Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp

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Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp
Heritage Site
Founded byRhodesian Government

Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp was a Rhodesian detention center for political prisoners during the early Second Chimurenga. In the extreme SE Zimbabwe, near the Limpopo River, it was used in the 60's, to hold mainly ZAPU prisoners, including Joshua Nkomo. It was closed in 1974, due to the independence of Mozambique.


Gonakudzingwa is located in present day Masvingo Province of Zimbabwe. After Mozambique independence, the restriction camp was deserted for security reasons. It was located 150 km off the Masvingo- [[Beitbrid Highway in the Gonarezhou National Park.

The Restriction Camp

In order to isolate political leaders from the communities, the Rhodesians moved them to difficult to access areas like Gonakudzingwa Restriction Camp and Sikombela in Gokwe. At this camp many political prisoners which included Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Chinamano and his wife Ruth, Jane Ngwenya, Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo and others were incarcerated and isolated. [1]

One of the ‘terrorists’ (as the Rhodesians termed them) who stayed at the camp, Philemon Bvunzawabaya from Mutoko said the Rhodesians used sophisticated methods of capturing and abandoning them.

“I am happy to be back in this area to tell the story which shapes our history before we depart the earth,” said an emotional Bvunzawabaya.“The last time I came here I was blindfolded, as a prisoner in my land of birth and I didn’t know where I was going.“Now I am a free person, I can go anywhere I want, but I can only get satisfaction when I tell the story of Gonakudzingwa. “It is pathetic that we were being isolated from our people because we were preaching the gospel of revolution.“The Rhodesians used to give us poisoned food which would weaken us in the event of attempting to flee.“Even if we contemplated the idea of fleeing, where could we run to when we didn’t know where we were and when we were also surrounded by dangerous animals such as elephants and lions which used to linger around the fence.[2]


Gonakudzingwa is appreciated as one of the country's most respected landmarks, because it housed the many core early nationalists (where they came to know each other) In Zimbabwe, there have been calls to declare the place a world heritage site, such as Robben Island in South Africa.

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Further Reading



  1. E. Mwale and C. Mushore, Gonakudzingwa: A sinking heritage,The Patriot, published:7 Nov 2013,retrieved:31 Mar 2015"
  2. "Gonakudzingwa:A sinking heritage". The Patriot. November 7, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  3. [R. Kent Rasmussen (ed), Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia] (The Scarecrow Press, London, 1979) Retrieved 8 August 2019"

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