The Singo domination of Venda was entrenched during King Thohoyandou’s rule. During his reign, Thohoyandou deployed his son Munzhedzi Mpofu, to Songozwi, and his brother Raluswielo, to Dopeni.
The Singo tradition has it that King Thohoyandou disappeared without a trace in 1770. It was believed that he had gone to Vhukalanga (Zimbabwe), the land of his forefathers. Tshisevhe, Thohoyandou’s brother, was installed as acting king. It was believed that Thohoyandou would come back. It later transpired that Thohoyandou had died. But Tshisevhe refused to step down as acting king, and this led to a conflict between him and Thohoyandou’s son, Munzhedzi Mpofu.
Tshisevhe was defeated in the war of succession and was assassinated by Munzhedzi Mpofu. Tshisevhe’s son, Ravhura, fled to Makonde after his father was defeated in the war of succession. Munzhedzi Mpofu became the new king of Venda. But Raluswielo (Tshivhase), who was at Dopeni, wanted the kingship. He attempted to return to Dzata to usurp the throne. Raluswielo, just like Tshisevhe, was defeated by Munzhedzi Mpofu. Munzhedzi Mpofu later relocated from Dzata to Songozwi. This was because Songozwi was strategically situated, as one could see the whole kingdom from the summit. Tshivhase once again mobilized an army and tried to invade Munzhedzi Mpofu at Songozwi. The battle was fought along the banks of a river that became red with blood. It was consequently known as Khwivhila, which means red. Tshivhase lost the battle. Having been defeated twice, first at Dzata and then at Khwivhila, Tshivhase fled. Munzhedzi Mpofu remained king of Vhavenda.
Munzhedzi Mpofu died in 1791 and was succeeded by his son Ramavhoya. Ramavhoya was later ousted by his brother Rasithu (also known Ramabulana).
King Rasithu Ramabulana ruled from 1829 to 1864. He was succeeded by his son, the most famous of the Singo Kings, King Makhado Ramabulana. He was also known as Tshilwavhusiku and the Lion of the North.
King Makhado was succeeded by his son Alilali Tshilamulela. He was the given the title of Mphephu. In 1913 the Boers forced King Mphephu to relocate the Ramabulana Royal Palace to the ancient capital of Dzata (Dzanani). This was due to the fact that areas surrounding Songozwi were declared ‘white areas’ and were turned into white-owned farms. Tshirululuni had already been renamed louis trichardt and declared a ‘white area’ as well. But Songozwi continued to serve as the Royal Court and the burial site (Tshiendeulu) of Mphephu Kings and Chiefs, and Sinthumule and Kutama Chiefs.
King Mphephu died in 1924, and was succeeded by his son, Mbulaheni. Mbulaheni was crowned King Mphephu II in 1925. King Mphephu II died in 1949 and was laid to rest at Songozwi. He was succeeded by his son, Ramaano Patrick. Ramaano Patrick was given the title of King Mphephu III.
King Mphephu III died of suspected poisoning in April 1988. He was succeeded by his son Tshimangadzo. Tshimangadzo was given the title of King Dimbanyika Thohoyandou II.
Dimbanyika Thohoyandou II died in December 1997, and was succeeded by his brother Toni, who was given the title of King Mphephu Ramabulana.
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The Khosi of Ha-Mphephu is automatically the King of the whole of Venda. He is known as Thovhele, or Vele-la-Mbeu, or Khosikhulu (King).
Mphephu Resort, Found at Tshavhalovhedzi Village at The Foot of Mount Tswime
The Mphephu Ramabulana royal palace is at Dzanani. The Nzhelele chiefdom of Venda is also known as Ha-Mphephu due to the fact that the Mphephu Ramabulana royal palace is found there. Dzanani doubles as the royal kraal of Ha-Mphephu and the whole of Venda. The royal palace of Thovhele Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, the King of Venda, is at Dzanani.
The following is a list of villages found within Ha-Mphephu:
- Musanda Dzanani (Musanda);
- La Ndou;
- Tshituni tsha ntha
- Makhado Township;
- Tshituni tsha Fhasi;
- Ha-Lishivha (Straightheart);
- Tshipise tsha Dondwe;
- Tshikota Township; and
- Makhado Town.