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.
Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.
Africa --Southern Africa
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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
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.
Cizwarwa -- the first and second generation of agnatic kin -- Use Kindreds And Ramages ( 612 )
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 )
Mambo -- historically, a paramount chief of the Shona -- Use Chief Executive ( 643 )
Muro -- “evil doers”, sorcerers or witches -- Use Sorcery ( 754 )
Rudzi -- a patrilineage -- Use Lineages ( 613 )
Samusha -- village heads -- Use Community Heads ( 622 )
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 )