The Culture Of Zimbabwe Essay Research Paper

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The Culture Of Zimbabwe Essay, Research Paper The Culture of Zimbabwe In examining the culture of Zimbabwe it is necessary to identify the predominant population group. The Shona people make up over eighty percent of the population and historically have lived in the country longer than any other group. Because of both the relative size and historical significance of this group, the culture of the Shona best illustrates the true culture of Zimbabwe. Culture is a vague term and can be more specifically defined as the socially transmitted information that regulates a particular society. The culture of Zimbabwe can be best identified by examining the everyday mannerisms, rituals, family relationships, art forms, and religion practices of the Shona people. The Shona possess an

interesting variety of mannerisms. First and foremost, it is considered extremely impolite to look another person directly in the eyes. In addition, one should never stand looking down at and hovering over another. It is polite to squat or sit when talking to other people, or to one s elders. When receiving a gift, it is custom to first clap your hands together in a gesture of thanks, and then proceed to take the gift with both hands to show that it is too large for one hand only. Also, a gift is given with the right hand because the left hand is perceived to be unclean. When a man and his family are out together the man always walks in front, with his hands empty, so that he can protect his family if the need arises. His wife walks behind him, carrying everything and keeping

track of the children. When approaching a village in Zimbabwe, one must pause at its edge and shout, Svikeyi? which means, May we arrive? When the reply comes back permitting entrance, then one may proceed. If it is necessary to approach another s hut, one must stand outside and either clap or shout, Gogogoyi, which means Knock, knock, knock (Cheney, 1990, p.191). The unique marriage customs of the Shona further distinguish them from the other South African people. For the Shona, marriage is a process; there is no particular point when two people suddenly become married. The main purpose of marriage, the Shona believe, is the procreation of children, so a man is permitted to engage in intercourse with his wife-to-be before they have become accepted as a married couple. If she

proves infertile, he is fully within his rights to return her to her family and either be repaid his bride-price or be given another daughter as a wife. If it can be proven that a man is sterile, it is shameful but not disastrous and he can discreetly arrange for someone else to impregnate the woman. The child that is then born is considered his own (p.197). The government has outlawed polygamy but it still occurs, although most men can afford only one wife. Divorce, however, is quite common. A man can divorce his wife if she is infertile or if she does not fulfill her obligations. Serious failure as a housewife, repeated infidelity, and the practice of witchcraft can all lead to a woman being sent back to her family by her husband. While it is more difficult for a woman to

divorce her husband, it is possible if she can produce evidence of physical abuse or if he fails to keep up his bride-price payments (p.201). Bride-price is the payment to a woman s family by the husband that wishes to marry her; it involves two payments. The first, the rutsambo, used to be a utility object like a hoe, but nowadays is usually a large cash payment. The second payment, the roora, involves a second large cash payment or, sometimes, the more traditional payment of cattle. The groom may take many years to finish paying the roora, partly because it might take him that long to raise it, and partly because he is often disinclined to hand over all the cash until he is fully satisfied that his wife will fulfill all of her obligations. Although many people believe nowadays