Zimbabwe Profiles Local,Places Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province

Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province

Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province post thumbnail image

Shurugwi, originally named Selukwe, is a small town and administrative centre situated in Midlands Province, southern Zimbabwe.

It is located approximately 350 km (220 miles) south of Harare, nestled in well-wooded, hilly terrain at about 1,440 metres (4700′).

The town boasts a picturesque landscape, and on clear days, one can see the hills around Masvingo and Great Zimbabwe, which are over 145 km (90 miles) away.

ALSO READ: https://zimprofiles.com/zvishavane-unveiling-the-roots-and-traditions-of-a-zimbabwean-town/

Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province

Chronicles of Shurugwi: picture credit to ihararejobs.com/blog

Name Origin

The town’s original name, Selukwe, was coined from a nearby bare oval granite hill resembling the shape of a pigpen (“selukwe”) of the local Karanga people.

Established in 1899 on the Selukwe Goldfield, Shurugwi has become a significant centre for gold, chrome, and platinum mining.

The name Shurugwi, formerly known as Selukwe, has an interesting origin rooted in the local landscape and its people. Here’s what we know:

The Local Inspiration:

  • The name stems from a nearby bare oval granite hill that resembled the shape of a pigpen (selukwe) in the language of the local Venda people.
  • This descriptive reference to the distinctive physical feature became the town’s name.

The Historical Context:

  • 1899: Shurugwi was established by the British South Africa Company and Willoughby’s Consolidated Company.
  • This period coincided with the annexation of Rhodesia by the Pioneer Column.
  • The town’s development was driven by the discovery of the Selukwe Goldfield in the early 1890s.

Additional Information:

  • While the Venda language influenced the name, the traditional name of the area is Pisirayi, associated with the Shumba totem, Murambwi chidau, and Mhari tribe.
  • Pisirayi was the name of a historical headman, not the official name of the place.

A Brief History

Founded in 1899 by the British South Africa Company and Willoughby’s Consolidated Company, Shurugwi’s history is intertwined with the discovery of the Selukwe Goldfield in the early 1890s, shortly after the annexation of Rhodesia by the Pioneer Column.

Notably, it was the home district of Ian Douglas Smith, a former Prime Minister of Rhodesia.

ALSO READ: https://zimprofiles.com/exploring-hwange-a-comprehensive-overview-of-the-zimbabwe-mining-town/

Shurugwi’s History: From Gold Rush to Modern Town

Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province

Chronicles of Shurugwi:picture credit to Flickr

Shurugwi, formerly known as Selukwe, boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with mineral wealth, political turmoil, and resilience. Here’s a snapshot of its journey:

Early Inhabitants and Colonial Discovery:

  • Long before European arrival, the Shona and Venda people inhabited the area, calling it Pisirayi, after a prominent historical headman.
  • In the early 1890s, with the annexation of Rhodesia, gold was discovered in the area, sparking the Selukwe Goldfield frenzy.

Birth of a Mining Town (1899):

  • In 1899, the British South Africa Company and Willoughby’s Consolidated Company established the town of Selukwe, named after the nearby granite hill resembling a pigpen (“selukwe”).
  • Mining became the lifeblood, attracting prospectors and settlers, and leading to rapid growth and infrastructure development.
  • Gold, chrome, and later, platinum, fueled the economy, shaping the town’s character and attracting people from diverse backgrounds.

Colonial Rule and the Struggle for Independence:

  • Shurugwi, under colonial rule, witnessed the dispossession of indigenous lands, racial segregation, and unequal opportunities.
  • This fueled resistance, and the area saw its share of activism and support for the independence movement.
  • Notably, Ian Douglas Smith, the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia who declared independence from Britain, hailed from Shurugwi.

Post-Independence Challenges and Transformation (1980):

  • After independence in 1980, Shurugwi was renamed Shurugwi, reflecting a shift towards indigenous names.
  • However, the town faced economic challenges as gold prices fluctuated and mining operations modernized.
  • Nevertheless, Shurugwi adapted, diversifying its economy with agriculture, tourism, and small-scale businesses.

Present Day and Beyond:

  • Today, Shurugwi remains a mining centre, although facing ongoing challenges.
  • Tourism plays a growing role, highlighting the scenic beauty and historical significance.
  • The town grapples with issues like unemployment and infrastructure needs, yet exhibits a strong community spirit and entrepreneurial drive.

