Hidden Delights of Gokwe: Must-Visit Places off the Beaten Path
Gokwe: Unveiling its Historical Evolution and Cultural Traditions
Gokwe, formerly known as Sebungu, has a rich history that dates back to its establishment on March 15, 1898. Initially, Sebungu and Mapfungautsi were separate entities but later merged into Sebungwu-Mapfungautsi on August 2, 1901. Over time, Sebungu was condensed to Sebungwe on February 21, 1907, and eventually renamed Gokwe on January 18, 1957.
According to Zimtribes, Gokwe was predominantly inhabited by the Tonga, Shona, and Ndebele tribes of Mkoka. These tribes held strong beliefs in the supreme deity, Mwari, and practiced ancestor veneration. Their settlements were situated along the Kana River, and even today, Gokwe-Kana remains under the leadership of Chief Mkoka. Despite the challenges posed by the hot weather, tsetse flies, and wild animals, the area thrived with a dense population. Hunting and farming were the primary means of sustenance, as observed in many African societies. Before the 1940s, each of these tribes had their own distinct belief systems, rooted in traditional religion, which played a significant role in their daily lives, including social, political, and economic aspects.
The communities in Gokwe adhered to various traditions and rituals associated with farming and hunting. Ceremonies were performed before the onset of each farming season, and specific norms and taboos were followed to preserve and conserve resources for future generations. Cattle, a symbol of wealth, were treated with reverence through a tradition known as Iziko, which aimed to increase fertility and production. Owning a large number of cattle was highly esteemed, as it allowed men to marry multiple wives, leading to a larger labor force during the farming seasons. The cultural practices of Gokwe included gender-specific roles, such as women being responsible for cooking and men being excluded from entering the kraal. These practices, although seemingly restrictive, were believed to appease the ancestors, who, in turn, rewarded the community with prosperity and good health.
Population-wise, according to Zimstats, Gokwe had 6,524 households accommodating a mixed lingua population of 10,914 males and 13,140 females. The total population stood at 24,054, with females constituting the majority at 54.6%. With a growth rate of 2.2%, Gokwe has surpassed some towns that attained town status prior to its own recognition as a prominent business centre.
The fascinating history, cultural traditions, and population growth of Gokwe highlight the significance of this region within Zimbabwe’s landscape. It serves as a testament to the resilience and prosperity of its people throughout the years.
Places To Visit
Chief Jahana wildlife sanctuary