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Suffolk, Marondera District, Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe

Suffolk is located at 17° 57 7 S 31° 39 38 E in the Marondera District of the province of Mashonaland East, in Zimbabwe.  It is approximately 21 miles (34km) south of the town of Musami, and 18 miles (29 km) north of the city of Marondera, which is located about 45 miles (73 km) east of Harare.  

Population:- 4,485 within a 4.5 mile radius around Suffolk.

How to get there:-

By Road: From Harare take A3/Mutare Road to Marondera. From there take the road north towards Musami.  After about 10 miles take a right turn down a rough farm track, and Suffolk (Suffolk Farm) is about half a mile along to the north of the farm track.

By Rail: There is a regular commuter service from Harare to Marondera, which is the nearest station to Suffolk. The journey takes approximately 1 hour 20 minutes.

Nearest airport is Harare International.

Timezone: Central AfricaTime (GMT +2 hrs).  No daylight saving time in summer.


Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)

Early History & Derivation of Name

Marondera & Mashonaland 



See also Suffolk Misc. page - Suffolk in Zimbabwe

Early History & Derivation of Name

Although Suffolk is designated a populated place in the 2010 list of such places in Zimbabwe, this does not mean that it is a municipality or village as such, but only that it constitutes a locality with a population.  The locality takes its name from Suffolk Farm.  This was one of the small farms on the Mashonaland Plateau east of Salisbury (Harare) occupied by white settlers in the early years of the 20th century.  

After 15 years of occupation had failed to produce a shareholder dividend from its mineral activities, the British South Africa Company (BSAC) redirected its attention in 1905 to the country’s agricultural potential, particularly on the Mashonaland plateau.  This was fertile upland where the rainfall was higher and land-use was optimal for large-scale, mechanised farming.  In 1907 the directors introduced an official “white agricultural policy” and established a Land Settlement Farm at Marandellas (now Marondera) to sell land and assist pioneer farmers in the district.  The Company divided the area around Marandellas into 3000 acre farms.  Only physically fit British subjects of European descent with a minimum capital of £1,000 were eligible, and to emphasise the “British-ness” of the new territory the farms were named after English counties.  By 1908 there were 12 farms recorded in the Marandellas district.  The sources we have accessed do not actually name these 12 farms, but today, north of Marondera (Marandellas) on either side of the road to Mhembere going north there are: Buckingham Farm, Dorset Farm, Warwick Farm, Somerset Farm, Cornwall Farm, Norfolk Farm, Oxford Farm, Middlesex Farm, Surrey Farm, Suffolk Farm, Sussex Farm and Kent Farm.  There is also an Internet posting that refers to a European family at Sussex Farm in November 1908.  Since the latter farm is less than 1 mile from Suffolk Farm, it seems likely that these farms may have been occupied by this year.      

Immigration of new settlers was slow.  This was partly due to the initial capital outlay required, but also because of uncertainty over the legal entitlement to the land.  The initial concession from King Lobengula was only for mining rights, not settlement rights or ownership of the land.  As far as the BSAC was concerned, they had obtained a right to the land by conquest after suppressing two native rebellions against their presence in the country.  In 1918 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London ruled that the land in Southern Rhodesia was Crown Land, thus giving the farmers the legality of ownership they desired.

After self-government was granted in 1923, the white settlers, who were the only representatives in the Southern Rhodesia House of Assembly, were able to create a framework for the allocation of land that suited them.  The 1930 Land Apportionment Act gave 50% of the agricultural land to the white settlers; this was on the high plateau with sufficient and stable rainfall and greatest potential, while 33% of the less productive, sandy semi-arid land at lower altitudes was reserved for the blacks, with the remainder unallocated.  This prevented the blacks from ownership of the best agricultural land, and the Africans were relegated to scrubland and tsetse-fly infested lands.  If the Africans remained on white lands they had to become indentured labourers and those who failed to provide at least four months labour per annum were required to pay a substantial “hut tax” to be allowed to remain on the land that their families had previously held for generations, otherwise they were required to move.

