majority of the population is made up of Christians. This was mainly influenced by the presence of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ). There is also a large group of Semitic tradition people called the Lemba (vaRemba or vaMwenye). Cultural rites are widely practised in Mberengwa, mainly by the people of the Zhou totem.

The other tribe that forms the great party of mberengwa is the shoko clan. Its has four families that share the mapiravana chieftainship namely wadawareva, manonose, sukira and makonese. The current chief is called Rungano.

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