3 Oct 2014

The Soko People

Posted by K Chikuse

The earliest traditions of the Soko tell of their leader Tingini leading his people from Mahumwi or Mazhumwi to a place near what is now called Masvingo. No one can tell where he came from to Mahumwi but there are some who say he was of Xhosa stock. After many years at his new home, Tingini died, and his people, having buried him there, migrated to Hwedza. there they felt the need to choose someone to succeed Tingini.

Some urged the claims of Nyahuye but these were strongly contested by Derere. He claimed the title of Chinamhora for himself. Since no agreement was possible, Derere agreed to Nyahuye becoming the chief of those at Hwedza. He would not stay but pressed on with his followers to find a new home, bearing the name of Chinamhora. At this time Zimunya, Derere’s elder brother from another house, migrated as well with his group to the country where his successor lives today.

The Shawasha
Derere and his followers made for Dzimwe where he intended to attack Chikwaka and make the country his own. But when the Shawasha (for that was their name) came to his country, Chikwaka disarmed their hostility buy giving them a beautiful woman as wife. They thereupon asked for a place to settle. Chikwaka told them to view his country at their leisure and choose the spot which suited them. They chose Chikonde, the place called Ruwa today.

After some time they moved from Chikonde to Rukuti and Chizhanje, in the neighbourhood of modern Mabvuku. This country was inhabited by the people of the Rozvi chief Gunguwo and the Shawasha were forced to work for them. Derere, though displeased, did not show his feelings at once. His cunning was not suspected, nor what he intended to do. The Rozvi were led to believe that he was compliant. After some time the Rozvi summoned Derere and his people to tell them the conditions under which they would be allowed to stay. Derere came with a large party as befitted his position. The Rozvi had their spirit mediums with them in order that the conditions might seem to come from their ancestral spirits. The place was crowded owing to the presence of the spirits and the beer brewed for them.

When Derere was informed of the terms under which he would be allowed to stay, his party set upon the Rozvi. The smell of blood made some flee but others remained., loath to abandon their spirits. The mediums were severely beaten and the Rozvi fled to their chief, Gunguwo. He no longer lived in his original country as this had been already ceded to the Hota people because of the wrong done by gunguwo to their mbonga, Nyemba.

The Rozvi used to keep their grain in great underground stores as large as the trenches which the people of old used to dig to catch game. After their defeat they came back at night, while Derere’s people were asleep, and took away their property. Some went to Gunguwo, who was at Chigara, while others settled at the source of the Munyati, at a place called Manhize.

After this a man called Mhlanga and his party came into the country won by Derere. He was a kinsman of the Shangana. He settled at Dore, known now as kwaChiremba (the doctor’s place) He had not asked for permission and was prepared to fight. The Shawasha attacked him and drove him to Chitungwiza. There he was overcome and all his family taken from him, only one man being left alive “for the sake of seed.” His ears were slit and he was sent back to where the party had come from to tell his tale. But no reprisals were ever taken. One of Mhlanga’s party whose totem is not known was a certain Manyanya.

Chishawasha Valley

Chishawasha Valley

So the Shawasha settled in the country called Chishawasha without further disturbance until Derere’s death. Then dissension rose through the chieftainship passing by right to a certain man whose name has not come down to us but who was disfigured by the possession of a large and swollen navel. Most of the Shawasha objected to having a chief with a hambakamba and the man in question withdrew. The office passed to Derere’s son, Chirimuta, but ill feeling remained both among the deposed chief’s immediate kin and others who felt they had been passed over.

Samambita, one of the most senior among the Shawasha, led his family off to Pfura (Mount Darwin) near the country of his ritual friend, Munhumutapa, and started a new lineage there. At a time when Portuguese came to Munhumutapa, seeking to trade for gold, Samambita’s people started to pan in the Mukaradzi and Gwetera rivers, south of Pfura.
This occupation led them to change their praise name to Chuma, the Shona name for gold, since that is what they said to the traders, “Hechino chuma” (here is wealth) So their totem is Soko and their praise name is Chuma.

The river Mukaradzi also had a change of name about this time. It used to be called Mhomhozi from the fact that the crowds of people panning gold kept strict silence while occupied with their work. The potters who were with the Portuguese expressed it in their tongue as Mukhala-zii. This word was pronounced Mukaradzi by Samambita’s people and this form of the name has stuck. The gold was battered for guns, black cloth for the ancestral spirits, and colored striped cloths for the hunting spirits, called mapfeni, known as masimirongo, masiinda and manyai.

The general name for this type of spirit, which possesses, or is possessed by hunters, is shave. But, of course, there are other kinds of shave as well. The colored cloth was worn by the hunters on their trips and also when addressing their spirits, present in the trance of their mediums.

When Samambita died, the titular name of the chief became Madziva. He lived at Tsamvi and had no wish to return to Chinamhora. This is now known as Shamva, and is the place where a number of chiefs pay their tax, not only Madziva, but also Mutumba, Mushovani, Bushu, and Nyamaropa. Mutumba and Bushu, both of the Tembo totem, but with praise names respectively, Mazvimbakupa and Mubaiwa, are mentioned in the account of the Tembo traditions.

Mushowani came from Mashayamombe’s country, and the senior men in that expedition were Nyamhanza and Chikuvanyanga. Their sister Mhari, was the mbonga. Mushiwani’s totem is Gusho and he is addressed as Mbuya, Chikonamombe, Mhara. Nyamaropa’s totem is Shava and his praise name is Nematombo. The leaders of this group were Nyamamhindi and Nyadumbu, who were elder and younger brothers. Reza, the son of Nyamamhindi, was the first Nyamaropa.

The great female ancestor, zibonga, was Chivi, Reza’s sister. Reza is the guardian spirit of Nyamaropa’s country. The zibonga of the Madziva chieftainship is not remembered but the guardian spirits are, first, Chikunzunga, son of Samambita, and then Dzeka Kasoko, his son. Other famous names of this chieftainship are Munyeche, Ndundundu, and Madziva, whose own name became the titular name.

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13 Responses to “The Soko People”

  1. Ndodawo kuziva kuti Soko wafawanaka inodetembwa sei



  2. Can u pliz shed light on soko musvinyangwa



  3. What do you call muyera soko kumene mukadzi ??



  4. Could you please give an account of Zimunya , Derere’s brother


    Rudolf Kandiwa

  5. why is soko totem common in zimbzbwe



  6. Anyone with a detailed history of Mushowani please get in touch with me on jgasa@fredarebecca.co.zw or chief.mushowani@gmail.com.


    Justice Gasa

  7. how about the soko bvudzijena or vhudzichena people?


    wisdom mukonoweshuro

  8. Soko murehwa women vanonzi chii chidao


    MiSs tHeMbiE_fAdzAi (@thembee)

  9. If there is anyone interested in the Soko Murehwa Clan, please visit my website https://fchikowore.wordpress.com



  10. “ME” …If you have a better version of Shoko history kindly share, criticism without a better solution is pointless….



  11. How did the Soko Murimirwa came about?


    Fleming Chimusasa

  12. Quite a distorted piece for the Shoko people. They should be very unhappy with this



  13. What is the origin of the Soko Murimirwa totem?


    Fleming Chimusasa

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