The province of Mashonaland central has a long history of human habitation. It is believed that before the coming of the Europeans, the area was once under the administration of the ancient Great Zimbabwe empire which was headquartered in present day Masvingo at a site which is now referred to as the Great Zimbabwe Monuments. When the colonisation process began, the Mashonaland Central province was believed to be on the forefront of resistance under the leadership of a spirit medium named Mbuya Nehanda. In fact, Mbuya Nehanda was stationed at a shrine in the present day Mazowe area and she commanded the resistance movement from there. Mbuya Nehanda is said to have agitated the whole Mashonaland region to resist European colonisation by taking up arms and fighting the colonisers. It is against this background that the Mashonaland Central region was the heart of European resistance and this culture of resistance was also visible in the Second Chimurenga war from the 1960s. During the Second Chimurenga war, the region had prominent battles especially in the Mount Darwin area which was the highway to and from Mozambique where guerrillas received their military training and ideological orientation.
Mashonaland central is located on the northern part of the country and it also covers the area locally referred to as the Zambezi valley which includes areas such as Muzarabani and Guruve. The province shares its southern border with Murehwa and Mutoko which are in the Mashonaland east Province. In the east, Mount Darwin, which is in the province borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In the west, the province shares a boundary with Mashonaland west province.
Major Towns and Districts
Bindura is the provincial capital of Mashonaland Central province and it houses most of the administrative offices. The district has a population of 156,842 and the province is known for its rich soils. It is located about 90 kilometers from Harare. The district is located approximately 90 km from Harare. The area mainly concentrates in crop cultivation although it has some commercial farms which specialise in animal husbandry.
Centenary district has a relatively small population of about 107 718. The small town concentrates in commercial crop production. It is wholly made up of commercial farms as well as small scale farms distributed to the locals during the land reform program.
Mt Darwin has a population of about 199,105. The district consists of rural communities of Kaitano, Mavhuradonha and Mukumbura. The people rely on subsistence farming, and cotton farming for survival. It is home to popular figures in Zimbabwe and these include former vice president Joice Mujuru and cabinet Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
Guruve has a population of 184,828. The area is rich in Wildlife and the CAMPFIRE project was introduced to conserve wild life. This has benefited the area in terms of roads and infrastructure. Development has also been brought by presence of Granite stones, which are used make tombstones and crafts. Mushumbi Pools (Mermaid Pools) are located in the district and tourists frequent this place. The district also houses the famous Tengenenge sculpture community. The Community was founded by Tom Blomefield in l966 and is situated 150 kilometers north of Harare at the foot of the Great Dyke. The difference with other villages is the occupation of the inhabitants: they all make a living from sculpting. The village is an open-air gallery. More than 11.000 sculptures are exhibited, made by over 300 different sculptors each having their own style, performance and stand.
Rushinga district has a population of 67,134. Rushinga comprises rural areas Nyamatikiti, Rushinga, Chimhanda and Rusambo. These are growth points including the town centre of Rushinga itself. Agriculture is the main activity producing crops such as maize and cotton. Another source of livelihood is selling fish imported from the neighbouring Mozambique.
Shamva district has a population of 98,046. Madziwa Mine, a closed nickel mine, now converted to a Teachers College is located in Shamva North. Shamva gold mine provides employment for most of the people from the surrounding areas.
It has a population of approximately 194 927 people. It is an agrarian district with the larger part being commercial and forestry farms. Henderson Research station is situated in Mazowe South, where training and veterinary research is done. Mazowe Dam is provides water for irrigation to the orange plantations of Mazowe Citrus Estate. The soils are sandy and not very fertile and farmers grow tobacco and cotton.
Mashonaland Central has a University, Bindura University of Science Education which is located in Bindura town. It boasts of numerous public institutions such as schools, hospitals, government departments and philanthropic institutions such as the Grace Mugabe Foundation.