HomeOpinion & AnalysisLet’s delve into the Tonga-Dombe traditional chiefs

Let’s delve into the Tonga-Dombe traditional chiefs

travelling & touring:with Burzil Dube

WHEN one is in need of a permanent place to settle especially in the communal areas, his or her first port of call would be the traditional chief or headman where such an “application” is submitted.

The onus would be upon any of these two particular key individuals to accede to or decline the request.

If the request is accepted and a permanent settlement is offered, it would be up to the person, who has been offered the piece of land to do whatever he or she wishes.

Let those with ears hear.

Before delving into this week’s piece, yours truly would like to categorically state that as a patriotic and law-abiding citizen, I will unequivocally continue writing about the country’s cultural norms and values of our various tribes.

However, every culture has its own place of origin and it is up to interested individuals to dig deeper in order to come up with an understanding on how this could have come into being.

Yours truly is just a member of The Fourth Estate whose propensity to find the origins of the country’s tribes is second to none and will continue taking no prisoners.

Anyway, let us leave that aside.

Yours truly this week continues with Nelson Munzabwa’s research paper on how the Tonga came and permanently settled in Hwange district between 300AD and 400AD.
The particular emphasis is on the Tonga-Dombe chieftainship.

As earlier alluded to in previous articles, the Dombe and Tonga are faces of the same coin and this also applies to their cultural norms.

Mulomwatolwa Sichikonyela is believed to have been the first chief of the Dombe people, who crossed the Zambezi River at Muyaba river mouth from modern-day Zambia.

After crossing the Zambezi River, they settled in present-day Musuna and Simangani along the Deka and Gwayi rivers.

Sichikonyela was also popularly known as Masiba-mpeta because of his mystical and charming horn that was used to lure wild animals during hunting expeditions.

Some of the animals that were hunted include elephants, hippopotamuses, buffaloes and other related beasts.

Masiba-mpeta means “blower of the horn” in Dombe/Tonga lingo and this is, however, a clear indication that Mulomwatolwa was also a great hunter just like his subjects.

However, during one of his regular hunting expeditions, it is said the chief disappeared and did not return despite relentless search, it yielded nothing.

Various theories on what could have happened to the chief were thrown around, but none was conclusive.

Speculation was rife that the Dombe chief could have been killed by the Portuguese traders while another school of thought was that the Matabele warriors have captured and murdered him.

During that particular period the Matabele under King Mzilikazi used to conduct regular raids along Gwayi and Shangani rivers to capture young men, women and cattle.

It is said no one is in the picture on what really happened to Masiba-mpeta as various schools of thought continue to be proffered.

Following Mulomwatolwa’s disappearance, the chieftainship was passed on to his half-brother Sinakalube, who later decided to settle at Mapeta island on the Zambezi River.

The place is situated opposite to what is now known as Deka Drum Fishing Resort, which is adjacent to the Simangani area.

The rise of Sinakalube was fraught with controversy as he was not in the lineage to inherit the chieftainship following the disappearance of Mulomwatolwa.

He was born of a different mother, but of the same father with Mulomwatolwa. According to Dombe custom, a nephew of the deceased can also become a chief.

Hence, some of the nephews were also eyeing the chieftainship and these included Siankokote, Demba, Simabula, and Chilima.

It is reported that a quarrel erupted among the subjects on who among the quartet was to take over the reins.

This furore resulted in Demba and some of his followers breaking away from the rest and settling a place in what is known today as Kwa-Demba. This place is adjacent to Mlibizi river mouth in Binga.

However, other people remained behind and settled in Musuna, Simangani, Mupalu, Nkandebwe, Mwemba, Makwa, and Mukambo better known as Gambo.

The Dombe/Tonga practice a matrilineal succession system and this resulted in Sinakulube coming up with a plan on how his offspring could be in the line to be the next chief.

He persuaded his son to marry Mulomwatolwa’s niece called BaChinyama so that a male born out of that unison could be his brother and automatically qualify to be the next chief.

That is how Moofu Mampolo became the next chief following his father (Sinakalube’s) demise and was later called Chief Mapeta The Third.

Upon his death, Sinakalube was buried at Mukambo, a place that is opposite where the pump station of a Hwange leading mining entity is situated.

When Moofu Mampolo took over the Dombe reins, he inherited the charming horn called “Impeta” whose mystical powers were also enhanced by Chief Musitezuba Chamutanta Ng’onzi of Jambezi.

Musitezuba is reported to have owned big strange pots that regularly emitted thick mist upon his command.

The mystical mist was to somehow “blind” any form of enemy attacking his chiefdom.

This is how the Leya-Dombe of Musitezuba repelled the Kololo and Matabele invasions, hence the assistance on how Moofu’s horn could also be improvised to deter any enemy incursions.

In the next edition, yours truly will also look at the Leya-Dombe chiefs, who also settled in Hwange district between 300AD and 400AD.

Till we meet again in the next article.

l Comments always welcome on: dubebasill@gmail.com or Twitter: @DubeBurzil

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