Mbuya Nehanda
Gandangakadzi Guru reZimbabwe


In the Shona society, it is believed that the spirits of our great great ancestors of many generations past are still among our supernatural protectors. However among them were especially powerful and respected spirits, Midzimu Mikurukuru. Such great spirits were called mhondoro or lions. Spirits that overlooked the well being of entire regions of different tribes are believed to reside in lions. These spirits were among the most powerful as they were responsible of giving advice to several tribes, ensuring peace among these tribes as well as presiding over rainmaking and other important ceremonies and rituals. One such spirit was a woman by the name of Mbuya Nehanda whose spiritual leadership spanned the entire region on Zimbabwe. Her spirit possessed only those who were most respected and had leadership skills and qualities. Her spirit mediums here only women. A woman who became Nehanda's spirit medium remained single and was immediately bestored the spirit name, Mbuya Nehanda. Nehanda was so powerful and well respected that when people had any social concerns, they could not come directly to her. Instead they went to her assistant who was always given the name Nechombo. Nechombo would listen to people's concerns and relay them to Mbuya Nehanda. Indeed it was an honor to be Nehanda's assistant. At one point in time, Mbuya Nehanda spirit medium was the daughter of Chief Mutota (Ishe Mutota), who led the VaRozvi tribe. This young woman was given the name Mbuya Nehanda at birth and subsequently became Mbuya Nehanda's spirit medium. She died near a mountain which, to this day bears her name, Gomo reNehanda or Nehanda Mountain.

When Europeans arrived in Zimbabwe, Nehanda's spirit medium was a woman by the name of Nyakasikana. She lived in the northern part of Zimbabwe. Some believe she was of the VaRozvi tribe but others suggest she was from the VaHera tribe. It so happened that during Nyakasikana's mediumship, another great regional Shona spirit medium (Mhodoro Huru), by the name of Kaguvi possed a man by the name of Gumboreshumba (lit. the lion's foot). Gumboreshumba's spirit is affectionately known in Shona circles as Sekuru Kaguvi. Kaguvi and Nehanda used their leadership to spearhead the first war of resistance (Chimurenga CheKutanga) against European domination of the region. They instructed all the regional chiefs to arm and resist this domination in whatever way they could. It is during this resistance that some of the great Shona warriors emerged. Chief Mashayamombe who lived near Mhondoro, chiefs Gondo and Zhanda were also instrumental warriors during this time. They armed and spread the around the nation. Regions like Makoni, Shangani, Chishawasha and Mazoe where hotbeds of struggle during Zimbabwe first war of liberation.

Nehanda and Kaguvi where captured, tried and sentenced to death by hanging. They were hung on a hill near what is now the city of Harare in Zimbabwe. However before she was hung Nehanda promised the Europeans that her bones will rise to lead the second struggle against them.


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