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ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Mutapa State (Kingdom): Military of the Mutapa Organisation of the Mutapa State

  • The Mutapa did not have a standing army
  • The army was mobilized from peasants when there was an emergency
  • The war council in the Mutapa state was known as Dare ReHondo
  • It would convene in times of war and give direction to the army
  • The council was chaired by the Munhumutapa (king)
  • If the council decided to declare war, the Muchinda (prince of royal blood) would be made head of the army
  • Each war regiment in the Mutapa state had its own banner/badge representing an animal figure such as elephants, oxen and other animals
  • The soldiers were gathered together by a war cry
  • Evidence from oral tradition suggest that an army of around 3000 or 5000 soldiers would be psychologically prepared a n’anga (witch doctor) for battle
  • The Mutapa would use magic to instill discipline and courage in the army
  • They would receive treatment and war drums were sounded enough to frighten the enemy with drums beating in a different way.
  • The army was further divided into battalions of about 200-500 men under a field commander
  • Documented field commanders included:
    1. Makota,
    2. Pase,
    3. Machenge,
    4. Nyuno,
    5. Mafutu,
    6. Vasika Matemane among others
  • The Mutapa army used the cow horn formation which they called muromo to encircle the enemy
  • The army preferred to fight in the open so no ambushes occurred
  • They never fought at night but sometimes they would attack at dawn

To access more topics go to the History Notes page.