Changamire Dombo was the ruler of the Rozvi Empire. Dombo was one of the most powerful rulers in 18th-century south-central Africa after successfully driving out the Portuguese from their marketplaces in the region.


Changamire Dombo was a relative of the Munhumutapa and began as one of these local Shona leaders. He gained the title Changamire (lord) and developed an effective army known as the the Rozvi, that, by the 1670s, became a major force in the northeast of the Zimbabwean plateau.[1]


Munhumutapa Empire before and after Changamire Dombo conquests

During the early 1680s, Dombo led his army to the southwest, where he defeated the Torwa. He then challenged the Portuguese of the Zambezi valley. Dombo's first military encounter with the Portuguese and their African mercenaries took place just before June 1684 at the Battle of Maungwe. Rozvi bows and arrows vs Portuguese firearms, the engagement lasted an entire day. Although Changamire Dombo managed to rout the Portuguese four or five times, his army took heavy casualties from gunfire.[1]

Both armies camped on the battlefield and intended to resume fighting the next day. At 1 am the Portuguese awoke to see that they were surrounded by fires made by Rozvi women on Dombo's order. Believing they were surrounded, the Portuguese and their African allies ran off into the night, and when the sun came up, Changamire Dombo's army looted their abandoned camp. Changamire Dombo did not pursue the Portuguese because of the heavy casualties his army had suffered and because he had to content with a Mutapa force, including some Portuguese invading Butua that he eventually defeated, killing 5000.[1]

From around 1685 to 1692, Changamire Dombo consolidated his hold on Butua. In 1693, a new Munhumutapa called Nyakunembire, who wanted to establish his independence, invited Dombo's Rozvi to assist him against the Portuguese. In November that year, a Rozvi army attacked Portuguese settlements, destroyed everything, and dug up graves to use the remains as war medicine. Many Portuguese fled to Tete. Changamire Dombo's Rozvi invaded Manyika, where they replaced the ruler and destroyed Portuguese presence. Further Rozvi campaigns to the northeast were delayed by Changamire Dombo's death in 1696, allowing the Portuguese to flee the Zimbabwean plateau. Changamire Dombo defeated the military superpower of that era which had conquered both India and China.[1]


Changamire Dombo did in 1696.


Changamire Dombo was a relative of the Munhumutapa.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The history of Changamire Dombo, Facebook, Published: 1 July 2017, Retrieved: 3 July 2017