Saturday 19 August 2023


THE ROZVI EMPIRE(1660-1889), sprang up in the 16th century during the decline of the Great Zimbabwe kingdom. The word itself meant "destroyers" and the empire was pulled up out of the ruins of great Zimbabwe and was headed by a man the Portuguese dreaded and called a 'magical and evil madman.'

This man was Changamire Dondo who was reputed to have possessed mystical powers. 

Changamire Dombo was a relative of the Munhumutapa and was one of the local Shona leaders. He gained the title Changamire (lord) and an effective army known as the Rozvi, that, by the 1670s, became a major force in the northeast of the Zimbabwean plateau.

The area of the Rozvi Empire covered parts of present day Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. The capital of the empire was at Butua in the Southwest. The economic power of the Rozvi Empire was based on cattle.

The people of the Rozvi Empire were the first to have developed their own muskets and bands of  musketeers that chased the Portuguese out of the hinter land of what became Zimbabwe and Tanzania later in the 20th century CE. The Portuguese had, from the 15th century CE, successfully severed trading tiers between Great Zimbabwe and India, Chinese and Arabs who had dominated trade in the eastern coast of Africa before the arrival of the Portuguese. The Empire could only trade with the Portuguese. 

Hence, when the Portuguese were sacked, trading through the India ocean routes declined. People of the Rozvi Empire often bury their nobles with gold, ornaments, salt and other precious items of the empire. European Archeologists, excavating the ruins of the Empire in the 19th century were so preoccupied with discovering the precious items in the burial places on the hills that they destroyed most of the raw findings that could have revealed the details of life in the Rozvi Empire at the peak of its influence. 

There were gold figurines, gold utensils, coins, Chinese porcelains, textile and other items that might have been common in the empire, among the Archeological discoveries.

Today, the city on the hill, that had served as a capital of the empire is nothing but a mountain of rocks and telltales of rigorous excavations in the past.

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