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Chimoio is the capital of Manica Province
Manica Province
Manica is a province of Mozambique. It has an area of 61,661 km² and a population of 1,359,923 .Chimoio is the capital of the province.-Districts:*Báruè District*Gondola District*Guro District*Machaze District*Macossa District*Manica District...

 in Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. It is the fifth-largest city in Mozambique.

Chimoio's name under Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 administration was Vila Pery. Vila Pery developed under Portuguese rule as an important agricultural and textiles centre.

The town lies on the railway line from Beira
Beira, Mozambique
Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungue River meets the Indian Ocean. Beira had a population of 412,588 in 1997, which grew to an estimated 546,000 in 2006...

 to Harare
Harare before 1982 known as Salisbury) is the largest city and capital of Zimbabwe. It has an estimated population of 1,600,000, with 2,800,000 in its metropolitan area . Administratively, Harare is an independent city equivalent to a province. It is Zimbabwe's largest city and its...

, near the Cabeça do Velho rock. Located about 95 km from the Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

an border, since the Zimbabwean political and social crisis of the 2000s, it has been a major destination for Zimbabwean immigrants who are looking for work in Mozambique, and today is sometimes described as feeling more Zimbabwean than Mozambican.

Pre-colonial era

The city of Chimoio, capital of Manica Province
Manica Province
Manica is a province of Mozambique. It has an area of 61,661 km² and a population of 1,359,923 .Chimoio is the capital of the province.-Districts:*Báruè District*Gondola District*Guro District*Machaze District*Macossa District*Manica District...

, lies on the Beira Corridor at an altitude of 750 metres, linking the coast and the interior of the continent. The name Chimoio comes from one of the sons of Ganda, chief of the totemic Moyo clan, who came from M´bire and settled in those lands. Oral history says that Chimoio, who was a great hunter, once killed an elephant in the lands of another clan. Chaurumba, their chief, judged Chimoio’s behaviour to be a crime and ordered his immediate execution. Ganda then requested permission for his son to be buried in Chaurumba’s land and for one of his relatives to settle close to the grave in order to tend and watch over it. From then on, all descendents of the guardians of Chimoio’s tomb, together with the site of the tomb, came to be called Chimoio (which in the local dialect – citewe – means “little heart”). The strategic position of that region made it a privileged centre through which products passed from the hinterland to the coast.

Arab explorations

The Arabs came up the Búzi and Revué rivers heading towards the lands of the Mwenemutapa Empire, in search of gold and other merchandise, including slaves
Arab slave trade
The Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab World, mainly Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa and certain parts of Europe during their period of domination by Arab leaders. The trade was focused on the slave markets of the Middle East and North Africa...

. To mark their routes, the traders planted Borassus
Borassus is a genus of six species of fan palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New Guinea. They are tall palms, capable of growing up to 30 m high. The leaves are long, fan-shaped, 2 to 3 m in length...

 palms, each within sight of the next. In some places, these ancient palm trees can still be spotted. One of the oldest fortresses along this route is believed to be that found on top of the Zembe Mountains, to the south-east of the current city of Chimoio.

Portuguese colonization

The Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

, already well-established in the coastal areas of East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 since the 15th century, also ventured into these interior lands seeking the famous Mwenemutapa Empire and gradually settled there as colonists. This region of Mozambique was then granted by charter to the Mozambique Company
Mozambique Company
The Mozambique Company, in Portuguese the Companhia de Moçambique, was a royal company in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique, that had the concession of the lands that include the present provinces of Manica and Sofala....

, one of whose main objectives was to foster agricultural colonization. Hence, the Company undertook to settle Portuguese and their descendents in its territory. One of the first towns to be created was Vila Barreto. Established on 24 February 1893, close to the current Chimoio city, it arose out of the building of the Beira-Zimbabwe railway. The town was named after the Portuguese capitão-mor (governor/military captain) Francisco Barreto
Francisco Barreto
Francisco Barreto was a Portuguese soldier and explorer. An officer in Morocco during his early life, Barreto sailed to Portuguese India and was eventually appointed viceroy of the colony. After his return to Lisbon, he was tasked with an expedition to southeast Africa in search of legendary gold...

, who, in 1572, commanded the first military expedition to the Mwenemutapa Kingdom. For several years, the railway line terminated at Vila Barreto, which contributed to its impressive growth. The town enjoyed a period of opulence, with its hotels and permanently travellers heading to Manica
Manica may refer to:* Manica Province, a province of Mozambique** Manica, Mozambique, a town* Manica, a part of the male Lepidoptera genitalia near the aedeagus* Manica , armguards used by the Roman legionaries and gladiators...

 and Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

 (Zimbabwe) or, in the other direction, to Beira
Beira, Mozambique
Beira is the second largest city in Mozambique. It lies in the central region of the country in Sofala Province, where the Pungue River meets the Indian Ocean. Beira had a population of 412,588 in 1997, which grew to an estimated 546,000 in 2006...

. However, by the end of 1897, railroad construction work reached the frontier with Zimbabwe, interrupting the dynamics that had taken root in Vila Barreto.

