Standing on the ancient workings looking towards the feira site
Standing on the ancient workings looking towards the feira site, Maramuca, Zimbabwe

Maramuca: Portuguese Settlement, Market (Feira) in Zimbabwe

Written by Chris Dunbar. All pictures are copyright by Chris Dunbar.

Maramuca, 2010:

The trip to Maramuca was via the town of Chegutu and then another 30 odd kilometres on an old strip road to the gold mining town of Chakari. From Chakari we had to travel on a dirt road which later turned into a dirt track.

The location of this site is on an old bend on the Suri Suri River, it is possible but not likely that this section of the river formed part of an ox bow during the years that the Portuguese settled this feira.

Once we were in the vicinity of the Suri Suri River gold panning by illegal miners became very evident, holes dug by the miners became an increasing worry for me as I did not want to over turn the Land Cruiser that I was driving.

We parked the vehicle and decided to walk to the site of Maramuca, the bush was extremely thick with grass and very wooded, which was strange as I would have thought that the miners would have removed the trees for fire wood.

At each active illegal gold mine I was offered gold dust, us$2.00 per point and a point was about one gram. A fantastic price but as it is illegal I would not purchase the gold dust.

We walked for close to five kilometres to locate the site in extremely hot temperatures. The amount of gold dust offered to me brought back the fact that the Portuguese traders at the feira must have has access to a considerable amount of gold.

The feira itself once found was in a very sorry state and the walls which were hardly visible in the 1960’s were completely gone, the illegal miners had completely destroyed the site. Without the use of a GPS I would have not found this site.

We know that a Portuguese trader Goncalvo Joao had secured the rights to trade in this area and that he probably built the walls and the feira. In the 1930’s an ivory statuette depicting Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was found in the ancient gold workings, modern day Bay Horse Mine, it is I am told at the Bulawayo Museum.

I was able to collect some Blue on White Chinese Ceramic shards and number of arrow and spear heads all were collected, position located via the GPS and returned to the National Museums and Monuments inspector that accompanied me.

Maramuca, 2012:

These pictures are taken about 300 metres south of where I found the porcelain in 2010. We still did not positively identify the site but can be sure of the ancient workings that Garlake mentioned “and a similar kopje 100 yards (91 m’s) to the north is pitted with shallow ancient workings.”

So I have attached two pictures one of these shallow ancient workings and one from these workings looking towards the feira site. The other is of an ant hill which we think is the ant hill that has consumed the brick buildings in the site, see the site plan which is also attached.

No positive identification, however. The damage from the gold panners is great but no pottery etc was found as positive identification.

About Marco Ramerini

I am passionate about history, especially the history of geographical explorations and colonialism.