Further Exploration:

  • To delve deeper, consider exploring these aspects:
    • The impact of mining on the environment and communities.
    • The lives and experiences of diverse residents throughout history.
    • The town’s cultural heritage and contemporary artistic expressions.
    • Shurugwi’s future aspirations and development plans.

Culture around

Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province

Chronicles of Shurugwi: picture credit to flickr

The district remains vital for gold, chrome, and platinum mining, with a diverse cultural influence from the local Karanga people.

Shurugwi’s cultural tapestry is shaped by its mining heritage and the surrounding natural beauty, attracting tourists and retired individuals.

ALSO READ: https://zimprofiles.com/exploring-gokwe-places-to-visit-culture-and-population-insights/

Industry and Agriculture

Serving as the terminus of a rail line from Gweru, Shurugwi is a significant producer of chrome and other metals.

The town’s economy is also supported by agriculture, with peasant farmers cultivating maize and other high grain-producing crops.

Animal husbandry is practised to some extent, contributing to the region’s economic landscape.

Natural Resources

Situated on a mineral-rich Archaean greenstone belt, known as the Selukwe Schist Belt, Shurugwi stands as one of the most mineral-rich towns in Zimbabwe.

Chromite, gold, and nickel are actively mined in the region. The town is also surrounded by natural wonders, including Wolfshall Pass, offering both resources and scenic beauty.


Shurugwi’s infrastructure, although ageing, is gradually adapting to various business activities beyond its historical focus on gold trade.

With the population doubling over the last decade, the town is transforming into a hub for diverse economic activities.

Schools in Shurugwi

The town hosts several schools, including Parkinson High, Chrome High, Shurugwi 2, Batanai High School, Charles Wraith Primary, and many more.

Notable institutions like Pakame Mission, Tongogara High School, and Hanke Adventist High School provide education up to the Advanced Level (“A-Level”).

Despite some post-independence-era schools facing challenges, Shurugwi has produced professionals in accounting, law, engineering, and medicine.

ALSO READ: https://zimprofiles.com/chegutu-unveiling-the-rich-tapestry-of-zimbabwean-heritage/

Places To Visit

Chronicles of Shurugwi: A Historic Town in Midlands Province

Chronicles of Shurugwi: picture credit to Bryoryans

Apart from its mining and agricultural activities, Shurugwi boasts natural attractions like Wolfshall Pass, offering breathtaking views.

Shurugwi boasts a diverse range of schools catering to different educational needs and age groups. Here’s a glimpse into some of the notable schools in the town:

Primary Schools:

  • Charles Reis Primary School: Established in 1904, this historic school is known for its strong academic record and commitment to holistic development.

  • Railway Block Primary School: Situated near the railway station, this school caters to a large student population and offers extracurricular activities like sports and music.

  • Selukwe Primary School: Located in the heart of the town, this school provides a nurturing environment for young learners and emphasizes foundational skills.

  • Ironside Primary School: Situated in the Ironside area, this school offers quality education and is actively involved in community outreach programs.

  • Impari Primary School: Owned by the Anky Mine, this school caters to the educational needs of the mine’s employees’ children and the broader community.

Secondary Schools:

  • Parkinson High School: Renowned for its academic excellence and sporting achievements, this school attracts students from across the region.

  • Krom High School: Established in 1965, this school offers a variety of academic and vocational programs, preparing students for diverse career paths.

  • Shurugwi 2 High School: Situated in the Senga area, this school provides quality secondary education and emphasizes community engagement.

  • Batanai High School: Located in the Batanai area, this school offers a conducive learning environment and caters to the needs of a growing student population.

  • Pakame Mission: Nestled in the scenic Chivi Hills, this mission school offers a well-rounded education with a strong emphasis on spiritual values.

Additional Options:

  • Several other primary and secondary schools are spread across Shurugwi’s wards, catering to the diverse educational needs of the community.
  • Private schools like Sweet Valley Nursery & ECD offer early childhood education in a nurturing environment.

However, the region’s beauty is accompanied by challenges, exemplified by the historically hazardous Boterekwa road.

ALSO READ: https://zimprofiles.com/exploring-rusape-culture-climate-and-historical-significance/

Shurugwi Council Contacts

For information related to the Shurugwi Town Council, one can contact the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), a voluntary association of 32 urban local authorities in Zimbabwe.

The UCAZ provides a platform for addressing matters of common concern among urban councils.


  1. Wikipedia – Shurugwi
    • Author: Various
    • Date Published: Various
  2. Britannica – Shurugwi
    • Author: Britannica
    • Date Published: Not specified
  3. Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ)
    • Author: Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe
    • Date Published: Not specified

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