Robert Mugabe emerged as one of the leaders of the liberation movement against white-minority rule, and he was elected to power in 1980 when Zimbabwe gained independence.  He had promised to resolve the main issue of land reform since whites made up less than 1% of the population but held about 70% of the arable land.  The government’s land distribution is perhaps the most crucial and the most bitterly contested political issue surrounding Zimbabwe today.  The British agreed after independence to help fund land reform on a “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, meeting 50% of the costs, and this policy applied from 1980 to 2000.  However, this policy failed to correct what was seen as the inequitable land distribution created by colonial rule.  Starting in 2000, the “fast-track resettlement programme” was initiated by Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, allowing the seizure of white-owned farmlands without due reimbursement or payment.  The farms in Mashonaland East were gazetted for acquisition by black Zimbabweans.  However, almost immediately, self-styled “war veterans” began invading white-owned farms.  Those who did not leave voluntarily were often tortured and sometimes killed.  Much of the land was claimed through corrupt means by officials from ZANU-PF, army officers, high ranking police officers, etc.  Black farm workers were excluded from the redistribution, and were also forced off the land, losing their jobs and their homes.  In 2005 it was the turn of Suffolk Farm.  It was reported: “At Suffolk Farm, M, a widow and her family were allegedly displaced by a ZANU-PF councillor J, who accused them of supporting the (opposition party) MDC” (Zimbabwe Peace Project Monitoring Report, 12 June 2005).

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Marondera & Mashonaland

Marondera: Marondera  is the capital of Mashonaland East and also a district of that province.  It originated in 1890 after the British occupation of Mashonaland when it became a rest house on the road from Salisbury (now Harare) to Umtali (now Mutare).  The British named it Marandella’s kraal, a corruption of Marondera, the name of the local chieftain of the ruling Barozwi people who lived nearby.  It was later destroyed in the Shona rebellion of 1896, and the British moved the rest house 4 miles (6 km) north to the Salisbury-Beira railway line, where it became known as Marandellas.  It was constituted a village in 1913, and became a town in 1943.
During the South African (Boer) War it was used by the British as a staging point for military operations into the Transvaal.  It was one of the earliest centres of white settlement in the former colony of Southern Rhodesia.  It evolved as an agricultural town and was the centre of Zimbabwe’s large forestry and farming district.  The major products were timber, tobacco, corn (maize), beef, and dairy products.  It is also an educational centre with numerous elite private and government schools.

Marandellas was renamed Marondera in 1982 on becoming a city.  It remained relatively prosperous until the seizure of white-owned farms and the redistribution of land began in 2000.  Marondera is now slowly turning into a ghost town as most of its residents cannot find employment and are deserting the city.  Thousands of workers have been left with no jobs because of the closure of the majority of agricultural-based industries and the exodus of the white population after the land invasions of 2000.

Mashonaland: The Shona people generally identified themselves with small
er ethnic groups, although they all spoke a similar language.  The name “Shona” was given to them by the invading Ndebele speakers in the early 19th century.  The major ethnic grouping of the Shona was the Karanga who had, from before the 9th century, occupied the territory of Zimbabwe.  They established several large empires including the Great Zimbabwe state whose stone ruins are characteristic of this early domain.  The states were based on kingship with certain dynasties being accepted as royals, of which one of them was the Rozwi.  A Rozwi Empire was established in 1684.  The economic power of this empire was based on cattle wealth and farming, with significant gold mining.  They established trade with Arab and Portuguese traders on the Mozambique coast.   

In 1838 the Ndebele, descendants of the Zulus in South Africa, led by Mzilikazi, marched north, destroyed the Rozwi state and established their own kingdom of Matabeleland.  Many of the Karanga, or Shona as they were now called by the invaders, moved to the high plateau where they founded a number of traditional chieftainships, and hence this area became
known as Mashonaland.  In 1866 the Ndebele also conquered the high plateau and brought these chieftainships under their suzerainty, although they were left largely to themselves.  However, gold was discovered in Mashonaland in 1867, and the European powers became increasingly interested in the region.  In 1890, Cecil Rhodes sent a group of settlers, known as the Pioneer Column, into Mashonaland where they founded Fort Salisbury (now Harare).  In 1891 an Order-in-Council declared Matabeleland and Mashonaland British protectorates.

The British destroyed the traditional power of the chiefs in 1890.  Mashonaland was originally one of the regions that the country was divided into following occupation by the British South Africa Company in 1890, and it remained a separate administration distinct from the rest of the territory of Rhodesia.  In 1923 Mashonaland became one of the five provinces of the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia.  In 1970 it was divided into Mashonaland North and Mashonaland South, then in 1983 it was divided into the current three provinces of Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland West, with the capital city of Harare given its own provincial status as well.

Harare, which was entirely surrounded by Mashonaland East, continued to act as the capital city of the province until 1997 when Marondera was selected as the capital.  It was not until 2000 that the capital offices finally moved to Marondera.

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