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Articles about the roots and culture of Shona people of Zimbabwe

1 - 1011 - 18
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Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:48:51 PM

OUR spirituality has several
Because the spirit is the one that
endures beyond physical life, we
recognise AND embrace the spiritual
We have called on Africans to restore
their religious and cultural identity. To
do that Africans must first reclaim
their spiritual independence. What
does that mean?
It means Africans must recognise and
maintain the spiritual path to God the
Creator that they have evolved over
By nature all men are born into a
family which traces its roots back to
the Creator through the ancestral line.
There is no conversion required here.
Our spiritual connections to the
creator are natural.
We do not need to be converted or
convinced. It is not a matter of
doctrine; one denomination cannot
be better connected than another.
Each people within the circumstances
of their evolution have come to know
and worship God in ways that best
suit their circumstances.
In Zimbabwe we have our ancestors
whose spirits are alive.
We have evolved a system where our
first port of call is our parents.
Next come the grandparents and then
we follow the ancestral line all the way
back to Mwari, the Creator.
An elaborate system of practices and
rituals guides our every action, and in
all cases the aim is to be in harmony
and to earn the pleasure of our
creator through our genealogical line.
Let us look at the elements that define
spirituality among most Africans in
Zimbabwe. To reclaim our spirituality,
we must identify the various
We have the the ngozi spirit. If
someone kills an innocent person, the
victim’s spirit may come back to
avenge the wrongful death.
There is no effective way to stop the
avenging spirit except to pay
restitution for the original crime of
In Shona there is a saying that
‘kugona ngozi kuiripa’.
The spirit of the dead person may
possess a member of the offender’s
family and pronounce its demands for
settling the crime.
Western Christianity condemns this
element of spirituality as ‘an evil spirit’
but Africans see it simply as justice
delivered through our spirituality.
Once the ‘debt’ has been settled, the
ngozi spirit goes back to its people
and the matter is closed for good.
There are cases where relatives of the
wronged person may conduct a ritual
calling on their deceased relative to
seek out the culprit and avenge the
wrongful death.
The ngozi avenging spirit is greatly
feared and is an important element in
African religion for minimising
commission of murder. People will
warn their relatives and friends saying
‘Hey be careful you will invoke an
avenging spirit’ or ‘unotiparira ngozi’.
The religious ceremony to bring back
into the family the spirit of a dead
relative is called ‘kurova guva’.
The person whose spirit is brought
back so to speak, becomes a
mudzimu or ancestral spirit.
This religious practice underlines the
African belief that every person has a
spirit which must remain united with
the rest of the family.
When a person dies, their spirit
wanders around and is not accepted
into the councils of the departed
family members (matare avafi/
varikumhepo) until a formal induction
ceremony (bira/kurova guva) is
carried out.
Where the person is buried far away
from the family home, a small
amount of soil from their grave is
brought across and used in the
Once the person’s spirit has been re-
united with the family, his/her
