Rozwi Empire

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Rozvi Empire


Capital Danamombe
Languages Kalanga-Rozwi
Religion Belief in Mwari
Government Monarchy
 •  c. 1660 – c. 1695 Changamire Dombo(first)
 •  1831–1866 Changamire Tohwechipi (last)
 •  Rozvi conquest of Butua 1660
 •  Ndebele conquest of Rozvi 1866
 •  1700[1] 624,000 km² (240,928 sq mi)
 •  1700[1] est. 1,000,000 
     Density 1.6 /km²  (4.2 /sq mi)
Part of a series on the
History of Zimbabwe
Coat of arms of Zimbabwe
Ancient history
Mapungubwe Kingdom c.1075–1220
Zimbabwe Kingdom c.1220–1450
Mutapa Kingdom c.1450–1760
Torwa dynasty c.1450–1683
White settlement pre-1923
Rozwi Empire c.1684–1834
Matabeleland 1838–1894
Rudd Concession 1888
BSA Company rule 1890–1923
First Matabele War 1893–1894
Second Matabele War 1896–1897
World War I involvement 1914–1918
Colony of Southern Rhodesia 1923–1980
World War II involvement 1939–1945
Malayan Emergency
Federation with Northern
Rhodesia and Nyasaland
Rhodesian Bush War 1964–1979
Rhodesia under UDI 1965–1979
Zimbabwe-Rhodesia June–Dec 1979
Dec 1979
British Dependency 1979–1980
Zimbabwe 1980–present
Gukurahundi 1982–1987
Second Congo War 1998–2003

The Rozvi Empire (1684–1834) was established on the Zimbabwean Plateau by Changamire Dombo.


In 1693, Portuguese militia tried to take control of the gold trade in the interior of Africa by invading the Rozvi empire. The Rozwi were able to successfully defeat these attacks and maintain their control of the gold mines until their empire collapsed. The Rozvi were led by Changamire Dombo,[2] whose power was based in Butua in the southwest of Africa. The Rozwi were formed from several Shona states that dominated the plateau of present-day Zimbabwe at the time. They drove the Portuguese off the central plateau, and the Europeans retained only a nominal presence at one of the fairs in the eastern highlands.

Changamire brought the whole of present-day Zimbabwe under his control, forming a polity that became known as the Rozwi Empire. This powerful kingdom of warriors was to be known as the Rozvi or baLozwi people.[3] They established their capital at Danamombe, also known as Dhlo-Dhlo (the Ndebele name).

Many sources see the Rozvi not as a recovering segment of the Mutapa people, but in fact a people in its own right emerging under the wing of the Mutapa (compare the rise of the Khumalo from under the Zulu nation). The administrative power of the Mutapa began to fall to control the whole empire, and tributaries began to exert more independence.[citation needed]

A leader of the people of guruuswa, given the title Changamire and known as Dombo, became independent from the Mutapa. When the Portuguese tried to colonise, Changamire Dombo led rebellions against their rule. The area of the Rozwi empire fluctuated. Its influence extended over much of present-day Zimbabwe, westward into Botswana, and southward into northeastern South Africa.[citation needed]

Many tales identify Dombo ('Rock') as Chikura Wayembeu. Modern scholars agree that this was a confusion with another leader of a different people.[citation needed]

Technology and economy[edit]

The Rozwi chiefs revived the tradition of building in stone and constructed impressive cities throughout the southwest. Polychrome pottery was also emblematic of its culture.[3]

The economic power of the Rozwi Empire was based on cattle wealth and farming, with significant gold mining. They established trade with Arab traders, in which materials such as gold, copper, and ivory were exchanged for luxury goods.[citation needed]

Records from the Portuguese have shown that the Rozwi were sophisticated military strategists. They were noted for using the cow-horn formation years before the great Zulu leader Shaka did in the 19th century. With spears, bows, and arrows, the aggressive Rozwi took over the plateau.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cornell, James. Lost Lands and Forgotten People Sterling Publishing Company, Incorporated, 1978, ISBN 978-0806939261 page 24
  2. ^ Isichei, Elizabeth Allo, A History of African Societies to 1870 Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0521455992 page 435
  3. ^ a b c "Rozwi". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-05-09.