Letter from David Gurupira to the Chief Native Commissioner, 1st May 1938

[Note: this letter is reproduced verbatim here; spelling and capitalization is as in the original.]

"The Tears"

I humbly beseech to introduce myself to you that I am David Gurupira the sone of Mtoko-bred and born in the Mabudya tribe. When education and civilization came I knew the Lord God to which after a less education I was appointed as a teacher and preacher in the Mtoko district at the beginning of 1925 the Year of our Lord.

In 1929 I went to Hertzell Training Mission for further knowledge to which after passing standard six (VI) I obtained the Elementary Teachers' Certificate . I was again appointed as a teacher in the Mtoko district where taught for eleven years. During all these years of life there has not been rest in my heart because of the blood of my father Gurupira which was shed in the Rebellion at the Mount Zhumbwe when helping the Pionneers.

First of all, I want to tell you the history of Motko though you thoroughly know it. Mtoko is not the name of the country itself as it is called these days. But it was the name of the paramount chief of the Mbudya tribe who ever lived. Gurupira's father Mtoko ruled the land from the boundary of Mrewa and Mtoko downards to the boundary of P. EP Africa. He had twenty-one sons and seven daughters.

The following are the names of the sons of Mtoko:

1) Chikukwa 2) Mutize 3) Chiripanyanga 4) Gurupira

5) Katsande 6) Nenzanga 7) Nyakweru 8) Chidzidzi

9) Katiyu 10) Kaehere 11) Muswaire 12) Swowera

13) Kamuruke 14) Nyamazazari 15) Gambiza 16) Kavumbira

17) Mudiwakure 18) Chaknetsa 19) Mvundura 20) Dutsa and

21) Nyazuwa

Out of the twenty-one sons mentioned previously I want to speak about the fourth son that is Gurupira whose death did not cost any penny at all. Gurupira after the death of his father became chief of the tribe. He was very brave stout, fearful and popular to the Wabudya tribe. The people loved appreciated and highly honoured him because of his appearance and bravery.


When the pioneers went to see Gurupira after the death of his father they made a great friendship. He gave them what we call "Mbonane" that means "friendly eye gift" and they also did the same to him. Some people thought of fighting the pionneers, Gurupira did not agree because his father had told him not to fight them.

When the pionneers left Mtoko for Salisbury, met the Boruzwi tribe who were waiting to fight them. The pionneers were soon surrounded and one of them was killed by a Murozwi warrior named "Mandova". Here the pionneers without knowing what to do remember their friend Gurupira who was so kind to them.


In th enight the pionneers sent the message back to Gurupira saying: 'Friend Gurupira come and help us very soon please, one of our friends is killed and if you want anything from us it shall be given to you freely.'


The next morning Gurupira sent the pionneers' message to Dowa who was supposed to be the paramount chief after the death of Gurupira's father. Dowa refused entirely saying that the white men were not his friends where as the Baruzwi were his own black people.

In the night Gurupira sent for all in his district. Hundreds of the Wabudya came for the call. Gurupira then told them about the message from the pionneers his father's friends and the message from Dowa the supposed chief. He also told them the words which his father had told him before his death. They all claped their hands and wished to die for the pionneers though skin was differ. They all said: 'Chikari neupfu' which means 'Pot and mealie meal in the bag.'


By night Gurupira and his warriors left their home hurrying for the pionneers help who were in trouble on the Mounts Zhombe and Domborembudzi. The army passed Zhombe to Domborembudzi first. Here they found the pionneers and joined them and the result was the the capture of Domborembudzi after the wounded of two sons of Gurupira who were fighting like hungry lions.

Zhombe Rebellion

The pionneers together with Gurupria and his warriors went back to Zhombwe mountain where a larger number of their enemies was waiting for them like hungry tigers. Here they fought and fought for weeks and even months but the Rebellion could not be finished for the Waruwzi were on the mountain.

Gurupira's Death

The next morning Gurupira followed his soldiers on the mountain where he started fighting too for the battle could not be finished. Unfortunately his enemies knew him so they fired at him and was shot then fell to the ground. The whole mountain rang with anchor for they knew that they had removed the power of the Wabudya tribe. The pionneers and the Wabudya came to carry the wounded to the tent. They were all powerless and sorry for they saw that he was going to die very soon.

