Cultural and spiritual significance of Mt Makomwe

02 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Cultural and spiritual significance of Mt Makomwe Mr Alec Wright Ndagurwa standing inside the old church building

The ManicaPost


Liberty Dube
Tourism Correspondent

OVERLOOKING the United Methodist Church’s Marange Mission High School and Mount Makomwe Primary School is the revered and sacred Mount Makomwe.

The site is well-known for its sacredness, both as a burial place for Marange traditional leaders and a spiritual site for members of the United Methodist in Zimbabwe.

It is the location of the UMC’s first church building in the area, subsequently leading to the proliferation of the church’s mission in Marange.

It is a historical location which contributes to an avalanche of antique sceneries in Manicaland, a province that is endowed with rich cultural resources.

It is almost an hour’s drive from Mutare to the site.


On your way there, one passes through various mountains and lush green trees on the sideways along the Mutare-Chimanimani Highway.

The site has an estimate terrain elevation above sea level of 1 258 metres.

By elevation, Mount Makomwe is seated on number 19 out of 152 in Mutare, while by prominence it is number 62 out of 4 515 in Zimbabwe.

The greater Mount Makomwe landscape has immense cultural value as it is adorned with ancient rock art burials and early burials from centuries ago.

The area is attributed to a missionary, Mr Eddy Greely, who was seconded there by Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell, credited for founding Old Mutare Mission where Hartzell High School and Africa University are located.

The old church building near the apex of Mount Makomwe has a plaque dated 1908, proving it has been standing there for over a century.

Mr Greely is said to have stayed with one of Chief Nyakapeni’s sons, Muchenje, who is believed to have converted to Christianity to become the first black missionary in the area.

Nyakapeni was Chief Marange from the late 1890s to the early 1900s.

The UMC missionary work in the area later resulted in the establishment of Mount Makomwe Mission Primary School as the first educational centre in the area.

Later a high school was also established.

Mr Alec Wright Ndagurwa, whose mother was a sister to Chief Nyakapeni, talked about the great spiritual attachment the community has with Mount Makomwe.

He said as an 18-year-old, on January 3, 1967, they were asked by their elders to go into the old building and pray for the rains since there was a drought.

He claimed that before they made it to the foot of the mountain, they were soaked to the bone by heavy rains.

Up until this day, the community from the area uses the ancient old church building on Easter holidays for their night vigils and on New Year’s eve.

The continuous use of the site by the locals is proof of the Christian faith within the community.

The Mt Makomwe cultural landscape is also viewed as an educational resource by locals as they use it to teach young people about the history of their origin.

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe Eastern Region’s communications officer and tourism expert, Mr Lloyd Makonya said there is an urgent need to put in place preservation measures for the site considering the value attached to it.

“The Mount Makomwe landscape is under threat from human action, including deforestation, veld fires and uncontrolled access to the historic building. There are also sacred burial places on the mountain. Considering the value attached to the site by locals, there is an urgent need to put in place preservation measures to help preserve the site and its valuable history,” he said.


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