In 1899 the Mozambique Company decided to transfer the District Headquarters from Vila Barreto to a settlement named Chimiala, which came to be called Mandigos. This was the name by which the embryo of the current city of Chimoio was known for some time. Mandigos soon began to gain a certain renown, mainly thanks to the abundance of its harvests, which attracted merchants and hotel and social services. Colonization of Manica received its main impetus in 1910 with the arrival of Portuguese Governor João Pery de Lind who set up a number of procedures to further the development of Chimoio. On 17 July 1916, Mandigos was renamed Vila Pery in recognition and honour of Governor João Pery de Lind, whose judicious measures had made Chimoio into one of the biggest and most visible agricultural centres in Mozambique. A few kilometres from the centre of the current city of Chimoio lies the neighbourhood of Soalpo, which bears witness to the agro-industrial development that made the Province of Manica one of the main targets for agriculture investment in the Portuguese colony. This “town close to the city of Chimoio” was built by SOALPO (Sociedade Algodoeira de Portugal, or Portuguese Cotton Company), in 1944. The object of the company was to encourage cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 and textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

 production. Nowadays, the district is like a living museum. The streets, the parks and the playing fields speak to visitors, telling stories of bygone times.

Vila Pery was raised to the status of city by the Governor-General of Portugal's Overseas Province of Mozambique, Baltazar Rebelo de Sousa, on 17 July 1969, in recognition of the success of its economic and social activities. Vila Pery's football team won its first Mozambican Football Championship title in 1969. The sports club
Sports club
A sports club or sport club, sometimes athletics club or sports association is a club for the purpose of playing one or more sports...

, founded in 1928, contributed to the development of sport and cultural activities. Most of the buildings in the city of Chimoio are milestones of the dynamism in the city’s life under Portuguese rule. The Vila Pery Hotel (now the Police social centre), built in 1920, was the first hotel in Vila Pery. The Caldas Xavier Primary School, built in 1948, was the first school in Vila Pery. Nowadays, it houses the Chimoio Municipal Council.

The Montalto Cinema, built in 1969 and later abandoned, was so-named because the “monte alto” or high mountain of Mozambique (Mount Binga) is on the Manica plateau. These are but a few of the infra-structures commemorating the city’s golden age. Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 harvesting, silviculture
Silviculture is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. The name comes from the Latin silvi- + culture...

, fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 production (including citrus
Citrus is a common term and genus of flowering plants in the rue family, Rutaceae. Citrus is believed to have originated in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeastern India, Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China...

), and textiles, food and wood industries were the main employers along with services and administration.

In 1974, during the Portuguese Colonial War
Portuguese Colonial War
The Portuguese Colonial War , also known in Portugal as the Overseas War or in the former colonies as the War of liberation , was fought between Portugal's military and the emerging nationalist movements in Portugal's African colonies between 1961 and 1974, when the Portuguese regime was...

/Mozambican War of Independence
Mozambican War of Independence
The Mozambican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the guerrilla forces of the Mozambique Liberation Front or FRELIMO , and Portugal...

 the Mozambican independentist guerrilla group FRELIMO launched mortar attacks against Vila Pery (now Chimoio), which was an important city of Portuguese Mozambique. By this attack, Vila Pery became the first (and only) heavy populated area to be hit by the FRELIMO during the entire Colonial War. After a military coup in Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, Europe - the Carnation Revolution
Carnation Revolution
The Carnation Revolution , also referred to as the 25 de Abril , was a military coup started on 25 April 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, coupled with an unanticipated and extensive campaign of civil resistance...

 of 1974 - the Portuguese authorities offered independence to its African territories, and Mozambique became an independent country.

Independent Mozambique

The change in name from Vila Pery to Chimoio took place on 12 June 1975, during the public rally of the first President of independent Mozambique - Samora Moisés Machel - during his journey from Rovuma to Maputo
Maputo, also known as Lourenço Marques, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It was famous for the inscription "This is Portugal" on the walkway of its...

. One of the most visible marks of this period of fighting for independence is the Praça dos Heróis (Heroes’ Square). An impressive mural was painted here depicting the various episodes in Mozambican history, with special emphasis on becoming independent from Portugal.

After achieving independence, the new country was plagued by several years of civil wars (Mozambican Civil War
Mozambican Civil War
The Mozambican Civil War began in 1977, two years after the end of the war of independence. The ruling party, Front for Liberation of Mozambique , was violently opposed from 1977 by the Rhodesian- and South African-funded Mozambique Resistance Movement...

) and social, political and economic instability. During this period the city of Chimoio deteriorated and suffered heavily from the conflict and lack of development.

A trip to Chimoio city always takes place under the curious gaze of a rocky outcrop with a unique aspect. Nature has carved that rock into the shape of an old man’s head. Mount Bêngo, commonly known as Cabeça do Velho (Old Man’s Head), is one of the city’s main tourist attractions nowadays. The climb to the top of the mountain is relatively simple, and a number of small antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

s or monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

s can sometimes be glimpsed in the forest. The view from the top is interesting, with the whole layout of the city of Chimoio below, together with the surrounding rural landscape. The value of the mountain is not limited to its scenic beauty. At certain times of the year it takes on a spiritual role of great importance to local traditionalistic communities. During the rainy season, the falling water looks like tears running down the face of the “old man”. Local beliefs say that the ancestors are angry and that is why they cry. For these reasons, Mount Bêngo is considered to be a sacred place, where ceremonies invoking the world of the spirit take place.


Year Population
1980 74 372
1997 177 608
2007 238 976