Chief Chinengundu Mashayamombe’s stronghold, Fort Martin and Cemetery

Chief Chinengundu Mashayamombe’s stronghold, Fort Martin and Cemetery

Chief Chinengundu Mashayamombe’s stronghold, Fort Martin and Cemetery is a national monument.


Why Visit

This area played a very significant part in the Mashona Rebellion or First Chimurenga as a centre of resistance because of the importance of the Chief Chinengundu Mashayamombe – Gumboreshumba Kaguvi strategic alliance. It was Kaguvi who supplied the spiritual encouragement for Chiefs Mashayamombe, Chikwakwa, Seki, Kunzwi, Mangwendi and others to maintain their resistance.

The tactics that had served the Mashona against amaNdebele raiders in the previous fifty years, retreating to the caves with their families and hiding their cattle until the enemy left the area, served them well against the European military. The seven-pounder and Maxim gun were rendered ineffectual and the older muskets caused significant casualties when used at close range from within the caves.

The significant dates are as follows

  • 14 June 1896 the very first killings of the Mashona Rebellion or First Chimurenga take place near Mashayamombe’s kraal of Indian traders near the south bank of the Mupfure River. Next day, the first European David Moony, the Native Commissioner, is killed.

Twelve prospectors and traders fortify Fort Hill at Hartley Hills and are sniped at by Chief Mashayamombe’s men from 18 June.

  • On 19 June Capt. PA Turner and the Natal Troop (50 men) come from Beatrice and attempt to attack Mashayamombe’s kraal, but are forced to turn back after suffering stiff resistance.
  • 22 July 1896 the siege of Fort Hill at Hartley Hills is ended by Capt. the Hon. C.J. White.
  • 9 October 1896 Col. EAH Alderson and Major Jenner’s forces attack Mashayamombe’s kraal, and Chena’s kraal on the eastern side of Kaguvi Hill. They overran the complex of caves, burnt the kraals and seized cattle, but finally withdrew after three days. The Mashona forces reoccupied their kraals and saw the inconclusive result as a victory for themselves.
  • Fort Mhondoro, on the south side of the Mupfure, was built on 13 January, but abandoned by 12 March 1897.
  • Fort Martin, within one and a half kilometres of Chief Mashayamombe’s kraal, was occupied by the BSAP under Capt. RC Nesbitt on 20 March 1897; operations began to disrupt crop planting.
  • Chief Mashayamombe was forced to attack Fort Martin with 300-400 men on 17 March 1897, but was driven off.
  • 1897 Chief Mashayamombe stronghold in the kopje’s behind his burnt out kraal was attacked on 24 July by local forces under the BSAP and led by Inspectors Nesbitt and Harding and Lt-Col. de Moleyns and taken after still opposition. The defenders retreated into a large cave, but were blockaded with and surrendered next day. Chief Mashayamombe’s fate is unclear, but he may have been killed on the first day of fighting.

Fort Martin was abandoned the following year. Zimbabwe Historic Graveyards And Cemeteries