Zimbabwean Totems And What They Mean
Zimbabwe is a multiracial country with diverse cultural traditions. Among these traditions are the Mitupo, also known as totems, which play an important role in Zimbabwean society. Each totem represents a group of people with a common ancestry, symbolized by a specific animal or object. In this article, we will delve into a few Zimbabwean totems and their cultural significance.
The first and more popular totem is the LION (shumba, sibanda, abanda). This totem represents very strong and competitive people owing to the mighty of the animal which is considered the king of all fauna. There are various types of the Lion ie (chidawu)or classification of lions for example Lion of Jichidza(a certain type of noisy and nocturnal bird found in Jichidza area near the Great Zimbabwe ruins), Lion of Chirumhanzu an area demarcating Midlands and Masvingo provinces(from this totem comes great politicians particularly the President of Zimbabwe His Excellence Emerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa). Lion of the Garwe/crocodile, Lion Murambwi meaning the rejected one, Lion of the Zebra etc all these totems were divided by lustful forefathers who wanted to evade incest and marry their siblings, but they’re all from one great ancestry father Nehoreka the mighty king who migrated from Tanganyika ie Tanzania. These lion people are characterized by greedy, they crave for meat more than anything, they’re also aggressive, great hunters, fearless and fierce fighters even their women possess similar attributes. The males have insatiable appetites for multiple women, they have lots of testosterone levels prompting them to want women and fighting always.
In addition, there are Rozvi people believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Zimbabwe. History tells us that they’re from the Changamire line.They prides themselves as the owners of the country. Their totem is Moyo or Mhumba which means HEART. They call themselves a necessity totem as every living thing needs a heart to survive. Types of Moyo totems are Chirandu, Zuruvi. They’re affectionately known as Gonoremombe the mighty bulls, Dhewa, Murozvi mukuru meaning the great plunderer or mighty pillager.They originated from Masvingo province and got scattered across the country in search of greener pastures. Most people believe the Moyo people are loving and caring people. Their women make good mothers and family building. The Zuruvi males are known to produce fearless hunters and great fighters.They don’t eat heart of any living thing.
The Elephant totem, the Nzou/Zhou have a number of classes(chidawu).Affectionately known as Mhukahuru meaning the big animal or Indlovu. They are scattered across the country some in the North along the Zambezi valley. These are the Tonga, Tavara, Karanga, Ndebele, Remba. The totem represents mighty people who are well built, big statured and destructive. They’re great hunters mostly the Karanga, Remba and Tonga whereas the Ndebele produce great fighters. The elephant totem is comprised of people with great skill in arts, sports and academics today. In Zimbabwe most Nzou people are great footballers for example Peter Ndlovu, great musicians Oliver Mutukudzi to mention but a few. They’re composed with athleticism and intelligent although they’re few in population. Their dialectical classes comprises of Samanyanga(great horns/tusks), Suwani, Mushavi.
The zebra also has a popular group totemised after it. They are known as Duve, Dhuve, Dube or madhuve meaning women. The zebra people are very proud of their totem. They call themselves “gandarevasikana” meaning they’re smart and smooth skinned like a girl’s skin. There is a saying among them that they don’t pass on feacal stool but rather buns as the zebra dung is bun-shaped. Their women are usually beautiful, curved and charming. Most men loathes to rue a chance of dating zebra totemed women.
The Dziva(pool) totem christened the Save owing to the mighty Save river arguably the biggest stream in the interior of Zimbabwe with great pools, crocodiles, hippopotamus, fish and other innumerable ecological species. These people come from areas along the Save river which include Hwedza, Buhera, Chivu and most parts of the southern Manicaland, Eastern Masvingo including Chipinge, Birchnough, Nikita and Checheche. They believe that eating fish is forbidden among them, however cultural dilution today is leading many to undermine those traditional statutes. Anything that comes from water was not to be eaten,but various theories today has left many believing that a certain type of sea fish should not be eaten possibly the shark or whale which they call “jekausiye” meaning cut enough portion for your family and leave the rest. It is part of Zimbabwean mythology that the great sea fish was discovered by ancestors on the banks of the great river which they were told to cut portions for their families leaving it alive to find it unscathed the next day. The Dziva totem also produces great politicians particularly the late former Prime Minister Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai of the biggest opposition party Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.
