Gweru (formerly Gwelo until 1982) is a city near the centre of Zimbabwe at . It has a population of about 146,073 (2009), making it the fifth largest city in the nation. Gweru is the capital of Midlands Province, and was founded in 1894 by Dr. Leander Starr Jameson. The first bank opened in Gweru in 1896, and the stock exchange in 1898. The railway arrived in 1902. It became a municipality in 1914 and achieved city status in 1971. The name changed from Gwelo to Gweru in 1982.
It is also home to Thornhill Air Base, an airforce garrison, the Zimbabwe Military Museum and the Antelope Game Park. The Nalatale and Danangombe archaeological enclosures lie nearby, the former known for its patterned brickwork, the latter for its Portuguese remains.
Industries include Zimbabwe Alloys, a chrome smelting plant, Bata Shoe Company (established in 1939) and Anchor Yeast the sole manufacturer of yeast (established in 1952). Both are leading employers in Gweru. Gweru is situated in one of Zimbabwe's finest cattle rearing areas: the surrounding agricultural activity revolves around the cattle industry (both beef and dairy). Bata has its own tanning plant for cattle hides and the Cold Storage Commission CSC has an abattoir in Gweru. Flowers are also grown in the area for the export market, and Zimbabwe's largest distiller, Afdis, has extensive vineyards in Gweru for the production of wine. Mining is also prevalent: mainly chromite ore from rich deposits along the Great Dyke to the east of Gweru. The town derives its name from a former Lozwi/Rozvi chief known as Kwelu [Kalanga for pheasant]. The English could not say Kwelu and name it Gwelo. Sadly it has been named Gweru by the Karanga, a corrupted version of its original name. That the original name was Kalanga is supported by other names of surrounding areas such as Dimba Mihwa [Thorn Hill], Senga [Kalanga for carry], Mkoba [pronounced mukova Kalanga for entrance], Mambo. One of Netjasike's grandsons Malisa settled around that area.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe have the country's largest marshalling yard, Dabuka, on the south side of Gweru. Dabuka plays a pivotal role in rail movement in the country as it is the central hub of the rail links to Mozambique in the east, South Africa in the south and Botswana and Namibia in the south west, lying on the Bulawayo - Harare Line.
As a central city (hub), it has direct links to all the other cities and towns of Zimbabwe. It is 164 km from Bulawayo, 183 km from Masvingo, 471 km from Beitbridge, and 275 km from Harare.
Road names used are by destination only, for example the Harare - Gweru Road. There are only mainroads, no highways or freeways.
|Climate data for Gwelo|
|Average high °C (°F)||27
|Average low °C (°F)||15
|Precipitation mm (inches)||142
|Source: Weatherbase |
Like other urban areas of Zimbabwe, the majority supports the MDC.
Mayor Tedious Chimombe was accused of splashing on a $42,000 Toyota Prado, even though council workers salaries have not been paid for months.
The urban population of Gweru is thought to be around 300,000 people, but could well be more than that as most urban Zimbabweans maintain a rural home as well. Because it falls between the Shona and Ndebele regions a sizeable percentage can speak both of the major local languages although Shona is spoken by the majority with approximately 30% speaking Ndebele.
Like all other cities in Zimbabwe, Gweru is divided into high-, medium- and low-density residential areas. During the colonial era, cities were also segregated according to race with the black Africans living only in the high-density areas. Coloureds (those of mixed heritage) lived in separate medium-density areas, while the whites (Europeans) occupied most of the medium- and all of the low-density areas. Although now racially integrated the demarcation between low, medium and high density still remains.
The biggest original "black" suburb in Gweru is Mkoba: it is divided into sections. Mkoba started as a village so it still has village 1, village 2 up to village 20. It is the only suburban area in Zimbabwe to have the village suffix. Mtapa, Senga, Nehosho, Mambo, Ascot are some of the high-density suburbs around Gweru. Southdowns, Northlea, Lundi Park, Riverside etc. are among the "middle-class" residential areas of Gweru.
Harben park, St Annes drive, Kopje, Brackenhurst, Windsor Park are some of the "elite" residential areas of Gweru.
The primary and secondary system of education has not changed much in structure for several decades. Schools in Gweru subscribe to the same British system of education as the rest of the nation. Students spend seven years in primary education and four (Ordinary Level) or six (Advanced Level) years in secondary depending on the level of education they choose to reach. Until the 1990s 'O' and 'A' level exams were administered by two major British examination bodies, the Associated Examination Body (AEB) and Cambridge University. These are now examined locally by the Zimbabwe Education Board.
Before 1980 schools were divided into two groups. Group A schools were the former all-white or mixed-race schools and Group B schools the former black schools. The difference lay mainly in the curriculum and facilities available. Group A schools generally had more facilities, particularly in the non-core teaching areas such as art, music and sport. Of particular emphasis is the sporting area in which former Group B schools taught mainly athletics, football and netball whilst the Group A schools had a wider range of sporting activities including athletics, tennis, swimming, diving, lacrosse, gymnastics, hockey, rugby, cricket, netball, basketball and cross-country. There has not been much change in this provision since independence.
