Mbuya Nehanda, also called “Ambuya” meaning “grandmother” was the religious leader of the MaShona nation. Her name was used by female military leaders against the British. She was involved in the Rhodesia and Zimbabwe wars for independence in the 19th and 20th centuries. She was the spirit medium of her tribe.

When white settlers first appeared, Nehanda initially ordered her people to be friendly and courteous to the British traders, and even to help them. Then, the colonialists sought to impose taxes, forced labor, and forced relocations, etc. A rebellion against the colonialists was planned by Nehanda and two other spirit mediums, who were integral for the rebellion and the rebel plans. The rebellion was initiated in May 1896 and was successful.

Legacy: Nehanda’s heroism influenced the wars for independence in the 1900s. The name mbuya is an honorific, and hospitals and universities have named buildings after her.