Matendere Monument is located on a prominent granite 'whale-black' in the Buhera district, 50 kilometres south of Murambinda Growth Point in the Buhera district and well off the usual tourist track. The site is an excellent example of a Zimbabwe-style enclosure and is known for its herringbone and dentelle decorations in the dry-stone walling, plus two monoliths at the top on the perimeter wall.
Matendera is the largest of a group of six monuments that also includes Kagumbudzi, Muchuchu, Chironga, Chiwona and Gombe; all of which are situated on the summit of steep-sided kopje’s that give a commanding view over the surrounding countryside and as a group are described by Gertrude Caton-Thompson in her book The Zimbabwe Culture. The Buhera Council and National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) have held an annual cultural festival at Matendera which was well-attended by local people and officials to celebrate Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage and its local traditions.
‘M’Tendele’ or ‘Matindela’ is described in Hall and Neal’s The Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia as the capital of the Sabi district although it is also clear their book indexer seems to have confused the M’Tendele ruins in Sabi with the M’Telegewa ruins on the Shangani River. They hypothesize that the foundations are contemporary with Great Zimbabwe, but that the walls are of a later period and inferior quality with rough masonry and irregular stone courses.
Matendera Ancient City is the biggest of a cluster of many smaller cities in Buhera District of Manicaland that comprise of Kagumbudzi, Muchuchu, Chironga, Chiwona and Gombe ancient cities, as well as Tohwe Chipi (the grave of the last known King of the Varozvi). Structurally, Matendera Ancient City has some remarkable features similar to Great Zimbabwe National Monuments and date back to the 16th and 17th centuries AD. The Matendera stone structure is a replica of the Great Zimbabwe Monuments with an extensive and impressive horse-shoe shaped enclosure located on a low lying dwala some 45km south of Buhera.
In the past five years, Buhera District has been trying to promote tourism and raise Matendera to its pre-colonial glory through an annual festival. Matendera Monument sees few visitors through its remote location and deserves more recognition as one of Zimbabwe’s prime monuments. Matendera Festival is an annual cultural event held at Matendera Ancient City, through the co-ordinating efforts of Buhera Rural District Council and National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe. The festival is a celebration of the tangible and intangible heritage of the people of Buhera (Vahera) through their native dances such as Jaka, drama and poetry.
How to get there
From Birchenough Bridge take the A9 heading toward Masvingo, 6.4 KM turn right and head north west, 12.84 km turn left heading west, 23.3 KM cross a river, 34.7 KM cross a river, 55.6 Km travel through kopjes, 59.2 KM continue straight on ignoring the road crossing to left and right, 65.9 KM continue straight on ignoring the road to the right, 77.2 KM take the road to the left going west, 85.4 KM Ruti Dam comes into view, 88 KM reach school and enquire after best route to Matendera Ruins which is 3.5 kilometres to the east of here.