children and relatives can freely call
on him to convey to the higher
ancestral spirits all the way to
Musikavanhu to assist in times of
This is considered extremely
important among many African
communities. If the deceased was a
family man, his spirit will be better
able to look after the family i.e. the
wife and children.
The belief among Africans is that the
living cannot approach God directly
but through the ancestral spirits who
intercede on their behalf.
The ancestral spirits are invoked in
ascending order starting with one’s
father, grandfather and great-
The first three are the basic trinity; one
may call on other ancestors in order
going back in time if they are known.
It is normal to also call on other
ancestral spirits from the mother’s
side especially if the supplicant is
At a higher level is the clan ancestral
spirit (mudzimu mukuru wedzinza)
who holds the position of a patriarch
or matriarch in the clan.
This ancestral spirit is usually that of a
great grandfather and possesses a
close relative, male or female, as its
medium. Many of these spirit
mediums are female.
The next level of African spirituality is
at the level of spirit mediums referred
to as ‘mhondoro’.
In Zimbabwe each mhondoro has a
geographical area they control in a
spiritual sense.
The boundaries are well defined and
in the traditional set-up each
mhondoro works closely with the
local chief.
We have already pointed out that in
Zimbabwe, the mhondoro spirit
mediums are all of the ‘Soko’ totem
and some of them oversee all activity
at national shrines such as ‘Njelele’ in
the Matombo Hills in Matabeleland
A mhondoro is the spirit of a
patriarch who has mystical powers of
divining and foretelling important
events and episodes in the people’s
lives. They are the spirits of the
ancestors of the people of Zimbabwe,
men who lived centuries ago and had
great spiritual powers that enabled
them to communicate with even
higher spirits all the way to the
creator, ‘Mwari, Musikavanhu’.
Their role is to look after the well-
being of the people in all its
dimensions: the spiritual, social,
economic, health, food and nutrition
They provide consultancy and
advisory services to the population on
all matters spiritual.
They keep the spiritual highway
between Man and the Creator open.
They do this by communicating to the
people messages from Mwari
Similarly they also convey the requests
of the people to Musikavanhu.
Droughts, pests and diseases, social
conflicts, threats to national security
and various other misfortunes are
brought before Mwari Musikavanhu
through the ‘masvikiro’.
The founding fathers of the
Zimbabwean nation including
Murenga, Chaminuka, Gumbi
Nehanda and Kaguvi are Great
Ancestral Spirits with mystical power.
They occupy a higher level in the
spiritual hierarchy than the ‘Soko
We have previously shown how these
Great Ancestral Spirits, ‘Midzimu
Mikuru yeNyika’ guided the ancestors
of present-day Zimbabweans to settle
on this land between the Zambezi
and Limpopo.
They guided the people to migrate
south to settle in Zimbabwe. They
bequeathed this land to the people.
We want to define our relationship
with God, our spirituality, in a
culturally-relevant mode that
recognises our connection to God
through our ancestral line. We reject
foreign religions that isolate, divide
and then denigrate our cultural
identity as Africans.
In the next episode we shall look at
the major elements that underpin
religious and spiritual independence
as we seek buy-in from Zimbabweans
for a spiritually independent