The Shiri/Nyoni (Fish Eagle) which is known as Hungwe or the Zimbabwe bird a national emblem. Also called Shirichena (white bird) is a common totem of people who hail from the vicinity of the City Masvingo. It is sometimes called Mauruka (flying above) or Chasura chatibwege (the one that puffs or farts it’s dung in the air). This totem comprises of people who are well known for unity, they are not good individual fighters but crowd an enemy instead. They’re less brave, but believe in numbers. Their men usually are polygamous, believing in having many children as labour and security. They work very hard, but are not academically smart most of them.
Humba/Nguruve (swine, pig or wild boar).They hail from Manyika and parts of Eastern Masvingo provinces. They don’t eat pork. They’re shy, undisputable when angry, hardworking, intelligent and generous. They seem docile, quiet and serious, but are very sociable, caring and loving. Their males have an insatiable appetite for females, so are their women too.
The Gumbo totem (cattle leg), they come from Gutu area in Masvingo, they’re the chiefs there and are believed to be the pioneers of the Gutu settlement Northeast City of Masvingo. They do not eat flesh from the trotters or legs of animals especially cattle as it is their totem. The name Chitovanedzevamwe/ meaning poaching from others simply tells how lustful they’re. They are always after other people’s women so are their females who boasts of their good looks and charming to lure other women’s lovers. Their population is not so big but scattered around.
The Eland (Mhofu/Mpofu) totem is a very popular totem of scattered people. They’re known as Vahera or chihera (females), Mwendamberi (going forward), Musiyamwa or Mhofuyemukono (the mighty bull eland). Their women are known to produce infidels, cheating wives and prostitutes, they challenge husbands and dominate their homes entirely. These women too produce deadly witches. However, their males are hardworking, great hunters and united warriors. They’re not so intelligent, but consistency and hardworking makes them successful. They produce good sportsmen too for example Memory Mucherahowa one of the most decorated footballers in Zimbabwe. The females boasts of being good in bed, beautiful and irresistibly charming. Hardwork makes them successful both males and females.
The mighty Cape Buffalo (Nyati/Shonga) come from Makoni/Rusape. Their males are very wise, hardworking and smart. The totem represents males who are usually slender, handsome, light in complexion and charming. They’re known womanizers, cunning, sly and artful. They produce comical characters often poised to thrill hearers by their unparalleled oratory skills. They’re called (Nyati imhenyu) meaning the live Buffalo. Their women grows older, they’re great grannies, mothers and housekeepers. The males are known good individual fighters who only gives up when they stops breathing.
The Porcupine/Hedgehog (Ngara) totem is widely regarded as one of the most common totem. They’re known as the King’s In-law (Mukwasha waMambo).The origin of this name is largely debatable, but some alluded that their ancestor Zimuto who lived near Great Zimbabwe married the princess of Great Zimbabwe hence the origin of the name. They mystically prides themselves as the ones who shot the rock and it gushed blood by their spikes. They’are also shortened (WaMambo) meaning the King’s In-law. The males are very hardworking, intelligent and docile. Their women are somewhat shy and can make good wives.
The Mhara (Impala) is a totem derived from the people in the Mhondoro Mubaira area about a hundred miles South West of the capital city of Harare. Their chidawu is called Chikonamombe (meaning tried to be like cattle). They’re close to the Mupfure/Umfuli river in Mashonaland West Province. Their ancestry is rich in the colonial history of Zimbabwe as one of their early ancestors Chief Mashayamombe (translated to lost cattle) participated much in the early anti-imperial struggle. A lot of spirit mediums are believed to have arose from this totem. The impala people are not that good academically, but very hardworking. Their men are known infidels whereas their women are great mothers and housekeepers.
