The History Of Mabvuku And Some Towns In Harare
4 January 2022
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza | This article by Dr Mavaza is a result of research. The original author is unknown.

Mabvuku is a town located in the east of Harare towards Mutare.

Mabvuku is a section of another place in the region of Harare in Zimbabwe. Region name (Level 1): Harare Country: Zimbabwe
Continent: Africa 
Mabvuku is located in the region of Harare. Harare’s capital Harare (Harare) is approximately 14.1 km / 8.8 mi away from Mabvuku (as the crow flies).





The distance from Mabvuku to Zimbabwe’s capital Harare (Harare) is approximately 14.1 km / 8.8 mi (as the crow flies).
Mabvuku is a suburb east of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe.
The town was created as a labour reserve which housed black labourers.



The colonialists would allocate an area and build houses for the workers. The first thing they did was to create centres where labour force will be concentrated. This was called reserve area. It was only set for the blacks. The reserved area was translated as Ruzevha. The land never had ownership. It was held in trust by traditional leaders and was known as Tribal Trust Land.


So those reserve areas located near towns were called locations. Coming from the word located.
So one of the locations was in the outskirts of Harare and it is now known as Mabvuku. Mabvuku was s wetland which was prone to Malararia.






The origins of the name “Mabvuku” are a bit uncertain.
Possibly from the Shona “bvuku”, ideophone for “emerging”, to denote the water sprouting out of the numerous swamps in the area. Ma (“place of”) + bvuku (“emerging waters”) is a plausible etymology. Mabvuku was the home of the VaShawasha people before colonization. The Shawasha people of the Soko Mbire clan settled in this area about 300 years ago. Mabvuku, as opposed to the present day site of Chishawasha, is the native home of these people. The present site of Chishawasha village became prominent with the establishment of the oldest Catholic Mission Church there.
Chishawasha mission is the oldest and first catholic mission in Africa.
Chishawasha Mission is the only African Catholic Mission which boasts of having a piece from the original cross where Jesus was nailed. This is a very significant piece of Christian history lying in Zimbabwe guarded by the Vashawasha people.

The ancestors of the Shawasha people are commemorated in the street and road names of Old Mabvuku, namely, Tingini, Godzonga, Marembo, Chauruka, Nyamare, Nyahuni, Chatezwi, Nzvere and Shambare.
The second-oldest high-density suburb (“township”) in Harare, established c. 1930. It was established for black settlement during the colonial Rhodesia era. Highfield was primarily set up by the white settler colonial government to provide labour to the Southerton and Workington industrial areas that border it; this was in a similar fashion to how Harari (Mbare) had been set up to provide labor to Workington and Graniteside.




A suburb of Harare located about 2 miles north of Harare city center. It is the earliest suburb established in Harare, having been laid out in 1903. Prior to becoming a suburb, Avondale was a dairy farm. It was named after Avondale, County Wicklow, Ireland – the home of 19th-century Irish politician Charles Stewart Parnell. Avondale was incorporated into the Salisbury Municipality in 1934. The first official marriage ceremony in colonial Rhodesia took place on Avondale farm in 1894.




In 1892 Edward Walter Kermode claimed a farm and registered it as “Spring Valley Range”. He arrived in the country from the Isle of Man with the pioneer column as a personal servant of Archibald Calqhoun, the country’s first administrator. Shortly after registering the farm, in 1895, Kermode returned to the Isle of Man where he married. Mabelreign was named after Miss Mabel Mann, who was a fiancee of a surveyor named Swatheral. Miss Mann laid claim to the land despite the fact that the title was already held, and apparently she got away with it.
Kermode went back to the Isle of Man never to return but in 1929 his son came out and subdivided the farm into Meyrick (his mother maiden name) Monavale (derived from Mona Isle), Sentosa (a Malayan word meaning ‘peaceful’) and Greencroft.




Milton Park was named after Sir William Milton, the much respected Administrator from 1898-1914, who was known as the “Father of the Civil Service”. The street names in the suburb are all former mayors. Strathaven is named after the area where the Meikles come from in Scotland.

The BSA Co Reserve is now Pomona, Vainona and part of Mt Pleasant. It was necessary for the company to keep the grazing area for its transport cattle outside of the Municipal Area. In 1923, a Mr McLaurin took over a portion of the farm and called it Pomona after the largest Island in the Orkney group. Later divisions were Pendennis, owned by John Dennis, and Vainon

Is it a subdivision of Rietfontein, and was formed by the Jenkinsons. The name means “overflowing spring”, which is shown as an exaggerated fountain on the school badge. Robert Ballantyne grew potatoes on his Ballantyne Park farm and was MP for Highlands from 1948-1953. He died while debating on the floor of the House of Assembly.

This was Salisbury’s first high-density suburb (“township”) and was established in 1907. At the time, it was located near the city sewage works, cemetery and abattoir. Its original name was Harare (Hariri) Township, but the suburb’s name was changed to Mbare when the city of Salisbury was re-named Harare at Zimbabwe independence in 1980. Harare is a corruption of Haarari, which means “One who never sleeps”, and was the name of the Zezuru Chief of this north-eastern part of the country, a Chief Harawa who had his base at the Harare Kopje, a walking distance from Mbare.

When Cecil John Rhodes’ Pioneers first settled around the Kopje and called their settlement Salisbury (now Harare), they wanted to build a “White” City. There was no space for the Indigenous Africans.

But their wives wanted “Cook Boys” and “Nannies” and the men wanted messengers and office orderlies (tea boys, factory workers and agricultural labourers). At first, African workers settled all over the place. That was considered dangerous.

So the “White City” decided to create a place for the local people after all. That was the beginning of Harari Township, as it was first called around 1900. Workers yes, but not their families. This was supposed to be a bachelors’ settlement. It was built close to the shops and offices in what is now the southern part of the Central Business District. Even today Mbare – as Harari Township is now called – is a popular address to have because it is close to town, where people work.

These allegedly ‘single men’ were housed in hostels, which are still a striking feature in Mbare to the right and left of Cripps Road. There was a long battle about allowing wives and families to join their husbands in ‘married quarters’ in what is now called ‘National’ in the southern part of Mbare.
While Harari Township was under colonial administration, families had to vacate their houses once the bread winner had died or lost employment. Widows were expected to move back to the rural areas, where they and their unborn children were strangers.

It was in Mbare that the workers first organised themselves in trade unions- even today, street names remind us of some of those brave early leaders like Charles Mzingeli- and eventually even in political movements. Being represented only on the official Advisory Councils did not achieve anything in the eyes of most residents. Harari (and Highfield Township) became the birthplace of nationalism.

The old Roman Catholic Church in Mbare (near Rufaro Stadium) was one of the first to open in 1910. – Father Wermter
Forty years after independence the Shawasha people and Mbari people have not been restored to their chiefdoms. The rates paid by the Mbare and Mabvuku residents must have been used to develop the history of the Mbari and the Shawasha people.
One of the sons on Nyashanu committed adultery with jis fathers wife. He was chased from the holy city “Vuhera” he settled in further south from Vuhera now Bhuhera. The area he took was cursed because of the sin he committed and it was named Seke. Which means laughed at. He was labelled as a cursed man who brought shame on his people. SEKE MUTEMA “VHURAMAI” the one who opened his mothers legs.
He was accompanied by his young brother. On arrival in Seke the young brother was asked to move further and claim his own land. He settled where it is now called Mufakose in the Mbari Chiefdom. The name Mufakose meant he has lost all sides. So he became identified as Shava Mufakose
In the next article we will talk abiut the Mbari clan and the men of Herbs the Nyakudirwa.

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