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Penhalonga is rural mining town in Mutasa District in the province of Manicaland. It is located about 18 km north of Mutare. The town is the residential and commercial centre for the mine and the surrounding area of forestry, dairy and mixed farming. Originally the name was believed to have been derived from the Portuguese words penha meaning 'rocky mountain' and longa meaning 'long', however, the name Penhalonga comes from the Shona word ‘panaronga’ meaning the place that shines.


Lat/Long: 18°53″S, 32°41″E
The town is near the Mozambique border. Penhalonga is in a valley, where the Sambi, Imbeza Rivers join the Mutare River.


Alluvial gold was being worked in the area in 1575 when it was visited by Vasco Homem. Gold, and claims, played an important early role, between the BSAC and the Companhia de Mocambique. The first gold claim was named Penhalonga, after Count Penhalonga, chairman of the Mozambique Company.

In 1888 Baron de Rezende, the Mozambique Company’s Director of Operations on Africa approached James Henry Jeffreys, a British mining engineer to lead an expedition into Manicaland. The expedition left Barberton for Delagoa Bay. They sailed to Cheloane, an island about 55 miles south of Beira.

Jeffreys and Rezende planned to walk up, using "native carriers", but as Chief Gungunyana was raiding, carriers were afraid to go into Manicaland. Fortunately, a small paddle boat built in Yarrow on the Thames arrived in Beira. On this they went up the Pungwe to Mpanda. But still no carriers. Jefreys, Rezende and nine carriers walked, the rest of the party remained at Gorongosa village. They walked to Macequece, where there was an old Portuguese fort. It is now Mania, but previously Chipangura, a centre for marketing slaves and gold. They continued up the Revue River, and met a French engineer in a canoe with quinine which they needed as they had malaria!

Dispute between the Portuguese, Companhia de Mocambique, the British, BSAC, and other claimants, with agreements signed with Archibald Colquhoun, Chief Mutasa, Col. Paiva de Andrade, Baron de Rezende, and others. Rhodes visited the site himself in October 1891 (from Beira) and met Jeffreys at the border (itself settled in June 1891). Ultimately, the rights of the Mocambique concession holders were recognised and their claims converted into Rhodesian claims in about 1891 after a mining commissioner was appointed at Umtali (Mutare).

The Penhalonga Mine operated from 1897, and in 1903 a forty stamp mill was in operation driven by water power, eventually producing over 185,000 oz. (5.3 tonnes) of gold. An increase to eighty stamps, in 1908, was ultimately wasted when ores ran out. Jeffreys remained on at the mine and played a major role in its development (he served as Mayor of Umtali and died in 1926) but the mine closed in 1943 when its main shaft collapsed.

The Rezende Mine opened in 1899 and was named after Count Rezende and is still being worked as the Redwing Mine.[1]

The gold was largely worked out by WWII. Bauxite clay, used in pottery, is mined. The region is a good agricultural area, with dairy, timber, fruits and vegetables grown.

In 1891, Bishop Knight-Bruce founded St Augustine Mission in Penhalonga. Three nurses opened a hospital and formed the first nursing service in 1891.

The 1969 Rhodesia census puts the population at 1720 Africans, 146 Europeans, 8 Asians, and no Coloureds, for total of 1870.
The 1982 census, puts the village population at 4,477
The 2012 census give Mutasa District a population of about 168 000.

Other information

La Rochelle country house is nearby.

Further Reading


  1. Penhalonga, Zim Field Guide, Published: , Retrieved:23 April 2017
  2. [Katherine Sayce (Ed), Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe], Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe, (Quest Publishing, Harare, 1987), Retrieved: 25 July 2019

[1] [2]

  1. [1] Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  2. [R. Kent Rasmussen (ed), Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia] (The Scarecrow Press, London, 1979) Retrieved 8 August 2019"