“Mnangagwa’s Great-grandfather Fought In King Lobengula’s Army In The Battle Of Pupu”


President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s great-grandfather was one of the Ndebele warriors who defeated colonial forces led by Major Allan Wilson at the Battle of Pupu in 1893.


This was said by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga when he was introducing President Mnangagwa to a huge crowd that had gathered for the official commissioning of the memorial site. He said:


I’m so pleased to introduce our guest of honour the President of Zimbabwe Cde, Dr Mnangagwa. Let me say a few things that relate to our guests of honour.



President Mnangagwa’s great grandfather Muvengo was part of the Ndebele warriors and was part of the amabutho who fought in the Pupu Battle.


Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Mnangagwa explained his family connection with the Battle of Pupu. He said:

When King Lobengula settled here, he made an arrangement with Chief Chivi, my great-grandfather, that there should not be any war between Chivi’s people and King Mzilikazi.


Then Mzilikazi asked for a young child from Chief Chivi, who was brought here to the house of King Mzilikazi as a little boy. That child was my great-grandfather, Muvengo.


King Mzilikazi then changed the name of my great-grandfather from Mapanzure to Muvengo. So he grew up here.


After King Mzilikazi died, King Lobengula also adopted my great-grandfather as Muvengo, not as Mnangagwa. He continued to grow up here and lost his Shona language.


After all this happened, he returned home to Chivi, but he was now speaking Ndebele. Although he could understand Shona, he could no longer speak the language.


So when we spoke to him in the 1940s, we addressed him in Shona, but he would respond in Ndebele because he was taken as a little boy and grew up in the court of the King here.


He also participated in the war as Muvengo, but when he returned home, he changed his name to Kushanduka.

Meanwhile, Chiwenga emphasized the importance of preserving culture, citing evidence that traditional systems were effective.


He also highlighted the President’s role as a symbol of strength and resistance, while acknowledging that the Pupu Battlefield Memorial Site commissioning provides an opportunity to convey accurate Zimbabwean history.


The Battle of Pupu, which took place on December 4, 1893, stands as a pivotal event in Zimbabwean history. It marked the clash between colonial forces and the Ndebele Kingdom, led by King Lobengula.


On December 4, 1893, King Lobengula’s Imbizo Regiment, under the command of General Mtshana Khumalo, engaged the colonialist Allan Wilson Patrol at Pupu.


The Ndebele forces rallied, resulting in the wiping out of the 34-strong colonial party. It is believed that there were no survivors.


General Mtshana Khumalo was posthumously conferred the status of a National Hero by President Mnangagwa on November 30, 2020.


This honour was bestowed upon him ahead of the unveiling of the Pupu National Monument in Lupane, Matabeleland North.


The monument commemorates the site where General Khumalo achieved his most famous victory—the Battle of Pupu.