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:51:07 PM

IN the previous episode we stated that
we are connected to Mwari, our God
through our ancestral spirits.
Our line of ancestors traces our roots
back to the Creator.
This is why Africans always refer to
their ancestral spirits, vadzimu. The
spirit lives on after our physical body
dies. Our lineage is African. Western
Christianity rejects our African
spirituality as defined in the context of
our vadzimu.
How can we link with God through
foreign prophets such as Jesus and
Mohamed? Through believing? What
is there to believe? Our physical reality
grades all the way back into the
spiritual all the way to Mwari
Christianity would have us connect to
God through Jesus Christ as a matter
of faith. But we are saying we connect
to our Creator through the line of
ancestors as a matter of fact. Our
spiritual beliefs are based on fact;
Christian beliefs are fiction, at least to
us Africans. No amount of faith can
change us from being what we are,
Africans. Our African spirituality is not
a matter of faith; it is a matter of fact.
We have no ancestral connection with
Jesus; how then can we connect to
God through him?
Here we continue to explore the
various dimensions of our African
spirituality. In previous episodes we
have attempted to describe some of
the dimensions of our African
spirituality. We made reference to the
avenging spirit of a person who has
been wrongfully killed, the ngozi spirit
seeking justice.
We also referred to mudzimu, the
spirit of a dead person which returns
to look after the interests of living
relatives. The mudzimu spirit of a
departed person protects the living
from various mishaps including
illness, accident or other misfortune.
When one experiences an unexpected
calamity, Africans will say ‘ah, midzimu
yadambura mbereko’. This literally
means the ancestral spirits have
broken the wrapper that holds the
baby to the mother’s back.
When one survives a nasty accident,
Africans will be heard to say ‘ane
midzimu yakasimba’ or ‘midzimu
yaramba’ meaning the concerned
person’s ancestral spirits are strong or
have refused that the tragedy befall
the person. Our ancestral spirits
protect us from all manner of evil.
The belief in the protection afforded
by ‘vadzimu’ is illustrated by a saying
that ‘mudzimu wemumwe haurarirwi
panze’. Translated the expression says
one cannot engage in a dangerous
practice just because someone else
has previously survived that practice.
One could be eaten by a hyena after
sleeping in the open in a place where
others have slept and experienced no
harm. The implication is that vadzimu
have different capacities to protect
their relatives. Clearly some ancestral
spirits are more powerful than others.
Dangerous places have been given
the names like ‘pamudzimu ndiringe’
implying that one really needs
protection from ancestral spirits to
survive the dangers at such a place.
Shona speakers are often heard to
say ‘chinosara chinomudzimu wacho’
meaning that nothing can survive
without the intervention of the
ancestral spirits.
The above expressions point to the
universal belief among Africans that
they are protected from misfortunes
by their ancestral spirits, vadzimu.
Now the Christian religion has tried to
destroy this fundamental spirituality
among Africans, but fortunately, with
limited success. In this respect we are
in danger of losing the urbanised
youths; they are less connected to
African cultural traditions.
Attempts by Western Christian pastors
to discredit our spiritual heritage have
largely failed. The argument that belief
in ancestral spirits is ungodly must be
rejected with the contempt it
Africans are connected to Mwari, God
through their creator. Midzimu or
ancestral spirits are our
Another aspect of African spirituality is
evidenced by people swearing by their
ancestors. It is common to hear a
person whose statement has been
challenged defending the truthfulness
of his statement by saying ‘ndinopika
naMai vangu varere pachuru’. This
translates to: I swear by the spirit of
my mother who is buried on an
The belief is that the mother’s spirit
knows the truth and would cause
harm to one who is lying.
Again the above emphasises the
strong belief in the influence of our
vadzimu, ancestral spirits, in our daily
life. Before an African leaves home on
a journey or a hunting trip or say to
attend court, s/he invokes the support
and protection of the ancestral spirits.
The request to the ancestral spirits is
preceded by clapping of hands in a
particular way. Tobacco snuff of the
type called ‘bute’ or ‘mudhombo’ is
placed on the ground.
The person then calls on the ancestral
spirits by name starting with the great
grandfather (tateguru), the
grandfather and then the immediate
father if deceased pleading for their
I understand Catholics would call
upon the saints to intercede on their
behalf! So how does the African
approach become demonised and
Other ancestral spirits of the family or
clan (dzinza) may also be invoked one
by one, to provide the required
protection or blessings
(makomborero). This is all an
expression of our spirituality.
The request to the ancestral spirits is
equivalent to the Christian prayer. In
the African context, the ancestral
spirits pass the request on along their
chain all the way to Musikavanhu, God
the Creator.
In African religion, the ancestral spirits
are the guardian angels. Each person
has many guardian angels from both
the father’s and mother’s ancestral
Only those late departed relatives
whose spirits have been formally
admitted into the family through the
bira/umbuyiso or kurova guva
ceremony can be expected to look
after family members. They become
This is why Africans take the kurova
guva ceremony very seriously. These
ceremonies are conducted at
weekends and during public holidays
to facilitate attendance by family
members who work away from the
family home base.
Kurova guva is therefore an African
religious ceremony that anchors the
spiritual relationship of the living and
the dead. Its deliberate demonisation
by Western Christianity is an
abomination; Africans consider the
negation of our spirituality as
Individuals who fail to conduct the
necessary ceremonies usually suffer
isolation and misfortune. When they
consult diviners or genuine prophets,
they are advised to mend their
relationship with God through their
ancestral spirits.
So we have seen that African religious
and cultural practices are intimately
tied up with our spirituality. We shall
continue to explore more dimensions
of our spiritual identity as part of
efforts to consolidate our spiritual
identity, independence and

