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Food & Culture of Zimbabwe

Traditional arts in Zimbabwe include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewellery, and carving. Among the distinctive qualities are symmetrically patterned woven baskets and stools carved out of a single piece of wood. Shona sculpture has become world famous in recent years having first emerged in the 1940s. Most subjects of carved figures of stylised birds and human figures among others are made with sedimentary rocks such as soapstone, as well as harder igneous rocks such as serpentine and the rare stone verdite.


Folk traditions have survived in dance and pottery. The revival of sculpture has drawn on tribal religion and totems to produce some remarkable works, particularly those of Takawira and the Tengenenge school of craftsmen who sculpt in hard serpentine.

Shona sculpture in essence has been a fusion of African folklore with European influences. Internationally famous artists include Henry Mudzengerere and Nicolas Mukomeranwa. A recurring theme in Zimbabwean art is the metamorphosis of man into beast.

Zimbabwean musicians like Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mutukudzi, the Bhundu Boys and Audius Mtawarira have achieved international recognition.

Several authors are well known within Zimbabwe and abroad. Charles Mungoshi is renowned in Zimbabwe for writing traditional stories in English and in Shona and his poems and books have sold well with both the black and white communities.

Catherine Buckle has achieved international recognition with her two books African Tears and Beyond Tears which tell of the ordeal she went through under the 2000 Land Reform.

Prime Minister of Rhodesia, the late Ian Smith, has also written two books - The Great Betrayal and Bitter Harvest. The book The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera won an award in the UK in 1979 and the Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing's first novel The Grass Is Singing is set in Rhodesia.

The most famous of Rhodesian-bred writers, Doris Lessing, settled in England in 1949. In some contrast, the nationalist struggle prompted a renaissance of Shona culture. A forerunner of this renaissance (and a victim of the liberation struggle) was Herbert Chitepo, both as abstract painter and epic poet. Stanlake Samkange's novels reconstruct the Shona and Ndebele world of the 1890s, while those of the much younger Charles Mungoshi explore the clash of Shona and Western cultures in both the Shona and English languages.

Football and cricket are the most popular sports in Zimbabwe. The citizens of Zimbabwe have won four medals in the Olympic Games, one in field hockey at the 1980 Summer games in Moscow, and three in swimming at the 2004 Summer games in Athens.

Zimbabwe has also done well in the Commonwealth Games and All-Africa Games in swimming with Kirsty Coventry obtaining 11 gold medals in the different competitions.

Raw Boerewors Like many other Africans, a majority of Zimbabweans depend on a few staple foods. "Mealie meal" (cornmeal) is used to prepare bota, a porridge made by mixing the cornmeal with water to produce a thick paste.

Sadza is also commonly eaten with curdled milk, commonly known as lacto (mukaka wakakora), or a small dried fish called kapenta (matemba). On special occasions, rice and chicken with cabbage salad is served as the main meal.

Graduations, weddings, and any other family gatherings will usually be celebrated with the killing of a goat or cow, which will be braaied (an Afrikaner form of barbecue) for the family.

Afrikaner recipes are popular though they are a small group (0.2%) within the white minority group. Meat, beef and to a lesser extent chicken are especially popular, though consumption has declined under the Mugabe regime due to falling incomes.

Last Updated on Monday 4th August 2008