ETHNIC AND CULTURAL GROUPS
The Shona people, the largest ethnic group in Zimbabwe, are a unique group that embrace a variety of different cultures and traditions. Although Mozambique, South Africa, and Botswana all claim Shona populations, the majority of Shona live in Zimbabwe. Shona make up 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s 9-million-plus population. All told, the Shona are an estimated 14-million strong, and their cultural influence across Africa is extremely important. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Shona people.
Shona dialects help identify which village and ethnic group a person belongs to Dialect groups are extremely important in Shona, and although many are very similar, they can help identify exactly where a person is from, as well as which ethnic group they belong to. For instance, if a person speaks the Zezuru dialect, they would likely observe customs and beliefs unique to the Zezuru ethnic group.
Many Shona people keep cattle for prestige and currency Many Shona people are farmers, with their key crops including corn (maize), millet, sorghum, rice, beans, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. Cattle were traditionally used as a source of payment, often for bride prices, and for milk.
Shona traditional culture is known for excellent stone sculpture The Shona people have a rich artistic heritage, and are known particularly for carving stone sculptures. Though Shona sculptures were a common skill of the early Shona people, the work has seen a resurgence in popularity since the 1950s. Modern Shona sculptures continue to express enormous emotional power that speak to all of humanity.
The Shona are well known for mbira music A mbira is a hollow gourd with metal reeds that are plucked by the player, and the instrument has become a token of the Shona people. Sometimes referred to as a finger piano, the mbira is associated with the ancestors. Many modern musicians choose to incorporate the mbira and its traditional sound in their songs to help establish a feeling of solidarity among families and communities.