Collection Description

Culture Name

Shona

Culture Description

The Shona are Bantu-speaking peoples living primarily in Zimbabwe. Major cultural-linguistic subdivisions include the Zezuru, Karanga, Korekore, Manyika, Tavara, Ndau, and Kalanga. Each of these groups was semi-autonomous for part of their history, but also formed confederations of chiefdoms united into larger states. Traditionally cultivators and cattle herders, the Shona underwent significant changes in the colonial and postcolonial periods with expanding market forces, income from wage and salaried labor including remittances of migrants, land shortage, protracted civil wars, and political unrest.

Note

Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.

Region

Africa --Southern Africa

Countries

Botswana

Mozambique

Zimbabwe

OWC Code

FS05

Number of Documents

45

Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages

5280

Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number. The Shona collection (FS05) covers cultural, economic and historical information, circa 1890 to 1980. Kuper (1954, no. 1) provides a succinct summary of Shona ethnography and should be used by the reader as a general introduction to the ethnographic and historical information presented in the collection.

One of the major topics given particular attention in the Shona collection is religion, especially in reference to spirit mediums, witchcraft and sorcery. A major contributor to the study of Shona religion is Michael Gelfand, a physician with an interest in ethnography who served for many years at the Salisbury Native Hospital in Zimbabwe. His observations on the nganga (spirit mediums) and the muroi (witches) fill many pages in the collection (Gelfand 1956, no. 4; 1973, no. 5; 1981, no. 6; 1956, no. 8; 1967, no. 12, and 1968, no. 13). Gelfand’s works on Shona religion are further supplemented by Bourdillon (1976, no. 2) and Bullock (1950, no. 7). Specific information relating to medical practices and practitioners, which greatly overlaps with religion when discussions focus on the nganga and muroi, will be found in Chavunduka (1987, no. 19), Zverevashe (1970, no. 30 and 1970, no. 31), Napata 1970, no. 32).

Kinship, marriage practices and family life are also subjects given much attention in this collection. Documents with relevant discussion and information on these topics include Holleman (1949, no. 17; 1959, no. 15, 1969, no. 22), Gelfand (1979, no. 23), Meeks (1993, no. 45), Andifasi (1970, no. 28), Janhi (1970, no. 29), Mhondora (1970, no. 39), and Chakabra (1970, no. 40). Also of great interest to writers on the Shona include culturally transmitted concepts of life (Aschwanden 1982, no. 20) and death (Aschwanden 1987, no. 21), the significance of cattle (Makamure 1970, no. 24; Tsadzo 1970, no. 25; Bere-Chikora 1970, no. 26; and Dore 1970, no. 27), role of women (Schmidt 1987, no. 14), and aspects of protest songs (Kahari 1981, no. 46), praise-poetry (Fortune and Hodza 1974, no. 47) and ritual music and spirit possession ceremonies (Berliner 1975: no. 49; Mandaza 1970: no. 33; Chabudapasi 1970, no. 35; Nyatsanza 1970, 37, and Sango 1970, no. 38). Other areas of coverage in this collection include Shona cultural history and political organization (Beach 1980, no. 44; Bhila 1982, no. 2, and Bullock 1950, no. 7), local legends (Gudza 1970, no. 41 and Tuhwe 1970, no. 41), and traditional resource conservation practices (Daneel 1996, no. 48).

For more detailed information on the context of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Barundzi -- ancestral spirits (sometimes referred to as mondoro ) -- Use Eschatology ( 775 ) with Spirits And Gods ( 776 )

Chiefdoms -- -- Use Territorial Hierarchy ( 631 ) and/or Tribe And Nation ( 619 )

Cidawo -- laudatory phrases associated with the mutupo , and also a subclan name -- Use Tribe And Nation ( 619 ) and/or Lineages ( 613 )

Cizwarwa -- the first and second generation of agnatic kin -- Use Kindreds And Ramages ( 612 )

Dare -- an informal court -- Use Informal In Group Justice ( 627 ) with Judicial Authority ( 692 )

Dunhu -- an aggregate of separate and independent villages which form a ward -- Use Towns ( 632 )

Feira -- a market or trade area -- Use Commercial Facilities ( 366 )

Imba -- a subdivision of the rudzi , and a term also referring to the “house”, consisting of a married woman and her children -- Use Lineages ( 613 ) with Nuclear Family ( 594 ) and/or Household ( 592 )

Ishe -- hereditary tribal chief -- Use Chief Executive ( 643 )

Kutiza Mukomba -- elopement -- Use Mode Of Marriage ( 583 )

Lobolo -- transference of property from the groom’s family to the girl’s family; a dowry -- Use Mode Of Marriage ( 583 )

Macinda -- members of the tribal chief’s patrilineage -- Use Lineages ( 613 ) with Chief Executive ( 643 )

Mambo -- historically, a paramount chief of the Shona -- Use Chief Executive ( 643 )

Mashave -- spirits (in general) -- Use Eschatology ( 775 ) with Spirits And Gods ( 776 )

Mondoro -- tribal spirits -- Use Eschatology ( 775 ) with Spirits And Gods ( 776 )

Mudzimu -- family spirits -- Use Eschatology ( 775 ) with Spirits And Gods ( 776 )

Muro -- “evil doers”, sorcerers or witches -- Use Sorcery ( 754 )

Mutupo -- the totem name of the tribe or clan -- Use Tribe And Nation ( 619 ) with Clans ( 618 )

Nganga -- spirit medium or diviners -- Use Revelation And Divination ( 787 ) and/or Magicians And Diviners ( 791 )

Ngozi -- the avenging spirit of a close relative or acquaintance -- Use Eschatology ( 775 ) with Spirits And Gods ( 776 )

Nyika -- the “tribe”, a political unit incorporating a number of wards -- Use Territorial Hierarchy ( 631 ) and/or Tribe And Nation ( 619 )

Rudzi -- a patrilineage -- Use Lineages ( 613 )

Samusha -- village heads -- Use Community Heads ( 622 )

Tswikiro -- a medium -- Use Revelation And Divination ( 787 ) and/or Magicians And Diviners ( 791 )

Usahwira -- a quasi kinship relationship -- Use Artificial Kin Relationships ( 608 )

Vashambedzi -- Portuguese middlemen -- Use Foreign Trade ( 439 )

Wazari -- female ward heads -- Use Gender Status ( 562 )

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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