Oral history has it that the Vhambedzi had a kingdom whose royal kraal was in Malungudzi (Marungudzi in Karanga) in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The Vhambedzi Kingdom stretched from Masvingo to Vhumbedzi, North-Eastern Vendaland. The Vhembe River (Limpopo River) was never a barrier between the people living on either side of the river. The Vhambedzi were renowned rainmakers.

North-Eastern Vendaland has a high concentration of Vhambedzi, Vhalembethu, and Vhanyai. These clans are also found in large numbers across the Vhembe River.

It is believed that the first Vhambedzi group to settle in North-Eastern Vendaland settle at Zwaluvhimbi, Ha-Makuya. From there he group settled at Ha-Luvhimbi. Later the group split into two: Tshisinavhute and Luvhimbi. The Tshisinavhute group moved to Mianzwi, while the Luvhimbi group remained at Ha-Luvhimbi. It is believed that the two groups split due to the fact that Tshisinavhute, wanted to be chief but Luvhimbi would not allow her to be one.

The two groups paid tribute to the King in Malungudzi. But later on great distances and the disintegration of Vhambedzi settlements led to the establishment of small autonomous groups at Ha-Luvhimbi and Mianzwi, and other lesser-known units at Ha-Mukununde, Tshikweta, and Masetoni. But whenever the South African Vhambedzi failed to cause rain to fall, they would send their messengers to Malungudzi where the Malungudzi Mbedzi would contact Nwali (Great God) on behalf of the South African Vhambedzi.

A lot of Vhambedzi left Ha-Luvhimbi after the assassination of their Khosi, Itani Luvhimbi, the son of Luvhimbi Tshirumbule. Itani Luvhimbi was assassinated by Phaswana and Madadzhe Mphaphuli, the sons of Thovhele Makwarela Mphaphuli of Ha-Mphaphuli. Phaswana was the Vhamusanda (Junior Chief) of Tshifudi, while Madadzhe Mphaphuli was the Vhamusanda of Gaba. The reason for the assassination was that the Mphaphulis we competing for land with the Tshivhases, and Makwarela Mphaphuli was afraid that Itani Luvhimbi, who was independent, would align himself with the Tshivhases. Makwarela Mphaphuli wanted Ha-Luvhimbi to be part of Ha-Mphaphuli.

Itani was succeeded by Neswiswi who was also a Mbedzi. But Neswiwi was killed by Masikhwa, the chief of Tshivhilwi. Masikhwa, who was Itani Luvhimbi’s nephew, did not like the fact that Neswiswi was made Vhamusanda by the Mphaphulis who killed his uncle. Masikhwa proclaimed himself Khosi of Ha-Luvhimbi. He later aligned himself with the Tshivhases and paid tribute to them. Ha-Luvhimbi is today part of Ha-Tshivhasa.

Vhambedzi are today found mainly at Ha-Mutele, Ha-Makuya, Ha-Mabila, Tshilavulu, Tswingoni (Mianzwi), Masetoni, Ha-Lambani, Makonde, Tshikweta, and Ha-Luvhimbi.

“Tshilavulu tshi bva vhatete, vhadenya vha tshi bva Tswingoni”

Bibliography

  • Ralushai N.M.N – “Further Traditions Concerning Luvhimbi and the Mbedzi.” University College of Swaziland, (1978).
  • Oral Accounts.