It is incorrect to state that schools were divided on racial grounds before "Independence"; although that was the perceived situation. Blacks who chose to send a child to what became "Group A" schools could do so provided that the child passed a test in which he demonstrated a reasonable profiency in the English language. Also black children who demonstrated academic excellence in what became "Group B" schools were placed in the school best equipped to further their studies.
Cambridge University did not unilaterally cease marking Zimbabwean school certificate examinations. Mugabe claimed that the poor results obtained were due to racial prejudice and set up the Zimbabwe Education Board.
- Mimosa Nursery School
- Dominican Nursery School
- Gweru Nursery School
- Midlands Pre-School
- Cecil John Rhodes School
- Stanley School
- Riverside School
- Lundi Park School
- Midlands Christian School (Private)
- Anderson Adventist (Private)
- Bata School (Financed and Maintained by the Bata Shoe Company)
- Sandara School
- St Paul's School (Catholic)
- Chikumbiro School
- Bumburwi School
- Muwunga School
- St. Micheals Primary School (Catholic)
- Senga Primary School
- Matongo Primary School
- Mpumelelo Primary School
- Takunda Primary School
- Mkoba 4 Primary School
- Takwirira Primary school
- Thornhill Airforce
- Chaplin High School (former school of Rhodesian Prime Minister - Ian Smith|Ian Douglas Smith and Chris Duckworth, Rhodesia's foremost allround sportsman - Springbok cricketer, Rhodesian Hockey player, Natal U19, Junior Tennis Champion)
- Thornhill High School
- Midlands Christian College (private)
- Anderson Adventist High School (private)
- Nashville Secondary School
- Guinea Fowl High School
- Mkoba 3 High School
- Ascot Secondary School
- Matinunura Secondary school
- Senka Secondary School
- Mkoba 1 Secondary School
- Mambo Secondary School
- Fletcher High School (this school produced some of the country's top professionals)
- Gweru Polytechnic College
- Mkoba Teachers College
- Midlands State University
- Loreto Secondary School (Catholic)
- Lower Gweru Mission (Seventh Day Adventist)
- St Patricks High School (Anglican)
- Regina Mundi High School (Catholic)
- Commercial colleges
Commercial education was not easily available to the majority of Gweru residents especially before independence. There was a surge of new colleges after 1980 when Zimbabwe gained independence and also when commercial courses became a popular requirement in industry.
Midlands College of Commerce - The first black commercial college was founded in the early 1970s by Wilbert H. Shumba. It provided courses in most commercial and practical subjects popular during that era for example: typing, bookkeeping, dress-making and shorthand. These were examined by the UK-based Pitman Examinations Institute. This college stopped operating in the mid-1990s following the death of W.H Shumba in 1994.
After 1980 other colleges were soon established:
- Educare College
- Ambassador College
- Commercial Studies Centre
- Solars College
- TopFlight Secretarial College
- Herentals College
- Correspondence / Distance Education Colleges
- Zimbabwe Distance Education College (Zdeco). Founded by Dr Skhanyiso Ndlovu who is now the Minister of Information for Zimbabwe. ZDECO was formed soon after independence and is now one of the country's largest adult education colleges. This college runs commercial and academic programmes including ZJC (Zimbabwe Junior Certificate), 'O' and 'A' levels and degree programmes
- Central Africa Correspondence College established in 1954
- Rapid Results College established in 1962
- International Correspondence Schools
- Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU)
- Midlands Christian Training Centre - provided teacher training, and is also an examination centre for UNISA exams. This training centre is closely linked to the Midlands Christian School and College.
- Midlands State University - formerly Gweru Teacher's College www.msu.ac.zw
- Mkoba Teacher's College
- Senka Technical Training Centre
- Kaguvi National Technical College - formerly established to cater for freedom fighters who had gone to war against British colonial powers to reintegrate them into the community.
Midlands Hotel was opened in 1927 by the Meikle brothers. It was about to be demolished but after much protest, it was spared. Chitukuko hotel (formerly known as the Cecil Hotel) is another local hotel located in the city centre area. Both hotels were later owned by the Patrick Kombayi, a prominent Gweru businessman, ex-mayor, and politician known for his highly publicised criticism of the current government. Fairmile Motel is just a mile from the city centre on Bulawayo road.
Boggies memorial clock tower
Boggie Clock (High Res)
Image of the memorial clock tower in a postage stamp
new truck for city
- The Automobile Association of Zimbabwe
- "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Gwelo, Zimbabwe". Weatherbase. 2011. Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
- "Gweru anger over mayor's car" by Lunga Sibanda 23 April 2010 00:00:00 http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-2292-Gweru+anger+over+mayors+car/news.aspx
- Local Government International Bureau (LGIB) Database of "Twinning Towns"
2. Munyaradzi B. Munochiveyi, "An Economic History of Industrialization in Zimbabwe: The Case of Gwelo Town, 1890-1979", B.A. (Honours) Thesis, University of Zimbabwe, 2001.