In the Tent

In the tent Gurupira encouraged his young brother Chidzidzi saying: 'Turn not away from this mountain till you have destroyed it. Yes I am aware that death is now at hand, but my blood must be revenged. In the same night another party carried him home. 'Oh sweet home sweet home' he could not reach it. When they reached Nyadiri river he said: 'Put me down'. Then he turned his face towards the Mountain Zhombe like a wounded hungry lion then he breathed the last. The pionneers and Chidzidzi with his warriors captured the Waruzwi and made peace in the country.


The country without the lives of her sons and daughters the other races cannot understand its needs. Therefore I am writing to you my Lord trusting that there is no step we can take without thy hand. You are the overseer of this Colony and can kindly if possible stand for on this request.

Now as Gurupira died for the sake of our Great British Empire can't the British Empire remember him at all? Why is it that there is no one of Gurupira's family being a chief now a days in honour of their father who died at the rebellion? Or may he be given a badge which shows that his father served and died for this Kingdom, or do something in memmorial to Gurupira?

None of the Wabudya chiefs went to help the white pionneers but Gurupira. He fought and died for his King but since that day nothing was done to remember him. In the Bible we read that: Through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ we all enter into the Kingdom of Heaven if we only believe in Him. And further more under the British Empire there is a law which says: 'A long faithful piece of work done in royality has a fine dischange.'

Therefore through the blood of my father Gurupira, one of our family should be on the throne as a chief in memorial to our father. May it not truly be said that he fought and died for his King though his skin was black?

These are the tears of the sons of Gurupira which I ask you Sir to wipe them off.


I have the honour to remain


Your humble servant

David Gurupira

(On behalf of Gurupira's Sons)

A slightly different version of the letter written in 1936 and contained in the same archival file concludes as follows:

I wonder: do the pioneers and the government know or still remember that he died because of his Great Queen Victoria, who was very far beyond the seas and oceans. Gurupira even he did not see her, but he loved her, served her and died for her as a faithfully servant.

Oh poor Gurupira! if you were a white man a little thing could be done to your land, even to your sons or your family, but unfortunately you were born in Africa. Why the faithfully servant of the Government are being pensioned though they may not die? Can not the blood of innocent Gurupira be pensioned who died for the British Empire? That is the crying and the feeling of my tears need to be wiped. Know that I have written to you trusting that you are the door to enter into everything.

Attached letter from Native Commissioner Powys-Jones (Mtoko District) to Chief Native Commissioner, Sept. 11, 1936.

I think perhaps you should see the attached effusion by a descendent of the house of Chief Mtoko, who apparently thinks he ought to get a pension. I understand that his facts are historically substantially correct.

I suggest that I reply to him that the deeds of his fathers were recognized by the Government in that the Wabudjga have been allowed to retain their guns, as a token of their loyalty during the rebellion.

Testimony from an interview conducted with Maore Maodzwa Mudzongai, 1979 by Dawson Munjeri of the National Archives of Zimbabwe. Translated from the Shona by the National Archives.

Maore Maodzwa Mudzongai (MA): At sunset my father, grandmother and others came back from refuge and were surprised to see her alive.[her mother] She related to them what had transpired [the rebels had recognized her as a kinsman] and so the father said, 'Since these people have said the group coming after the first contingent will kill us, let us put her in a basket.' Some were afraid that the basket would fall. The whole group then fled to Zhombwe and ascended that mountain.

Dawson Munjeri (MU): The Zhombwe mountain?

MA: Yes. In Zhombwe was Gurupira who was killed in there. This is what I was told. It is said that Gurupira had his hands hacked off. The hands were hacked off in Zhombwe at the time he was fighting the Zezuru. This is what my mother told me. It was in this Zhombwe that my father and mother took refuge. My grandmother asked him, 'Why have you climbed up here you should join your brother.' My father together with one of his brothers descended from the mountain. The brother was threatened with death if he became afraid. When they had descended they went towards the place where the Zambezi men and the Ndebele were. These people had canned beef.


MA: Gurupira was killed by the Zezuru. First of all they cut off his arms because he was fighting on the side of the Europeans. He fought in the Zhombwe.

MU: You say that is the year you were born?

MA: On that very day I was born we went up the Zhombwe. My umbilical cord had not even fallen off. After a time all the people who were in the Zhombwe descended. My uncle was called and the White policeman ordered, 'All the boys must join hands we want to shoot all of you.' They joined hands. My uncle was blindfolded with a black cloth. When the guns were fired, my uncle was not killed but merely thrown a distance away.