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:56:36 PM

TODAY we shall examine more
dimensions of our African spirituality.
The aim is to develop a better
understanding of who we are
With the right information we will be
better able to defend our spirituality.
This is particularly important as
Western Christianity has relentlessly
demonised all things African: Our
culture, our foods, our religion.
To counter the demonisation of
African religion and culture, it is
important that we provide readers
with facts about the African spiritual
With correct information we will be
able to stand proud and defend our
spiritual independence and
sovereignty as Africans.
We again reiterate that like all living
things we are connected to our
Creator through our ancestral lines.
When we die our spirits join the spirit
The African understanding of how the
spirit world functions is a fascinating
subject. To avoid being philosophical
we shall describe various aspects of
our spiritual world as they are
understood by ordinary Africans.
There are the ‘free’ spirits of people
who died a long time ago, who
wander around and may seek to
possess persons with no relationship
to them. They are referred to as
‘mashavi’ or ‘shavi’ for one.
In many cases the ‘shavi’ spirit covets
(kuchiva) a particular living person
and decides to use him/her as its
Typically the person targeted to
become a spirit medium may fall sick.
Attempts to have the person treated
are often unsuccessful.
Many Africans who have been taught
to reject their African roots by Western
Christian beliefs enter a state of
They refuse to accept that their
relative or child is being possessed by
a spirit. Some will find ways of casting
out what they consider an evil spirit.
Where the spirit is that of a family
member those attempts do not
Family members will consult several
spirit mediums or other people with
divining powers. If spirit possession is
indicated, they will ask that the spirit
be identified: Is it the spirit of a dead
relative, ‘mudzimu’ or that of a
stranger, ‘shavi’?
Once the identity of the spirit is
established, relatives will not rush to
accept the spirit.
They will want to know the character
and life history of the spirit that is
seeking to possess their relative.
The person who is the candidate for
spirit mediumship is also consulted.
Particularly important is the need to
establish if the spirit is ‘clean’ in the
sense of not being a witch, a
murderer or some other undesirable
It will also need to be established that
the spirit is not accompanied by other
undesirable or evil spirits.
This vetting process will require visits
to several reputable spirit mediums or
diviners. As with all genuine
verification processes, a minimum of
three independent opinions will be
sought before relatives accept a
particular position.
In the case of ‘free’ spirits not related
to the family, a decision may be taken
in consultation with the potential
medium, to reject the approach of the
strange spirit. In such cases
appropriate rituals will then be
conducted to ‘chase away’ the spirit
itself or others that may want to ride
on its back to also use the same
The point being emphasised here is
that there is due process before a
spirit is accepted.
In some cases even if a spirit belongs
to a family member, the family may
reject it for various reasons. These
include death in unclear
circumstances e.g. a murder victim
will be considered to be ngozi spirit.
Such a spirit may demand restitution.
In any case they can no longer qualify
to be a family mudzimu, continued
illness of the candidate spirit medium
or as previously indicated other spirits
that come with it may not be clean.
In the next episode we shall continue
to explore the various dimensions of
African spirituality. We shall look at
some of the categories of spirits that
are recognised. We shall also examine
how some ‘free’ (non-dzinza) spirits
come to possess specific people and
how some spirits assume animal-like
characteristic behaviour.


Messenger: Ark I Sent: 10/27/2014 10:10:23 PM

Give Thanks for the articles. I read some of it and will read the rest later. There is a lot of information here and it can help people Iverstand why some Africans want absolutely nothing to do with the Bible and Christianity.

Messenger: Black heart Sent: 10/28/2014 11:23:32 PM

Bless I Lord Zion Mount. Teachings of Africa haffe prevail. Big up.

Messenger: VoodooRuutz Sent: 10/29/2014 10:15:59 AM

Yes I, no need fa bible fa'da connect InI to God, Bible ain speak of Mwari, Enkai, Chukwu, Nyame, Obatala, Mawu Lisa, Ogun, Oshun, Sango or none a Dem!

Direct connect to God thru Incestral lineage!

Some a dem Shona ting deh remind I of I younger days and d things believed in by d people in I area but not so much now, materiality d only thing dey connected too.
People really used to believe in d spirit world on certain levels.

Bless Up King!

Messenger: Luambo Malighana Munzhedzi Sent: 5/15/2015 10:25:46 AM

Having noted the articles on History and roots of Shona there is however very interesting similarities of some names of people,villages and some instances items,as I am writing this here my full names are Luambo Maligana( Mali-Ghana) Munzhedzi in Nzhelele Viillage nicknamed ( Nzhelele Matomboni) that happened to be exact location where we have Dzata ruins a sister Stonehenge structure similar to Great Ruins( Note Matomboni comes from Matombo ( Stones),in Rwanda and Congo Zaire( Banyamulenge tribe as well as in Rwanda you have ( Nyamuamba that one of my grandparents 's name and we also happen to have Makata found in Congo and another grandparent in SA happened to be called Chikungulu and if that is not enough in our Language ( Tshivenda of Venda speaking) Nzhelele would represent High Up and the only river that flows up when others are down .
You have City called Masindi in Uganda and we have Tribe and name of people- Masindi in South Africa ( Venda),you have Masisi town in DRC and we have Masisi town in SA( Venda),the Runyankore language has in particular got so many Languages in South Africa and Zimbabwe so there is just one explanation we all were once in one Place and what we are witnessing is purely Evolution ....Mukeeguruu ( Mukegulu)-elderly,ISHE-his father,Omubiri ( Muvhili) body,unwa-kunwah,to drink,Tataa-Father in Runyankore and Xhosa- Taaata ( Father)

Messenger: VoodooRuutz Sent: 5/16/2015 10:04:08 AM

Some Gullah people in South Carolina U.S also use Tata for father!

African connections and the retention held in the west and everywhere light up I eyes and ears

Why separate?

Once pass certain traditions the Irit of the culture is really One!

One Africa!

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Haile Selassie I