The Sheep totem (Gwai, hwai, imbelele) is commonly called chuma or machuma referring to women (Chuma=beads) is composed of very quiet people both sexes. The females are smart intellectuals, beautiful and heavily built. The males are tall, slender and average competitors. They do not eat mutton like any other totem who do not eat the flesh of their totem.
The small rodent or mice(mbeva, mbeya, amagundwani) is a dualised totem representing two groups of people who are well known as Musoni (the main mouse), hwesamasango (a solitary mouse). The main mouse is common in the Save valleys around Buhera with people who are very intelligent, talkative, peaceful and quite unlike the later one solitary mouse which comprises of hostile people who are aggressive and enjoys solitary lives. They’re both good hunters, with good fighters and smart too. They are light in complexion, well built and beautiful women. The Hwesa people hail from Manyika near the Eastern highlands Nyamapanda boarder.
The other totem is much hyped but not understood with it’s significance in obscurity amid controversies. It is called the(Gushungo) totem meaning the genitalia as many believes, but it however has a few people. The Gushungo people are very intelligent, possess unparalleled wisdom. In academics they’re second to none with a great comprehensive acumen. Their history is little known with only former President, first Prime Minister, Secretary and Commander in Chief of Zimbabwe His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. A great statesman and undoubtedly the most wise and educated African. This totem represents people with great generosity, unity and nationalist feeling. The Gushungo people come from Mashonaland West around Chinhoyi, Chegutu, Norton and Zvimba.
The Wild Cat (bonga/gola)is a very rare totem with few people mainly from Matabeleland South areas and southwest Midlands provinces. The people are very nocturnal, but males are fairly intelligent.
The most popular totem is the Monkey/Baboon (Solo, Tsoko, Shoko, Ncube). These people are widely scattered from Hwedza, Matabeleland, Mashonaland provinces and everywhere. They’re considered the most intelligent, clever and wisest. Their intellectual prowess makes them smart and cunning. They’re called Bvudzijena (whitehead), makwiramiti (tree climbers), mukanya (the galloping steps of a baboon while going up the mountain. Their females brags about being beautiful and intelligent. They call their totem a kiss-totem (referring to the pronunciation of the totem maNcube”ncu=nmwthu`”).The men are women lovers too, good hunters, great fighters and very jealous of their family wellbeing. One of the notable great man is Professor Welshman Ncube.
The Inkomo or Nkomo totem (cattle/cow) is popular among the Matabeleland inhabitants. It originated from South of the Limpopo river during the Nguni mfecane. The nkomo people are very mature ,intelligent and nationalistic. They however have a little cowardice. Intellectuals are bred from among them, but no known fighters.
There is also a totem named after the Fire. It is called Moto/chiveso that’s simply translate to fire. These people are mainly Shangani from the Lowveld areas of Chiredzi, Triangle and Beitbridge. These areas lie under Masvingo Province on it’s south close to the Limpopo frontiers. The people call themselves the Tshovani people. They’re often well built. They produce good fighters with powerful bodies. Fairly intelligent and hardworking. Great hunters are known to come from this group too. Their women are not that beautiful though but can make good mothers although they’re infidelity.
From Manyika in the southern parts also is a common totem. The Ants/cockroaches (Ishwa, Majuru, Beta) which is commonly called Muyambo/Mlambo. The ant people are many and have a great sense of unity.They are short and stout,but light in complexion. They work very hard, look after their families but full of infidels and violent people. They’re not good academically, but help each other well. Their men are strong and fearless, although they’re not good individual fighters. They believe in numbers. They’re mostly among the Ndau speaking people and Karanga.
A totem also common in the southern parts of the country. They identify with the African Rock Python (shato). Many of them fall under Saunyama clan.