Bet You Didn’t Know These About The Shona Tribe


The Shona tribe is the largest ethnic group in the southern African country, Zimbabwe.

They make up 80% of Zimbabwe’s population and can also be found in Botswana and southern Mozambique in Southern Africa and bordering South Africa.

Shonas are believed to have settled in their current region in the first millenium a.d. They are divided into two major classifications, the Bantu– original occupants of the region and the conquerors of the region. Both classifications are split into numerous tribes.

However, the various tribes can be identified by their dialect. Shona tribes usually have distinct languages that define exactly what traditions they follow. The major dialects are Korekore, Zeseru, Manyika, Ndau, and Karanga.

The Shona tribe are predominantly farmers, their key crops including corn (maize), millet, sorghum, rice, beans, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. The maize is a more common crop grown by Shona farmers, as it’s used to make a common staple in Zimbabwean homes– Sadza.

Read More On Zimbabwean Food: 10 Zimbabwean Dishes To Try In Your Life Time

Shonas of the same regional groupings/ clan usually have on the same totem.Totems are usually animals and body parts, and have great importance. In fact Shona chiefs must be able to recite the history of their totem all the way from its initial founder before they can be sworn in as chiefs.

mbira shona music instrument

They are also popular for their stone sculpture and Mbira music. Mbira music is made from what has been nicknamed a ‘Finger Piano’ is a hollow gourd with metal reeds that are plucked by the player.

Their craftsmanship is however not limited to stone sculpture. The Shonas are also known for pottery, ironwork and fabric painting with the use of Sadza( fermented maize).

SEE ALSO: Interesting Facts About The Afar Tribe


great zimbabwe ruins

The name ‘Zimbabwe’ was influenced by the Rozwi Shona Dynasty of the 12th and 15th centuries. ‘ The Great Zimbabwe’– the sculpted city of the Zimbabwean kingdom derives its name from “dzimba dza mabwe,” which translates to “great stone houses,” and later evolved into the word “Zimbabwe.”

American actress, Thandiwe ‘Thandie’ Newton who featured in Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Son movie adaptation is Shona royalty, born to a mother who was a Shona princess.

thandie newton shona princess