Mitupo nezvidao| challenges of the ‘mutupo’ system in modern society

A breakdown in the transmission of cultural knowledge My grandmother is over a hundred years old. Now too old to live alone, she lives with my mother. I pay her visit one Sunday afternoon. We spread a reed mat (rukukwe) outside the house and sit while watching two toddlers as they play. I immediately strike … Read more

Kudhonza (female genital practice)| When women go to great lengths for great sex

Ndaizivei’s story While attending boarding school back in 1989 at a respectable church run institution located outside Harare, Ndaizivei (not real name) was forced to stretch her labia minora at the tender age of nine. ‘I told the other girls I was not going to do so, and when the matron caught wind of the … Read more

Ukama| Use these 5 rules to get your Shona family vocabulary right

The Shona trace a person’s descent through the paternal line In Shona society, a person’s descent is traced through the paternal line. This means both males and females belong to their father’s patrilineage (rudzi) and not their mother’s.  Only the males will continue to pass their family identity to their children. Because of this, a … Read more

4 lessons for my daughter, from prior generations of Zimbabwean women

The generational relay Many of the things my mother taught me, she learned from her mother. I, in turn, teach my daughter even without intending to. To each generation, knowledge is relayed, and so is the untaught duty to prepare the next. For younger generations, the appeal of our continent continues to wane. A continent … Read more

Mitupo nezvidao| 6 interesting things you should know about Shona totems, praise names and poetry

This post was last updated on 10 June 2022. The ‘mutupo’ system is an important source of ancestral and family history in Zimbabwe. The Shona are a cultural group native to Zimbabwe that became divided into a number of clans. The clans are represented by the various totems. Today totems, praise names and clan poems … Read more